Fasting is a concept that has been around for thousands of years. From religious practices to current diet trends, fasting has taken on an entirely new light in recent years. In fact, there are many studies that point to incredible health benefits as a result of fasting, including weight loss, blood sugar regulation in the body, and preventing diseases like cancer.
One of the most popular forms of fasting is known as Intermittent Fasting. This form of fasting may be even more beneficial for those with certain medical conditions, such as those with type 2 diabetes, due to its weight loss benefits. Though this is not the only benefit, Intermittent Fasting has to offer. Before we get into the different benefits, what is Intermittent Fasting in simple terms?
A Simple Breakdown of What Fasting Is
Fasting, simply put, is the practice of abstaining from food and drink (not including water) for a certain amount of time. The amount of time is typically anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
Intermittent Fasting is the practice of fasting for specific intervals of time, such as eating during an 8-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of time within a 24-hour period.
Prolonged Fasting is the practice of abstaining from food and drink (not including water) for 36 hours or more.
What Types of Fasting Are There?
Although there are certain forms of Intermittent Fasting that are more popular than others, there are, in fact, 9 different types of Intermittent Fasting.
These different types of fasting include:
- Circadian Fasting
- 8:16 Fasting Method
- Alternate-Day Fasting
- Modified Alternate-Day Fasting
- 12-Hour Fast
- 5:2 Fasting Method
- Dirty fasting
- 24-Hour Fast
Of all the different fasting methods available, the 24-hour Fasting Method is an excellent choice for those who prefer a longer fasting window that is flexible around a person’s schedule.
Why 24-Hour Fasting?
The 24-Hour Fasting Method is one of the most popular Intermittent Fasting methods that can yield great weight loss results. The reason it works is because it triggers a process in the body known as ketosis. When the body finishes digesting the last meal that was consumed roughly 6-8 hours prior, all the body’s glycogen will have been depleted, thus requiring it to utilize an alternate energy source. This alternative energy source just so happens to come from the body’s fat stores. The obvious result is a decrease in body fat.
Though weight loss is not the only benefit seen by those who practice Intermittent Fasting, other benefits of fasting for 24 hours include the improvement of cardiovascular by reducing the risk of heart attacks. Additionally, it decreases the risk of Metabolic Syndrome, certain kinds of cancers, and strokes. If that were not enough, a 24-hour fasting period observed once every week may even stimulate Growth Hormone improving muscle growth and cell repair. This, in turn, helps to burn more fat in the body due to the increased muscle mass.
Is fasting One Day a Week Enough to Give You Results?
Yes. There is sufficient evidence within the available research studies that point to tangible results with even shorter fasting periods. The key to any fasting regimen is to stay consistent. Just like with any diet or workout routine, the same holds true with whatever intermittent fasting routine you choose to follow.
What Are the Downsides?
The 24-hour Intermittent Fasting method is not going to be a perfect fit for everyone. Although there are many benefits associated with this fasting method, there are also plenty of drawbacks. A few of the downsides associated with 24-hour fasting include intense hunger, dizziness, irritability, mood swings, lightheadedness, headaches, trouble sleeping, and fatigue, just to name a few.
It may also be difficult to follow this fasting method long-term due to its intensity.
It should also be mentioned that those with certain medical conditions should talk to their doctors before trying this fasting method. Those with type 1 diabetes may not be good candidates, as fasting for a 24-hour window can significantly disrupt blood sugar levels. Also, those who take certain medications may not be suitable for the 24-hour fast. Additionally, children, pregnant women, and those with eating disorders are not good candidates for this particular fasting method.
Another aspect of this fasting method that is easily overlooked is a person’s hydration levels. Your water intake is incredibly important during extended fasting periods, and a person can become easily dehydrated if their liquid intake is not closely monitored. Hydration does not just come from what we drink. The food we consume also provides a large portion of our body’s hydration, so if a person is fasting for 24 hours, it’s important to compensate for that loss by consuming plenty of liquids with electrolytes in them.
Should It Be Done Long Term?
This question is a bit more complicated to answer as the response will vary greatly from one person to another. If you are generally in good health and do not have any underlying conditions as well as the willpower to pursue it long-term, it is possible to follow a 24-hour fast once a week for an extended period of time with no adverse side effects.
Multiple studies have shown that weekly 24-hour fasting routines of up to 6 months show no negative side effects among the participants. However, it’s worth mentioning that more participants ended up dropping out of the study due to the difficulty of following it long-term. This further implies the reality that many people find lengthier fasting periods more difficult to maintain.
In summary, fasting has been around for thousands of years and offers many health benefits, including weight loss. Intermittent Fasting has become quite popular and can be broken up into 9 different methods, which include the time-restricted method, circadian fasting, 8:16 fasting method, alternate-day fasting, modified alternate-day fasting, 12-hour fast, 5:2 fasting method, dirty fasting, and the 24-hour fast.
The 24-hour fasting method is one of the most popular fasting methods and can yield excellent weight loss results on top of other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart attacks. Additionally, it decreases the risk of Metabolic Syndrome, certain kinds of cancers, as well as strokes and may even stimulate Growth Hormone improving muscle growth and cell repair.
A few downsides include intense hunger, dizziness, irritability, mood swings, lightheadedness, headaches, trouble sleeping, and fatigue. Those with type 1 diabetes and those who take certain medications may not be suitable for the 24-hour fast. Additionally, children, pregnant women, and those with eating disorders are also not good candidates for this particular fasting method, and staying hydrated can be a difficult task if not closely monitored.
If a person is otherwise healthy, it can be done long-term. Having said that, this may be difficult to achieve due to the intensity of the fast and the possible side effects that accompany the deprivation of food for 24 hours.
Last reviewed and updated on October 7, 2023