When it comes to living healthy with optimized weight and whole wellness, fasting is one of the most common ways to clear our minds. Fasting is a process of refrainment from eating and drinking willingly. You may reduce your food and drink intake for a period of time during a fast.
Many people do fasting for religious reasons, while others do it for health reasons. From a religious perspective, you have to fast before dawn till sunset. However, those who do it for health benefits may reduce their fasting time and see exceptional advantages. Fasting has become acknowledged in the scientific world in order to manage weight and prevent diseases. However, it needs to be done in a healthy way.
Many evidence supports fasting that it cleanses the toxins present in human bodies and leads the cells to come into processes that usually are not stimulated while eating from time to time. What actually happens is the body does not have the typical access to glucose while fasting, which forces the cells to resort to other ways in order to produce energy. Consequently, the body initiates gluconeogenesis. It is a natural process where the body starts making its own sugar. Eventually, the basal metabolic rate, known as the amount of energy burnt by the body while resting, becomes super efficacious. It results in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate.
Later, another process known as ketosis occurs when the body starts burning the stored fat. According to research, these processes make fasting an ideal method to lose weight and maintain sugar levels (Johnstone, 2015).
Types of Fasting
There are basic three types of fasting in which we restrict calorie intake and observe long-term benefits.
- Time-Restricted Feeding
Circadian rhythm, known as a body clock, informs the body about the right time to wake up, sleep, eat, drink, etc. In time-restricted feeding, it is essential to limit the calorie intake for a specific period of time that ultimately aligns with circadian rhythm. For instance, a person restricts calorie intake for 8 to 12 hours each day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It eventually aligns with the body clock and allows the body more time to repair. It also helps us avoid midnight snacking that stops weight gaining.
- Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is defined as a way of fasting in which a person reduces calorie intake. The research shows that if a person does intermittent fasting, which restricts carbs for two consecutive days and reduces calories in half within a week, his body works efficiently in order to lose weight. It helps limit extra calories, and people do not constantly consume during intermittent fasting.
- Periodic Fasting with Fasting mimicking diets
This method is to cleanse toxins from the body by restricting calorie intake for at least 3 to 5 days. It instantly provokes the cells to deplete glycogen stores and leads to ketosis. However, stopping food consumption for three to five days is not a healthy and safe choice. Evidence suggests that a specific five-day calorie-restricted diet in which a person shifts to consuming 1000 calories per day is adequate without depleting nutrients. However, this method works well and is better than two days fast. It enables ketosis that eradicates the body’s toxins. It eventually helps you lose excessive weight (Sarro, 2020).
Does Fasting affect Metabolism?
Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective approaches that many people opt for. Studies evident intermittent fasting as an efficient way to lose weight. Many people believe that metabolism is affected due to fasting and not eating for a long time. However, research shows that intermittent fasting benefits metabolic health and boosts metabolism.
It’s evident that a very long period leads the body to drop metabolism. But short-term fasting has the tendency to improve metabolism instead of slowing it down. It has been studied that fasting for 3 days in 11 healthy men has increased their metabolism by 14%. Science suggests that the increase in metabolism due to a short period of fasting is because of rising in the hormone norepinephrine, which helps boost fat burning (Patterson, 2017).
Evidence suggests that losing weight leads the body to lower the metabolic rate. It is because muscle loss is caused by losing weight, and calories are burned by muscle tissues. People who tend to restrict calories severely decrease their metabolic rate because their bodies go into starvation mode. They ultimately end up gaining weight after a short span. Therefore, it is suggested to follow fasting for a specific period of time in order to lose weight without lowering your metabolic rate.
Overall Health Benefits
It is challenging to fast and not eat your favorite food for a long time. However, the physical and mental health benefits are spectacular. Fasting promotes cognitive performance, prevents obesity, lower inflammation, supports weight loss, and reduces the risk of metabolic diseases.
Recently, a study has shown that fasting benefits cancer patients. This study presented that people with cancer who fast during chemotherapy are more likely to jump-start their immune system. The toxic cells are eradicated and replaced with new and healthy cells (Nencioni, 2018). Many studies suggest that cancer patients need to increase their calorie intake during chemotherapy treatment. But this recent study is now widely explored in the scientific world.
Disadvantages of Fasting
You must have heard that everything comes with positive and negative effects, and fasting is no different. No doubt, fasting has many benefits, but its drawbacks can never be ignored. Here are some disadvantages
- Promote overeating
Fasting may promote overeating because people overeat during feasting time (when a person is allowed to eat food). During feasting days, people are more likely to have excess food and do not restrict meal size and frequency. They eventually end up eating more which leads the body to gain weight.
- Lower physical activity
Fasting may also lower physical activity. When you are supposed to do intermittent fasting, you should reduce physical activity. Because a person who follows intermittent fasting, yet does physical activity tends to make themselves lethargic and fatigued (Laza, 2020).
- Eating disorder
Another drawback of intermittent fasting is it deprives the body of food. This restrictive eating is correlated with not eating in order to lose weight. A person is able to skip more calories and lose more weight, as much as he fasts for longer. There is always a negative relationship with food when you continuously do fasting. Therefore, those who fast for a long time are more likely to have eating disorders.
The bottom line is that fasting may help you lose weight when you do it for a specific period. Those who are fasting for a long period of time are more likely to decrease metabolism, which eventually causes problems. Try to follow a specific schedule for the fast that helps you lose weight and keep you away from diseases. Do not restrict calories severely, which impacts your overall health. Healthy fasting always loses weight, enhances the immune system, and is even effective for cancer patients.
- Johnstone, A. (2015). Fasting for weight loss: an effective strategy or latest dieting trend?. International Journal of Obesity, 39(5), 727-733.
- Sarro, A., Payedimarri, A. B., Concina, D., Farsoni, M., Piu, N., & Panella, M. (2020). The efficacy of fasting regimens on health outcomes: a systematic overview. Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica.
- Patterson, R. E., & Sears, D. D. (2017). Metabolic effects of intermittent fasting. Annual review of nutrition, 37.
- Nencioni, A., Caffa, I., Cortellino, S., & Longo, V. D. (2018). Fasting and cancer: molecular mechanisms and clinical application. Nature Reviews Cancer, 18(11), 707-719.
- Laza, V. (2020). Intermittent fasting in athletes: PROs and CONs. Health, Sports & Rehabilitation Medicine, 21(1), 52-58.