Our bodies are amazing engines. They perform according to what we put in it so if you’ve been feeling sluggish or generally bad lately, it almost certainly has to do with your diet. What a lot of us are discovering is that simply abstaining from food for a period of time can help us get back on track.
Fasting has become extremely popular in the last few years and in this article, we’re going to discuss the benefits of fasting every other day and how hard it was for me to maintain.
We first should know the basics like what fasting is and how fasting works.
What is fasting?
Fasting is simply abstaining from food and drink. For a period of time, you consume no calories at all.
As with most things, there are grey lines everywhere. Dry fasting for instance means you won’t even have water. You go for whatever period you’ve chosen without any tea, and water, and food, and liquid.
For the general public, fasting isn’t that extreme. For the purpose of this article, fasting means consuming no calories at all. However, you’ll get away with water and drinks that are zero-calorie such as herbal teas, apple cider vinegar, and black coffee. All unsweetened or with a teeny bit of pure stevia if you must.
How does fasting work?
According to medicalnewstoday.com, there are 7 ways to intermittently fast.
- Fast for 12 hours
- Fast for 16 hours
- Fast for two days a week
- Alternate day fasting (which I did)
- Weekly 24 hour fast
- Meal skipping
- The warrior diet (it’s as extreme as it sounds)
You can learn more about each method here to find out which one might be right for you. It also explains how each one works.
So how does fasting work? When you refrain from eating in a specific time frame, not only is your body consuming fewer calories, it also starts to operate in fat burning mode. What this means is that your body starts using your stored fat as energy seeing as how it is no longer getting food.
When it starts using the stored fat, you start losing weight. You also activate a metabolic state known as autophagy which I speak more of below.
Now we know how fasting actually works, let’s get into the health benefits of fasting.
3 Health Benefits of Fasting
Obviously, there are many more health benefits of fasting but for the purpose of this article, we are only going to discuss three. You can check out this article from healthline.com to find out what some of the other benefits are.
1 Helps you lose weight.
This comes in as the first and main health benefit as so many people start off fasting for that exact reason. To lose weight. Watch my video to find out how much weight I lost on my experiment with fasting every other day.
2 Gut health
I had to Google this one as I’ve heard so often that fasting promotes a healthy gut and prevents leaky gut but what exactly is leaky gut anyway?
“-largely practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine – believe the bowel lining can become irritated and leaky as the result of a much wider range of factors, including an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the bowel, a poor diet and the overuse of antibiotics.”
So fasting helps to prevent this (and it sounds awful by the way!). These doctors have convinced me that fasting for longer periods (36-72 hours) on occasion will eventually completely regenerate a new stomach lining and microbiome, brand spanking new, and I like the sound of that.
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What is autophagy? When you are in fasting mode, your body is hard at work doing all kinds of neat things. Losing weight is one, protecting our gut is another but it’s also working really hard on all our cells.
Autophagy is the process of flushing out all the bad and dead cells which begins the body’s job of rebuilding new cells. Many people will use fasting just for autophagy for the anti aging benefits.
It’s regenerating new cells which means new skin and a healthier glow!
If there were any bad cells that had the big idea of leading to any kind of disease, autophagy get them outta there! Fasting sounds like a miracle tool in our health arsenal and when coupled with the keto diet, you’ll be healthy as a horse.
I have to be honest though. Fasting is not for the faint of heart and I struggled a bit with it.
Why is fasting every other day so hard?
The most difficult thing to deal with while you are fasting is the mental challenge. Some of the other side effects you may deal with are:
- Hunger (of course)
While all these are temporary, the mental challenge is a tough one to handle. Our minds can sometimes be our worst enemies. We can talk ourselves out of something just as fast as we can into something.
It’s easy to say to yourself “Oh just one little bite of this won’t hurt”.
You must be really disciplined to stick to a fast 100% and stay focused on your why. A good alternative to multiple hour/day fast is something called OMAD which means one meal a day.
How does one meal a day work?
Instead of starving your body for 24 or 48 hours (or however long your fast is), you are still giving it food but only once a day. The benefit of this for many is that they don’t have to go through the trauma of a full-day fast yet you still reap some of the benefits from it.
You can learn more about OMAD here from this great article on healthline.com.
One meal a day is great for those who simply don’t want to fast for long periods but still want the health benefits of fasting.
How to start fasting
The easiest way is to simply pick a date on the calendar where nothing will interfere with your progress (ie parties, holidays, events, etc). Make sure to stock up on herbal teas and bone broth as they are acceptable to consume while you’re fasting. You’ll also want to have some pink salt and electrolytes on hand to stave off any symptoms of keto flu.
Get yourself in the right headspace and make a list of all the reasons why you want to do this in the first place. Put this list somewhere you can look at it all the time to remind you of your why.
Once your mind is in the right place, you’re ready to go! Good luck!