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Complete Beginner’s Guide to Fasting: Where and How You Should Start

Fasting typically involves abstaining from food and drink for a set period. Certain religions practice fasting for spiritual reasons, but its potential health benefits have recently been the subject of extensive research.

Research suggests that fasting can help maintain a healthy weight, decrease inflammation, and enhance the body’s physical stress response and blood sugar regulation. As a result, it can be beneficial for joint health.

Before trying it out, read this guide to fasting to learn more about what it is, how to start, and the risks and benefits of the practice.

What Happens to Your Body When You Fast?  

The body harvests energy from food to function properly. When you fast, your body is forced to adjust and find other ways to create energy. The body resorts to absorbing energy from sugar stores, which depletes your glucose. 

When your body’s glucose decreases, your metabolism changes and starts to burn fatty acids. After this, your body undergoes a state of ketosis, wherein your body relies more on ketones produced from fat to get energy.

In this state, you can reap the benefits of fasting, depending on how long you’ve been fasting. 

What Are the Benefits of Fasting?

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in fasting to lose weight and improve overall health. 

Studies have shown that fasting may also decrease inflammation, prevent cancer, promote anti-aging, and improve heart health. 

Below are just some of the many benefits of fasting:

Weight loss

Many people fast to lose and maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown fasting boosts metabolism and stimulates growth hormones that burn fat. 

Reduce insulin resistance

Fasting decreases insulin resistance by lowering blood sugar and regulating insulin levels. Not only does reducing insulin resistance prevent type 2 diabetes, but it also improves heart health and weight loss. 

Improve brain health

Fasting increases the production of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), a brain-boosting hormone that helps in cognitive functions like memory function and mood.

Types of Fasting: Which One is Best for You?

There are different fasting types for you to try. Each type has its own benefits and risks that should be carefully considered before trying them out. 

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is the most popular form, which involves alternating between eating and fasting periods. 

This type of fasting has been found to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes

Additionally, intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Alternate-day Fasting

Alternate-day fasting involves fasting one day and then eating normally the next day. This type of fasting has been shown to promote weight loss and improve markers of inflammation and heart disease risk. 

However, it can be difficult to maintain due to prolonged periods of hunger and the need to plan meals on eating days carefully.

Water Fasting

Water fasting involves consuming only water for a set period, ranging from a few days to several weeks. This type of fasting has been shown to promote rapid weight loss and improve markers of metabolic health, such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

However, water fasting is not suitable for everyone, and it can be difficult to maintain for extended periods due to side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, and dehydration.

A Complete Guide to Fasting: How to Start

Choose Your Preferred Fasting Method

Many fasting types have their own routines and restrictions, so do extra research on the different kinds to see which one you believe fits your lifestyle and body best. 

Start Slowly But Surely

Since fasting can greatly impact your body, your system needs time to adjust. Heading straight into extreme fasting stresses your body out.

For this reason, at the beginning of your fasting journey, it’s important to ease yourself into it by keeping your fasting periods short.

We recommend fast periods of 8-24 hours since longer fasting periods of 48-72 hours can lead to irritability, lack of energy, and even fainting.

Don’t pressure yourself to perfect the method immediately. Gradually incorporate fasting into your daily routine without disrupting it; eventually, your body will get used to your new eating system. 

Plan Ahead

Plan and follow through with your fasting times to add more structure to your daily routine. Make sure the timeframe of fasting doesn’t interfere with the other responsibilities of your life, like work and family, to avoid excess stress and poor time management. 

Instead of completely cutting out all food during your fasting days, plan out fasting patterns that allow you to eat small amounts to reduce risks. Some fasting patterns, like the 5:2 diet, allow you to restrict your calories while avoiding negative side effects. 

It’s also important to be flexible with fasting, especially if you often go out on vacation. Don’t feel bad if you break your fasting window as long as you remain consistent on most days.

Expect Changes in Your Body

Because fasting involves your body adjusting to a different way of eating, your body may start to feel different. 

Most people initially experience side effects from fasting, like headaches, disorientation, and prolonged tiredness. This is completely normal as your body learns to adjust to fasting. 

Thankfully, these side effects diminish after a few days after starting. Once the side effects are gone, you may start feeling the benefits of fasting. 

Know the Risks

Although it’s worth giving fasting a try, it’s necessary to be aware of the risks. 

Common risks include increased levels of stress and sleep disruption. Fasting may cause dehydration, headaches, and heartburn as well. When fasting, you may experience electrolyte imbalances which may cause dizziness, heart palpitations, and feelings of weakness. 

Some individuals may be more at risk when it comes to fasting, so it’s important to consult with a dietitian before trying out fasting. It is not recommended to fast if you are pregnant or a person with certain medical conditions like diabetes. 

Drink more water, take multivitamins, and go easy on yourself to mitigate the risks. Your body is going through an adjustment phase, so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you start to feel unwell, don’t be afraid to stop fasting to avoid any more health risks. 

Maintain A Healthy Weight for Healthy Joints

Fasting can effectively improve overall health and promote weight loss to ease the stress on your joints.  

It is important to carefully consider the type of fasting and its associated risks and benefits before starting a fasting regimen. 

To learn more about fasting and other health practices, visit LifeClinic for more information.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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