Fasting is most commonly associated with spiritual and religious beliefs. What many of us do not know is that it has tremendous health benefits, too. In layman terms, it can be defined as the change in eating patterns to abstain from eating for certain periods of time. These periods could be certain hours in a day or certain days in a week. In the days or hours when you are not fasting, you are free to eat whatever you like.
However, do not defy reasons and engage in junk food or empty Calories. As long as, you are eating Whole grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, lean proteins, healthy fats and raw dairy products, you are on the right track. Needless to say, there is no point in fasting if you are eating ice creams, consuming cola and munching on French fries!
Please note that it is different from dieting as here, you are not following any diet chart of recommended foods and drinks. Again, fasting does not mean starving yourself.
How does fasting work?
Food is the fuel and primary source of energy for your body. When the supply of food is cut off, your body turns to stored Glucose present in your liver and muscular tissues. This process is triggered at around 8 hours after you had your last meal. Thereafter, once the stored Glucose has been consumed by the tissues, the process of fat burning starts. This is exactly the result we aim at by fasting, that is, the burning of stored fat in your body.
The various benefits of fasting are as follows:
#1 Excellent Tool For Weight Loss
Obesity is a problem which is bothering people at a global level. Overweight individuals are most desperate to find ways to shed that extra weight. Well, fasting on alternate days can help to trim the body weight quickly and bring down the percentage of body fat, as well. For this type of fasting, you need to consume only around 750 and 1,100 Calories in a day. You also need to stay away from food for at least 10 hours.
This kind of fasting helps to shed weight without a deficit in lean muscle mass. Also, low-grade inflammation in the body gets subsided gradually. This kind of low-grade inflammation occurs due to the accumulation of fatty tissue around the waistline and internal organs and is responsible for a variety of diseases like Cardiac problems, Diabetes and even Cancer!
As a result of fasting, detoxification process of your body occurs. The toxic substances which are stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and can be easily flushed out from your system in form of stools and urine.
#3 Feel-good factor
There have been studies which confirm that fasting promotes the secretion of “happy hormones” called as the Endorphins in your body. These hormones have a positive effect on your moods and mental well-being.
#4 Fasting helps in the growth and repair of body tissues
Studies have found that regular fasting leads to the synthesis of Growth hormone in the body. Growth hormone helps in building muscle mass and burning excessive fat in the body. Both these changes improve the quality of your workouts and make you more muscular.
#5 Improves Insulin sensitivity
Diabetes type 2, a chronic disease that haunts many people these days is chiefly due to Insulin resistance or decreased sensitivity to the pancreatic hormone called Insulin. Intermittent fasting helps to normalize Insulin sensitivity. This can be due to decreased blood glucose levels, reduced visceral body fat and controlled body weight as a result of it.
#6 Gives you a better lipid profile
It can help you achieve a better Lipid profile. Fasting reduces the bad Cholesterol in the body, that is the levels of Triglycerides, Low-density Lipoproteins and Very Low-Density Lipoproteins. Another good thing to note here is that it does not decrease the good Cholesterol, that is High-Density Lipoproteins. Thus, we can safely say that it has a cardioprotective role.
Precautions while fasting
- People suffering from low blood pressure may cut out foods while doing this but should take fluids rich in electrolytes like Coconut water, Lemonade with some salt to prevent their blood pressure from getting low.
- Diabetics should fast with caution and discuss with a nutritionist for an ideal fasting pattern for them.
- People who experience dehydration commonly should not cut out fluids while doing this.
- If you are prone to heartburn, do take your antacids prior to doing this.
Who should not fast?
- Underweight individuals
- Pregnant women
- Kids under the age of 18
- Insulin-dependent diabetics
The Ramzan Fasting month has just gone by. The Shravan fasting month is coming up, so it is a good opportunity for all to give it a try. Fasting surely has many health benefits. There are health-associated reasons that it is a part of so many religions. You too can reap these health benefits by doing it regularly. Always start slow if you are not used to it. Start it with just one day a week when you intake plenty of fluids, fresh fruits, veggies, some nuts and high fibre food like Oats or porridge. Add some veggie soups for Vitamins and that should do the trick. Gradually, you can increase the number of days you take up fasting to say, thrice a week. Have you tried it to lose weight? Do it now and let us know how it worked for you!
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