Is fasting good for your health?
Good question! I see this common question pop up on Google searches so I thought I would share my 2 cents on the topic. So you’re in luck because I have answers (and if you read until the end you’ll learn exactly how long to fast to get the benefits)…
Have you heard the news on fasting?
You may be hearing more and more about all the great benefits of both fasting and intermittent fasting. Things like
- easy weight loss while
- sparing and building muscle
- and detoxing your body.
For most this is more than enough to pique their curiosity so they they want to learn more about fasting.
But wait, there’s more…
The list of benefits from fasting goes on and on. People have reported and studies indicate that fasting can help you boost your energy, improve your brain function (and thus your productivity), save you time and money, help you recover faster from workouts and injuries (including TBIs), promote healthy skin, joints and bones, sleep better, live longer, reduce your risk for illness (like heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer).
It sounds like that elusive magic health pill that you’ve been searching for that seemingly fixes just about every ailment.
Wait a sec, isn’t fasting dangerous?
If you’re at all skeptical (which I think you should be!) then you may have also heard some of the bad things associated with fasting like:
- You lose muscle
- You need to eat frequently to keep up your metabolism
- Breakfast is the most important meal
- You need to eat for energy (to have fuel in the tank)
- You need carbs for breakfast
- Your body goes into starvation mode when you fast
These myths around fasting are easy to come by. Just bring it up in conversation and see how people react…I often immediately see the fear in their face and eyes!
When is fasting bad for your health?
Before you learn about how fasting can be good for your health, you’ll quickly understand how, in fact, it can be bad for your health.
Although fasting has a seemingly limitless amount of benefits, you may hear that fasting may not be right for everyone.
That’s right. I think fasting is something that EVERYONE needs to do to maintain their health.
Fasting is for EVERYONE.
Let me explain how and why fasting is for everyone. When I say this, I’m not talking about fasting for days on end. I’m not even talking necessarily about fasting for a full day.
Fasting works for everyone when you find the right amount that suits you, your lifestyle and your body.
I would even go as far to say that EVERYONE FASTS.
Think about that for a sec.
And ask yourself 2 questions:
1) What do you do when you’re sleeping at night?
2) What’s your first meal of the day called?
Yes, you are fasting every night.
Without delay or suspense, here are your answers to the above questions:
1) When you sleep at night, you are not eating and therefore YOU ARE FASTING.
2) Your first meal of the day is called “BREAK FAST”; that is, it’s when you break your night-time fast.
Thus, to say that fasting is unhealthy makes absolutely no sense. It’s like saying that sleeping at night is unhealthy!
But that still begs and leaves your initial question on the table:
Is fasting good for your health?
Now that you understand that you are already fasting, then the answer is: YES! And “no”… and “it depends”. That is…
It really depends on how long you’re fasting and how your body does without food.
The answer that says, “No, you shouldn’t fast” would be in extreme cases when you go so long without food that you have health issues like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This is more common for diabetics on medications that lower their blood sugar levels.
A better question to ask might be:
How long do you need to fast to get the health benefits?
I really like this question because now you’re getting more specific.
The answer is generally the same as above: It depends…
How long you fast depends on your own body and lifestyle. However, you can learn a lot by looking at the existing evidence on fasting where you will find that:
You can get big benefits by fasting for just 13 hours.
That’s right. Just 13 hours without any food/calories/energy.
Thankfully, there was a study done on women, diet and breast cancer. Interestingly, it was found that when women went more than 13 hours without eating, their incidence of breast cancer dropped significantly.
I’m not saying that you’re at risk for breast cancer; nor am I saying that it’s even a primary concern for you. However, I think it is a powerful indicator that fasting for 13 hours has significant benefits – that, beyond just losing weight and detoxing/cleansing – may defend your body from cancer.
Please consult your doc…
In general you’re recommended to consult your doctor before trying fasting.
Progress towards your goals.
I encourage people to treat fasting a little bit like exercise – like lifting weights, for example.
That is, when you start lifting weights, you have to start small and progressively work your way up.
I think this is a good approach to many other things and I think it definitely works well when you try fasting.
So before you dive into multiple days of fasting, see if you can go for just 13 hours without food every night. Simple, right?
That’s all you get in this article.
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Curious about fasting but don’t know where to start?
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Whatever your reason (like losing weight, having more energy/mental clarity, and saving time/money on food), if you’re interested in fasting but could use some guidance to get started, you’re in luck because we’re launching the most complete fasting course – with daily assignments, weekly live video calls, and tons of informational resources – so that you too can learn and enjoy the many benefits of fasting.
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