“It’s easy, just don’t eat” – that’s what many people think fasting is about. Well, such an assumption can make your fasting experience a lot harder than it should be. Fasting can be dangerous if not done correctly. Instead of assuming things, why don’t you read up on how to make fasting easier to avoid disappointment along the way?
You may undertake fasting for spiritual purposes, religious reasons, health improvement or even weight loss. To make sure you do it properly, you must prepare adequately and choose the correct time frame when it is more beneficial for you ‘to go hungry’. Below is everything you need to know about how to make fasting easier.
Meaning And Types Of Fasting
Fasting is the act of going without water or food for a certain period. The following are some of the popular fasting types:
- Religious/spiritual fasting, in a nutshell, is going without food and water for your beliefs. For instance, Christians fast during the lent period and Muslims during the season of Ramadan. Other religions and cultures also practice this.
- Water fasting. You do not eat or drink anything other than water for a specified amount of time.
- Intermittent fasting (IF). You adopt an eating pattern in between your fasting periods. You can eat and drink virtually anything you want. However, you need to adhere to your eating-fasting cycles (10).
- Involuntary fasting. When you have nothing to eat, and you cannot source food from any place.
- Juice fasting. Involves taking vegetable and fruit juices only for a certain period of time.
- Partial fasting. Processed foods, drinks, animal products, and caffeine are eliminated from the diet for a certain period.
- Calorie restriction. You will restrict your calorie intake for a few days every fortnight.
- Alternate day fasting (ADF). It is similar to IF. The basic idea here is to fast one day and eat on the other (6).
Why Is Fasting Important?
The practice has been around for centuries. Looking back to the golden days, sourcing food was hard. Ancient hunters didn’t have refrigerators or supermarkets. It was normal to go for extended periods without food. Fast forward, in the 21st century, food isn’t an issue for most families. In fact, with a press of a button, it can be delivered to your doorstep. Yet, fasting has gained a lot of popularity. So, what are the benefits of the practice?
- Controlling blood sugar. Several studies have concluded that fasting can improve your blood sugar control. This means that you can possibly reduce the risk of diabetes and other chronic illnesses (2).
- Fighting inflammation. Research shows that chronic inflammation is related to the development of chronic illnesses such as cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. You may be able to reduce inflammation through fasting (11).
- Enhances heart health. A fast may improve your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. One small study showed that alternate-day fasting for eight weeks reduced bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, thus enhancing heart health (8).
- Weight loss. Limiting your calorie intake and boosting your metabolism will likely lead to shedding off some pounds.
- Prevention of cancer. One rat study found that alternate-day fasting can actually block tumour formation (3). Another study showed that exposing cancer cells to several fasting cycles could be effective to replace or augment chemotherapy in delaying tumour growth.
Fasting also has other tones of benefits such as increasing growth hormone production, and so forth.
How To Ease Into Fasting?
Fasting is tough. It sounds easier in the concept than in practice. It can surprise you how you will feel when you miss a single meal. You can decide to miss a meal only for your belly to drive you to the nearest restaurant even before the next meal time comes.
The effective way to ease into fasting is to start small. You don’t go from no fasting to attempting several weeks fast. You need to start with just a single meal, then work your way up to a full day and eventually several days.
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How To Make Water Fasting Easier?
If you have decided to cut on solid foods and drink water only, then there are some tips you should abide by. If followed properly, your hunger-strike will be pretty simple. Adhere to the following:
- Start small. If you have never fasted before, start with one day. Do not fast for more than three days in a row without first asking for medical advice.
- Eat well before the fast. Make sure you consume foods rich in energy (carb-heavy foods are a safe bet).
- Pick the right time. Fast only when you are resting and not at work.
- Do not fast if unwell. If you are sick, eat so that your body gets the necessary nutrients to keep going. Also, if you are tired, do not attempt the practice.
- Avoid exercises. Exercises will consume a lot of your energy, forcing you to eat in between your fast.
- Drink enough water. Spread this throughout the day. Drinking too much water too fast should be avoided as it can be harmful to your health (7).
