I have wanted to write about fasting for some time now and am still gathering more and more information on it to share so it will most likely be a 2 part post. I have experimented with many different types of eating plans, influenced by learning new information, eastern philosophy, western medicine, health, and prevention and each time I have learned something new about my body. At one point I was consistently fasting one day a week and I felt great. So let’s talk understand fasting, you might be wondering why I am writing about NOT eating, I have learned that Fasting when done properly can have health and performance benefits.
What is fasting?
Fasting is defined as: the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. A fast may be total or partial concerning that from which one fasts, and may be prolonged or intermittent as to the period of fasting.
What happens when you fast?
Fasting, whether long term or intermittent, will impact metabolism and associated hormonal responses. When one fasts they deprive the body of glucose, the primary fuel source. After about 8 hours without food or glucose the body resorts to the liver glycogen, which is a stored form of glucose, for fuel. It will then turn to muscle glycogen for fuel and then finally to fat for fuel. Although the brain functions primarily on glucose, in a state of glucose deprivation fat can be used by the brain for fuel.
Benefits of Fasting
Ultimately, moderate fasting results in short term calorie restriction which can increase metabolism, fat burning and overall health for most anybody. This concept is still very new in the west and scientific research is still be conducted but studies have shown that the metabolic changes which occur during short term fasting can help reduce risk for cancer, reduce cognitive decline, increases insulin sensitivity and can help with weight loss. Many philosophies and cultures, especially Eastern, have been incorporating fasting for thousands of years as a way to cleanse the mind and body. Fasting gives the digestive process a break and allows the body to fully metabolize foods that have been consumed. After all the gut deserves a rest day also!
This is just an overview of fasting; next post will provide more details on intermittent fasting, how to fast, and performance benefits.
If you have tried fasting before, share your experience. If you have questions about fasting or are considering it, post to comments…