The All-In-One Guide to Fasting


You’ve likely heard all about fasting. It’s used to lose weight, remove toxins, and improve your lifestyle. But is it that good for you? How do you do it in a way that’s safe and beneficial?

There’s a common misconception that fasting is an unhealthy way to lose weight. The truth is that it can offer some health benefits, but you need to do it properly. This isn’t just about cutting out all food for a day or only eating one meal a day. You need to get the right foods and the right amount of calories throughout your fasting period. Then when you go back to eating, you need to think carefully about the food that you enjoy.

Here’s your all-in-one guide to fasting. This is more than how to do it, but how to do it safely to gain all the health benefits you can.

What Exactly is Fasting?

Fasting involves going without any food for a set period. You’ll see some religions that encourage eating and drinking nothing throughout the day, but enjoying their meals before the sun rises and after the sun sets.

However, things are changing. There are now different versions of fasting, and in some of them, you can consume some food. The idea is that you reduce your calories to a bare minimum, so you still create the starvation period but without actually physically going through the lack of food.

We all fast throughout the night. We go through this long period without eating anything, and that is technically fasting. Therefore breakfast is so important, as it helps to boost the metabolism after the longer period of not eating.

Our bodies also go through a fasting period when we’re ill. The immune system kick-starts a drop in the blood glucose to help fight the infection better. When you’re ill, the last thing you want to think about is food, and it is helping to make you better. So that idea of fasting being bad for you is wrong. It’s when you fast in the wrong way that causes a problem.

Health Benefits of Fasting

Choosing to fast can help offer some health benefits. They can help in both immediate and long-term benefits, supporting the weight loss, fitness levels, and even the organ health.

When you fast, you improve your blood sugar balance. It’s possible to reduce the number of sugars you consume, so your body manages the healthier food when you do get it. This can help to manage conditions like Type II diabetes.

Some people have seen benefits in reducing inflammation, which aids in autoimmune disorders and chronic pain. By reducing inflammation, you can reduce joint pain and arthritis. It’s possible to bring an end to the likes of irritable bowel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome. You can improve your gut health and fight off the likes of PCOS and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Of course, there are some weight loss benefits. You reduce the number of calories you consume in the day, which helps to create a calorie deficit. Your metabolism will burn more from your fat and muscles to help get the energy needed.

Many people believe that fasting is bad for the energy levels, but when done safely and properly, it can be very good. When you fast, you reduce the sugar spikes and slogs. You get rid of the dips in energy, making your levels more consistent and supportive.

Then there are the mental health benefits. Because of the lack of inflammation and improved energy levels, you can get rid of the accompanying brain fog. It’s possible to get rid of cognitive issues, improving your memory, alertness, concentration and more. You get rid of that mental fatigue; the mental exhaustion that makes the rest of your body’s energy dips.

Sugars cause dips in the energy, and you’re not just supporting your blood sugar levels and the energy levels by getting rid of them. You’ll stop the sugar cravings. Sugars are like a drug (in fact, some studies show that they’re worse than some drugs for addiction) and you start craving them if you stop getting them. By fasting, you get through the addiction period, so you stop craving them in the long term.

Food cravings and sugar cravings are often the reason for weight loss resistance. By fasting, you help to get over the plateau in your life.

How Does Fasting Help So Much?

Researchers are still looking into all the reasons, but the most common is a process known as autophagy. This is a cellular process. When you fast, your body cleans the weak cells out and replaces the body with the healthier cells. You have more room for the new cells and tissue, so you get more the healthier particles in your body.

Your body’s digestive system also gets a break. This can help to reduce reactions to foods that you didn’t realize you were allergic or intolerant to. You can reduce the sugar to help reduce inflammation and health problems. Your digestive system isn’t as sluggish, which helps with your overall energy levels and health.

You also get a better flow of blood, which is where the brain and the mental fatigue benefits come into play. Your brain gets the blood and oxygen needed, helping to protect the cells within the brain and improve the connections.

Prolonged vs. Intermittent Fasting: What’s the Best?

There are two main types of fasting that you can do: Prolonged and intermittent. Most people choose intermittent, but it’s worth looking into the details of both to figure out which is the best for you and your needs. Both can be safe, as long as you follow doctor’s advice and health tips.

Prolonged Fasting. This is when you fast for a prolonged period. Yes, the clue is in the name.

A prolonged diet isn’t usually followed on a regular basis. There’s no set time to follow this fast, except for the times that you feel it necessary. It’s sometimes referred to as a prolonged detox diet, and the idea is to get rid of all the gunk and toxins within the body. The most popular diet is the Prolong 5-Day Fasting Mimicking Diet.

