Did you know that figureheads of all major religions: Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed all of fasted for health and awareness? This is because they was all very aware of the benefits of fasting!
Most first nation Native American traditions have long histories of fasting for health and for visions.
Basically fasting history pervades every culture in the world.
One of the hot trends in the fitness world right now is that of a fasting diet. Ever wonder what benefits of fasting you might reap should you follow this protocol?
If so, you aren’t alone. Many people are jumping on the bandwagon and starting up on various fasting diet plans. The trick though is to do these successfully.
When you fast correctly, you can experience a number of benefits however if you fast incorrectly, you’ll be in for nutritional deficiencies, metabolic damage, fat gain, and low energy levels.
Fasting is not to be taken lightly. You need to get the facts straight on what is fasting and how to apply it properly to your lifestyle.
For a primer on the various types of fasts, check out the video below.
Now that you’ve seen a little more about the many types of fasts, let’s talk about the benefits of fasting and go into more detail on what each of these has to offer so that you can answer the question of is fasting healthy.
Restriction Of Foods
The very first type of fast that you may choose to use is your basic food restriction fast. Now note, this is not a complete restriction of all food fast here. That would be the water fast that we’ll talk about in a moment.
Instead, the restriction of foods fast is simply what the name suggests – restriction of some foods.
So for instance, you might decide to cut all gluten containing foods from your diet plan. Or, perhaps you restrict all dairy.
Some people may choose to restrict all forms of processed carbohydrates entirely.
Still others may choose to restrict animal based products, going for a vegan fast for a few days to weeks.
There are a number of different ways that you can do a food restriction fast and the set-up of this one will greatly depend on personal preferences, your goals, and your reason for doing the fast.
If you are not eating animal based products for instance, this will likely have more to do with your personal beliefs regarding consumption of animal based foods.
If you are not eating gluten on the other hand, likely this has a larger basis in the health realm. You want to see what omitting this type of food has from the way you feel and function on a day to day basis.
Food restriction fasts are a great way to jump-start weight loss results and more or less move into a more standard fat loss diet plan.
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You can choose how long you want to fast from this certain type of food as well. Since cutting out something like dairy or gluten isn’t going to harm your health too significantly (apart from potentially running a calcium shortage if you don’t find alternative sources of calcium to consume), you can typically carry out these fats for lengthy periods of time.
Some people choose to just forgo these foods forever, so the ‘fast’ so to speak, now becomes their way of eating.
Benefits Of A Food Restriction Fast
- Generally improved nutrition (depending on what type of food you are restricting from your diet)
- Improved psychological ability to remove/omit foods from the diet and stick with it
- Food-specific benefits (improved blood sugar control and lower calorie intake if you remove processed
- Increased self-belief in doing what you set out to do
Food restriction fasts are just as much for the psychological benefit as they are for the physical. By removing the food you are attempting not to eat from your diet plan and sticking with it, it can improve your own belief system that you can maintain the healthy diet you are aiming to.
The next type of fast that you may come across is one that’s far more common among today’s population and one that many people do start up on before beginning their diet plan.
This fast is the juice fast. Now, you may find some juice fasting plans that are very specific in the type of juice you have to consume and while these can be beneficial, often it’s not needed. Any juice that you prefer can often work for this fast and be used to help you improve your health level.
Juice fasts, as you are consuming some calorie support from the juice, can typically be carried out for 1-3 days at most. While some people will go longer on them, I would caution against doing so as you will be at an increased risk of lean muscle mass loss, low energy, and a sluggish metabolic rate if you go much longer than this.
There’s no question you can get a great amount of nutrition from the juices you prepare if you are preparing them properly, but that said, there are certain nutrients (such as protein) that you won’t consume at the levels you need to be.
Usually people will start off their juice fasts using fruit juices as these tend to taste the best and help keep their energy up. Then after so long on the juice fasts (which could be a few rounds of fasting or simply the first day or two), they’ll then move onto a green juice fast, focusing more on lower sugar vegetables to make up their fast. So what are the benefits of a juice fast?
- Frees up enzymatic reserves
When you are fasting on a juice fast, it’s going to take far fewer enzymes to break down and digest the food compared to what it would take if you were eating your normal solid food mixed diet plan.
This then frees up these enzymes to heal your body. This can help you regenerate organs, improving the function of the brain, liver, kidneys, and so on.
Additionally, often in these juice fasts you’ll be using some herbs that will help accelerate the process even further, giving you additional added benefits.
