Is Fasting Healthy?

You’ve probably heard that fasting is good for you. Promoted by lifestyle gurus and backed up by countless studies, fasting really is a great way to clean up your insides, lose weight, and help your body run more efficiently. Sounds great – except for the part where you have to be starving all the time!

But this assumption is wrong. That’s because fasting isn’t about deprivation, but rather learning how to give your body what it needs at the right time.

In these sections, you’ll learn how to break the deep-rooted anxiety that tells you it’s dangerous to skip a meal. And as you get better at going without, you’ll discover what it is you truly need.

Fasting is about knowing what you need and taking control of it

All of us, at one point or another, have found ourselves hungry and craving french fries. But did you know that hunger and cravings are different things? Hunger is a biological message, while cravings are a psychological need – and the junk food industry, peddling highly processed food, has put a lot of effort into convincing you they’ve got just the thing to satisfy your craving.

So if you have a problem controlling unhealthy cravings, fasting might be a solution. But fasting is neither a diet nor a lifestyle. Rather, fasting is a mindset – it means going without. It’s learning how to gain strength by saying no.

By going without, you actually break the cycle of consumption and, in that space, give yourself time to reflect. Do I really need that burger? That fifth cup of coffee? That tenth scroll through Instagram?

Yes, even Instagram. It may seem unrelated, but in taking a break from the instant gratification of social media (or whatever else you use to feel a momentary escape), you’d be practicing what Cameron Sepah, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, calls “dopamine fasting.” Imagine how much stronger and calmer you’d feel if you could resist the pull of phone alerts and endless scrolls to focus on a task that requires all your concentration.

You wouldn’t be giving up social media entirely, of course, because fasting isn’t about quitting something forever. Rather, it’s about self-control. A great example of this is oxygen fasting. Sounds crazy, right? But athletes do it all the time – they train in low-oxygen environments to build up lung capacity. Many forms of yoga, too, extol the benefits of breath control.

It’s important to note that although fasting can be uncomfortable, it’s not about suffering. With the right mindset, fasting can be a joyous experience because you achieve a sense of power and control. Then, as you continue to practice fasting, it just becomes . . . well, normal.

Use intermittent fasting to help ease into “going without

At this point, fasting might sound a bit scary. The thought of giving up food and social media does sound anxiety-inducing. But that’s the interesting thing about fasting – by going without the things that give a momentary sense of comfort or familiarity, you actually end up feeling stronger and more in control.

That’s because you’re not, in reality, giving something up. Rather, you’re putting it on hold while you create new habits. So even though you might experience discomfort at first, remind yourself that it won’t last forever.

After more than ten years of regular fasting, I recommend intermittent fasting as the best way to start. A popular plan for beginners is the “16:8” fast, during which you restrict your eating window to just eight hours of the day – say 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., for instance.

Not only is intermittent fasting pretty easy to do, because you can so readily adapt it to your lifestyle, but it also comes with a host of health benefits. It helps regulate insulin levels  – in taking a break from overprocessed foods, your body begins to feed off of stored glucose and stops producing excess insulin. Fasting also helps clear out toxins and pathogens by triggering autophagy – a process that, as recent studies have shown, also slows aging and lowers inflammation.

And inflammation is key. You know how your body gets inflamed from, say, a mosquito bite? Well, inflammation can also be triggered by food. Unfortunately, low-quality processed foods tend to be packed with harmful agents, leaving our bodies in a perpetual state of chronic inflammation. When our bodies have to fight this on a molecular level, we experience it as a loss of energy. And in the long run, chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and more.

While all these health benefits probably sound appealing, perhaps you’re still nervous about being a bit “hangry” in the morning. To cope, we recommend starting the day with a Bulletproof Coffee: black coffee, grass-fed butter, and a teaspoon of C8 MCT oil. The fats in this concoction will keep you going throughout the morning, all while maintaining your autophagic fasting state.

To help your body thrive, develop an inconsistent fasting routine

While insulin regulation, inflammation reduction, and autophagy all sound great on paper, they’re also molecular-level concepts. They aren’t quite as tangible as promises of a slimmer waistline – one of the easiest ways to gain self-esteem and a big reason people turn to fasting in the first place.

But again, fasting isn’t dieting. Many weight-loss diets rely on calorie reduction, as if every calorie from food is the same. But 100 calories of salad is clearly healthier than the same serving of potato chips. And dieting frequently doesn’t address the underlying issue: the fact that your body can’t effectively convert food into energy.

