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Fasting For Health And Weight Loss

Updated on February 6, 2010

Fasting, It Does A Body Good

Some may view fasting as a sort of fad diet, but fasting is an important component of many religions and alternative health care programs. When done correctly voluntary abstinence from food can be not only safe, but beneficial.

Scientists discovered way back in the 1930s that animals lived longer when placed on a reduced calorie diet. Animals subject to calorie restriction have lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels, less inflammation (think arthritis), and decreased cholesterol levels.
There are negatives too, including loss of lean muscle mass as well as lethargy and loss of mental acuity, and let's face it calorie restriction is just a diet after all.  There is, however an alternative.

Recent research shows that intermittent fasting results in many of the same health benefits of a reduced calorie plan and for some it's an easier plan to stick to than a 24/7 low calorie diet. Yes, there will be one day maybe two throughout the week when you don't eat, but for the remaining days you can eat exactly as you would normally. You'll be surprised at how much less will power this requires than an ordinary diet. Obviously you don't want to overindulge on the days when you eat. Just consume calories as you normally would. Your body wont go into starvation mode. Most of us eat far more calories than we need on a day to day basis, and It takes about 24 hours of fasting for your body to begin using lean muscle mass for energy.

 On your fast days you should consume only water.  Intermittent fasting doesn’t work as a juice fast simply because juice raises insulin levels.   Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar, but it also regulates fat storage.  When insulin levels rise our bodies begin storing calories as fat.  In our modern society we have easy access to sugary, processed foods that quickly raise blood sugar levels.  Many scientists are beginning to believe that increased insulin levels are the common denominator in a variety of chronic illnesses including obesity.

That’s all there is to it.  Just don’t eat every once in a while.  If you fast every second or third day  not only will you lose weight, you’ll also realize a full range of health benefits, including more stable insulin levels,  maintenance of lean muscle mass, less oxidation damage, and reduced risk for a number of chronic illnesses associated with aging.

There are a couple of different strategies for intermittent fasting.  Some people choose to fast for about 16 to 18 hours each day.  This leaves a 6 hour window in which to eat.  For example, you could eat lunch at 1pm and then have dinner around 6 pm.  You don’t have to restrict calories at mealtime or eat prepackaged “diet” foods.  Just eat what you want.  For some people this goes a long way toward relieving the feelings of deprivation associated with a diet.  The second strategy involves a 24 hour fast.  Eat one meal each day at roughly the same time each day.  You could even adopt a plan that combines both methods. 

 This plan is flexible, and ultimately you should choose a protocol that works for your lifestyle, but if you’re binging or overeating during meal times this isn’t going to work.  Still, for many there is a lot of freedom with this plan.  You don’t have to count calories, or buy special foods.  You still have choices and having choices makes this way of eating seem less like a diet for many who give it a try.


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    • profile image

      fasting and weight loss 7 years ago

      Thank you for this post. Very helpful.

    • JoieG profile image

      JoieG 8 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Me too tdarby. I find it very energizing.

    • tdarby profile image

      tdarby 8 years ago

      JoieG--thanks for the great info. I fast from time to time and find it really helps my mental clarity.

    • JoieG profile image

      JoieG 8 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Wow, that's a long time for a fast. How do you feel?

    • FatMan911 profile image

      FatMan911 8 years ago from Florida

      GOOD HUB i'M ON DAY 72 OF A 90 DAY FAST. I know of what you speak