Fasting! How long can you stay without food? Why expose me to so much trauma? Why would someone choose to fast or follow a restricted diet? Are there any benefits of 24 hour fast?
Research shows that fasting has potential health benefits. So whether you fast for health reasons or religious customs, it is an amazing trend to stay fit. Our body has a fabulous survival mechanism that can go on with no eating from a few hours to days.
The real benefits of fasting boost around the 24-hour mark.
Seriously 24 hour fast??
How can you even summon that energy to give it a try?
Yes, you can. Follow simple survival tips and bear in mind the health benefits of 24 hour fasting. Keep your focus on the bigger picture. Prolonged longevity! And not just weight loss.
Let’s dive deep into what happens to our body during a fasting period, the benefits of 24 hour fasting, survival tips, risks involved, and some commonly asked questions about intermittent fasting.
What Happens To Your Body During A 24 Hour Fast?
Believe it or not, our bodies are meant to adapt to any situation. You will not wither away if you fast for a few hours.
Here is a quick overview of the mechanism:
Whether a person is fasting or not, the body requires energy to function and stay fit. Under normal circumstances, the body utilizes sugar from carbohydrates (glucose) as the primary source of energy. These carbs come from grains, cereals, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and sweets that we eat. The liver and muscles also serve as glucose reservoirs when the body needs it.
Now, consider the fasting process. The mechanism of energy utilization changes after you enter the fasting state. What is the fasting state? Eight hours after your last meal, all your glucose reserves have been utilized and the body starts making glucose from fats (in the absence of carbs coming in).
After an overnight fast, your body starts burning more calories (from fast) than usual. This is why experts suggest that ‘intermittent fasting’ can boost your fat-burning mechanisms. Ultimately, the body runs out of all energy sources, and the fasting mode transitions to starvation mode. At this point, the body starts utilizing protein for energy.
Although fasting is the new fad, true starvation occurs only after several successive days or weeks without food. Thus, if you plan on intermittent fasting, say a 24 hour fast, it is pretty safe in the absence of other health conditions.
24 Hour Fast Benefits Backed By Science
Fasting is an age-old practice, whether you fast for religious or health purposes.
Fasting is defined as abstinence from all sources of foods and drinks for a set period. There are many types of fasts performed over a period of 24-72 hours.
Few common types of fasts are:
- Intermittent Fasting: Involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating for a set period (a few hours to days).
- Water Fasting: Drinking only water.
- Juice Fasting: Involves consumption of vegetable or fruit juice only.
- Calorie Restriction: Involves control of calorie intake every few days a week.
- Partial Fasting: Elimination of junk food or caffeinated drinks from the diet.
Why do you think fasting has been on the popularity surge currently? Yes, because of the many health benefits it offers. From weight loss to cardiovascular health to healing cancer, there are 8 health benefits of 24 hours fast backed by science.
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Dietary changes and lifestyle modifications are the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Eating right is the best sutra to reduce the risk of cardiac diseases.
Studies show that fasting reduces levels of bad cholesterol and blood triglycerides. Some research also proves that intermittent fasting leads to a drop in blood pressure and decreases the risk of coronary artery disease.
2. Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
With those fast foods dumped into our stomach’s, what would you expect? High blood sugar levels. Studies show that short term fasting or intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and balance glucose levels in the body.
This is beneficial especially for people at the risk of type 2 diabetes. Fasting also helps maintain a steady blood sugar level, preventing crashes and spikes. However, some studies show that fasting affects insulin resistance differently in men and women.
3. Fights Inflammation
Chronic inflammation has serious effects on your health. They tend to develop cardiac diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. Research backs up fasting in this case too. People show improvements in the levels of inflammation after fasting.
With the drop in inflammatory markers in the body, intermittent fasting or 24 hour fast benefits humans. This method was found useful in treating multiple sclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease.
4. Boosts Brain Function
The effects of fasting on brain function have limited research, mostly on animals. These studies have reported that 24-hour fasting practised intermittently for prolonged duration shows improved brain function. Fasting also helps in the regeneration of nerve cells and enhances cognitive function.
