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How to Fast Safely: 10 Helpful Tips

Intermittent fasting...

 ...is an increasingly popular eating pattern that involves not eating or sharply restricting your food intake for certain periods of time. It may boost your health. However, fasting can be dangerous if not done properly.

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How to Fast Safely: 10 Helpful Tips

How to Fast Safely: 10 Helpful Tips

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-fast

healthline.com

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Key Ideas

Intermittent fasting...

 ...is an increasingly popular eating pattern that involves not eating or sharply restricting your food intake for certain periods of time. It may boost your health. However, fasting can be dangerous if not done properly.

Popular regimens of fasting:

  • The 5:2 Pattern: restrict your calorie intake for two days per week (500 calories per day for women and 600 for men).
  • The 6:1 Pattern: similar to the 5:2, but there’s only one day of reduced calorie intake instead of two.
  • “Eat Stop Eat”: a 24-hour complete fast, 1–2 times per week.
  • The 16:8 Pattern: only consuming food in an eight-hour window and fasting for 16 hours a day, every day of the week.

Keep fasting periods short

Longer periods of fasting increase your risk of side effects, such as dehydration, dizziness, and fainting. 

The best way to avoid these side effects is to stick to shorter fasting periods of up to 24 hours — especially when you’re just starting out.

Eat a small amount on fast days

Eating a small amount on fast days rather than cutting out all food may reduce your risk of side effects and help keep hunger at bay.

If you want to try fasting, restricting your calories so that you still eat small amounts on your fast days may be a safer option than doing a full-blown fast.

Stay hydrated

Mild dehydration can result in fatigue, dry mouth, thirst and headaches — so it’s vital to drink enough fluid on a fast.

During a fast, many people aim to drink 8.5–13 cups (2–3 liters) of water over the course of the day. However, your thirst should tell you when you need to drink more, so listen to your body. 

Keeping busy with low-intensity activities

...such as walking or meditating, may make your fast days easier.

Avoiding eating on fast days can be difficult, especially if you are feeling bored and hungry. One way to avoid unintentionally breaking your fast is to keep busy.

Stop fasting if you feel unwell

You may feel a little tired or irritable during your fast, but if you start to feel unwell, you should stop fasting immediately.

Some signs that you should stop your fast and seek medical help include tiredness or weakness that prevents you from carrying out daily tasks, as well as unexpected feelings of sickness and discomfort.

Healthy eating

  • Eat enough protein: Having enough protein during your fast may help minimize muscle loss and keep your appetite in check.
  • Eat plenty of whole foods on non-fasting days: This may improve your health and keep you well during a fast.

Keep exercise mild

If you’re new to fasting, it’s best to keep any exercise to a low intensity — especially at first — so you can see how you manage.

Low-intensity exercises could include walking, mild yoga, gentle stretching, and housework.

Fasting isn’t for everyone

The following shouldn’t attempt to fast without consulting a doctor:

  • People with a medical condition like heart disease or type 2 diabetes
  • Women who are trying to conceive
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • People who are underweight
  • Those who have experienced an eating disorder
  • People who have problems with blood sugar regulation
  • People with low blood pressure
  • Those who are taking prescription medications
  • Woman with a history of amenorrhea
  • Older adults
  • Adolescents

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Intermittent Fasting (IF)

The dietary practice of restricting your food consumption to a specific window of time. It is used as a supplement to your diet.
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Approaches to intermittent fasting
  • Skipped meals - when you skip over a meal to induce extra time of fasting. 
  • Eating windows - this condenses your entire macronutrient intake between a 4 and 7-hour window. The rest of the time you are in a fasting state.
  • 24-48 hour cleanse - where you go into extended fasting periods and do not eat for 1-2 days.
Autophagy definition and benefits

The process by which the cell devours itself.

  • Non-essential parts like damaged proteins are recycled and invading microorganisms and toxic compounds are removed. 
  • Autophagy plays an important role in stopping the aging process, reversing disease, and preventing cancer, but it doesn’t happen all the time. 
  • Autophagic processes can be initiated by fasting, protein restriction and carbohydrate restriction.

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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
  • It makes your day simpler: fewer meals= less stressing about what you'll eat.
  • It helps you live longer: you get the benefits of a longer life without the hassle of starving.
  • Still up for debate, but intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of cancer.
  • It is much easier than dieting, once you get over the idea that you need to eat all the time.
Different Fasting Schedules
  • Daily Intermittent Fasting: 16–hour fast followed by an 8–hour eating period. 
  • Weekly Intermittent Fasting: One of the best ways to get started with it - do it once per week.
  • Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting: incorporates longer fasting periods on alternating days throughout the week.
Detox and its limitations

Detox diets are generally short-term dietary interventions designed to eliminate toxins from your body.

A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of ...

Most Common Ways to Detox

Most detox diets involve at least one of the following:

  • Fasting for 1–3 days.
  • Drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, water, and tea.
  • Drinking only specific liquids, such as salted water or lemon juice.
  • Eliminating foods high in heavy metals, contaminants, and allergens.
  • Taking supplements or herbs.
  • Avoiding all allergenic foods, then slowly reintroducing them.
  • Using laxatives, colon cleanses, or enemas.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Completely eliminating alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, and refined sugar.
Which Toxins Are Eliminated

Detox diets rarely identify the specific toxins they aim to remove. The mechanisms by which they work are also unclear.

There is little to no evidence that detox diets remove any toxins from your body.

However, your body can clear itself of most toxins through the liver, feces, urine, and sweat.

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