FOOD

What you should know about –
24 hour fast

My favourite method of doing this is to start after dinner and don’t eat until the evening of the next day. Some people advise to start in the morning, but especially for beginners, this will be the harder method.

Starting in the evening is in that way “cheating” because you normally don’t eat during sleep, so you get a head start.

Why you should know about a 24 hour fast.

There are several new diets that include some form of fasting, but you don’t need to follow any specific diet to benefit from fasting. You can just include it, but by adjusting your diet you could benefit even more.

A 24 hour fast that is done on a regular basis has several health benefits. First of all, fasting gives your body a break from food. This is helpful because your intestines get a chance to repair and clean themselves. As soon as you eat something this process gets interrupted.

Cognitive benefits

Fasting can also improve your cognitive functions, increases neurotrophic factors & stress resistance while reducing inflammation.

Fasting is a challenge for your brain and you can compare it to exercise. Think about running a marathon. In the middle, you will probably think about why you started in the first place, but after finishing it you will feel great.

The same is true for fasting. After finishing the fast you will feel great. You neurocircuits in your brain are activated and neurons grow and their connections, called synapses, are strengthened.

Fasting also enables you to not have to think about food for a whole day, which, in my opinion, provides some form of mental freedom.

Physiological benefits

Furthermore fasting can help you lose weight, especially fat. Here’s how that happens. Your body has an energy metabolism and it can either run on carbohydrates or on fat. Usually, when you eat a meal the energy gets converted to glycogen and stored in your liver.

If glycogen is available the body will happily use this for energy. Every time you eat a meal this glycogen storage gets filled up. It takes the body around 10-12 hours (others say 18-24 hours or longer) to use all the glycogen. As soon as that happens that body starts to use fat as a primary energy source.

The only other way to deplete the glycogen and start burning fat is to exercise or to eat less than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Besides those benefits, there are also other benefits for your body. Some of them include increased anti-aging and anti-inflammatory hormones, reduced blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, as well as increased immune cell regeneration.

Now that you know about the benefits, let’s talk about how you can implement this.

What you can do and what to look out for. 

First of all, let me give you some advice on what to look out for when doing a 24 hour fast. As with every fast, especially if you’re a beginner in this aspect you should start slow. Maybe start with skipping a meal and see how you feel.

Depending on your current diet you will feel the effects of the fast more or less. If your diet is already “good” (much vegetables and high-quality foods) you’ll feel the effects not as intense.

Some of these effects include hunger (of course), headaches, dizziness, feeling weak or experiencing mood swings. Usually, those effects are not dangerous, but in case you have a medical condition, make sure to contact your physician first. If it is your first fast you should also be in company in case something happens (although it’s unlikely).

If you don’t feel well at all, you can stop the fast any time and I advise you to do so.

That being said, give yourself some time as well. If you’re always eating breakfast at 8 am in the morning your body adjusted to that and it’s only natural that you get hungry if you don’t eat, as your body expects food.

Have some water and see how you feel afterwards. Don’t stop the fast as soon as you get hungry, because you won’t be able to experience the positive aspects. Usually, your hunger will disappear after some time.

You should also try not to think about food and keep yourself busy, but not stressed. A fast (even a 24 hour fast) is a challenge for the body, so it is best if you can do it on a stress-free day.

During the fast you can drink water, carbonated water (which works for some and doesn’t work for others) as well as coffee (black, no sugar) or herbal tea.

The easiest way to start

As I said, the easiest way to start is by skipping one meal. Do it when you are at home in case you don’t want others to hear your grumbling stomach.

If you skipped one meal, the next time you can attempt a 24 hour fast. It’s only two meals you are skipping. Not that big a deal. Just try to stay busy, don’t focus on food or eating and make sure to drink enough water.

Key Takeaways

Fasting is a pretty old, but recent concept. Every major religion has some form of fasting.

Studies suggest that it has many health benefits, not only physiological but cognitive as well.

Make sure to drink enough water and don’t focus on food, but also don’t interrupt the fast as soon as you feel hungry. It’s natural to feel hunger, but it’s nothing bad. 

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