Does fasting cause excessive cravings and increased hunger? Does fasting lead to eating disorders, overeating and loss of muscle? Is fasting bad for your health?
Fasting is one of the healthiest things you can do. From the dawn of time, we have not had refrigerators that provide us with fresh foods on a moment’s notice. People starved because the availability of food was scarce. People moved from one location to another because of seasonal foods. Fasting (or starving) was part of life.
However, today we are bombarded with all sorts of messages counter to the notion of fasting. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Eat several small meals a day to boost your metabolism. Eat several small meals a day to lose weight.
Fasting is not eating or drinking anything of caloric value. That means water, tea without sugar/cream, coffee without sugar/cream. I intermittently fast daily for 18 hours. I eat between noon and six p.m. regularly. I do it for health reasons.
The body’s production of human growth hormone increases with each hour of fast. Human growth hormone declines with age. To counter the aging effects of lower production levels of human growth hormone I choose to fast more than twelve hours each day.
During a fast, you enter nutritional ketosis. Your body shifts from burning glucose to burning fat. During a fast your body also leaches minerals from abscesses, fungal growths, and deposits in your joints. Some people experience relief from arthritic pain during extended fasts. Fasting also gleans fat from your blood vessels, nerve paths and outside your organs. Fasting is anti-inflammatory.
If you take mineral supplements during a fast you are not getting the same level of healing. Your body cannot process the accumulated wastes as effectively. Some people prefer to take a small pinch of pink Himalayan salt in a bottle of water to maintain hydration.
The definition of fasting is not perfect. Some claim that no calories are required to fast. But, some say that small amounts of some foods are good and don’t break the fast, such as a lemon or lime in water or tea. The bottom line is that ketosis is not broken with five or six calories for lemons or limes. For the purists though, a lemon or lime will break a fast because it elicits a metabolic response.
Your body focuses on itself during a fast. It rids itself of broken and/or damaged cells. Toxins are typically stored in fat. As fat is burned for fuel, you must have water to flush the toxins out of your body.
Some people will argue that your brain needs glucose to function. During ketosis, there is no available glucose for brain functions. However, your body makes glucose for brain function from fat when it needs to.
Fasting comes to an end when you decide to eat a meal. If you have been diligent and fasted for a day or more, you should not pig out on the comfort foods you abstained from during your fast. Balanced nutrition is really the best answer. I follow the Wahls Protocol dietary recommendations to ensure that I get balanced nutrition with each meal.
Four weeks ago, I adopted a five-day 18-hour intermittent fasting regimen with two days of near total fast. I do use a lemon or lime in unsweetened iced tea periodically during my two-day fast. I do it for health and longevity reasons, not for weight loss.
My fasting regimen did not happen overnight. It started a long time ago by adapting incrementally each week to allow my body to adapt to this lifestyle. If you are under medical care, please consult a physician before attempting any time of long-duration fast.