Despite its rising popularity, fasting isn’t something new in the health industry. In fact, many cultures already practiced fasting decades ago. The reason why fasting has gained popularity in recent years is because of the purported benefits it brings, like boosting cognitive performance, reduces inflammation, improves overall fitness, aids in weight loss, and more.
However, if you want to get into fasting, it is important to learn how to fast safely. To start, you should seek advice from a health professional, like an internal medicine physician. A health expert can assess your overall body condition to determine whether fasting is suitable for you.
So, after you check with an internal medicine physician and they gave you the green light, here are some ways to fast safely:
Choose a Fasting Method
As a newcomer in the fasting trend, it’s important to note that there are many ways to fast. Choosing the one that is best suited to your lifestyle, preference and general health is important. For instance, you are not likely to stick to a fasting routine that your schedule will deem impossible.
To guide you, here are some fasting methods you can choose from:
- Traditional Fasting: This fasting method will usually last from a day to seven days or longer. This method focuses on developing self-discipline and enhancing willpower.
This fasting method is ideal if you consider fasting as something beneficial for your mental and spiritual health, rather than just about the physical benefits that fasting brings, like weight loss. You’ll still enjoy the physical effects of fasting but it is generally considered as secondary for this particular fasting method.
- Intermittent Fasting: This type of fasting is the most popular method since it aims to harness the physical benefits of fasting like regulating your blood sugar, which may, in turn, prevent mood swings and fatigue. It is also known to promote metabolic health. Additionally, through fasting, you may be able to protect your brain from the dangers of stroke, neurotoxins, and oxidate stress.
Intermittent fasting (IF) involves a routine where you allocate a period of hours in a day to eat, while the majority of hours is dedicated to fasting. This is commonly known as the 16/8 method (16 hours fasting while 8 hours is the window for you to eat. Furthermore, you can also opt for the 5:2 diet, which is a schedule where you can eat normally for five days, but restrict food consumption (a maximum of 600 calories for men, 500 calories for women) for two.
Don’t Have a Feast During Your Eating Period
When we say eating period, it doesn’t mean that you should consume all the food you can get your hands on during that time period. Doing so will leave you feeling tired and bloated and could ultimately lead to your diet failing. Instead, try to eat with the specified number of allotted calories in mind.
Ease Into It
Now that you know some fasting options you can take, it’s important to remember not to immediately adjust your eating routine accordingly, especially since you’re just starting. Doing so may result in headaches and nausea, which will have a negative impact on your daily routine. Instead, try easing into this new diet.
If you choose to have a traditional fast, start by fasting for a whole day for a few weeks. If everything goes well, you can then go for three days, until your body is already accustomed to it. For IF, start first with 12 hours (instead of 16). If you decide to go for a 5:2 diet, you can increase the suggested calorie intake. If your body has already adjusted, you can then go for the suggested pattern.
Consume the Right Type of Foods
Speaking of eating food, it’s important to note that the open period of fasting entails that you must also choose the right type of food you eat. Just because you’re ‘allowed’ to eat, it doesn’t mean that you should indulge in sweets, processed foods, and other types that may break your fasting goals. Instead, it’s advisable to stick to lean proteins, vegetables, and fruits.
Furthermore, what’s good about fasting is there are no mandated specific menus; you can still eat much of a regular diet and some fatty food. What’s important, however, is to stick to a healthy eating principle.
Here are the principles of fasting that you should apply:
- As much as possible, limit your consumption of processed foods.
- Have a balanced amount of lean protein, veggies, carbs, healthy fats, and veggies on your plate.
- Consume your meals mindfully and slowly until you’re satiated.
- Most importantly, cook or order meals that you truly enjoy.
Takeaway: Stop Fasting if You Feel Unwell
As mentioned above, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional first before fasting. This is because fasting may not be for everyone, especially if you’re underweight, have a medical condition, low blood pressure, taking prescriptions, older, and much more.
If you feel unwell during your fasting period, it’s important to stop right away. Continuing to fast despite the red flags may result in severe consequences instead of providing you with the benefits you expect.