Calorie-restricting diets can cause cravings; intermittent fasting teaches you when and how to eat. Different types of fasts affect you in different ways, as does the food you eat when you come out of the fast. That’s why we suggest mixing up fasting lengths.

To understand why mixing up your routine is important, let’s look at what happens during the different fasting stages.

After your last meal, it takes anywhere from 4 to 16 hours before your body starts running on stored energy. At this point, your body starts breaking down glycogen to produce glucose. This frees up adrenaline and cortisol and gives you a boost of energy.

If you do OMAD (or one meal a day), you’ll be fasting even longer. During OMAD, your body goes into fat-burning mode – activating a complex process that converts stored fat into ketones that can be used for energy. This won’t just help you shed that unwanted weight; as one recent study found, ketosis also leads to lower levels of triglycerides and higher levels of HDL cholesterol ( the good one).

While those are great effects, they’re not sustainable. If you do OMAD every day, sex hormones drop (for both sexes), sleep quality is disturbed, and hair begins to thin. That’s why we recommend mixing it up – a high-protein, high-fat breakfast to start your week, a mix of OMAD and intermittent fasting on the following days, and cheat days on the weekend.

Sticking to this kind of routine not only gets rid of those aching cravings, but also keeps your mind and body sharp by forcing it to adapt to an inconsistent world.

Healthy sleep supports your fasting – and healthy fasting supports your sleep

Isn’t it funny that most people would rather skip a few hours of sleep than miss a meal? While fasting for a few days won’t kill you, going without sleep could.

But while everyone has felt the regenerative benefits of a good night’s sleep, did you know that getting six and a half to eight hours of sleep per night literally protects and heals you? It reduces the risk of cancer and heart attacks, aids in cellular repair, and reduces inflammation in the brain as the glymphatic system flushes out cellular waste.

Best of all, that sleep time counts as fasting. And if you keep it going after you wake up, human growth hormone (HGH) levels rise, which is great for burning fat and building lean muscle mass.

That’s because your sleep cycle and your fasting schedule work in harmony with each other. For instance, if you eat too late, you’ll still be digesting when you go to bed – which interferes with your circadian rhythm. And sleeping with elevated glucose and insulin levels will likely cause you to wake up periodically during the night – and then be groggy the next day.

A recent University of California, San Diego study has shown that a three-hour window between eating and going to bed significantly reduces the levels of blood sugar. If your sleep and fasting are in sync, that means closing your eating window at 8:00 p.m. and going to bed after 11:00 p.m., for example – a pretty manageable schedule.

On top of not eating too late, you can help keep your circadian rhythm on track by reducing your exposure to artificial light in the hours before bed. So dim the lights around the house and, yes, turn off your TV, laptop, and cell phone. All of these things trigger the release of hormones that keep you awake.

Last, try to remember that establishing a new routine is challenging, so go easy on yourself. In the early stages of fasting, you might experience sleep disruptions or make dinner plans that get in the way of your evening rhythm. After all, you still have a life. If anything, that late-night dinner might prove to you exactly why you shouldn’t eat before bedtime!

Metabolic flexibility helps you power through gym sessions on fasting days

As we’ve seen, fasting not only helps you confront your fears of not having all the things you swore you couldn’t live without – it actually helps you thrive. And the more your mind and body obey you, the stronger you become.

Next, it’s time to hit the gym. Maybe that sounds impossible on an empty stomach – especially if you rely on sugary sports drinks to get through a gym session or practice carb-loading the night before a workout. But it’s actually harder to lose weight when your body is still relying on glucose for energy.

Luckily, through intermittent fasting, you’ve practiced harnessing your power on a metabolic level. And by switching up your fasting routine, you’ve trained your body to be metabolically flexible by going between burning sugar and burning fat.

Believe it or not, unpredictability is actually good for your cells. The body likes to run on sugar, but when sugar isn’t available, it’ll switch to a ketone fat-burning mode. And the more you toggle between the two states, the more your cell structures get used to metabolizing energy from either one.

Running off fat reserves is actually a great thing. Not only do you slim up, but fat molecules have more energy than carbohydrates. Good fats are also anti-inflammatory, which helps take the edge off exercise-related aches and pains, and they’re hydrating.

After you exercise and it’s time to break your fast, feel free to eat a healthy amount of carbs. In fact, it fits the pattern of rapid change between the two metabolic states, which makes your body stronger.

Another trick that helps your metabolic flexibility is hot-cold therapy. Try standing under a stream of cold water at the end of your shower. You’ll hate it for a few days, but soon enough the modest stress provided by the cold water will increase cardiolipin, and your body will generate more heat. Research has shown that cold therapy improves your mood, boosts the immune system, relieves pain, and aids with weight loss.