Since fasting is correlated to relieve inflammation, it is an important aid in preventing neurodegenerative disorders. Animal studies further suggest the use of 24 hours fast to benefit conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed to estimate the exact effects of fasting on brain function in humans.
5. Aids Weight Loss
Thinking of shedding some pounds? Why not adapt to fasting? Many dieters look forward to fasting as a quick and easy way to lose weight. Theoretically, calorie restriction leads to increased weight loss over time. Short term fasting boosts metabolism to help you lose some extra pounds. Studies show that 24-hour fasting decreases body fat over 24 weeks.
Start fasting for smaller durations initially. Take your last meal in the evening and go to bed early. By the next morning, your body will start utilizing fat for energy. Skipping breakfast will further enhance the process and boost metabolic response. This physiology will help preserve muscle tissue and reduces body fat.
6. Increases Growth Hormone Secretion
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a key hormone that is vital for growth, metabolism, muscle strength, and weight loss. Studies on healthy adults show that 24 hour fast benefits significantly by boosting HGH levels. Plus, fasting helps maintain steady blood glucose and insulin levels which further augment HGH levels.
Research relates to an increase in growth hormone to increase cell regeneration. This helps to maintain, build, and repair tissue in the heart, brain, and other organs. HGH also helps to speed up healing and wear and tear of muscles. This plays a key role in burning fat and boosting weight loss.
7. Delays Effects Of Aging
Several animal studies have found that fasting delays signs of ageing and extends lifespan. The studies are still limited to animals, but the results are promising. Intermittent fasting could be effective in improving longevity and survival rates in humans.
A study proposes that intermittent fasting for more than 16 hours improves overall health and longevity. By eating within a defined window of time regularly, many anti-ageing pathways are activated in your body. Fasting is known to increase ketosis, hormesis, and an increase in autophagy (regeneration of healthy cells). The current research is limited to animal trials and human studies are needed to understand how fasting impacts ageing in humans.
8. Aids In Cancer Prevention
The involvement of fasting in autophagy indicates its benefits in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Some studies suggest that fasting inhibits cancer cells by reducing inflammation and insulin resistance. Fasting assists in weight loss and diabetes control, which are both risk factors of cancer.
Animal tests also reveal that fasting makes cancer cells more responsive to chemotherapy. This kills cancer cells and protects other healthy cells in the surrounding. Various test-tube studies show that several cycles of fasting delayed tumour growth and increased effectiveness of chemo drugs on cancer formation.
How Do You Survive A 24 Hour Fast?
Any ideas on how to start intermittent fasting or a 24 hour fast?
Skip meals for 24 hours.
Have your dinner early in the evening and don’t eat until dinner time the following night. Yes, fasting can be challenging at the start. The hunger pangs can be intense and give you an urge to binge eating. Beware! Don’t fall prey to those pangs. Stay determined and focused, regular fasting will make your control your cravings.
Here are some tips you can adapt to survive a 24 hour fast. Take a note:
Hydration And Electrolytes
While you restrict the calorie intake during fasting, you must keep yourself hydrated. You also need enough sodium in your bloodstream to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. Sodium depletion shows signs like headaches or brain foggy. Adding sea salt or table salt to a glass of water till you can just taste the salt is a great idea to ensure you get enough electrolytes during the fast. Add some lemon juice to it for a freshening punch.
Remember sugar is a big no. Don’t make lemonade for yourself!
Heavy Cream Or Bone Broth
Another two great ways to keep up to your fast is including heavy cream and bone broth in your goals. Adding less than 50 calories in a day technically doesn’t break your fast. It solely depends on your fasting goals, if you’re looking for weight loss add some cream to your tea or coffee. This increases fats in your body that makes the fast a breeze. The cream is wholly fat, so it doesn’t initiate an insulin response meaning it doesn’t turn off the fat-burning mode!
Remember to include only full fat cream and not milk, because you want only the fat and not the carbs and proteins of the milk.
The same principle applies to bone broth. A nice mug of piping hot bone broth with salt and basil added can keep you going throughout the fast. However, the cream and broth drastically reduce autophagy. If the regeneration of healthy cells is not the purpose of your 24 hours fast, then you need not worry about using the fat in your fast.
