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What is Fasting?

Fasting focuses on refraining from caloric foods or beverages for an extended period of time.  Fasting is an effective weight-loss method that creates an environment in which the body is forced into a metabolic switch from its primary and preferred fuel, glucose, to fat. This may translate to weight loss, better blood sugar management, reduction of metabolic biomarkers, and of course, a biological journey to ketosis.

Benefits of Fasting:

While fasting can be challenging and in some cases, uncomfortable, it has been associated with a wide array of potential health benefits.

Weight Loss Support

Fasting increases your metabolic rate, which in turn helps you burn more calories. According to Harvard Health, when our insulin levels go down, our fat cells release stored sugar which is used as energy. So when you fast, you are allowing the insulin levels to drop far and long enough so that fat is burned and used for energy.

Fights Infections

Autophagy can trigger an immune response when necessary, forcing your body to attack infectious pathogens before they become a larger problem. Equally as important, autophagy can also facilitate the removal of toxins created by infections, which is extremely beneficial for fighting off food-borne illnesses.

Improved Cognitive Function

One study found that intermittent fasting may be a solution to combat the cognitive impairment that occurs during the aging process. Research also reveals that fasting may boost brain function by increasing levels of a protein that promotes neuron growth.

Fights Inflammation

A 2019 study has concluded that fasting improves chronic inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel syndrome.

Enhances Heart Health

Regular fasting can potentially improve some risk factors related to heart health. In one study, people practicing an alternate day of fasting lost 12 pounds over eight weeks, and their total cholesterol dropped by 21%, and their “bad” cholesterol fell by 25%.

Improves Immune System

Research shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage but also induce immune system regeneration, “shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal. ​

Types of Fasting

 

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to fasting. There are several forms of fasting, and choosing the right one means assessing your overall lifestyle and goals first. Here are the most common types of fasting.

Time-Restricted Eating (TRE)

TRE is a method in which food is limited to either an 8 hour or 10-hour window. An example of time-restricted eating is if a person chooses to eat all of their food for the day in an 8-hour period, such as from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The remaining 16 hours is the fasting period, in which no calories are consumed. 

Multiple benefits have been associated with TRE, including improvements in blood pressure, belly fat, and lipid profile. In addition to these benefits, this fasting approach often reduces overall calorie intake, despite the approach not being a calorie-restricted diet. 

 

5:2 Fasting

5:2 fasting is one of the most popular intermittent fasting methods. This approach includes 5 days of “normal” eating coupled with 2 days of fasting in the form of 500 calories for women or 600 calories for men. There are no requirements about which foods should be eaten, but rather when you should eat them. However, it is important to emphasize that your “normal” eating days aren’t filled with junk food.  

 

Alternate Day Fasting

Alternate day fasting cycles between days of “normal” eating followed by days where abstinence of eating occurs. A 2019 study showed that alternate day fasting was a safe alternative to counting calories and that alternate day fasting individuals achieved ketosis and stay in ketosis even on regular eating days. 

 

One Meal A Day (OMAD)

The One Meal A Day plan, or OMAD, is another form of intermittent fasting in which you eat for the same 1-2 hour window each day and fast for the rest. The individual can choose any meal, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even a specific time frame (4:00 – 6:00 p.m. for example). 

 

Short Fast

A short fast is usually one day a week of fasting where nourishment is not provided the entire day outside of water, coffee and zero-calorie electrolyte replacement. This type of fasting may be more sustainable than the others as it only requires a minimal amount of fasting on any given week.

 

Fasting Mimicking Diet

The fast mimicking diet has been shown in studies to trick the body into thinking it is in water fast while providing nourishment, and components necessary to retain lean muscle mass. Studies have demonstrated that the 5-day meal plan may help to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

 

Track Your Metabolic Flexibility with Biosense Precision Fast

Biosense shows you when your fast works and puts you into a state of ketosis. This lets you optimize and personalize a fasting regimen that works best for you. For example, you might find that replacing carbohydrates with protein or fat reduces the time it takes to reach ketosis and the benefits associated with it. Biosense’s ketone data provides a complete view of fat metabolism in real-time, allowing you to tailor your diet and exercise to whatever works best for you.

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