Lastly, don’t get obsessed with looking like the bodies you see on TV. Before shooting a shirts-off scene, those actors had to fast for days and take diuretics. Trying to look like that all the time would likely kill you. Instead, treat your body well with good food, exercise, and sleep – all of which help you maintain a healthy, and realistic, image of what it should look like.

Women need to develop a fasting plan tailored to their needs

While fasting has many benefits, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution; you’ll probably need to experiment a little as you hone your process. This is especially true for women. Since an astonishing amount of fasting plans and medical studies still use men as their baseline, what works best for women’s bodies is, unfortunately, not often talked about.

Obviously, men and women are different – and nothing underscores this difference more than women’s reproductive ability. This is precisely what makes them more sensitive to fasting. That’s because when a woman’s amygdala thinks her reproductive capabilities are threatened, it causes a stress response that restricts hormones to maintain her body’s resources.

In fact, women who did too much intermittent fasting experienced sleep problems, hair loss, irregular periods, and sometimes even temporary infertility.

The main strategy is to take it easy – don’t do too much at once. Limit intermittent fasting to every other day, or ease into it by starting with only 14 hours instead of 16. We suggest saving strenuous, high-intensity workouts for non-fasting days. And Bulletproof Coffee can help relieve some of the bodily stress caused by fasting.

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but rather suggestions to prevent your body from triggering “famine stress.” If you do still find yourself feeling stressed or craving fatty, salty foods, adding some Himalayan salt and grass-fed butter to your diet could help ease the cravings. We also advises women to pay special attention to iron, as low levels can cause fatigue and disrupt menstrual cycles.

Finally, we strongly advises consulting your doctor before doing any fasting. This is particularly true if you’re breastfeeding, planning to get pregnant, or are experiencing fertility issues. Also be sure to check with a doctor if you have irregular periods, are underweight, or have a history with eating disorders. And, of course, never fast if you’re pregnant.

While the benefits of fasting can be just as plentiful for women as for men, women do need to be a little more careful. So just ease into it slowly, and be mindful of your diet, supplements, and stress levels. In short, pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Fasting allows you to discover yourself beyond flesh and blood

Soon after you start fasting, you’ll start to notice some differences.

Perhaps you’ll become more aware of your unconscious thinking around food, like the cravings triggered by stress. And with this awareness, maybe you’ll realize that hunger is just a feeling – and not always a rational one.

But think beyond the physical. For instance, maybe your senses will become hyper aware. Food might smell more delicious. The colors of your salad might, at times, seem more vivid.

Fasting alters how you see the world around you, which is why it’s a pillar of most religious and spiritual practices – from Christianity to Judaism, Islam to Buddhism. And for many adherents, going without is not only an expression of self-discipline and sacrifice, but also a path for greater communion with the world around them.

So consider it meditating on a physical level, and enjoy it. In fact, embracing that joy is key to the spirituality of fasting. Because while fasting is about self-discipline, it isn’t about pain. And, actually, pleasure is quite an important factor in the process.

This is the perfect time to mention that orgasms during an extended fast are likely to be more intense for both sexes. However, if you’re a man, keep in mind that testosterone drops the day after ejaculation. Echoing this, Daoists teach that men shouldn’t deplete themselves by ejaculating. At the same time, they urge women to climax freely and fully.

As a final piece of advice, be sure to avoid self-judgment. Maybe you planned too epic a fast, or maybe some unforeseen stressor came up during the day – and suddenly you’ve got a cookie in your mouth. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, consider that your fast has exposed a spiritual toxin, like perfectionism or being too rigid. So just enjoy the cookie as you continue along the path.

Conclusion

Fasting isn’t about suffering or starvation. Instead, it’s a way to reduce the biological noise on a cellular level and turn down the noise on a consciousness level. 

Ultimately, fasting is a practice of self-discipline – of learning how to go without – so that you can understand what you really need.


Take a look at these popular supplement brands for full-body wellness and weight loss:

  • Resurge: According to the official website, Resurge’s formula is designed to help users recover from shallow sleep syndrome and improve the process of metabolic regeneration that occurs during sleep.
  • BioFit: This supplement contains probiotics selected for their ability to support digestion and bowel movement. 
  • Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic: This supplement supports a flat stomach and weight loss by optimizing metabolism and digestion.
  • Java Burn: A single-serve pack of Java Burn, according to its creator John Barban, can improve your energy levels and help you burn fat.

The loss of even 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can produce health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

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