How Does Fasting Work
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars or duties of Islam, along with the testimony of faith, prayer, charitable giving, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. All Muslims are required to take part every year, though there are special dispensations for those who are ill, pregnant or nursing, menstruating, or traveling, and for young children and the elderly.
The practice of fasting serves several spiritual and social purposes: to remind you of your human frailty and your dependence on God for sustenance, to show you what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty so you feel compassion for the poor and needy, and to reduce the distractions in life so you can more clearly focus on your relationship with God.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating any food, drinking any liquids, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in any sexual activity, from dawn to sunset. That includes taking medication . Chewing gum is also prohibited .
Doing any of those things “invalidates” your fast for the day, and you just start over the next day. To make up for days you didn’t fast, you can either fast later in the year or provide a meal to a needy person for each day you missed.
Common Obstacles To Eating A Healthier Diet
Varady dabbles with intermittent fasting herself, typically for a few weeks after the holidays to lose a few pounds. The 16:8 plan is less intense than the other plans, but if she wants a more rapid weight loss, shell opt for alternate day fasting.
The first five fast days are pretty tricky, but once your body gets adjusted to that kind of up-down pattern of eating, it actually gets really easy, Varady told TODAY.
So how do you boost your chances of intermittent fasting success?
Consider How It Will Affect Others
Fasting is no license to be unloving. It would be sad to lack concern and care for others around us because of this expression of heightened focus on God. Love for God and for neighbor go together. Good fasting mingles horizontal concern with the vertical. If anything, others should even feel more loved and cared for when were fasting.
So as you plan your fast, consider how it will affect others. If you have regular lunches with colleagues or dinners with family or roommates, assess how your abstaining will affect them, and let them know ahead of time, instead of just being a no-show, or springing it on them in the moment that you will not be eating.
Also, consider this backdoor inspiration for fasting: If you make a daily or weekly practice of eating with a particular group of friends or family, and those plans are interrupted by someones travel or vacation or atypical circumstances, consider that as an opportunity to fast, rather than eating alone.
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The Fasting Transformation Book
I am super excited to introduce you to the book I have spent the past 18 months putting together. It goes into the most recent scientific research and strategies for implementing intermittent and extended fasting into your life.
I could not be happier with the content in this book that you can review here. It is by far the best book on fasting the world has ever seen and I have read them all! It is now, my great honor to present this to you and I am deeply appreciative of your support!
What Am I Allowed To Eat Or Drink While Fasting
This question isnt as stupid as it seems. Even on a water fast, Dr. Fung says you can consume more than just water. And I highly recommend doing so to make the experience more pleasurable.
- Not allowed: Diet Coke or Coke Zero or any other zero-calorie crap like that.
- Allowed: Water flavored with coffee, tea, lime, any fruit infusion you can dream up, some apple cider vinegar, or sea salts bone broth multivitamins.
- An easier alternative? Possibly. See Is there an easier alternative? under Understanding and Fighting Hunger, below.
Dr. Fung doesnt mention it in his book, but whats helped me stay hydratedwhich is super important but difficult to do while fastingis adding zero or very-low-calorie electrolyte powders to my water.
The first time I fasted for a prolonged period, I didnt add electrolytes and felt light-headed and woozy whenever I made sudden movements. When I added electrolytes to my diet in future fasts, those sensations disappeared.
Theres no brand in particular that Id recommend over any other. ticks all the boxes, gets great reviews, and only costs around 30 cents a serving. Alternatively, go to your local pharmacy and pick out whatever looks good to you.
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Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a new name. What we have known by experience in the Yogic sciences, today modern science also is coming in-line with it. Your body and your brain work at their best only when your stomach is empty. We always make sure that we eat in such a way that however much we eat, our stomach must always be empty within two to two-and-a-half hours time. For any correction and purification that needs to happen in the body, your stomach needs to be empty. This is very important. Otherwise, the purification on the cellular level will not happen. You will pile up things and then you will get all kinds of problems. The first thing is that the inertia in your body will increase. There are many levels of inertia, but one thing you can notice is sleep. The amount of sleep that you need is inertia.
All American doctors say that you must sleep for a minimum of seven to eight hours. That means that you slept away one-third of your life. Another three-four hours are spent in bathing, toilet, eating and other things, so literally fifty percent of your life is just maintenance. Suppose you have a motorcycle or a car, and if it goes to service one day in a month, it is alright to keep it. But if it goes to service fifteen days in a month, this is a nuisance, isnt it? Most people have made their systems into a nuisance. Their own body is a big impediment in their life. Their body will not allow them to do what they want to do.
Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be
Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, I had written off IF as no better or worse than simply eating less, only far more uncomfortable. My advice was to just stick with the sensible, , diet.
New research is suggesting that not all IF approaches are the same, and some are actually very reasonable, effective, and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet. So Im prepared to take my lumps on this one .
We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as .
Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day ,or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.
So Do You Lose Weight During Ramadan
Some of you may be thinking, “Wow, that sounds like a great way to lose weight! I’m going to try it!” But in fact, Ramadan is actually notorious for often causing weight gain. That’s because eating large meals super early in the morning and late at night with a long period of low activity bordering on lethargy in between can wreak havoc on your metabolism.
But if you’re careful, you can avoid putting on weight, and you may actually lose a few pounds. One meta-analysis of scientific studies on the effects of Ramadan fasting on body weight found that “eight changes during Ramadan were relatively small and mostly reversed after Ramadan, gradually returning to pre-Ramadan status. Ramadan provides an opportunity to lose weight, but structured and consistent lifestyle modifications are necessary to achieve lasting weight loss.”
