Thinking of Fasting? Here's How To Do It Safely

    Thinking of Fasting? Here's How To Do It Safely

    People do fasting, the act of not consuming any food or drink for a set period of time, for various reasons. Some do it because it is a requirement for specific laboratory tests; others fast for religious practices. And of course, some people fast because they want to lose weight. Whatever your reason is, it is crucial that you fast safely. In this article we’ll talk about the potential benefits of fasting and some tips on how to fast safely.

    The Potential Benefits of Fasting

    Before we explain the guidelines on how to fast safely, let’s first discuss the potential benefits of abstinence from food and drinks.

    1. Better Sugar Control and Insulin Sensitivity

    If you have diabetes, or are at a risk of having it, you might want to talk to your doctor about fasting. This is because some reports suggest that certain types of fasting are effective in reducing blood sugar and improving insulin resistance¹ ².

    2. Lower Blood Triglycerides and Bad Cholesterol

    High levels of blood triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) are associated with heart diseases.

    It is interesting to note that studies show fasting might help in lowering blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels in adults with obesity³. Another study also noted that three weeks of fasting resulted in a decrease and normalization of blood pressure⁴.

    3. Decreased Inflammation

    Did you know that long-term or chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases including arthritis, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes⁵?

    Surprisingly, one study noted that Ramadan fasting can reduce inflammation by decreasing body fat, reducing circulating leukocytes (white blood cells), and suppressing cytokines, which are proinflammatory proteins⁶.

    Guidelines on How To Fast Safely

    Before diving into the practice of fasting, you must first understand the following tips on how to fast safely:

    1. Know If Fasting Is Something You Can Do

    The first thing you need to do is determine if fasting is something you can tolerate.

    You see, while experts say fasting is a good practice, some people shouldn’t abstain from all foods and drinks for a certain period. For instance, if you have diabetes and are using insulin, the lack of food may lead to low blood sugar.

    It’s best to talk to your doctor if you want to practice fasting but you have underlying health concerns such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease. They’ll be able to determine if there’s a type of fasting that you can benefit from.

    Note: Even if you don’t have a health condition, talking to an expert can prove to be beneficial. They will help you choose which fasting routine best suits your needs.

    2. Prepare the Right Way

    Among the most important tips on how to fast safely include preparing the right way.

    According to experts, proper preparation doesn’t involve loading up on calories “since you won’t be having much later.” Eating three meals a day with two snacks in between, and then suddenly going into fasting, isn’t healthy.

    Ease into fasting by reducing the amount of calories you consume days before you start. It is especially important that you avoid having sugary food and drinks before fasting.

    3. Take It Easy

    An important guideline on how to fast safely is to reduce your physical activity. With no calories to burn, you might not be able to tolerate strenuous or high-intensity workouts.

    4. Know What To Do with Your Medicines

    Even if you’re fasting, you must still take your medications. However, some drugs, like antibiotics, should be taken with food.

    For this reason, talk to your doctor if you want to fast, but are currently taking some medicines.

    5. Done Fasting? Don’t Feast!

    Finally, when you’re done fasting, avoid feasting.

    Just as you need to ease into the practice, you must also ease out of it. Rather than eating a big meal, spread the calories into a couple of meals or snacks.

    Key Takeaways

    Fasting is not only associated with weight loss; some studies suggest that the practice is also good for sugar control, insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health, and reduced inflammation.

    The most important tip on how to fast safely is to talk to a health expert. They will guide you in choosing the type of fasting that best suits your needs.

    Learn more about Health Eating here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    1. Effects of intermittent fasting on health markers in those with type 2 diabetes: A pilot study, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394735/, Accessed November 2, 2021

    2. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24993615/, Accessed November 2, 2021

    3. Improvements in coronary heart disease risk indicators by alternate-day fasting involve adipose tissue modulations, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20300080/, Accessed November 2, 2021

    4. [The effects of three-week fasting diet on blood pressure, lipid profile and glucoregulation in extremely obese patients], https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17929537/, Accessed November 2, 2021

    5. Chronic Inflammation, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/, Accessed November 2, 2021

    6. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23244540/, Accessed November 2, 2021

    7. 5 Tips for Fasting the Healthy Way, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-tips-for-fasting-the-healthy-way/, Accessed November 2, 2021

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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Mar 09
    Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen