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Is Fasting Bad For You

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How Long Should You Fast

Is Intermittent Fasting Bad for You?

I want to address the question of how long you should fast quickly. I say quickly because I dont really have a black-and-white answer. I mentioned the importance of experimenting to find the right intermittent fasting method for you already. What I do want to add is that some women find if quite beneficial to fast anywhere from 36 hours to a few days. I have never fasted completely for more than 24 hours because I am not ready for that. Not sure I will ever be. It goes to show you that you need to pay attention to how you feel and listen to your body to determine how long you should fast. I am quite happy with the Warrior Diet right now. Even then, at this point, my eating window is frequently longer than 4 hours. Make sure you stay flexible!

What Happens In Acid Reflux

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux at least once a month, with 15 million having symptoms daily. Acid reflux goes by many names, including GERD , acid indigestion, sour stomach, heartburn and dyspepsia.

No matter what you call it, the mechanism behind this condition is the same. Essentially, the acid from your stomach “misfires,” flowing up into your esophagus, the tube that runs from your mouth to your stomach. When this happens, it can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing pain, burning or a sour taste in the back of your throat. People who get acid reflux regularly may also experience symptoms like a dry cough, sleep problems or difficulty swallowing.

Why Might Changing Timing Help

But why does simply changing the timing of our meals to allow for fasting make a difference in our body? An in-depth review of the science of IF recently published in New England Journal of Medicine sheds some light. Fasting is evolutionarily embedded within our physiology, triggering several essential cellular functions. Flipping the switch from a fed to fasting state does more than help us burn calories and lose weight. The researchers combed through dozens of animal and human studies to explain how simple fasting improves metabolism, lowering blood sugar lessens inflammation, which improves a range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and even helps clear out toxins and damaged cells, which lowers risk for cancer and enhances brain function. The article is deep, but worth a read!

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Spiritual And Religious Fasting

Whether fasting can help rid the body of waste buildup is a matter of controversy. But fasting has been used for religious and spiritual purification for centuries.

Nearly every religious text you can name, from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to the Quran and the Upanishads, calls upon followers to fast periodically as a rite of spiritual purification, penitence, or preparation for union with God.

May Play A Role In Cancer Treatment And Prevention

Is Intermittent Fasting Bad For You?

This potential benefit is still a bit up in the air. Animal models have shown that periodic fasting may help protect normal cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs while sensitizing cancer cells to the treatment .

When it comes to human trials, the data is still inconclusive. Weight control and reduced inflammation in the body could reduce the development of cancer, but further research is needed to understand the role fasting may play in cancer treatment .

Also Check: What To Have During Intermittent Fasting

So Is Intermittent Fasting As Good As It Sounds

I was very curious about this, so I asked the opinion of metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Here is what she told me. “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective,” she confirmed, though generally she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”

So, heres the deal. There is some good scientific evidence suggesting that circadian rhythm fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes.

The Research Is Minimal

Look, we all know the internet is full of so-called health claims made by experts about the best diets. And while the field of research on intermittent fasting isnt empty, Boules is hesitant to jump on the bandwagon based on what shes seen so far.

Despite a deluge of articles citing studies, solid evidence in support of intermittent fasting as a superior approach to eating just isn’t there yet, she says.

What studies is Boules referring to? Well, most of the more compelling ones were actually performed on rodents. Human studies have not shown the same scope of evidence.

A few examples: A 2018 study published in Nutrition and Healthy Aging showed weight-loss results after 12 weeks of 16:8 intermittent fastingbut the sample size was only 23 people. A 2017 study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that a fasting group of 100 participants lost more weight over a 12-month period than a non-dieting group, but not more than a group that cut calories overall.

There also remains debate about whether the actual fasting is responsible for the health benefits, or if its simply the reduction in calories.

This isn’t to say that better, more conclusive research won’t ever become available, but as Boules said, we’ve got a ways to go before we understand everything about intermittent fasting.

Also Check: How To Start Doing Intermittent Fasting

What Is Intermittent Fasting

All diets achieve weight loss through the same equation you take in less food energy each day than your body burns for normal activity. Intermittent fasting achieves this goal by severely limiting calories during certain days of the week or during specified hours during the day. The theory is that intermittent fasting will help decrease appetite by slowing the body’s metabolism.

“One pattern that has become a bit popular is the so-called 5:2 diet,” says Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. With this system, you eat normally for five days of the week, but restrict food intake to just 500 to 600 calories on the two fasting days. Another variation of intermittent fasting calls for alternating “fast” days, in which you consume a quarter or less of your basic calorie requirement, with “feast” days, during which you eat whatever you choose.

