Google “fasting for health” and you’ll get more than 6.3 million results, including doctors who recommend it for a variety of diseases, spas that promise detoxifying food-free vacations, bloggers who claim that fasting makes them feel more mentally clear and physically fit — and, increasingly, fitness professionals touting diets that include fasting as a method for weight loss. Is medical science, however, able to back up these claims?
Organs like the liver, kidney, and spleen work every day to eliminate and neutralise toxins from the body in order to keep our cells healthy. When you fast, you are removing more poisons from your system.
The crucial word here is “potential.” While a growing amount of data shows intermittent fasting may have health advantages, much of the data is still inconclusive, and there are many unanswered questions regarding how a fasting diet or intermittent fasting diet could effect our bodies in the long run.
How Intermittent Fasting Diets Work
Fasting, also known as intermittent fasting, shifts the focus from what you eat to when you eat. It’s not about calorie restriction for days on end; rather, it’s about eating for a set number of hours per day, or a certain number of days per week, and then abstaining or limiting food consumption for a set amount of time.
Can the 16:8 Fasting Diet Help You Lose Weight?
For example, the Fast Diet, also known as the 5:2 diet, advocates eating whatever you want for five days of the week (without too much thought to calorie intake) and restricting calorie intake to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men for the other two days of the week (roughly one-quarter of the diet’s “rule of thumb” calorie intake for non-fasting days).
When you reduce your calorie intake, your body reacts. Your digestive system breaks down carbs into glucose, the body’s primary source of energy, when you eat. The digestive system absorbs glucose into the blood, which subsequently goes to your body’s cells to give fuel. If you don’t eat, you’ll:
• As the amount of glucose in your blood decreases, your body will begin to rely on stored glucose, known as glycogen, for energy.
•Once the glycogen in your body is depleted, your body begins to burn fat and muscle to produce glucose for your cells.
• Your body enters ketosis mode after a few days without eating (which experts don’t suggest), which means it burns fat as its major source of fuel while sparing muscle.
•When you’re in ketosis, you’ll lose weight by burning body fat. Ketosis causes your blood to become more acidic, which can lead to foul breath, tiredness, and other unpleasant symptoms. Fasting for longer periods of time can harm the kidneys and liver.
While so-called fasting diets have grown in popularity, fasting is not a new concept. Fasting has long been a feature of religious traditions, and the ability to go without food for lengthy periods of time is believed to be an important aspect of human evolution. Human bodies are built to endure periods of not eating thanks to our past as hunter-gatherers. Because our ancestors who made it through those hard times are the ones who lived, it’s possible that our DNA is programmed to benefit from fasting.