Instead of writing you a long article about the history and science of fasting, I’m going to do a Q&A style with some of the most popular questions that many have about fasting.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF), in this context, is where you go a period of time without food or calories of any kind. Simply put, you’re not eating or drinking anything (besides water or other calorie-free beverages).
What’s the point of fasting?
Keeping this simple, it gives your body a break from food. When you eat you have a myriad of systems that go to work from hormonal to metabolic, and if you’re always eating (especially crappy food) then your body doesn’t get a break from always digesting food and for some people if your body is always working on digesting food then it doesn’t get much of a chance to work on itself.
All sorts of processes in the body change when you don’t eat for a while, you get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormone (HGH).
Of course, people do this to lose weight since, ideally, you’re eating fewer calories than before.
Plus there have been other researched benefits of helping people live longer, preventing disease, and even anti-aging.
How long should you fast?
Most people will fast anywhere from 16-36 hours, with 18 hours being where the majority will stay.
Does this mean I have to go a full day without eating!?
An ideal schedule for many would be to only eat between noon and 8pm, so after 8pm no more food until noon the next day, which would give you a 16 hour fast.
You can vary the times and duration to your particular schedule.
Do I have to do this every day?
No. As you can tell IF, or fasting in general, is very individualistic to a person’s schedule or needs.
There are some people that will do a 16hr fast daily
Others that will do an 18-20 hour fast every other day
Some will fast 24-36 hours one time a week.
There is a bit of trial and error involved with this but if you choose to try or live this way you will find your sweet spot.
Is it healthy?
Will I lose muscle while fasting?
No. You may feel a bit weaker during some parts of your fast, but going for a day without food won’t’ result in instant muscle loss.
Will fasting slow down my metabolism?
Not at all! It takes much longer than one or two days to notice any kind of metabolic decrease (more like three weeks before any noticeable decrease is present and even then as soon as you eat some food you’re body’s metabolic rate will ramp right back up to normal.)
Does fasting ‘detox’ the body?
Ugh… I don’t’ like that term because the body will detox the body. BUT… if you were to not eat for 24 hours this will give the body time to work on itself AND address it’s priorities to ridding waste from the body instead of always digesting and processing food. So, in that context yes, it can help your body speed up its detox process.
What can I have during a fast?
There are many fasting protocols out there, so I’m sure some are confused with this. When you fast, I prefer that you consume NOTHING (minus water). No calories, no diet soda, no coffee, tea, etc… If you have to ask probably best not do have it. This is called a ‘fast’ for a reason 😛
What I will recommend people to do that are doing extended periods of fasting is to drink some kind of electrolytes in their water. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium; you can mix some lemon and salt into your water or even just get some electrolyte pills online <==Amazon
Can I fast and workout?
Most definitely! You may feel a bit weak, tired, or you’ll notice that you may not have as much energy as you used to, but that’s it. Many people that make IF a part of their day to day life report that their energy levels balance back out, and in lots of cases go up, after the first few weeks of fasting.
Can I still have a protein shake after my workout if I’m fasting?
If you’re trying to fast for a given time and your workout is right in the middle of that fast then no don’t have a shake. A better idea is to schedule your workout near the end of your fast, so you break your fast with your post-workout shake or meal.
Can I still take my supplements during a fast?
Here is my rule of thumb with supplements during fast:
- With medications follow your Dr’s orders.
- Minerals and herbal supplements, yes you can still take during a fast.
- Vitamins wait untill you start eating.
Do I have to fast to lose fat?
No! Fasting isn’t the only way to lose fat; this is just one of many ways.
IF or other fasting protocols are not the holy grail to weight loss but it has been a very powerful method helping people start controlling their food impulses, in addition, helping people eat fewer calories.
Do I think it’s healthy? As stated some people might benefit from skipping a few meals 😉
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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