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Periodic Fasting

by | Jun 8, 2020 | FASTING METHODS

The Big Idea of Periodic Fasting

 

Our bodies did not evolve to eat all day every day and periodic breaks from eating allows the body to function better

The idea to fast for a longer period of time is not a new one–Christians, Muslims, and many other religious groups have observed periodic fasting for millennia. This practice originated as a means of spiritual purification, but mounting research shows that periodic fasting is generally healthy and that it can be used for weight loss, cardiovascular health, and longevity.

The longest-lived populations are associated with some form of periodic fasting: namely the Ikarians, whose island is also called ‘the place where people forget to die’, the Seventh Day Adventists in the Loma Linda area, and the Mormons of Salt Lake.

What is Periodic Fasting

 Periodic fasting is fasting periodically – not daily. The term ‘periodic fasting’ is often confused with ‘intermittent fasting’, but the two are mostly separate concepts.

Periodic fasting is larger in scope than intermittent fasts and it usually occurs on a weekly, monthly, or yearly scale. (Think: Ramadan, Lent.) Intermittent fasts are more about the daily balance of eating and fasting.

The most common periodic fasts can involve total or partial abstinence from food, and they include 

  • 24-hour fasts
  •  two-day fasts
  • prolonged fasts
  • fasting-mimicking diets
  • and Daniel fasts.

People typically choose periodic fasting as a means for more weight loss or greater health effects than can be achieved through shorter intermittent fasts.

 Benefits of Periodic Fasting

Blood pressure and heart health

Significant blood pressure reductions were observed in a 21-day Daniel Fast involving 43 healthy men and women between 20 and 60 years of age. A population study in Utah reported similar blood pressure enhancement, with hypertension being less frequent in people who fasted compared to non-fasters. These decreases in blood pressure were also seen alongside drops in other risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, weight, and diabetes.

Weight loss

Fasting speeds up your body’s metabolism in order to convert fat into energy through the processes of ketosis and gluconeogenesis. Eons of famines and food shortages have adapted humans to live without food for days, weeks, and months – even for over a year, in the longest case of fasting known to science.

Weight loss has been seen in all forms of periodic fasting, including 24-hour fasts, prolonged fasts, and Fasting Mimicking Diets. Scientists believe that some types of periodic fasting have a regulatory effect on the circadian rhythm – which positively impacts metabolism and body composition. But the consensus is that most fasting methods burn fat through calorie deficits.

Relationship with food

Though many believe that fasting would be harmful to those with clinical eating disorders, the research has shown no evidence of that being the case. In fact, most people who’ve tried a periodic fast say that they have a better relationship with food. This is because fasting forces you to question the root of your hunger: is it emotional? out of boredom? or is it actual, factual hunger?

Learning to go without food for longer periods helps you discern what ‘true hunger’ is and helps you to avoid patterns of emotional eating.

Reduced inflammation

Though inflammation has many causes, scientists have determined that elevated levels of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are contributors to the inflammatory process. The constant consumption of protein (especially in excessive amounts) raises IGF-1 to inflammatory levels that can lead to injury or illness.

During fasts, protein is eliminated or reduced, and IGF-1 levels drop down to healthy ranges. Health experts recommend periodic fasts to promote immunity and reduce inflammation.

Longevity 

Elevated levels of IGF-1 are associated with cancer and early death. In a study done on 184 people in their 90s, it was found that those with the lowest levels of IGF-1 had the highest rates of survivability. Fasting is known to reduce IGF-1 levels.

 Risks of Periodic Fasting

The risks of periodic fasting are low and few, according to most studies. But for periodic fasts of 24 hours or more, there is a risk of

  • electrolyte depletion
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • arrhythmia
  • and refeeding syndrome (a dangerous electrolyte imbalance that can occur after breaking a prolonged fast).
  • You should always consult your doctor before trying any fasting regimen, and you should avoid periodic fasting if you have heart disease, liver or kidney disease, or if you are pregnant.

 
How to Do Periodic Fasting

Here’s a breakdown of how to do common periodic fasts:

 

24-hour fast

Abstain from calories of any kind from one meal on Day one, then break your fast with that same meal on Day 2. (Lunch to lunch; dinner to dinner.) Coffee and tea are allowed so long as they’re non-caloric. It can be done once or twice per week.

Prolonged fasts

 The same rules for the 24-hour fast apply here: no food and only no-calorie beverages. Typically prolonged fasts last from 2-5 days and doctors advise you to prepare for them with 24-hour fasts and intermittent fasting. Prolonged fasts are usually done once or twice a month.

 

fasting methods

Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Strategy that combines periods of eating with periods of fasting into a regular schedule.

Fasting With Water

The purposeful abstention of all food – solid or liquids – except for water. 

Dry Fasting

Dry Fasting

DF is the abstinence of food and water. Total. Abstinence. Dry!

Medical & Healing fasts

Medical & Healing Fast

Medical/therapeutic fasting is – eating nothing for medical advancements and natural healing.

Time Restricted Eating

The philosophy that aligns mealtimes with your natural circadian rhythm.

Fasting With Juice

Combine all your fruits & veggies into delicious juice for a select period of time.

Ketogenic Fasting

Ketogenic Fasting

Combines keto dieting principles with routine periods of fasting for enhanced fat loss. 

Fast for Religion

Spiritual & Religious

Spiritual and religious fasts have been part of almost every culture and religion throughout recorded history.

Prolonged Fasting

Fasting for 48 hours and over to
achieve health benefits and clarity.

Fasting With Food

Also known as Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), eating specific macronutrients to keep your body in a fasting state. 

Alternate Day Fasting

The idea behind ADF is simple – eat one day, don’t eat the next.

Detox Cleanses

Detox & Cleanse Programs

 Focus on improving liver health, the main detox organ, and nearly all of them enhance elimination and digestion.

About The Author

Fast Times Editors

Your go-to-crew for all things fasting and lifestyle. Fasting.com is digital destination for the latest science, strategies, solutions and stories to help the public discover and uncover the benefits of fasting, answer all of their fasting questions and find the best next step and resource to get started.

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