(WellnessNova.com) - On paper, fasting is one of those things that sounds absolutely awful. “Go a day or two every week without eating? Why, how could you?”
In reality, fasting isn’t all that bad. It’s something yours truly practices every week like clockwork. And since I started practicing fasting, I’ve noticed some pretty amazing results. I’m more productive, I feel less fatigued, and I’m more mentally clear. While I’m a guy who loves to eat, I actually find myself looking forward to my weekly cleanses or fasts.
But don’t let me be the only one to espouse the benefits of fasting. As it turns out, there’s actually scientific evidence out there that suggests fasting has numerous healthful benefits. Consider this your guide to why fasting is awesome and how you can power through your cleanses like a champ.
The Benefits of Fasting
Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting offers significant health benefits. For example, fasting can help speed up your metabolism, reduce your risk of developing diabetes, and even helps give your immune system a boost by reducing free radical damage and stress on your internal system.
Granted, it’s a field with limited research, but there’s enough out there to suggest that fasting just might be for you. For example, one study that examined intermittent fasting in a Mediterranean diet found that there might be a link between intermittent fasting and increased longevity. And of course, fasting provides us with a chance to cleanse. (That’s also part of why “fasting” and “cleanse days” are used interchangeably).
Anecdotally, people have reported experiencing more mental clarity during their fasts. Some of the more spiritual folks out there might feel more in touch with themselves during a cleanse. Personally, I find that on a cleanse day I’m a little more focused and productive. I lost ten pounds in two months by incorporating intermittent fasting into my routine with little to no other lifestyle changes, and considering I work at a desk for a living, it’s a pretty welcome change.
Of course, understanding why fasting works also involves dispelling a few common misconceptions.
For one, when we say fasting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t eat at all. While you’re certainly welcome to stick to water only, you might find you’re one of those people who absolutely need to eat something to get through the day. Stick with fruits, veggies, and other wholesome, natural foods only. The key is keeping your fast light. I’ll sometimes have half an apple to make sure I’m getting enough nutrients to get through the day. While I’m an omnivore through and through, I avoid meat on my fast days. Since meat is so protein-rich and fatty, it actually requires your stomach to produce more acid-exertions; and since the idea behind fasting is that you’re allowing your body to “reset,” you want to go easy on what you’re trying to digest.
I mentioned earlier that fasting has the potential to boost your metabolism. That’s where I want to note one of the other big misconceptions you’ve probably heard about skipping meals: that daring to skip breakfast or dinner could slow down your metabolism. The idea is that skipping even one meal has the potential to throw your body into starvation mode where your body will then do whatever it can to hoard calories and fat and slow down your metabolism to the extreme. But as studies have shown, this is far from the truth. Skipping one meal a day won’t throw your body into a dietary tailspin and fasting once a week certainly won’t hurt anything.
I find that when it comes to getting through a fast, it’s really more of a mind-over-matter kind of thing. The less worried you are about how you’ll get through a fast and about being mindful about what you’re putting in your mouth, the better you’ll do.
Fasting isn’t punishment nor is it something you should dread. Think of it as a vacation for your body. You’re forcing your body to use its fat stores and allowing your body to rest from the usual pressures of digestion. Plus, remember, you’re cleansing your body. Going 24 hours without a steak dinner is worth it in the end.
Staying hydrated is key. Not only can drinking lots of water help subdue your hunger but getting enough fluids is a key factor when it comes to cleansing your body and ensuring every part of your body is working properly. Keep a water bottle by your desk and refill regularly.
Keep a Normal Routine
I find that the best way to ensure that I get through a cleanse is to keep a fairly normal routine. The less of a big deal I make it, the more I find that fasting really isn’t such a big deal. When you focus and fixate on how strange fasting is or how your routine is different, it’s easy to lose focus. I still work, run errands, and generally go about my day on a cleanse and I find that every single time I cleanse, I never experience a drop in productivity. Plus, the less you focus on a relative lack of food, the better.
How Often Should You Fast?
Personally, I fast for up to 48 hours every week in a row. But it really just depends on what you’re up for. Some people might just fast for 24 hours. Other people might even alternate between fasting and eating normally every other day. It basically depends on whatever works best for you and your individual diet routine. For those of you new to fasting, I recommend sticking with a 24-hour fast. You can either continue doing that once a week, or do what I do and move on to 48 hours.
Summing it Up
Fasting can be for everyone. It’s really just a matter of understanding why fasting works and how you can power through it like a champ. Whether you do it for 24 hours at a time or alternate fasting days throughout the week, whether you eat nothing or only eat fruit, fasting offers plenty of amazing health benefits to those willing to give it a shot. Since adding fasting to my routine, I’ve never felt better. This just might be your case too!