- Fat loss results
While you don’t have to use a juice fast in order to see fat loss results (as you can see great results from a properly set up diet plan), as an added benefit of utilizing the juice fast, you will likely experience some fat burning effects.
Most people will typically notice a calorie reduction during their juice fast by at least 1000 calories per day (if you have a resting metabolic rate of around 1800 calories per day for instance and you consume four juices at 200 calories each, that will leave you in a 1000 calorie deficit).
Over the course of a three day juice fast, this can have you shedding one pound of body fat total. By implementing these three-day juice fasts every so often as you go about your standard diet plan, you may just get that boost you need to see accelerated fat burning results.
Once again though, don’t take this to mean that you should do the juice fast longer than three days. Doing so will put your metabolic rate in jeopardy of running much slower, bringing your overall rate of fat loss down.
- Improved oxidant intake
Another nice benefit to juice fasts is they tend to increase your overall antioxidant intake. You’ll be consuming a very high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to prepare your juices, so this can up your antioxidant intake.
As antioxidants are critical for helping combat oxidative damage in the body, this could provide a nice jumpstart in your quest to combat disease.
- Improved taste buds
Here’s a unique benefit that juice fasts have to offer that most people completely overlook. If you’ve been eating relatively unhealthy for a period of time now, there’s a good chance that your taste buds have become desensitized to how good foods taste naturally.
You are constantly bombarding your taste buds each day with sugar, salt, and high fat foods that you can hardly taste the steamed vegetables on your plate. It takes completely removing all of these foods from your diet to get your taste buds sensitized to how healthy food tastes again.
Most people will find that after a three day juice fast, all their food simply tastes better. When they eat natural foods in their fresh state, they experience far more joy and pleasure in these foods and may have even lost their taste for highly processed or deep fried foods such as burgers, pizza, candy, and cakes.
This can make sticking to a healthier eating plan following the juice fast that much easier.
Sometimes you just need to give your taste buds as wake-up call and a juice fast can help you do this. So there you have a few of the main benefits of juice fasts to be aware of.
While you don’t want to run these too frequently (one per week would be the highest frequency I would suggest), doing them one or two times every month can be a great way to take charge of your health and improve your body functioning.
The next type of fast that you can do is one of the more advanced fasts and is not generally something I’d recommend someone start out with in their diet plan.
Water fasts, which involves omitting all food and juice (only consuming water for a period of time) are very intense on the body and should not be followed much longer than one day.
While some people may go up to ten days doing a water fast (which I consider to the be upper limit unless you are under guidance from a medical professional), one day proves to offer all of the benefits that most people need out of the fast.
What are the benefits to this?
- Psychological benefits
The first big benefit to the water fast is the psychological benefits it will bring. Water fasts will be far more taxing than just fasts as you are not taking in any calorie support at all, so on a psychological level, they will be that much harder to push through.
Once you do the water fast however, you’ll discover that fasting isn’t quite as hard as you once thought and it can provide psychological benefits going forward. It can make doing your juice fasts that much easier for example and in addition to that, it can help make sticking with reduced calorie diets easier as well.
Many people, when going on a lower calorie diets, have this internal struggle and worry about starving. When they’re hungry, it’s like an alarm bell goes off in their mind telling them they must eat – this is their body’s ways of crying out for fuel.
But once you have survived a full day fast, you’ll learn that going five hours without food isn’t the end of the world. A little hunger is not going to kill you and you will get through. This can make seeing results on any fat loss diet you attempt down the road that much easier.
- Flush out toxins
Another great benefit to the water fast is that it will help to flush out any toxic build-up that may be present in your body.
When your body isn’t busy putting its energy and reserves towards digestion, it can put more energy into the detoxification process.
Furthermore, as your body is not taking in any fuel during the water fast, this will cause it to turn to stored body fat as an energy source, which can also lead to the release of any toxic build-up that was being stored in your body fat tissues.
All in all, water fasts are one of the best ways to complete the detoxification process.
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- Enhanced energy
While you might typically think that fasting would dramatically decrease your energy level (and you do normally see some decrease as the fast gets started), as it progresses along, you’ll come to find that you feel quite euphoric.
Many people who fasts for seven days straight for instance will report feeling quite amazing by the time the last day rolls around.
This is thanks to the fact that not only do they have endorphins running through their system due to fasting, but they have freed up all these digestive enzymes that are now working in their favor.