Minimize Intense Physical Activity
If you’re fasting for 24 hours or more, experts recommend avoiding any intense physical activity or workout. A calorie less workout may be exhausting and take up energy from muscle tissues (which is again a big no). Get plenty of rest instead and allow the fast to do its course.
It is normal to have hunger pangs a few times throughout the day. The worst thing you can do to ruin your fast is thinking about how hungry you are and how much time is left before the next meal. You have to keep your mind busy to avoid breaking the fast too early. Keep yourself distracted with various activities. Plan your day with meditation, go for a walk, run errands, drink plenty of water, play with the kids, pursue your hobby, or listen to music. Pep up yourself and just do it.
Safety And Side Effects Of 24 Hour Fast
Regardless of the long list of 24 hour fast benefits, going a day with food may not be right for one and all. The following individuals may have to check with their healthcare consultants before they opt for intermittent fasting:
- People with type 2 diabetes
- Adolescents and older adults who are underweight
- People with a history of eating disorders
- People on medications to be consumed after meals
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Consult with your doctor if you have any underlying health issues before fasting.
What Is The Safest Way To Break A Fast?
Now that you have succeeded to steer clear from food for 24 long hours, do you know the best thing to eat after a fast?
Breaking the fast in many homes will typically consist of dairy products and fast food like bagels, noodles, fries, patties, cream cheese rolls, and the list could go on. But is this healthy? Will it serve your fasting purpose?
Nutritionists suggest several healthy ways and tips break a fast safely:
- Drink water: This is important if you haven’t had water during the fast (especially religious fasts). You may drink sparkling water with salt during fasting days (if fasting solely for health benefits).
- Eat a small meal: Start with a small portion of nutrient-dense foods vegetables and fruits. Eating large meals immediately after fasting will strain your digestive system.
- Eat cooked foods: Eating foods that are easier to digest will help. Cooked veggies are recommended over raw options.
- Chew your food: Take small bites and chew your food properly before you swallow it.
- Don’t overeat: Thinking of making up the calorie load. You don’t want to fall sick and add too many calories in your meals.
- Avoid experimenting: Don’t try cooking new foods after a fast. This may impair digestion.
Wait for a couple of hours to see if you’re still hungry. You may grab another small snack before starting the next fast.
Fasting is a trending health practice associated with potential health benefits. From water fasting to intermittent fasting, different types of fasting fit most lifestyles. When coupled with a healthy lifestyle and a nutritious diet, 24 hour fast benefits can be achieved easily. Long-term fasting causes starving and other complications. So, don’t starve yourself to death!
Tell me:Have you ever fasted? Will you look forward to 24 hour fasting as your next weight loss tool? What’s on your plate after you break the fast?
Frequently Asked Questions
Not eating for a day can certainly have its benefits. Apart from weight loss, 24 hour fast benefits heart health, regulates insulin resistance, promotes autophagy, and may even help treat cancer. Although research in this field is primarily based on animal trials, there is more scope of research on intermittent fasting.
The duration of 24 hours fast depends on the purpose of fasting. If you’re aiming at weight loss, 24-hour fasting can be done 3 times per week and in some cases every day.
After 24 hours of fasting, your body starts breaking liver and muscle glycogen sources to obtain energy. When you continue to fast your body starts burning fat for energy (lipolysis) which aids in weight loss.
Studies show that intermittent fasting reduces body weight by 3-8% over 3-24 weeks. It was observed that people lost about 1.65 lbs (0.75 kg) per week with alternate-day fasting and 0.55 lbs (0.25 kg) per week with intermittent fasting.
The fat-burning ability of your body peaks after no calorie intake for about 14 hours. Energy is obtained from glycogen (sugar-storing molecule) in normal circumstances. Once glycogen is depleted, the body starts to burn fats. So 24 hour fast is best if you want to shed some pounds of fats.
A 24 hour fast done thrice a week will reduce your calorie intake by up to 4,000 calories per month.
Yes, you can drink coffee or tea during the fast. The thumb rule is to drink something with less than 50 calories. A splash of milk or cream in your beverages will be just fine.