Intermittent Fasting refers to deliberate self-restraint from food and drinks for a particular time period for therapeutic purposes. Did you know our forefathers fasted regularly to be in their best health? Due to its therapeutic benefits, fasting was inculcated in the religious practices in the past, thus making fasting an integral part of everyone’s life.
However, through ages, there was an increase in world’s food production and advances in medicine, this essential tool of maintaining good health lost its value and people forgot about it. Until recently when Dr. Ohsumi won a Nobel Prize in 2016 for his groundbreaking research showing the self-healing properties of the body triggered by fasting.
Well, I will be honest with you, I love to eat. Before I started Intermittent Fasting, I used to eat 6-8 times a day (or you can say whenever I felt like it) Whenever my mom insisted on fasting for religious ceremonies, I made excuses thinking that I could never live without food for more than 3-4 hours.
When I learnt about keto and saw the benefits of keto on my body by just changing the way I ate, I decided to give Fasting a try. Well, I was very skeptical in the beginning. and like any novice would do, I tried doing a 24 hour fast eating dinner to dinner. Very soon I realized it was a mistake. My body was not ready for this sudden change, and I felt dizzy and was dreaming about food all day. But I was not going to give up because my weight loss had stalled with keto and the world of fasting fascinated me.
So, I decided to change my habit slowly and started with a 12-hour fasting in the beginning. This was easier during the night as most of the time was spent sleeping. I then progressed to 16 hours and finally I could easily fast for 24 hours eating one meal a day (The term OMAD coined by Dr. Fung)
However, if you are on any medication, please consult your doctor before attempting to do Intermittent Fasting. I have graduated physical therapy, but your family doctor will know more about your health issues and will be able to guide you better. Also, I have learnt about fasting through my own experience. And wanted to share the benefits with you all through this blog.
So, depending on the duration of fasting there are different types of fasting
12 hours fasting
This is the best type of Intermittent Fasting for beginners and foodies like me. You can start by having dinner
At around *pm and then another meal directly the next morning at around 8am. This way, you will have fasted for 12 hours but since most of the time you were asleep you will not feel starved. You can have alight low carb breakfast like boiled egg or bacon with coffee or tea to keep you refreshed. This way your body will start producing ketone and help your body to be in ketosis faster. This will start helping you in weightloss
16-18 hours fasting
When your body is used to 12 hours fast, you can slowly progress to 16 hours fasting by slowly pushing the breakfast till noon. So if you had dinner at 8pm, try to slowly push the breakfast the other day from 8am to 9am then to 10 am gradually. After some day you will find that you are easily able to sustain your hunger till noon. That would be your ideal 16 hour Intermittent Fasting schedule. It has been researched that 16-18 hour fasting triggers autophagy, a process where the body starts eating the toxins and self-healing starts.
Just like 12 hours fasting, try to keep your carbs at the minimum when you break your fast after 16-18 hours. This will help curb hunger and keeps the blood sugar stable.
24 hours fasting
Now once your body has adjusted to 16-18 hours of Intermittent Fasting you can slowly try to push the feeding period even further to 24 hours. As I iterated my experience earlier, this type of fasting requires practice and patience.
24 hours fasting means you have dinner one day and then you do not feed yourself till the dinner next day. So, if you had dinned at 8pm one day, now you can have your dinner directly at 8pm the other day.
You can drink water or coffee or green tea or bone broth during the day to keep yourself hydrated and refreshed. These will keep you from feeling starved and anxious all day.
24-48 hours of fasting and further
These are advanced fasting methods and should be done under medical guidance or after a lot of practice on 24 hours fasting. If you are proficient, you can extend the fasts up to 7 days as well. It really depends on your tenacity.
There are much more benefits to the extended fasting like helping in getting rid of autoimmune diseases and builds up a stronger immune system.
These types of fasts have amazing healing properties as stem cells get released into the blood cells so it has been proven effective in relieving chemo side effects in cancer patients. Please consult your doctor before fasting and make your decision.
All the above types of fasting can be done with water intake. But there is another type of fasting called dry fasting which restricts drinking anything. This is more difficult to sustain and is recommended not to exceed beyond 24 hours.
Benefits of Fasting
I follow Dr. Mindy Pelz and her research on her patients regarding fasting. She has broken down the benefits of fasting by the hours in details on her website.
Here is the summary of her study:
13-15 hours fasting: secretion of growth hormone helps in antiaging
15 hours: body starts producing ketones and goes into ketosis, starts weight loss by burning stored fats
17 hours fasting: Body stimulates autophagy (meaning: self-eating) where body starts self-healing process and starts “eating” the toxins in the body. This helps in anti-aging.
24 hours fasting: This helps in building gut health. Having a healthy gut is important to trigger metabolism. . This type of fasting also helps in weight loss and healing autoimmune disorders
36- 48-72 hour fasting: Great for fat loss and antiaging. Helps in complete rebooting of the immune system.