“Instead of medicine, fast for a day!” Plutarch had said once famously, and suddenly now after all these years, we have woken up to the fact with surprising alacrity. Fasting is not starvation, there are many people who turn up their nose on fasting just because they think fasting equates to starvation.
Fasting has incredible benefits, especially timed periods of fasting. There are a number of reasons for which you fast, religious reasons being one of them. But when you fast for Navratri or Ramzan, do you think about the innumerable benefits of the same? Your answer is a no, right? But, there are indeed innumerable health benefits of fasting.
Provided, of course, you do it in the right way! Like the fasting for navratri requires you to do it for nine days, which can detoxify the body. Not only that, it also improves the blood composition, cardiovascular function, and blood pressure, according to health experts!
So, if you have fasted before or attempting to start fasting, here are some cool reasons for you to start it right away. But before that, let’s delve deep and find out a little bit about the history of fasting.
The difference lies in one small aspect, it is all about control. When do you starve? When you find that there is an involuntary absence of food. It is also neither deliberate nor controlled. Fasting, on the other hand, depends on you and how you abstain from food, for as mentioned before, spiritual, health or other reasons.
You have food around you and you still choose not to eat it. How long does it last? This can go on for any period of time, which can last for a few hours and go on for days and even weeks. The rules are simple, you may begin the fast at any time of your choosing, and you may end it as per your will too.
Fasting is not bound by any set time period, it only equates to the absence of eating. Suppose you are not eating for any reason, you are fasting. Without knowing it, or terming it as fasting, you fast for a period of approximately 12-14 hours, between dinner and breakfast. In this sense, fasting is what you do every single day! And it is an integral part of everyday life.
Consider the term breakfast, your first meal of the day, which you do daily. So, you fast without thinking in your mind that you are fasting. It is acceptable because you don’t think it as a punishment and you do it while you sleep. But as soon as you start including it in your waking hours, it starts becoming like an insurmountable mountain. Fasting and me? Never! That’s what you begin to think!
Suddenly fasting has become this powerful nutritional aid which can solve a lot of chronic health issues, it seems to be in vogue! The virtues of fasting can be traced back to Greece and Pythagoras, who said that fasting has numerous virtues.
As far back as the fourteenth century, fasting was endorsed by St. Catherine of Siena. The Renaissance doctor Paracelsus, also sang paeans on fasting, hailing it as the “physician within”. So, whether it is for religious, political or simply for health reasons, fasting renews both your mind and body in more ways than one.
The word “fasting” can sound quite daunting. “How can I give up eating for a day or two?” Is the first question you would ask yourself! For all those people who think that a 24-hour fast is excessive, you can easily try intermittent fasting. Take a leaf or two out of Michael Mosley’s book, which popularised the 5:2 diet or the fast diet, or perhaps the Jason Jung way of eating.
It is, in fact, the cool new way of wrapping this old tool with a new and fancy name that quite catches the eye of modern-day health connoisseurs. Intermittent fasting is what it is called! Eat, stop, and eat again! Find out different ways of including the following ways of fasting!
Amongst all methods, this is my personal favorite simply because it is just so simple to follow! The 16/8 method means fasting every day for 14-16 hours and restricting your ‘eating window’or your eating hours down to 8-10 hours.
You can fit in about 2, 3 or more meals within this eating period.This method of fasting can actually be pretty simple, and it would mean not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast. Finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the very next day, so it would mean you would have already fasted for 16 hours between your last meal and the next meal.
This diet suits most people fine as it involves eating normally most days of the week, read 5 days of the week, and cutting down to 500-600calories on two days of the week. Also known as the fast diet, it was coined by the British journalist and Doctor Michael Mosley. The rulebook of this fast diet says that women should eat 500 calories, and men, about 600 calories.
This diet requires you to eat normally on all days except two days of your choice where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men).
This method was started by the fitness expert Brad Pilon and has enjoyed a fair share of popularity. This kind of fasting means you have your dinner and then you have dinner the next day, so as a result, you end up fasting for a good 24 hours. Besides dinner to dinner, you can also attempt a lunch to lunch or breakfast to breakfast way of fasting. The result will be the same.
If you think fasting for 24 hours is not quite your thing, you can try fasting every alternate day. This is an extreme way of eating as it allows only 500 calories during the fasting days. This is not quite my thing as you may have to stay hungry when you hit the sack! Not a very pleasant thing, I know.
The Warrior Diet was started by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler. This way of eating involves eating raw fruits and vegetables all throughout the day and then summing up the day with a huge meal at night. This diet is all about alternating between ‘fasting’ and ‘feasting’, that too within a 4-hour eating time period.
I think the most intimidating aspects of eating patterns is sticking to a strict way of eating. But there are some fasting methods where you don’t need to adhere to a structured pattern of eating and surprisingly, that does not mean you have to follow a regimented way of eating to get fast results!
This can surely can be termed as a lazy person’s guide to stay fit and healthy. Consider this, all you really have to do when you are not hungry is not eat. Too busy to cook? Well, don’t eat! Whatever you might feel about staying hungry, skipping one or two meals or following a mini fast is not such a bad thing after all.
