“You’re going on a fast?” “Why???” “Fasting for a good husband?(barter with God)” “What will you eat?” “At least eat fruits and juice!”
These are some common things you will hear from people when you tell them you are fasting. But why do people fast? Eat your food or God will get angry is what all moms said! Like eating food, fasting has also been an integral part of every culture in the world. Most religions have some form of fasting or abstinence built in. Yet what we miss is the correct way to fast. We can make fasting as beneficial to the body as eating the right super-food.
Step one is to stop viewing fasting as depriving the body and yourself. Instead start viewing it as a way to give your body a break to repair and heal.
Fasting is as simple as not eating or drinking. There are a few kinds of fasting methods which help us gain maximum physical benefits. These are:
- Intermittent Fasting: Alternately known as ‘Time Restricted Fasting’, it involves abstinence from food for a pre-decided time period. It can vary from 12 – 16 hour fasts
- Full day fasting: Fasting for upto 24 hr or a full day.
- Multiple day Fasting: Fasting for 2 to 4 days. Day 3 and 4 being the most effective.
Within this you can choose to:
- Water Fast: This is a type of fasting which encourages you to stop food and drinks. A few exceptions to the rule are water, black coffee and green tea
- Dry Fasting: Popularly named as the absolute fast, it is the most challenging to accomplish with the maximum benefits. It involves cutting off any form of food and drink including water for a set period of time, spanning from 16 hrs to 24 hrs. Do not do a multiple day dry fast.
Sounds like a difficult thing to do! We all like food! In fact food has such a grip on us that we refuse to give it up for just a few hours.
The right fasting is as important as getting the right kind of food.
- Fasting is an easier way of achieving our daily calorie target. A smaller eating window means fewer meals. In fact, most people find it hard to overshoot their calorie target on an intermittent fasting plan. As a result most intermittent fasting plans don’t bother about calories at all!
- It helps with body cleansing. The nerd word for this process is ‘autophagy’. When deprived of food, our body is devoid of fresh sources of energy. Our body then “eats up” our inefficient cells or senescent cells to provide energy. These cells would have caused health issues in the future. This process is known as autophagy. Thus clearing our system of unwanted or excess/ stored cells. Leaving the strongest cells to survive this process.
- It also helps keep a lot of medical problems in check; as many metabolic changes take place in our bodies. It reduces inflammation, blood pressure and cholesterol in our body. It also reduces insulin resistance and keeps blood sugar low, thus keeping diabetes in check.
If you have a pre-existing health condition, ask your doctor before undertaking any kind of fast. For most people a 14 to 16 hour fast is easy and do-able.
Try your hand at fasting, by simply not eating anything when you wake up (includes not milk in your tea or coffee). Try 12 hours of fasting, see how you feel. Then slowly increase it up to 16.
You can try this intermittent fasting everyday or 3-4 times a week.
Our next post will highlight all the do’s and don’ts of fasting.