Intermittent Fasting Can Still Lead To Weight Gain

Is Fasting Good or Bad for you? more videos | #aumsum #kids #science #education #children

Feeling starved during your fasting period might make some people more prone to binging behaviors when theyre not fasting. And eating more calories than what your body burns will lead to a long-term increase in body fat even if you consistently fast for 12-16 hours each day.

In other words, if you are having trouble maintaining your hunger and end up going completely rogue on your non-fasting periods, you could end up gaining weight.

Going rouge during your non-fasting periods can sabotage your health goals, start a meal prep routine or plan your meals to ensure you’re nourishing your body.

Not sure what style of diet is right for you? Use a meal plan quiz to get started!

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Can The 1: 8 Fasting Diet Help You Lose Weight

For example, the Fast Diet, also known as the 5:2 diet, advocates for eating what you want for five days of the week , and restricting calorie intake to 500 calories for women and 600 for men for the other two days of the week.

Any time you restrict calories, your body reacts. When you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into the sugar glucose, the bodys major source of energy. Glucose is absorbed from the digestive tract into the blood, which then travels to your bodys cells to provide them with fuel. When you dont eat:

  • The supply of glucose in your blood starts to drop, and your body eventually turns to stored glucose, called glycogen, for energy.
  • Once the glycogen is used up, your body begins to burn fat and muscle stores to make its own glucose to fuel your cells.
  • After a few days without eating , your body kicks into ketosis mode, meaning you burn fat as the primary source of fuel, to spare muscle.
  • In ketosis mode, you will lose weight as you burn body fat. Note that ketosis also makes your blood more acidic and can cause bad breath, fatigue, and other unpleasant symptoms. Longer fasts can lead to kidney and liver damage.

Intermittent Fasting Hasnt Been Studied Enough

Intermittent fasting has been around a while, but there arent a ton of studies that really get into it because its hard to get people to stick with it long enough. Ive personally only seen a few. Its really hard to get a lot of information on this subject thats from reputable, hard and fast science sources because of this. And if its that hard for people to stay in these groups and actually conduct these trials, that tells you, in my opinion, everything you need to know. If its that hard under a controlled setting to get people to be able adhere to it, thats a challenging program.

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Other Things To Consider

Talk to your doctor before beginning a lengthy fast, says Dr. Berookim. Besides the risk of acid reflux, there are medical reasons why some people shouldn’t go for long stretches without food. If you do fast, be sure to stay hydrated while fasting by drinking plenty of water or other non-caloric, non-carbonated beverages.

And if heartburn impairs your quality of life or becomes severe , seek help from a specialist.

When Is Fasting Not A Good Idea

Is Fasting Good or Bad for you? + more videos

Fasting is not safe for everyone so consult your physician before you begin.

Those who should not fast include:

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Children and teenagers.
  • People who have type 1 diabetes.
  • Those who have eating disorders.

Fasting may also have a negative impact on people with other medical problems. Your doctor can help determine whether it is right for you, Dr. Bruemmer says.

Read Also: How Many Days To Do Intermittent Fasting

Does Fasting Detoxify The Body

Here’s where the debate gets intense.

“There is no scientific evidence it will detox the body. The issue of fasting to cleanse the body has no biological basis because the body is real good at that by itself,” says Fernstrom. “The liver is a natural detox center the lungs, the colon, the kidneys, and the skin get rid of toxins.”

But Fuhrman, who has supervised hundreds of patients’ fasts for medicinal purposes, disagrees.

“We know that the body is unable to rid itself of toxins when we eat a diet low in nutrients,” and that applies to most Americans, even those who think they are healthy, he says.

“Americans eat 51% of their diet from processed foods and foods low in phytochemicals and antioxidants,” he says. “So you see a buildup of waste products in the cells — AGE, advanced glycation end products — that build up in cellular tissues and lead to atherosclerosis, aging, diabetes, nerve damage, and the deterioration of organs. This is basic science and physiology every doctor learns in medical school.”

Along with improving your overall diet, fasting is one solution to that buildup of AGE, according to advocates like Fuhrman.

“Fasting allows the body to most effectively remove these waste products,” he says. “The body is designed to fast we do it every night.”

“And the fat is where the body stores many of the toxins it absorbs from the environment,” Fuhrman says.


People Who Love Breakfast

If you cant start your day without a bowl of oats or a plate of eggs, youll likely want to pass on the fasts. Since the eating window can be as small as six hours, if you want to dine with your family at dinner, your first bite of the day will likely come after noon.