So just like with any other extreme diet plan, you may lose a few pounds, but unless you actually make “structured and consistent lifestyle modifications,” you’re probably not going to see major, lasting results.
Individuals With Eating Disorders
Individuals with eating disorders may run the risk of compromising their recovery process or using alternate day fasting as an eating disorder behavior tool instead of as a healthy dietary strategy. Alternate day fasting may also hinder necessary weight gain. Individuals with eating disorders should focus on recovery and developing a healthy relationship with food first.
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Top 6 Questions About Intermittent Fasting
1) Wont I get really hungry if I start skipping meals?
As explained above, this can be a result of the habits you have built for your body. If you are constantly eating or always eat the same time of day, your body can actually learn to prepare itself for food by beginning the process of insulin production and preparation for food.
After a brief adjustment period, your body can adapt to the fact that its only eating a few times a day. The more overweight you are, and the more often you eat, the more of an initial struggle this might be.
Remember, your bodys physical and cognitive abilities most likley wont be diminished as a result of short term fasting.
2) Where will I get my energy for my workouts? Wont I be exhausted and not be able to complete my workouts if fasting?
This was a major concern of mine as well, but the research says otherwise: Training with limited carbohydrate availability can stimulate adaptations in muscle cells to facilitate energy production via fat oxidation.
In other words, when you train in a fasted state, your body can get better at burning fat for energy when there are no carbs to pull from!
Ill share some of my experiences, now doing heavy strength training for 3 years in a fasted state:
Here I am pulling 420 lbs. at 172 BW after a 16 hour fast:
A post shared by Steve Kamb on Nov 21, 2018 at 10:43am PST
LeanGains digs into various options here, but here is really what you need to know:
4) Wont fasting cause muscle loss?
Isnt Fasting The Same As Reducing Calories
No, not necessarily. Fasting can reduce the time you spend eating and primarily addresses the question of when to eat.62 Calorie reduction addresses the question of what and how much to eat. They are separate issues and should not be confused with each other.
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Frequently Asked Questions Concerns And Complaints
Im a woman. Should I do anything differently?
I havent worked with women on implementing an intermittent fasting schedule, so I cant speak from experience on this one.
That said, I have heard that women may find a wider window of eating to be more favorable when doing daily intermittent fasting. While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours. The best advice I can give anyone, not just women, is to experiment and see what works best for you. Your body will give you signals. Follow what your body responds favorably to.
Also, if youre a female, there is an allfemale page on Facebook that discusses intermittent fasting. Im sure you could find a ton of great answers and support there.
I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it?
I dont. Breakfast foods are my favorite, so I just eat them at 1pm each day.
Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, I think youll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesnt support it and neither do my personal experiences.
I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours?
Here’s why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time:
Here’s the problem:
Secretion Of The Antidiuretic Hormone
When water is limited, your blood can start to get more concentrated. In the long-term, this makes your blood sticky and less able to circulate in your body properly.
Your body can prevent that in the short-term thanks to ADH.
During dry fasting, the lack of water in the blood triggers the secretion of ADH, which is in charge of reabsorbing water.
ADH travels to the kidneys and redirects water back into the blood, so your blood stays diluted and your urine is concentrated instead. The other way around can cause serious damage.
Thats why a high concentration of urine during a fast is a good sign of internal hydration.
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Before You Get Started
If you’re looking for a simple, doable way to practice fasting, I get it. It shouldn’t have to be hard. Get my FREE email course below that shows you the easier way.
When Should I Exercise
When Varady and her colleagues conducted a study that combined alternate day fasting and exercise, they allowed the participants to pick whether they wanted to exercise on a feasting or fasting day, and found there was no strong preference one way or the other. But the researchers were surprised the dieters actually reported feeling more energetic on fasting days.
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What Are Fasting Diets
Though theres no one-size-fits-all approach to fasting diets, they typically include a period of time when youre fastingabstaining from eating or drinking anything with caloriesand a period of time when youre eating, sometimes focused on specific food groups.
With this type of dieting, you might skip breakfast a few times per week, or you might limit your eating window every day. It all depends on what works for you.
Everyone responds differently to fasting diets, but this style of eating may help you feel more like yourself. Fasting diets can help improve your mood and better manage your weight. Other benefits range from improved memory and alertness to autophagy, which is your bodys natural way of cleaning out damaged cells and toxins to make way for fresh, healthy cells.
Should You Do Intermittent Fasting And The Keto Diet
We have a crazy extensive guide on the Keto Diet in case youre not familiar with it, so here it is in a nutshell:
This process is called ketosis, and there are two ways for a body to enter ketosis:
- Eating in a way that induces ketosis .
- FastingHey, thats what youre reading about right now!
We actually have an amazing success story here on Nerd Fitness, Larry, who followed our strategies, went Keto and start intermittent fasting. He ended up losing weight, getting stronger, AND overcame the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis !
Heres how the fasting portion of it works:
As your body enters a fast period when there are no sources of glucose energy readily available, the liver begins the process of breaking down fat into ketones.
Fasting itself can trigger ketosis.
Fasting for a period of time before kicking off a Keto-friendly eating plan COULD speed your transition into the metabolic state of ketosis, and fasting intermittently while in ketosis could help you maintain that state.
I personally love fasting for the simplicity: I skip breakfast every day and train in a fasted state. Its one less decision I have to make, its one less opportunity to make a bad food choice, and it helps me reach my goals.
WHY KETO + IF WORKS = eating Keto can be really challenging. And every time you eat, its an opportunity to do it wrong and accidentally eat foods that knock you out of ketosis.
Youre also tempted to overeat.
Your value may vary!
You need to decide what works for you.
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