Written by Pliro
May 13, 2019 Last updated: May 14, 2019

Fasting is a very old and simple concept, essentially it refers to the abstention from some or all types of foods and/or drinks for a time. Traditionally fasting is done as part of a religious practice like Ramadan (which is coming soon), however, nowadays fasting is not only considered as a form of penitence, sacrifice or purification, is also a healthy thing to do for yourself. In this health article we’ll discuss fasting and its surprising benefits.

The Trend of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is when one spends long periods of time (24 to 48 hours) eating and/ or drinking nearly nothing.

This term has been around for a while. Doctors and nutritionist like Dr. Jason Fung recommended IF as early as the 90’s, but just recently (2015) the public noticed how beneficial this practice could be.

The real reason for the current popularity of IF is hard to find, probably relates to its proven short-term health benefits and the fact that not eating is a simpler strategy to lose weight than any of the overly complicated diets or health regimens available.

At this point is important to clarify a few key facts about IF:

  1. The scientific community does recognize an important group of health benefits associated to IF. We’ll list them in the next section of this article.
  2. Although IF is a good way to lose weight, some authors see this only as a short-term strategy. Practicing IF for years is difficult and eventually people either return to their old habits or change to an easier eating schedule.
  3. Many authors suggest that to obtain any meaningful benefits from IF, the minimum fasting time should be around 24h.
  4. An acceptable alternative to IF are restricted diets (RD). RD allow you to eat a limited amounts of food/ energy while still providing many health benefits.  
  5. There are many ways to practice IF, but some ways are better than others. Ramadan fasting provides several health benefits but is not recommended as a form of health regimen for the general public to use regularly. This is because it goes against the human biological clock, which makes our need for food more intense and beneficial during the day.
  6. At the moment, IF is still not recommended by the medical community as treatment against any particular illness or condition, mainly because its effect over humans still need more study.

Benefits of Fasting

  • Almost all academic studies concluded that IF is effective at promoting weight loss.
  • It prevents the accumulation of fat
  • It helps prevent insulin resistance
  • Reduces blood glucose (sugar) levels
  • Is a good way to reduce harmful processes associated to diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
  • Reduces blood levels of bad cholesterol
  • Reduces the risk and mortality rate for cardiovascular disease
  • It helps with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Short term IF can have beneficial long-term effects over your gastrointestinal tract.

In general, intermittent fasting is a good way to lose weight and improve your health for a period of time, but it may be best to see it as a starting point rather than as the whole strategy. This type of routine is hard to maintain and easy to break. However, you can also visit a nutritionist for better understanding of your diet during fasting.