Intermittent fasting
Credit: Credit: By Jean Fortunet (Own work), CC-BY-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fasting For Health

Fasting has long been known for its powerful healing effects. In fact it has been used for thousands of years to heal both the body and the mind. And today it is enjoying a big renewal in popularity, particularly in the form of intermittent fasting.

As its name implies, intermittent fasting is the practice of going without food for short periods of time on a regular basis. Usually this will be around 24 hours (from dinner one day until dinner the next day), and it will be done maybe once or twice per week.

Water Or Juice Fasts?

The best way to fast is to consume only water, and perhaps a little green tea, during the fasting period. Some people do juice fasts however, and although these do have some benefits, a water only fast is the better option.

This is because juice, although it does supply a range of readily available nutrients, also contains a lot of sugar. And this will raise your insulin levels, which will only make it more difficult for your body to burn fat, as well as potentially leading to a number of other health complications further down the line.

By practicing intermittent fasting you’ll be able to lose weight very easily however, as you’ll be taking in fewer calories on a weekly basis than you normally would. You also produce higher levels of fat burning hormones and enzymes when in the fasting state, and this further facilitates weight loss.

But apart from this, there are a huge number of additional health benefits of intermittent fasting which go way beyond what you would get from simply losing weight. These include better digestion, improved immune system function, clearer skin, reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, and much more.

Intermittent Fasting Or Calorie Restriction?

There has been a lot of publicity in recent years about a method of prolonging one's potential lifespan, called calorie restriction. This involves reducing your daily calorie intake to around 25 - 30% below maintenance level.

This does work, but it has its drawbacks. Those who follow it become very underweight, their production of certain hormones drops off to unhealthy levels, and their metabolism slows right down. Also it's not at all pleasant to follow.

But with intermittent fasting you get all the potential longevity benefits of calorie restriction, but without the drawbacks. And it's easy to follow too.

You might think that going without food for 24 hours would be unpleasant, and indeed it may be when you first try it. But you will quickly find you get used to it and you’ll soon come to enjoy your fasting day.

On your non-fasting days you can eat pretty much what you want. Although you will of course get better benefits, both in terms of weight loss and improved health, if you stick mostly to healthy food choices.

Gain A New Freedom

There's one more benefit you’ll gain from intermittent fasting. And that is freedom! Freedom from being tied to set meal times, or worrying about when you’ll get your next meal. You'll realize it's not that crucial if you miss a meal. In fact it may even do you some good.

So if you practice intermittent fasting you'll be able to lose weight with little effort, you'll improve your health, and you'll probably live longer too. And on top of that you'll never be controlled by food again!

Have you tried intermittent fasting? What are your experiences of it? Let me know in the comments below.