Benefits of Fasting
What are the Benefits of Fasting?
Fasting has been in the news quite a bit recently. But what does it mean, and could it be good for you? Here at Fitter Faster UK, we’d like to share with you some of the benefits of fasting.
What is fasting?
Fasting basically means going without some or all foods for a certain period of time. There are a few different ways to fast. Some people do a one-off fast, which usually lasts between 24-72 hours. Others swear by intermittent fasting, which means fasting or restricting calories on certain days of the week.
Intermittent fasting was made popular by the 5:2 diet. This is where you pick two days per week where you only eat 500 – 600 calories. The other five days you can eat what you like, within reason. There are many other variations of this diet.
What are the benefits?
Fasting helps to control your blood sugar
Studies have shown that short term intermittent fasting has a significant impact on blood sugar levels. This way of eating can decrease blood sugar levels and help to keep them under control. This means that your energy levels are likely to be more even, preventing crashes and spikes. Fasting can stop you feeling tired due to food-related energy slumps.
Fasting helps weight loss
Fasting can make it easier to lose weight safely. Yes, you’re eating less than usual, but this type of diet also makes the body burn fat cells more effectively. While you are fasting, the body uses fat as its main source of energy. It speeds up the metabolism, as well as giving your digestive system a rest. You may also find that your stomach will shrink slightly after fasting regularly, meaning you won’t be eating as much on your non-fast days either.
Fasting can be anti-ageing
Some studies have found a link between fasting and living longer. Fasting can lead to better heart health, and relieve inflammation. It is has a positive effect on brain function, meaning that it could guard against degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Fasting also promotes autophagy. This is the process by which the body clears out damaged cells and regenerates them. When cells are constantly restoring themselves, it is bound to cause anti-ageing effects.
Fasting can improve your eating patterns
Sometimes we can’t tell when we are hungry. Fasting helps to regulate hormones. It almost acts as a reset button, helping you to learn what it feels like to be hungry or full. It can help you to develop an eating pattern that fits in with your lifestyle. When you can’t tell if you’re properly hungry, it is easy to fall into a trap of grazing, or boredom eating.
Are there any downsides?
If you are not used to fasting, you may feel low in energy to start with. Others have said they experienced poor concentration and experiencing headaches and dizziness. If you do decide to fast, it might help to ease into the diet gradually. Try extending the time between your evening meal and breakfast to start with. See if you can stretch this to 12 hours.
Avoid fasting on two consecutive days. Break your week up, for example, by fasting on Tuesday and Thursday. Two fast days back-to-back could leave you feeling very tired and hungry!
What should I eat on a fasting diet?
It’s very important to keep drinking - water and herbal teas have zero calories and don’t impact on your fast. Dehydration can cause headaches and tiredness. Include vegetables and protein. Don’t forget to include some complex carbs too for slow-burn energy.
On a fast day, make sure you get the most from every calorie that you’re allowed. Choose foods high in nutrients. It could be tempting to reach for the calorie-counted ready meal on fast days, but this won’t have as much nutritional value as whole foods and could leave you feeling tired. Choose lean protein, vegetables and whole grains.
As with any diet, it is important to consult with a doctor or professional before you begin. Our expert Personal Trainers are trained in nutrition and can provide one-to-one coaching sessions. Find out how to contact us here.
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