We get a lot of questions from patients regarding the topic of fasting. What exactly is fasting, and what does it do? If you Google “fasting” you’ll find that there’s enough information out there to completely overwhelm you. Explained as simply as possible, fasting in any form is just the absence of food and drink. However, there are hundreds of variables that make it slightly more complex when applying fasting to your daily life.
One of the more popular types of fasting in recent years is intermittent fasting—this involves only eating within a certain window of hours, resulting in fewer meals and less calories consumed. Moderation fasting is another method of restricting calories, but rather than cutting one meal every day, you would eat normally for a set amount of days and then fast for the remaining days of the week. Both methods achieve similar results, so it’s just a matter of preference. The point is, if you’re interested in trying fasting, chances are you can find a method that will fit your lifestyle.
Most people are drawn to the practice because it’s a quick way to cut calories. It’s true that fasting is great for weight loss and toning up that stubborn belly fat, but beyond just dropping a few pounds, there are many other positive side effects including:
- Promoting heart health by improving cholesterol and blood pressure
- Enhancing cognitive function and memory
- Reducing blood sugar and insulin
- Reducing inflammation
- Decreasing hunger by regulating Leptin
- Promoting autophagy and cellular repair
Need I say more? Are you ready to give it a try?
Well, not so fast. There are a few groups of people who should consult a doctor before starting. If you’re pregnant or nursing, take diabetes medication, or have a history of eating disorders, we suggest receiving approval from a doctor first. It’s important to understand how fasting could affect your mood, energy and overall health in the beginning.
If those conditions don’t apply to you and you’re ready to try fasting for the first time, our advice is to take it slow. Try adjusting your eating time in the morning by one hour and then increase it by a couple more hours. The goal is to move your first meal of the day to late morning or early afternoon—this slow transition will help with easing your hunger. Most fasts allow black coffee, so if you’re a coffee lover this may help smooth the transition. It’s also imperative to drink lots of water during fasting, as hydration has a whole host of other health benefits on its own.