Is Fasting Okay?
Brief periods of fasting may not harm healthy adults, but people should check with a doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist before trying a new eating pattern, especially if they have underlying health conditions. It’s also important to eat a well-balanced diet during your eating window, including enough calories, protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals, says Accetta.
The goal of fasting is to help people eat less and maintain or lose weight, but it’s not for everyone. In particular, diabetics should avoid it until their glucose and insulin levels are normalized. Also, pregnant women should not fast, as it can have negative effects on the unborn baby. Those with hypoglycemia should check with their doctor before trying it, as well.
The most common types of fasting include the 5/2 plan (where you eat a limited amount of calories on two days each week) and the periodic or religious fast, which is an extended abstinence from food for spiritual reasons. People often use it to pray, meditate, or seek God’s guidance and healing.
It’s best to start with small periods of time, and work your way up to longer fasts. This will help ease your body and mind into the change. It’s important to stay hydrated, so make sure to drink plenty of water while fasting. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, try putting up sticky notes around the house or setting reminders on your phone. Also, try to mix up your daily routine to keep yourself from becoming bored with the same routine over and over.
If you’re doing a time-restricted fast, it’s a good idea to stick with low-calorie liquids like water and black coffee or tea. You can also add some zero-calorie artificial sweeteners, but be careful, as they can trigger cravings and make you eat more. If you’re going to eat, be mindful and take your time with each meal. Eating too quickly can lead to overeating, especially if you’re returning from a period of fasting. Slowly reintroduce solid foods, starting with things like yogurt or soup. Make sure to chew thoroughly and savor each bite. This will prevent overeating and gastrointestinal distress, such as constipation or diarrhea. If you have any questions about a particular type of fast, consult your doctor or review some health books on the subject.
When paired with healthy eating habits, fasting can help you reach your health goals. It is not recommended for everyone, however, especially those with a history of disordered eating or those taking certain medications. If you are thinking about trying intermittent fasting, speak with your primary care provider first.
There are a variety of ways to incorporate fasting into your diet, so it’s worth exploring until you find what works for your lifestyle and health goals. The most common practice is an alternate day or time-restricted diet, but there are others as well. It is best to start slow and then adjust the routine as you get used to it.
The human body was adapted to long periods of not eating. Our ancestors hunted and gathered for food, which meant that they often went many hours without eating. During this time, the body would use up its glycogen stores for energy until those ran out, and then turn to fat for fuel. When you do a prolonged fast, your body will go through the same process.
During the fast, it’s important to stay hydrated. Water, tea, and coffee are allowed during the eating window, but you should avoid sugary beverages and limit your caffeine intake. If you are feeling hunger, try to distract yourself or change your environment. Remember that the feeling of hunger will pass, and it is not necessarily a sign of a problem.
When you’re ready to break your fast, be careful not to eat too much at once. This can cause bloating and discomfort. Also, be sure to eat a balanced meal, and consider adding protein. It can be helpful to talk to a licensed mental health professional before you start intermittent fasting, so that you are aware of any potential triggers for disordered eating. Then, you can work with a therapist to keep your cravings in check and prevent relapses.