It sounds so easy: don’t eat for an entire day. You’re not consuming any calories, don’t need to cook while losing weight quickly. But you may wonder if fasting is actually healthy, and could fasting be used for long-term weight loss?

In this blog post, you’ll learn what the health benefits of fasting are and when the best time is to do it.

Fasting Explained

There’s are certainly conflicting reports regarding fasting. You would expect that not eating for a day or even longer automatically slows down your metabolism. However, this is incorrect!

Fasting doesn’t have a direct detrimental effect on your metabolism.

In fact, a study done at the University of Rochester shows that your metabolism only slows down after 60 hours of fasting and the delay is only 8%. The study shows that your metabolism isn’t slowing down, but rather accelerating after 36 to 48 hours of fasting.

The feeling of real starvation will only occur after approximately 3 days without food. After 3 days your body will convert protein into glucose. And your muscles are the main source of protein in this case.

Until then, your body primarily uses glycogen (which is stored in the muscles and liver) and body fat. Your body doesn’t want to break down proteins at all and only does this as last resort for energy.

This makes sense if you study the subject “fasting” from an evolutionary point of view. A slower metabolism is simply not conducive to survival. It’s actually the opposite: you require extra energy to find food quickly!

Hence, the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline are being excreted in excess during this process. These hormones speed up your basal metabolism, which is your metabolism at rest.

The Health Benefits Of Fasting

Research shows that regular fasting provides certain health benefits. The negative effects only come into play when you’re fasting for a long time. Some interesting facts: fasting promotes insulin sensitivity, burns fat, helps you cope with stress and may even extend your life.

And there are more health benefits:

  •  Fasting promotes detoxification

Many of the processed foods that we consume daily are packed with harmful additives and artificial sweeteners. Many of these additives are stored in the fat tissue. When you’re fasting, you’re burning fat, making these toxins disappear from your body.

  • Fasting lowers blood sugar

This is of course quite logical. Glucose increases your blood sugar levels and while fasting your body still absorbs glucose (from glycogen and fat burning). However, your body requires less insulin whereby your pancreas can “relax”. This effect is especially significant when you have a sugar-rich diet.

  • Fasting is beneficial to your digestion

Your digestive system can take a break during periods of fasting. Of course it doesn’t stop working entirely. However, the production of stomach acid isn’t being inhibited which makes fasting very bad for your health if you suffer from heartburn or similar symptoms.

  • Fasting helps with certain addictions

When you fast in a conscious and healthy way, making it part of your lifestyle, you’ll notice an increased resistance to unhealthy habits and addictions. This is because you’re already dealing with your craving for food. So it also helps with other addictions, such as nicotine, alcohol and sugar.

The health benefits of fasting are consistent with the findings of a low-calorie diet. However, a low-calorie diet is only beneficial if it provides you with enough nutrients and is not being recommended to anyone.

Generally speaking, fasting regularly and for no longer than 24 hours is not only a good strategy to burn fat, but can also improve your health. In addition, fasting can also help you beat unhealthy habits.

There are certain regulations you should adhere before you begin.

It’s wise to work with a strategy of “eating and fasting”. You can fast 16 to 20 hours and then you need to make sure you’re consuming enough nutrients during the next 8 hours. The goal is to consume enough calories and nutrients that your body needs for an entire day. This may mean that you’ll need to prepare a couple of big meals.

I’m not a fan of big meals myself because, well… they can make you fat! That’s why having 5 to 6 meals is a better alternative for me personally. The trick is to make sure that these small meals are as healthy as possible.

The Risks Of Fasting

health benefits of fasting

Be aware that fasting is not some kind of an easy way to lose weight quickly. A “fasting strategy” should always be used in combination with a healthy diet. Simply put: there’s no point in fasting for 24 hours when you eat half of Burger King afterwards.

Fasting is also not recommended for pregnant women, children and certain health conditions. Always consult a doctor if you’re not sure!

Conclusion

The health benefits of fasting show that we need to think differently about food. Although never being hungry reduces cravings for unhealthy food, we don’t really need to “prevent hunger”. Often we’re programmed to eat certain quantities at certain times of the day. In addition, we often consume too many calories.

Nonetheless, fasting needs to be carried out consciously and wisely. There are certain health benefits, but remember that fasting can only be an extension of your already healthy lifestyle.