Intermittent fasting with long fasts: Is it harmful or beneficial?

People have fasted for numerous days throughout history for religious reasons, famine, or a lack of food. As intermittent fasting has grown in popularity in recent years, the implications of fasting for extended periods of time have received increasing attention.

Most people who practice intermittent fasting do not eat for 12-18 hours per day. Some people, though, may fast for up to 48 hours to allow their bodies more time to reap the advantages.

Intermittent fasting with long fasts: Is it harmful or beneficial?

A prolonged fast, also known as an extended fast or water fast, is one that lasts more than 48 hours. Most people who fast for an extended period of time do so for 3-7 days. It is advised that such a fast be carried out under medical supervision.
This article will concentrate on the extended intermittent fasting period of 24 to 48 hours.

Why should you strive to fast for more than 24 hours?

After eating, the body requires time to metabolize the meal before starting to burn stored fat around the 12th-18th hour into the fast, depending on what you've eaten or consumed in the preceding hours. When you fast for an extended period of time, your body switches from burning sugar to burning stored fat for energy. You will not only burn more fat the longer you fast but also consume fewer calories, which will help you lose weight.

Fasts of 24 to 48 hours may be better for blood sugar control than shorter fasts, and they boost insulin sensitivity, allowing your body to perform more efficiently.

The longer the fast, the more time the body has for cellular cleaning and repair via the autophagy process. The length of time it takes for this process to begin when fasting is determined by the individual's metabolism. Although some people report autophagy beginning around 12 hours, animal studies show autophagy beginning around 24 hours and peaking around 48 hours. Autophagy eliminates damaged cells, lowering inflammation, increasing energy, and producing a more youthful appearance while preventing disease.

Fasting for 12 hours stimulates the production of human growth hormone (HgH). HgH production increases by 500% after 48 hours. This hormone increases metabolism, burns fat, protects lean muscle mass, and has anti-aging properties.

Although longer fasts are not required to get the benefits of intermittent fasting, some experts propose a 24-48 hour fast a few times each month to maximize weight reduction results. You could also try a weekly 24-hour fast.

Preparing for a long fast

If you're new to intermittent fasting, take your time and get used to the daily 16-ish hour fasts for at least a month. Allow your body and mind to adapt.

If you're a seasoned faster who has reached a weight plateau, wants to increase results, or obtain additional health benefits, a periodic lengthy fast of up to 48 hours could be ideal. Begin with a 24-36 hour fast and work your way up to a 36-48 hour fast.

The most important thing to remember is to respect your body. There is a distinction between having low energy because you haven't eaten in a day and a half and feeling ill. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and make adjustments as needed. Don't put yourself in danger for the sake of a few extra hours of fat-burning.

Long fast, quick hints

1 Keep hydrated! Twenty percent of our water consumption comes from food, and because you won't be eating, it's critical that you drink plenty of authorized liquids. Water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea are permitted throughout the extended fast.

2 When fasting for more than 36 hours, be cautious of low electrolyte levels. Electrolytes help to keep you hydrated. Consume a bit of salt, electrolyte supplements, or bone broth.

3 Reintroduce yourself to food with a tiny snack, such as a handful of almonds or a protein drink.

4 Have your first meal an hour or two after your snack, focusing on healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil.

5 Following a fast, consume iodine-rich foods (such as seaweed, shrimp, tuna, or eggs) to stimulate thyroid hormone production. This is especially true for women (5).

The disadvantages of long fasts

While there are numerous advantages to fasting on a regular basis, there are also disadvantages to fasting for more than a day, such as hunger, dizziness, sluggishness, and weariness. Long fasts can sometimes make social interactions awkward.

Who should abstain from extended fasts?

If fasting for more than 24 hours, the following people should avoid or exercise extreme caution:

1 Those suffering from type 1 diabetes.

2 Those who have low blood pressure.

3 Those who are underweight or who have a history of eating disorders.

4 Pregnant, breastfeeding or attempting to conceive women.

To improve your long-term outcomes, alternate your intermittent fasting with a 24-48 hour fast.

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