When most people hear “quick,” they immediately think of fad diets or diets that people follow for a quick fix. But fasting has many benefits beyond just losing weight. It’s proven to help with everything from brain health to mental clarity and chronic illness. It is also recommended by medical professionals due to its many benefits.
If you’ve never tried fasting before, here’s a quick guide on how to do it safely to get the most out of fasting.
What is fasting?
When you fast, you don’t eat or drink anything for a period of time. Besides water. This is why a long fast, such as a three-day fast, is often called a “water fast.”
The point of fasting is to stop the intake of calories for a while.
The obvious result of giving up food is weight loss. But going without food for a period of time also helps to bring many health benefits.
What are the different types of fasting?
There are three main types of fasting;
1. Calorie restriction
The most fundamental form of fasting is known as calorie-restricted fasting. For the vast majority of people, this is the image that comes to mind when they hear the word “fast”.
You are essentially abstaining from food for a certain amount of time. The duration of these types of fasting ranges from 18 to 48 hours.
2. Restriction of macronutrients
During this type of fast, you won’t be consuming a lot of certain macronutrients (the three macronutrients are protein, carbs, and fat).
Athletes who have an increased need for protein and frequently load their stomachs are the best candidates for this type of fasting.
3. Seasonal food
In order to successfully complete this type of fasting, we need to go back to more primitive times and explore how our food supply would change with the changing seasons.
In winter, they preferred heartier pieces of meat and tubers, and in summer – fruit and lean pieces of meat. Consume only those foods that are naturally available at this time of year.
Six benefits of fasting
The benefits of fasting are numerous and may vary from person to person. It is also affected by how often a person fasts. Some of the benefits include:
#1. Cleansing your body
When you fast, your digestive system is cleansed. Clearing the stomach and bacteria allows the system to start fresh.
#2. Improving brain function
Your brain works better when you are well hydrated. During water fasting, you replace food with water. It helps to clear the fog and gives you more mental clarity and increased focus.
#3. Increases immunity
Your immune system will be stronger if you fast regularly. A stronger immune system means fewer sick days.
#4. Reduces stress levels
Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, a stress hormone that makes you feel hungrier. Cortisol also makes you more sensitive to stress, so you may crave junk food. When you stop eating, your body produces less cortisol.
#5. Mental health
You will feel calmer and more energetic while fasting. You will not be distracted by thoughts about food or other things in life. Instead, you’ll focus on what’s most important and reap more psychological benefits.
#6. Helps with weight loss
If you want to lose weight, try not to eat for 72 hours. You will burn up to 500 extra calories every day.
5 side effects of fasting
Fasting is a great way to lose weight, but there are side effects that should be emphasized.
One of the most common side effects of fasting is headaches. In most cases, they occur in the first few days as your body rids itself of toxins.
Nausea is another common side effect of fasting. You may feel nauseous while fasting. It just means you need to keep drinking fluids and keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day.
#3. Suffering from hunger
Fasting can make you feel hungrier than usual. You may even feel nauseous and dizzy. To avoid these symptoms, it is important to drink plenty of fluids.
#4. Dry mouth
Dry mouth is another common side effect. This is because your saliva production decreases, which can also cause dry lips.
Constipation is another common side effect of fasting. This is caused by dehydration. Drink plenty of water to prevent constipation.
Is fasting for 3 days beneficial?
Yes! A three-day fast, or water fast, has many amazing health benefits. However, it is not recommended for everyone. People who have certain diseases should not fast without medical supervision.
Pregnant women should not fast under any circumstances. Their body is not able to process carbohydrates well, because of which the child may have problems.
Children and teenagers should also not try to starve, as their bodies and organs have not yet fully matured. Fasting is not recommended for people who are underweight (BMI < 18.5), which many children are, because they are still growing.
Also, people with diabetes or other medical conditions should consult their doctors before fasting, as it can worsen their underlying health problems.
What are the benefits of 3-day fasting?
There are a number of different benefits of fasting, many of which are listed above. However, when fasting for 72 hours, your body will go through different stages that provide different benefits. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits you’ll experience during a three-day fast.
After 12 hours
When you start fasting, your body enters ketosis from the 12th hour. This is a metabolic condition in which the body gets most of its energy from fat rather than glucose.
This speeds up the rate at which your body burns fat.
During ketosis, your liver converts fats into fatty acids called ketones. These ketones enter your bloodstream and provide energy to your brain and muscles.
Ketosis also reduces inflammation in the body. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes are linked to inflammation.
During ketosis, your body releases hormones called glucagon and insulin. Glucagon helps regulate blood sugar, while insulin controls how much sugar is stored in your body.
After 6 p.m
After about 18 hours, your body starts burning fat for fuel. Your body begins to produce more ketones and less insulin. This makes it easier for your body to use fat for energy.
In 24 hours
After about 24 hours, your body will move on to the next stage, called autophagy.
Autophagy is a natural process that recycles old cells and cell parts. It is a self-destruct mechanism that allows us to live longer.
Autophagy is triggered by hunger and stress when your body is not getting enough food. The process involves the destruction of damaged organelles such as mitochondria, ribosomes, and lysosomes to create new ones.
This helps flush out toxins and bacteria and is one of the reasons why we should eat every two to three hours.
After 48 hours
After 48 hours, your body goes into the next phase where certain hormones, such as growth hormone, increase.
Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. It stimulates protein synthesis, muscle and bone growth. It also boosts metabolism and improves immune function.
In 72 hours
Finally, after 72 hours, your body enters a final phase called catabolic.
Catabolism is the opposite of anabolism. Anabolism is a building process and catabolism is a process that breaks things down.
Your body begins to use proteins, carbohydrates and fats for energy. It also removes waste products such as cholesterol and uric acid.
How to perform a 3-day fast? 5 main tips
Generally, a three-day fast consists of drinking only water to keep your body hydrated. Some may include black coffee and tea in their diet or add a drop of lemon or sea salt to their water.
Beyond these basics, here are our top five tips to ensure a safe and effective three-day fast.
1: Consult a specialist
Before fasting, check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy. Your doctor may suggest eating high-energy foods before you start fasting, as your body will go into survival mode.
Also, you can reduce the proportions and portions of food to prepare for fasting. This will help prepare for the three-day fast.
2: Listen to your body
During the first few hours of fasting, you may feel comfortable. Later, however, it’s important to pay attention to how you feel.
Do not engage in strenuous exercise. Doctors may advise you to completely avoid exercise while fasting. If you feel unwell or very tired, stop fasting.
Remember that your health is of the utmost importance, so don’t push your body too hard as this can cause more damage.
3: Break your fast properly
After the fast is over, you might want to treat yourself to a big spread. Considering you haven’t eaten in days, that makes sense.
However, there are many things to consider when going hungry. And since most people don’t know about it, they break the fast dangerously.
Your digestive system needs something light to deal with after days without food. Fruit, such as watermelon, or a smoothie are the best snack foods. You can even drink bone broth to get extra nutrients back into your body.
Give your body time to get used to the food again before you start eating solid food.
4: Do it with someone
Fasting with someone like your friend or partner is great. You can share the experience of fasting with someone so that they can feel and experience the same thing as you.
It is also good to have someone by your side during the fast to keep you motivated and to support you. Fasting is hard, so doing it with someone else can make it easier.
5: Build for fast
Different people react differently to a three-day fast. If you have never fasted before, it is better to start with a shorter 24-hour fast and see how your body changes in 24 hours.
You will get a lot of benefits from it, but there will be bad things as well. This will tell if you are healthy enough to continue the three-day fast.