You’ll allow the body to enter the ketogenic mode by fasting for 2-4 days. Any more than four days can be dangerous to the overall health. When the body gets into the full ketogenic mode, it encourages the fat cells to break down and convert into energy. Your stem cells become activated, and you can target the abdominal and visceral fat within the body. You can put your organs first, by getting rid of the most damaging amounts of fat.

This is a diet to discuss with your doctor. You want to make sure you’re on track to avoid damaging the whole health by not eating.

You can still drink water throughout the period. After all, not getting any water for a few days is extremely dangerous. However, you want to stick with plain water throughout this time. Some prolonged diets will allow some lemon slices to add a little more flavor but discourage adding other ingredients to your water.

Black coffee, black tea, and green tea can also be drank during the fasting periods. These are zero-calorie drinks without many side effects. However, you will want to watch the intake as the caffeine can lead to energy crashes.

Prolonged fasts can take more effort, as you have to think carefully about your days. Think about events that are coming up to avoid putting yourself in impossible situations.

Intermittent Fasting. Most people who fast will follow an intermittent fasting plan. This can be the 5:2 diet or a period of fasting for religion.

The idea is that you fast for a strict period and then eat during another strict period. For example, the Islamic religion has a period of fasting when the sun has risen, and eating is only allowed during the non-fasting periods.

You may also follow the 16-8 diet. This is when you fast for 16 hours a day and consume all the food you would usually eat in an 8-hour period. The idea is that during the 16-hour period, you will be able to burn all the calories and boost your cell health. Many of these diets have restrictions on the type of food you eat, too, so you constantly put your health first.

The 5:2 diet remains the most popular intermittent fasting plan and has proven successful for the health and weight loss efforts. This is a type alternate fasting plan, so moves from the allotted times to fasting on certain days. It’s not a strict fast in the way that you eat no food at all, but where you reduce the amount of food you eat.

During the 5:2 diet, you will reduce your calories to 600 or less for two days a week. The other five days, you can eat what you would like.

A true alternate fasting diet is when you eat one day and fast the next. You then eat the following day and fast the day after that. This continues until you decide to stop the plan.

Fasting and Weight Loss

It shouldn’t be that surprising that you can lose weight when fasting, but this shouldn’t be your only goal. The idea of fasting is to put your whole health first. The fasting diets aren’t long-term solutions, and many won’t have the maintenance plans needed to keep the weight off. You’ll need to learn more about the food that is good for you and the food that can lead to excessive weight gain.

If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau in your current plan, following a fast can be a good way to kick start things. You boost your metabolism and help to get it out of its funk. It’s possible to boost the fat burning, helping to give you more energy and support your overall health.

Fasting is also good for boosting your athletic performance. You get more energy to work out, and you’ll find it easier to build muscle. Your body burns the fat after getting into the ketogenic mode.

Getting Started with Fasting

If you’ve starting with fasting, you’ll want to do it safely. One of the first things to do is talk to your doctor, especially if you have a medical issue. This will help to ensure your medical health is protected throughout.

Know what your goals are for fasting. You want immediate goals and long-term ones. This will help you determine the type of fast you want to do. An alternate day or intermittent fast is one of the easiest to follow for beginners. As you get used to the feelings, you can then look into the prolonged fasts for your health.

Create a journal and food tracker. This will help you time your periods and stay on track during the fasting periods. If you’re following something like the 5:2 diet, you’ll also be able to track the number of calories you’re eating.

It’s worth having someone around to keep you accountable. They don’t need to do the diet with you but be your check-in buddy.

The Risks of Fasting

Of course, there are risks of fasting. If there weren’t, everyone would do it, right? You would never hear of people putting your eating choices down! You can avoid the risks if you follow your doctor’s recommendations and do a fasting diet safely.

The only people who should avoid fasts are those who can’t do them for a medical reason. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, now is not the time to follow a fast, as your baby needs the nutrients you’ll give them from your food. Wait until after your pregnancy and when you stop breastfeeding to start.

If you have a history of an eating disorder, fasting isn’t good for you. It can be triggering, especially if you have anorexia. Those who have gut issues and food sensitivities can also find the fasting is damaging. This can be linked to the types of food you’re getting when you’re not fasting or the way your digestive system reacts. Your doctor will discuss this with you if you have health problems.

Those with stress, anxiety or insomnia can also experience issues when fasting. You find yourself hungry and annoyed, which can boost the cortisol in the body. High levels of cortisol lead to stress, anxiety, insomnia and other health problems. You can also experience high blood pressure and panic attacks, sometimes setting off that fight or flight response in your body.

Therefore it’s so important to talk to your doctor first. If you experience any adverse side effects from fasting, consider whether it’s time to pull the plug. This is more than just feeling hungry but feeling your mental or physical health slip.

While fasting can be good, you need to listen to your body. If you don’t react when there’s a sign something is wrong, you’re putting your health at risk. It’s not worth putting your blood sugar and mental health at risk for the sake of a few potential benefits.

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