Fat Loss and Other Health Benefits Through Fasting
Fasting is the complete abstinence from some or all food, and in some cases, drink for a period of time. Fed/fasting cycles date back to the beginning of time to the Paleolithic man and continued as part of some major cultures and religions.
Currently in America, however, this practice has all but disappeared. In fact, Americans have replaced the fed/fasted cycle with being in a near constant fed state. Consequently, the body stores all extra calories it would have burned off in a fasted state as fat.
Health Benefits of Fasting
Intermittent fasting has been found to promote the following health benefits:
- Decreased body fat
- Increased fat burning
- Decreased blood glucose levels
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Increased glucagon levels
- Increased growth hormone levels
- Decreased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
- Decreased systolic blood pressure
- Increased release of extra body fluids
Some fitness and nutrition professionals believe that if we go too long between meals there can be several undesirable outcomes, including a slowing of our metabolism, losing muscle instead of fat and, for those on exercise programs, a lack of sufficient energy to support a workout.
However, the latest research shows that there are no negative effects on metabolism when fasting for as long as three days. The increase in growth hormone as a result of the fast protects muscles from being broken down and people working out for less than one hour did not see diminished energy levels when in a fasted state.
How to Fast
Fasting should be done for a single 24 hour period 1-2 times per week. Eat as you normally would all day, finishing dinner at 6 pm. You are then done eating for the day. Continue to fast until 6 pm the next day, at which time have dinner. This way you never go a day without eating.
Start fasting days off with a large glass of water and drink plenty of fluids all day. Tea is also an acceptable beverage on a fast. Also, stay as busy as possible so as to not desire food out of boredom.
When you are not fasting, you are able to eat as you normally would, although a diet high in vegetables and lean protein with some fruit and whole grains is suggested. Overconsumption of food or abnormal indulgence in deserts and junk food is discouraged.
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