Fasting may seem like an extreme weight loss strategy, but it’s been used as a powerful healing tool since the beginning of time. Since the explosion of convenience foods, fasting has been turned into something that should be feared. We’re told to never miss a meal because it will slow our metabolism and make us pack on the pounds, but is this really the case?
What is Fasting?
Simply put, fasting involves a period of time where you abstain from eating in between regularly scheduled meals. There are many different types of fasting, including intermittent fasting, such as the 16:8 method, 24 hour fasting, extended fasting, water-only fasting, bone broth fasting and more.
Wait, But Won’t Fasting Put My Body Into “Starvation Mode”?
Let’s clear this up. There is a BIG difference between calorie restriction and fasting.
Restricting calories (mainly from fat) may produce short-term results, but over time, you’ll likely experience a plateau in your weight loss. That’s because when you reduce calories, this tells your body that you no longer have the same amount of food energy available, which is where “starvation mode” comes into play. Your body then responds by reducing the amount of energy (or calories) expended, therefore, slowing your metabolism. Alternatively, when we fast, our metabolism actually speeds up due to the natural, mild increase in cortisol, resulting in more calories and fat burned.
More Ways Fasting Supports Weight Loss
Fasting Decreases Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Fasting has been shown to have an incredible impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or not, it’s just as important to maintain healthy, balanced blood glucose (sugar) levels, especially when your goal is to lose weight. Why? When we keep our blood glucose and insulin lower, this allows our bodies to tap into our fat stores much more easily, so we can burn excess fat. This is made possible during fasting and by eating a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Fasting Switches Our Fuel Sources
The body and brain love sugar and will always prioritize it for fuel if it’s available, because of the quick energy source it provides. For the average person eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), extremely high in sugars and processed foods, sugar is the primary fuel. Alternatively, when we fast, the body burns through stored sugars, in the form of glycogen, that are normally used for energy. Once these sugar stores are mostly used up, the body kicks into fat-burning mode by using its alternative fuel source: body fat.
Fasting Preserves Lean Body Mass
One surprising fact about fasting is that the body does not break down muscle for energy when there is no food coming in. In fact, studies have shown that even during extended fasting, there are very minimal changes in lean body mass. Furthermore, fasting increases human growth hormone (HGH) and exercising in a fasted state in the morning can help you build more muscle while burning fat!
Where to Start
Fasting will look different for everyone depending on your current diet, state of health, medications, and individual concerns and goals. When making changes to your diet and lifestyle, we always advise working with a trusted, knowledgeable health practitioner who can guide you on how to make the best changes to fit your specific needs.
Ready to take your health to the next level? Our Holistic Nutritionists would love to help you reach your goals; contact the clinic today!
The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung, MD, with Jimmie Moore