In recent months, I have written extensively about the benefits of regular fasting, which I have been doing in my personal life for the past two years. I also work closely with a number of people who are currently fasting regularly.
Regular fasting is a pattern of eating that refuses to consume any calories for a long time. Usually 12 to 40 hours. The results can be amazing for those who follow the rules exactly. This means fully understanding that fasting requires nothing but water, black coffee, or sugar-free tea. The key is to avoid anything that triggers an insulin reaction, because insulin helps store fats.
I met a good friend who was vacationing at a resort in Mexico. After fasting regularly for the past few months, she lost 27 pounds[27 kg]of body fat, and this is especially evident in her much shorter waist. He told me that he had not been able to cross the nearby mountain roads at the resort before, but this time the wind was blowing and he loved it. He also reiterated that regular fasting is the easiest and most effective way to manage his weight.
So here’s what you need to know about regular fasting and how it can benefit you:
How does regular fasting affect the body?
Like many people, I still fast regularly not only for the benefits of weight management, but also for a few other health benefits. If I eat food regularly – breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper – I will tell my body that digestion is a priority. Digestion, especially the digestion of fats in the diet, takes several hours, so the body is actively involved in the digestive process, from breakfast to dinner and beyond.
As a result, the body takes only a short break from digestion and fasts for only a few hours, preferably in a late sleep cycle, which lasts for a short time because breakfast is coming soon.
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This is an important consideration because it contributes to the health of the gut in many ways, especially to strengthen the immune system that occurs during fasting. Accompanied by the proliferation of immune cells, autophagy is a way for the body to clean up damaged cells in order to regenerate new, healthy cells. A good analogy to autophagy is garbage removal or waste disposal. In this case, the waste is part of the body’s cells, which must be damaged and removed in order for new cells to form.
Fasting also promotes the production of growth hormone, which helps the body shed fat and maintain muscle, which is important for good health as you age.
How can I fast regularly?
There are several ways to fast regularly. My approach is to fast every day and use food only in a narrow window for two to four hours. I started with a larger window and gradually reduced and built. After about 18 hours of fasting, the benefits described above increase and increase again.
In the previous column, I describe my typical approach to regular fasting: I usually eat breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks (power bars, nuts, etc. daily meal at 18:00. I drink black coffee from time to time throughout the day. I get up and it satisfies me to enjoy before dinner.
Plus, I’m not shy if I want to be fooled by food like hot lipstick at night.
In addition, even though I fast for many hours before training, I do not lose energy.
How is regular fasting different from other strict diets?
Recently, a reader wrote to me about regular fasting. He wrote: “I read your books on nutrition, proper nutrition, and exercise, and you are against strict diets because lack of nutrients leads to loss of muscle mass. Now, I read about how you have been using a regular fast that reduces calories to zero for a long time, and how do I think this is different from calorie restriction on a strict diet?
An obvious question worth exploring.
First, on a strict diet, you reduce your calories from about 2,000 calories a day to less than half, and go on a half-starvation diet. When you drastically reduce calories, your body struggles to maintain optimal levels of blood sugar, called glucose. Blood sugar is very important because the brain is dependent on glucose as the main source of fuel, and of course the brain is the body’s top priority.
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Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen. When eating a “normal” diet, when the blood sugar level drops, the liver releases glucose to raise it again. However, a strict diet depletes the liver’s glycogen supply because the body is in a state of semi-starvation. Thus, when the blood sugar level drops, the body fears that the liver will not be able to respond properly.
This, in turn, causes the body to take immediate action. The hormone cortisol is released, which breaks down muscles into proteins and then into amino acids. Selective amino acids are transported to the liver and converted into glucose, which raises blood sugar levels. In other words, the body destroys the muscles to produce glucose, and the process is called gluconeogenesis.
Is there any benefit to breaking the diet against regular fasting?
Crash diets are always unsuccessful because losing muscle mass has the opposite effect, and even if you lose a lot of pounds, it doesn’t look good to lose a few pounds of muscle. This is unfortunate because when you start a strict diet to lose 30 pounds or more, you imagine that you are returning to a body with 30 pounds less fat. Your “new” diet doesn’t make your body look the way you expect it to.
Plus, you feel bad and you only think about food.
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When you fast regularly, you do not reduce calories and do not go on a half-starvation diet. On the contrary, despite losing weight, I eat more now than I used to because I do not want to lose weight. So I can easily replenish my liver’s glycogen stores every day and keep my blood glucose at an optimal level, which maintains my muscle mass.
All you need to do is make a firm decision to eat at the appointed time and stick to it.
Contact Bryant Stamford, Professor of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology at Hanover College, at email@example.com.