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But the benefits of fasting aren’t limited to the body. Many religions have used fasting as a way to improve people’s spiritual lives and inner peace. And many workers have found their lives to be more focused and less distracted when they aren’t constantly eating.
Fasting has been part of every human culture and religion since time immemorial and is generally recognized by the medical establishment as being safe. There have even been yearlong fasts (doctor-supervised, of course) that were not damaging in any way!
But there are certain conditions that people should always check in with their doctors before attempting fasts of any kind:
The most basic form of fasting involves nothing more than an early dinner or a late breakfast, which may be nothing to you at all. As you attempt longer fasts, your relationship with food will be challenged. You’ll have to be mindful in assessing whether the feelings you’re experiencing are actual hunger, thirst, or a need for fulfillment.
When you practice intermittent fasting, there are no limits as to what type of foods you can eat, and you can eat as much or as little as you need to during your eating window. (Active people usually have to eat more, and sedentary people are advised not to overeat on any fasting protocol.)
That said, most people tend to eat fewer calories while fasting as a lifestyle.
What’s the best fasting method? That depends on your current state of health, your activity levels, and your calorie needs. Make sure to consult your doctor to see which one is right for you.
Studies show that calorie restriction is one of the most reliable ways to lose weight and keep it off, and that’s true whether you cut portions daily or fast weekly.
Fasting also primes your metabolism to burn fat for fuel, which gives you energy and focus without the daily carb cravings.
Last but not least, fasting improves insulin sensitivity – this helps you lose weight in several ways
Though fasting does have potential dangers, these risks are mostly limited to people who are sick, undernourished, and who have eating disorders. (Remember, we all practice some level of fasting every time we sleep or go without food!) Read on to find out what risks are possible when fasting:
You should always consult your doctor before making major dietary or lifestyle change. But you can (and should!) practice intermittent fasting for as long as you feel good doing so. Doctors are approaching IF not as a short term dietary intervention, but as a long-term way of life
But even during shorter fasts or intermittent fasts, your body is being conditioned to use fat for fuel (ketones) when you don’t have access to carbs and other sources of energy – especially when you exercise.
Whether you try intermittent fasting, 24-hour fasts, or prolonged fasts, the science is overwhelmingly in favor of most fasting practices. Research indicates that fasting improves:
Many of the benefits of fasting come from the cellular clean-up process known as autophagy. Science shows that this process reduces inflammation, increases immunity, and is even important for fighting cancer.
David Perlmutter, author of ‘Brain Maker’: “Fasting is baked into our evolution and our physiology and it can yield benefits to our brains and bodies, at a biochemical level, that we’re only just beginning to understand.”
Dr. Peter Osborne, author of ‘No Grain, No Pain’: “It’s of the cheapest and easiest health tools you can access. Fasting has been shown to be beneficial for a variety of different diseases and health problems including rheumatic diseases, chronic pain syndromes, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome, obesity, cancer, digestive disorders, and more.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. health researcher: “Most people who practice fasting report feeling energized and more alert at the end of their fast, which may represent a “resetting” of their body’s natural metabolic rhythms.”