This in turn results in remarkable energy levels.
- Resets your metabolism
The next big benefit of water fasts is that they’ll reset your metabolism. During the fast, you are training your body to utilize fat as a fuel source, so after you come off the fast, you’ll continue to be better equipped to utilize fat as fuel.
This can then go on the providing ongoing benefits when you are moving back into any fat loss diet plan.
Furthermore, as having a readily available supply of digestive enzymes is key to proper digestion and metabolism and we’ve already talked about how a water fast will help free up your enzyme reserves, this is the next added benefit you’ll get from water fasts.
- Resets appetite
Finally, the last big benefit that a water fast will bring is that it can help to reset your appetite. You’ll find that after coming off the fast you are quite hungry, but you’ll want to introduce solid food slowly.
Don’t gorge on whatever food sounds good during this time. Your stomach will be more sensitive to incoming food so you need to give it time to adapt and kick-start the digestive processes again.
Once you do however, you’ll find that your appetite is far better regulated. While you may have been experiencing wide fluctuations in hunger throughout the day during previous times, now you’ll likely find that your appetite is far more stable and you can control your food intake that much better.
Once you’ve gotten the hand of the water fast, you can then utilize it combined with the juice fast to create your own fasting protocol.
For instance, some people will do a water fast for one day followed by five days of juice fasting followed by one more day of water fasting.
This would be a more advanced program, however would offer excellent detoxification benefits for the more advanced faster.
If you aren’t quite that advanced, a water fast sandwiched between two juice fasting days can also work incredibly well to kick-start fat burning, cleanse your body, and help regulate your appetite.
As you become more experienced, you’ll quickly learn what works for you.
Also on a side note, remember that you can still take your probiotics as well as a quality digestive enzyme (such as Masszymes and P3-OM) while doing your fasts.
In fact, taking these supplements can help increase the results you see faster, resulting in you having to spend less time overall in the fast in order to reap the benefits.
Another type of fast that you may choose to do is the dry fast. Now, I won’t speak too much about these fasts as I don’t generally recommend them to the general population unless you are under strict medical care.
Dry fasts, which involve consuming no water at all are very advanced and typically involve taking herbs and possibly using other techniques to help detoxify the body.
Anyone considering this fast should have quite a bit of experience with fasting under their belt (at least 1-2 years) and should only be doing this under the care of a medical professional.
Finally, the last type of fast that is becoming more and more common in today’s age is that of digital fasting.
We live in the information age and most of us are glued to our Smartphones, picking them up as many as 150 times per day.
We’re connected to our email inboxes, our social media streams, and can access any information we might want to know with the click of a button.
While this all seems great and can help increase productivity (or decrease it depending on where you spend your time online!), over time, it does build up and can wear us out.
A digital fast is basically doing away with all of today’s modern day technology.
It’s shutting off your cell phone. Turning away from email. Basically taking time out to just be without all the noise that we so often see in today’s world.
At first when people go on these digital fasts they commonly freak out and panic. But as a few days pass by, they start to learn to find peace in the quietness and when they do start back up with their email and phones, they find they feel refreshed and are better able to manage their time and keep their priorities in check.
Taking a digital fast can help you:
- Minimize stress
While stress may initial increase when you begin the fast, by the end of the fast, you’ll find you’re far more relaxed and less stressed.
Most people will find the process quite empowering overall.
- Improve your quality of sleep
If you are in the habit of constantly checking your cell phone before bed, you’ll likely find that doing a digital fast is a great way to improve your quality of sleep.
Looking at the bright light from that cell phone can suppress natural melatonin release, making it harder and harder to fall asleep at night.
Without the cell phone around, you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply as well.
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- Become more productive
Without the social media feeds nearby, you might just be amazed at what all you can accomplish.
Going on a digital fast can help you get things done in your life that you’ve been putting off for quite some time.
So as you consider water or juice fasts, also consider a digital fast. While not a food fast per say, it’s another great way to improve your overall health and well-being.
So there you have the key information that you need to know about fasting and the many benefits of fasting.
Starting a fasting diet can be a smart way to kick-start optimal health and well-being.
If you want to learn more about additional steps you can take to improve your health and longevity, be sure that you check out my 12 week FREE course where I lay everything you need to know in an easy-to-understand format.
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What has been your experience with fasts? What types of fasts have you done and what are the benefits of fasting you’ve found? Please comment below.