Low on energy and motivation; if you are sick of all the yo-yo diets and still have not managed to change the figures on the scale, it is time to consider fasting. An effective tool to manage weight loss in a healthy fashion, fasting helps you attain various benefits regarding different systems of the body.
Reaping the gains of a diet mode, fasting can help you flush your body of the extra fat content at the same time of jump-starting your metabolism and refurbishing energy stores without the hassle of calorie counting of a strict diet plan.
Fasting, contrary to the customary beliefs, does not involve starving (which is the mainstay of many diets), rather it requires abstinence from eating and drinking for a specific period of twenty-four hour. Adopted as a religious and spiritual practice among many cultures around the globe, fasting is frequently advocated by health experts to upgrade one’s fitness rank.
If you are opting for fasting to change the eating patterns and attain some health benefits, then you must adopt a specific approach out of many.
Different kinds of fasting techniques
Whether you eat three square meals a day or five frequent meals, the diet would not help if you do not follow a rationale regarding food. Likewise, if you are consuming calorie-laden food after a fasting period, we doubt it will get you the desired scale figures. Coupling fasting with calorie smart food choices would deliver lasting results and benefits that go beyond your gut.
Following are some types of fasting that are usually recommended by health and fitness experts according to your physical state and fitness level.
1. Intermittent Fasting
Also known as cyclic fasting, it umbrellas all the other types in some context and requires you to eat intermittently. Apart from a brief window period that allows you to consume dietary items, the fasting period is about 14-18 hours and according to your age and endurance levels, it can be extended to 32-36 hours.
2. Time-restricted fasting
The most common method of fasting, time-restricted fasting methods limits the eating period from 12-16 hours. However, this type does not restrict the time you initiate your fast. For example, if you took your last meal at 7 pm, you can fast until seven in the morning or extend until midday depending upon your fasting threshold.
The fasting period in this type usually takes in the sleep time so it provides an easier and convenient method of introducing fasting if you are a newbie.
3. Alternate day fasting
Designed for the veteran in the field, this type of fasting allows only 25% of the caloric intake during the fasting day while allowing ‘eat all you can’ on the non-fasting ones. Some may find the protocol hard to stick to so it remains a short-term etiquette however, it is quick in delivering results.
4. 16/8 fasting
As the name implies, one is supposed to fast for sixteen hours and eat the rest of the period. Another term to explain the time restricted fasting mode, it lets you select the non-fasting to fast sequel according to your convenience.
5. 5:2 fasting
Here the 5:2 denotes days and not hours. Similar to alternate day fast, this type of fasting allows you to follow your normal eating schedule and restricts the caloric intake, to 500-600 calories a day, on the remaining two days of the week.
6. The warrior diet
Another way of a gradual introduction of fasting in your life, this kind allows you to consume fruits and vegetables during the day with a full meal in the evening.
7. The Daniel Fast
With its spiritual basis, this type follows the Bible’s scriptures and allows partial fasting routine. This kind usually focuses on fruits, vegetables, and whole foods while ignoring the meat, dairy, grains, and drinks like coffee, alcohol and juices. This kind of fasting is usually done for 21 days.
How does fasting help your body achieve a better health status?
Fasting is not a simple spiritual experience; science has revealed its many benefits some of which are
1. Weight loss
The effect of fasting on weight loss is proven by science, so it can be safely adopted as a tool to shed some pounds.
“One 2015 study found that alternate day fasting trimmed body weight by up to 7 percent and slashed body fat by up to 12 pounds”
2. Promotes the secretion of growth hormone
Human Growth Hormone is naturally produced in our bodies and helps build muscle at the same time of increasing the muscle strength. Both of these effects help cut lose some fat from the body simultaneously.
3. A chiseled physique
Fasting can help you achieve a trim and chiseled physique by its effects on growth hormone. Fasting on training days and eating on game days help build the muscle and burn fat.
4. Improves insulin sensitivity
Insulin resistance is a major contributing factor towards the development of type II diabetes. Fasting is an efficient way of keeping your cells responsive to insulin in the body. Intermittent fasting is found by research to improve the way our body handles glucose.
“A study found that intermittent fasting was as effective as caloric restrictions in reducing visceral fat mass, fasting insulin and insulin resistance”
5. Promotes healthy triglyceride levels
Fasting has a direct impact on the total triglyceride levels of the body in addition to its fat burning effects. The interesting thing is; fasting routines affect the bad cholesterol levels only sparing the good ones that are important for the normal functioning of the body systems.
6. Decelerates the aging process
Some early research in animals has shown that fasting and longevity are two parallels. In addition to cutting back on weight and having a positive effect on most of the body functions, fasting keeps a check on the continued inflammatory processes in the body that is a major cause of disease and death in humans.
7. Stabilizes Ghrelin levels
Fasting normalizes Ghrelin, a hormone known to cause hunger in humans. Dieting rituals cause an increase in the subject hormone and while you may experience hunger pangs while on an intermittent fast, the body is playing a balancing act to react to the hunger hormone and in a few days, you find yourself not so hungry at all. It adds to the good news for weight watchers.
How to join the ‘fast’ track
Here are some guidelines to make your passage on the fast track a convenient one.
Set your goal: Be realistic and set your goal. It will help you in the next step.
Select the type of fast: Select the type of fasting protocol according to your fitness level and the kind of goal you want to achieve.
Stock yourself accordingly: Stock your pantry and refrigerator in time for your eating sessions; this will help you save time and effort and set you on a rational eating behavior.
Help yourself by listening to your body: The best thing about fasting is that you cannot mess it up because listening to your body is important in fasting as opposed to customary dietary rituals.
The principle is a great aid in case you are a beginner’s level; take a snack if you are hungry in the hour near to breaking the fast and extend your fast time if you are not feeling the hunger urge. By listening to your body, you actually help your body shed the old habits and adopt some healthier ones.
Certain precautions: If you are suffering from any metabolic condition as diabetes, hypothyroidism or insulin resistance, do not take up fasting until your blood glucose level normalizes. Fasting is NOT meant for nursing mothers or pregnant women.