Among the many goals in life that people aim to achieve, a constant that one must not overlook is one’s health. Oftentimes, amidst all the hustle and bustle that life has in store for us, we tend to ignore this one aspect which only leads to dire consequences later on in life. But thanks to the thought process of the current generation, a large part of the population has taken it upon their stride to educate not only themselves but their loved ones as well regarding the importance of staying fit and in shape to lead a healthy life in the long run. Various methods are being practiced for the same out of which fasting diets are largely gaining popularity. This article will cover the importance of fasting diets, their health benefits, and myths surrounding the same.
What Is A Fasting Diet
Fasting helps to get rid of toxins from the body, uplifts one’s mood, helps improve memory power, gives the digestive system the rest that it needs as well as lowers the occurrence of illnesses. Subsequently, a fasting diet supports this cause and hence helps improve one’s overall health. It is one of the best-proven ways to manage weight without having to fall prey to otherwise popular diet fads. All it asks of you is to change the meal timing and pattern that you otherwise follow. Various factors contribute to deciding what type of fasting diet works best for you. Some of those include your health goal, eating habits, your gender, age, the presence of underlying health conditions (if any), etc. Fasting diets don’t come in a one-size-fits-all pattern and depends on individual requirements.
Types Of Fasting Diets
Listed below are some popular fasting-diet options:
- 16/8 Diet – This type of intermittent fasting is best suited for beginners. Food consumption per day is reduced to a single 8-hourly period preferably between afternoon to 8 p.m. One requires to drink plenty of fluids with a surplus of nutrient-enriched food; carbs are to be kept for dinner time. After the first 16-hourly period, stretch it to 18 hours of fasting, eating for 6 hours after that.
- 5:2 fasting diet – this type aids in weight loss as well as is beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. One can eat 5 days per week as one normally would, including nutritious food with a surplus of greens and fish, over 3 meals per day. And the remaining 2 days, calorie intake should be limited to 500-600, wherein 2 slightly larger meals are to be consumed.
- Eat Stop Eat Diet – this type calls for following a normal eating pattern without compromising on favorite foods but adding up on nutritious food for any 5 days in a week. The other 2 days call for a 24-hourly fasting period providing the needed calorie deficit.
- Alternate Day Fasting – Also referred to as 4:3 fasting diet, promoting weight management, fasting is done every alternate day where calories consumed should be limited to not more than 500 per day. On non-fasting days, one is allowed to eat their preferred choice of food during meals.
- One Meal A Day Fasting – also known as OMAD, this diet is suitable for those who are in an advanced stage in fasting. It aids in weight loss and calls for the consumption of a single nutritious meal per day, with a 23-hourly fasting period. Food consumption should be done between 4-7p.m.
- Spontaneous Meal Skipping – probably one of the easiest to follow, this fasting diet calls for skipping meals when one feels no hunger and following normal eating routine adding up on good fat going low on carbs. It helps to keep blood sugar levels under control and helps to reduce weight.
Benefits Of Fasting Diets
Listed below are some health benefits one gains by following a fasting diet:
- Helps fight inflammation – underlying chronic health conditions can lead to inflammation leading to dire consequences. Fasting helps to avert this situation to a great extent thereby enhancing one’s health and quality of life. Various studies have been conducted to back this claim.
- Reduces insulin resistance – fasting is beneficial to those who are at risk of developing diabetes as it helps to improve blood glucose levels. What it does is that it reduces insulin resistance which allows the body to efficiently transport glucose to the cells. Intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting, are the preferred choices in this regard.
- Helps enhance brain performance – studies have backed this claim where fasting is said to help prevent Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s’, Alzheimer’s’ and others. It works as a powerful tool to promote brain health and helps to enhance cognitive function as well.
- Helps to reduce weight – fasting automatically leads to lower calorie intake which helps to enhance metabolic activities within the body, thereby assisting in weight reduction. It also helps to reduce body fat by helping preserve muscle tissue.
- Assists in increasing growth hormone secretion – our growth hormone known as HGH, responsible for our growth, muscle strength and overall metabolic functioning is vital for our sustenance and research has shown that fasting helps to increase the levels of the growth hormone in our body. Also, the fact that fasting helps reduce insulin resistance helps to promote HGH levels in our body.
- Extends longevity – Fasting diets have proven to help extend longevity as well as reduce signs of aging in those who regularly opted for fasting diets. This is because fasting aids in promoting one’s overall health. Studies are still underway to substantiate this claim scientifically.
- Said to aid cancer patients – fasting is known to enhance the positive effects of chemotherapy on the human body thereby playing a vital role in the recovery of cancer patients. Tests conducted on animals subjected to fasting showed prevention of tumor cell formation. Extensive studies are still underway to substantiate this claim.
Some Fasting Myth Busters
Despite the assurance that fasting and subsequent fasting diets hold significant importance, let us not tend to overlook the below facts:
- Fasting is not a short-cut one can adopt to lose weight. Dedication, determination, and consistency are the key and if any of the aforementioned are taken lightly then all the prior efforts put towards weight loss go in vain.
- What method of fasting diet works for one may not work for another. Factors reflecting the same are age, gender, underlying health conditions, and the purpose behind opting for the fasting diet.
- If one has already been neglecting a healthy, balanced diet for prolonged time frames before adopting fasting diets, then one may not garner expected results and in some cases may pose health risks as well.
- Fasting diets don’t work if the food consumed later on does not include a nutritious diet including wholesome meals. Fluid intake should also be increased.
- Fasting alone with no exercise and rest will do more harm than good to one’s health. Daily exercise and a good night’s sleep should never be compromised upon.
- Some fasting diets call for the usage of enemas. Increased usage of it gets rid of good bacteria in the intestinal tract causing more harm than good so avoid overdoing it.
- Those with kidney problems should practice caution when they opt for fasting diets as it may further deteriorate their health condition if the fluid intake is not done as required or if overdone when non-fasting.
Be it skipping a breakfast meal or going for a 24-hourly fasting diet, ensure that before you plunge into any mode of fasting you discuss the same with a health expert. This is essential as they can evaluate what best works for you depending on your health requirement and once assured, simply bear in mind the points mentioned above and you are good to go.