Breakfast can help set up your healthy routine for the day, says Keri Glassman, RD, the founder of Nutritious Life, so if you are hungry enough to eat in the a.m.and enjoy doing soavoid IF.

RELATED: 10 Healthy Breakfasts You Can Make In 10 Minutes or Less

Also Check: How To Do Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss

You Have Digestion Issues

As if digestion issues weren’t cumbersome enough to deal with on their own, adding a wonky eating schedule into the mix can only cause more gastrointestinal distress. “If you already have problems with digestion , intermittent fasting may worsen your symptoms,” Calder says.

IF can even spur digestive issues due to the prolonged fasting bouts. “Periods of fasting can disrupt the normal activities of the digestive system, causing constipation, indigestion, and bloating,” she says.

Bannan also says that eating large mealswhich is often required for the types of IF that call for a long fastcan cause gastrointestinal stress. “This is particularly concerning for people with IBS, who already have a more sensitive gut,” she explains.

Some Of My Experiences:

Is intermittent fasting good for YOU ?
  • I used to try to stop eating after 6 pm, which led to a fast of 12-14 hours, this often helped me keep my weight down and gave me more energy. Using this method, I wasnt skipping breakfast one of the most significant meals of the day but instead, skipping a late night meal.
  • I used to do one-day juice/smoothie partial fasts weekly. I dont remember feeling much of a benefit or difference.
  • I never miss breakfast on the weekdays, but regularly eat just two big meals on the weekends out with family and friends. Often my meals are richer when I eat out, so I feel fine eating two meals. I dont force myself to eat another one because Im fine.

Recommended Reading: What Does Fasting Do To The Body

It Doesnt Help You Create Mindful Eating Habits

While Boules admits that intermittent fasting can be a great strategy for curbing mindless late-night snacking, it can totally work against mindful eating, too. Rather than thinking about whether or not youre truly hungry, youre simply eating by the clock.

I encourage my clients to on a daily basis and act accordingly, she says. Every day is different for sleep, exercise, stress, hormones, and schedule, which all affects appetite. Its one of many reasons I don’t believe it’s healthy to apply rules to your food philosophy.

Health Benefits Of Fasting

Although fasting can be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, the mental and physical benefits can:

  • Boost cognitive performance
  • Protect from obesity and associated chronic diseases
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Support weight loss
  • Benefit cancer patients A recent study with mice and cancer showed that fasting during chemotherapy jump-starts the immune system and exposes the cancer cells. Ridding the body of old, toxic cells and replacing with new, healthy ones may be just the answer. Traditionally, cancer patients have been told to increase nutrients and caloric intake while undergoing chemotherapy treatments but this approach might now be under review.

If you are interested in trying fasting, please consult your doctor.

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Intermittent Fasting: What It Is And How I Do It

Here’s a simple definition of intermittent fasting: you eat your normal amount of food in a smaller time frame. It’s not a diet, it’s just a pattern of eating that reduces your eating window each day to about 8 hours.

For example, I usually eat my first meal around 12pm or 1pm and then I can continue eating until my final meal at 8pm. After that, I fast until the next day at 12pm. That breaks out to about 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating each day. I do this almost every day.

I’m not going to dive into the details of intermittent fasting in this article. I have previously written a 3,000 word beginners guide to intermittent fasting and a lengthy question and answer guide on intermittent fasting. If you have questions about how it works and the science behind it, read those articles.

And if you want even more information, I was also interviewed on the Fat Burning Man podcast and the Jimmy Moores live show about intermittent fasting .

Ultimately If You’re Just Not Sure How To Feel About Intermittent Fasting Don’t Hesitate To Hash It Out With A Pro Like An Rd Or Doc You Trust

Is Fasting Bad For You?

At the end of the day, if youre a healthy adult, intermittent fasting probably wont do damage . Dr. Seltzer and Boules both acknowledge the control it teaches, though they remain on the fence about whether the potential side effects outweigh the benefits.

Please understand this will not work for everyone and is not required for good health, Boules says. While I’m watching the research and will own it if I’m proven wrong, I think it’s yet another example of a fad approach to wellness.

Also Check: How To Lose Weight Fast Fasting

You May Deal With Low Blood Sugar

This is why people with diabetes should steer clear of fasting. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia is a side effect of diabetes and insulin medication, but it can happen to non-diabetics, too .

Not eating enough and skipping meals are common triggers for hypoglycemia. So, people prone to hypoglycemia might feel dizzy or have nausea or shaking, warns Dr. Seltzer.

Other symptoms of mild to moderate hypoglycemia include headache, blurred vision, sweating, fatigue, and paleness, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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