- Eat less at the end. Build up gradually after you break your fasting to avoid feeling sick and stomach aches.
How To Make 4-Hour Fasting Easier?
- Get support. Consider fasting together with your friend, family, or a small group at your workplace. It can be sometimes tempting to see your friend take some snacks while you are on a fast. Also, if your family brings food to the table while you are on a fast, then you might probably break it sooner than expected.
- Do not be idle. Plan what you will do if the 4 hour fast coincides with mealtime. You can go out to plant some trees, listen to music, watch some movies and so forth. The idea here is to stay as busy as possible so that you won’t remember you haven’t eaten (1).
- Do not think of food. When your hungry stomach begins sending “feed me” signals to your brain, don’t let your brain dwell on the fact that you have not eaten. Say no to your stomach and turn your attention to something else.
- Stay hydrated. If you are thirsty, you will have fatigue, dry mouth, and headaches. So make sure you drink water now and then (13).
How To Make Intermittent Fasting Easier?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) can be dangerous if not performed well. You could experience less damaging effects, such as getting bored with more serious issues such as headaches. Here are a few tips to help you skip meals safely through IF:
- Keep your fast periods short. The duration of your fasting is up to you. However, you can stick to the following popular regimens:
The 16:8 pattern. Consume food in eight hours’ window and then fast for 16 hours every day.
East, stop. Involves fasting for a whole day for 1 to 2 times a week.
The 6:1 pattern. Take reduced calories for only one day in a week. For the rest of the six days, you will normally be eating.
The 5:2 pattern. This pattern is similar to the 6:1. However, here you will take reduced calories for two days every week. That is less than 500 calories for women and 600 for men.
- Eat a small amount of food. Although you can remove food completely on your fasting days, you can alternatively consume 25% of your calorie requirements of that day. This approach can help you reduce risks associated with fasting, such as hunger and so forth (12).
- Go for walks. If you feel bored and hungry, you are likely to break your fast easily. So go for a walk. Make sure you have no money so that you won’t be tempted to buy snacks. You can also meditate, take a bath, listen to music, read books, and so forth.
- Do not feast when breaking the fast. It can be extremely tempting to celebrate by consuming a huge meal after fasting. This will only leave you feeling bloated. If you want to lose weight, this will halt your weight loss journey.
- Eat a lot of protein. If you are trying to lose weight, then having calorie deficiency will make you lose your muscle mass. To avoid this, consume enough proteins on the days you are not fasting. Additionally, you could eat a small amount of protein on fast days, such as one egg.
- Use supplements. Eating fewer calories means that your body could miss out on important nutrients. So, take supplements such as iron, calcium, vitamin B12. You can consider taking a multivitamin pill to give you all the necessary nutrients (9).
- Eat plenty of foods on non-fasting meals. Remember that you are trying to improve your health. And one way you can do that is by taking whole foods linked to several benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. So eat lean poultry, eggs, fish, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
Can Everyone Fast?
Fasting is not for everyone. If you have the following conditions, talk to your doctor before deciding to try fasting:
- Low blood pressure
- Blood sugar regulation problems
- History of eating disorders
- You are on medication
- A woman trying to conceive
- History of amenorrhea
Fasting has some health benefits, such as reducing risks of contracting chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It is also beneficial when it comes to reducing weight. If you find it hard to fast, then the above tips on making fasting easier will help you sail through it.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
Reviewed by: Kristen Fleming
- Can scheduled fasting improve your health?, (2020, health.harvard.edu)
- Effects of intermittent fasting on health markers in those with type 2 diabetes: A pilot study (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumors and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Fasting: Health benefits and risks (2015, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Fasting Offers No Special Weight Loss Benefits 2017 (2017, nytimes.com)
- How Much Water Should We Drink Every Day? (2015, nytimes.com)
- Improvements in coronary heart disease risk indicators by alternate-day fasting involve adipose tissue modulations (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting (2020, nytimes.com)
- The inflammation theory of disease (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The psychology of small plates: why food service radically changes how much we eat (2020, theguardian.com)
- Water, hydration, and health (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)