Fasting is not a new concept. It was written about in many Holy Scriptures. Fasting is often used to teach self-control and humility and is enhanced with prayer. Fasting does not have to last for 40 days, it can be just a few hours or a few days, performed intermittently.
What is intermittent fasting? It is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. It is a conscious decision to reduce the number of meals eaten during a 24 hour period. This means eating the calories during a specific time during the day. Eating three meals a day has not always been the norm. There are several different ways to participate in intermittent fasting. One is to regularly eat during a specific time period, for example, eating during an 8 hour window and not eating for the remaining 16 hours of a day. Another way is to skip two meals one day and wait a full 24-hours before eating again.
Why would you want to do this? When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, using part of it to generate energy. Your body prefers to burn carbohydrates/sugar as energy over any other source. During a fasting state, your body doesn’t have that recently consumed meal to use for energy, and begins to pull from the fat stored in your body or glycogen in your muscles or liver. 1
Both your liver and muscles store sugar in the form of glycogen, which, when needed, can be broken down into glucose (sugar) and burned for energy. During a water only fast, your glycogen stores are depleted within about 24 hours. After this is used, your cells begin burning fatty acids for energy – from your fat reserves. Blood cells and brain cells can not use fatty acids to fuel their energy needs. They need glucose. They go looking for glycerol, another component of your fat tissue and your muscles. Muscle tissue is broken down into amino acids to make glucose. It’s not the best idea to eat up your muscles to meet the energy requirements for your blood cells and brain. To compensate for this, sometime between the second and third day of a water only fast, your liver begins to generate ketones, again using your fat reserves.
The bulk of toxins in your body are stored in fat reserves, so the longer you fast, the more fat you’ll burn and the more toxins you’ll eliminate. Significant detoxification only begins if you fast for more than one day; however, your body will increase its rate of ongoing detoxification with more rest or by eating less food, because the less digestive burden means there is more energy for detoxification and healing.
The main benefit of a one day a week fast, is to allow your body an opportunity to rest from food digestion and focus on health-promoting work. The fast does not have to be water only, you can also spend the day eating all raw fruits and vegetables or drinking their freshly pressed juices. 2
Fasting has also been used to lose weight. There are a number of fasting plans available. One of the most successful ones I’ve seen is the Fast-5 Life diet. This intermittent fasting plan includes a five hour window for eating and the remaining time with no food, but plenty of water. The major concept here is to eat when you’re hungry. There are no dietary restrictions. Eat what you want. The Fast-5 way of eating works because it restores appetite to an appropriate level for the amount of stored energy (fat) you have and the amount of energy you expend in a day. By taking in less food, your body burns more fat, about a pound a week. Many participants notice a loss of inches before pounds and they are reporting diminished symptoms of inflammation.
How does this work? Our bodies react to energy consumption with insulin production. The more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely your body will consume what you eat more efficiently. Fewer meals, means less food is needed and less time spent preparing meals.3 In an emergency situation, this procedure may make even more sense.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include: