What you should know about fasting

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•Preparing for fasting

By Sola Ogundipe

When you fast, it means you stop eating completely, or almost completely, for a particular period of time that lasts from 12 to 24 hours, or even for days at a time. In some cases, you may take some water or even a small amount of food during the “fasting period.”

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Fasting is common religious tradition. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates believed it helped the body heal itself and scientists agree that most of what happens to your body when you fast is mostly good.

Besides religious practice, there are  health reasons for fasting. One of the most common is weight loss. Certain types of fasting may help improve your cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, and other health issues.

Anyone that has fasted for a length of period knows how it feels. You’ll probably feel hungry at the beginning, but after a few days, the hunger gets better.

Fasting is quite different from dieting in that it’s not about trimming calories or a certain type of food. Fasting is abstaining from food, that is, not eating at all, or severely cutting back, for a certain amount of time.

People have asked how safe it is to fast. From all indications, a brief fasting isn’t likely to hurt anybody as long as you’re a healthy adult, whether your weight is normal or you’re heavier.

Of course, everyone needs good nutrition to be healthy and to thrive, so it might be necessary to seek medical advise first, especially if you have health problems or take any kind of medication.

If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or you have a history of eating disorders, it is advisable that you should avoid fasting of any kind. Small children and teenagers are not really encouraged to engage in fasting because it could adversely affect their growth.

When you’re not fasting, you can eat any food that you normally would, but try not to overeat. However, your health changes for the better when you fast, even if your diet does not. It is healthy to eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains when fasting if you don’t already eat enough.

It is possible that you might eat more than you normally do when. You break the fast, note that you should try to eat a healthy amount of food and not stuff yourself after a fast.

Fasting helps maintain lower blood pressure, higher insulin sensitivity, more appetite control, and easier weight loss.

Intermittent fasting is an off-and-on type of fasting useful for weight loss and improved health.

Time-Restricted Feeding means you do all your eating in a certain stretch of the day, often around 8-12 hours. One easy way to do this is to skip one meal. Let’s say if you finish dinner by 8 p.m., you’ve already achieved 12 hours of your fast by 8 a.m. Make it to noon for lunch, and you’ve fasted for 16 hours. You could also stop eating after lunch until breakfast the next morning.

Alternate-Day Fasting is sometimes called “complete” alternate day fasting because the time when you don’t eat lasts a full 24 hours.

This followed with one or more “feast” days when you can eat as much as you want. Limited studies suggest that alternate-day fasting can lead to weight loss and improve health. But it may be hard to stick to over the long term.

Modified Fasting allows you to eat around 20-25/percent of your normal daily energy needs on scheduled fast days—just enough to remind you what you’re missing!

One popular version, the 5:2 diet, requires two days a week (not in a row) of 24-hour “fasting” except for a very light meal. On the other five days of the week, you can eat whatever you want.

Complete, alternate-day fasting could be very hard to stick with over the long term. But other versions of fasting seem to get easier over time. Specific plans are required to determine what might be best for you.

Studies show that fasting might help people with diabetes or pre-diabetes control blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and lose weight, however, talk to your doctor first.

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Weight training may help you shed more body fat, but not muscle, if you limit eating to eight hours a day. Aerobic exercise, like running, swimming, or biking, while on a time-restricted eating plan might help your cholesterol levels, and cut down on belly fat, Still, you need good fuel. Make sure you cover your nutritional needs.

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