There are people who can fast for extra-long hours without batting an eyelid! This would mean abstaining from food for more than one day and drinking only water during the period. This kind of water fast lasts for a long period of time and boasts of great health benefits, especially when it is monitored by a doctor.
Long fasts are an integral part of integrated healing methods and are an effective tool to combat deadly diseases like cancer. There are people who swear by this kind of fasting and its multitudes of benefits, and can abstain from eating for several days put together!
‘Lose 10 pounds in 7 days’, as soon as you read about something like this you would immediately be willing to try this out, especially when you have some stubborn pounds to lose! Those juice fasts or detox programs as they are named, claim just that but can have a negative impact on your health if you do not do it right.
The health benefits of juice fasts are numerous, you consume only liquids during the fasting period, thus staying away from solid foods. You can still have water, of course!Besides water, you can consume herbal teas, fruit and vegetable juices, or vegetable broths. It can be a great healing and cleansing tool, but you can only attempt this kind of fasting when keeping in mind your medical history, your needs and goals, and complying with your doctor’s strict instructions!
Fasting is great for your health, you’ve just found out, but can a few hours of not eating help restore your health and fight deadly diseases? Read more to find out about some of the important health benefits of fasting!
Picture this, you get a small waist, a strong IQ, and a long healthy life. And before your jaws drop and your mouth a silent “wow,” know that you can get this all by trying out fasting. All excited to begin your fasting journey? Hold your horses and find out more!
Fasting is a great way to lose weight, and in some ways, it is more fruitful than a regimented plan of eating, read a strict diet. It is a safe way to lose weight because intermittent fasting can help you burn stubborn fat!
Intermittent fasting results in using fat as the primary source of energy instead of sugar. Many athletes too exercise and try fasting, they use fasted cardio benefits.
Diabetics can have a huge sigh of relief as fasting shows a great effect on insulin sensitivity, which does not spike up your blood sugar levels and reacts better with carbohydrates than if you didn’t fast. There are many health experts who believe that you can even combat obesity with fasting as you can control insulin spikes.
Eat more and live less and eat less to live more, follow this simple mantra of life and you will be able to enjoy a long and healthy life. It has been seen that people belonging to a certain culture live long especially because fasting is an integral part of their lives.
You will be amazed to know that my grandmother followed the same protocol of fasting and believe me, she looked amazingly young even at the ripe age of 70! This was the reason why I tried it in the first place with pretty awesome results too! More on that later.
Forget crossword puzzles, there is a brand-new way of boosting your brain function, fasting. It boosts the production of a protein (BNDF) brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps build neurons and boosts natural health. The BNDF protects your brain cells and combats degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The list of health benefits of fasting is incomplete without mentioning this all-important point. Try fasting to boost the immune system, as it reduces free radical damage, chronic inflammation in the body and stops the formation of cancer cells right in its tracks.
The physical benefits of fasting extend to your skin too, as it helps remove the accumulated toxins and also helps regulate the functioning of organs like the liver, kidney, and other important organs. The result is great looking, luminous skin.
Not only health benefits of fasting, there are many spiritual benefits of fasting too. It helps people feel the essence of spiritual rejuvenation during the practices of meditation, reading, yoga and martial arts and so on.
Intermittent fasting has enjoyed considerable good press for quite some time now, so I thought I would try it at first, before giving it a go-ahead for our readers! I tried the alternate day of fasting at first. I ended my meal at around 7 pm and the next day had my first meal at 11 am; I tried out the 16 hours of the intermittent fast.
The beginning was not so great as I missed my heavy breakfast. You see, I believe in the adage eat breakfast like a king! Anyway, I tried to pacify my protesting stomach with green tea and bullet-proof coffee. The first few days I gobbled up my lunch even wanting a second helping, but curiously, the next few days the tides turned and I did not feel that ravenous or the need to eat more often.
By the end of the week, I was gradually distancing myself from the constant feeling of eating and eating again! My mirror had a great story to tell as well, as my stomach pooch finally seemed to be budging. It was not gone completely, but at least showing some signs of going. Blessed relief!
I even felt more at peace. The diets I followed which insisted that I eat every two hours were sometimes really exhausting! This was a more relaxed approach, and even if I forgot to eat my snacks it did not mean I had committed a diet hara-kiri. Okay, another thing, I also felt more energetic at the end of the day; all this by trying out intermittent fasting for just one week!
Now that you know all about the medical benefits of fasting, it is time you tried fasting too, but remember that fasting does not give you the license to eat as much as you can after your fast is over. You still need to eat healthy, but it does give you a small allowance to eat without going on long guilt-trips. Start your fasting journey today and let us know of the benefits you experienced in the comments section below. Happy Fasting, amigos!
Devi Gajendran is a Post Graduate in Nutrition (University of Madras, Tamil Nadu) and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She is the chief advisor and full time contributor at the Fit Indian and has the final say on all the segments under the Fit Indian paradigm, such as beauty, fitness, home remedies, diseases, diet tips, weight loss, weight gain and so on. A foodie herself, she believes in the Hippocrates quote,” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” A fitness enthusiast, she believes that the combination of diet and exercise can work wonders. When she is not sharing her valuable knowledge about food and fitness, she likes to spend quality time with her family members, do some healthy baking and listen to soft soulful music.
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