Is A Fasting Diet Safe?

September 29, 2019

A woman is in diet
Amanda Bochain

If you have followed recent diet trends, you may have started to hear a lot about the fasting diet. While fasting has been around for quite some time, the idea of using it as a way to prevent disease, detoxifying your body and also helping to lose weight is fairly new. So what exactly is the fasting diet and what does it entail? And most importantly, is the fasting diet safe? We will answer all those questions for you here!

What is The Fasting Diet

Fasting diets have gained popularity as a way to help lose weight quickly, gain energy and also reduce risk for disease. Fasting essentially means going long periods of time without consuming any calories. Fasting can fit into any kind of diet but has recently been popular when paired with a keto diet or paleo diet plan.

Types of Fasting Diets

There are a few different versions of a fasting diet, some that have become more popular than others. The first, and probably most popular, version is called intermittent fasting. This involves long, daily periods of time when you do not consume any food at all. Most people opt for the 16/8 method where you can eat for 8 hours each day and fast for the remaining 16. Many choose to finish their last meat at 8:00pm and then fast until 12:00 pm the next day.

Alternate day fasting is another form of intermittent fasting where the period of time when you do not eat is extended. This is considered to be a more extreme form of fasting where you will go for 36 hours with no caloric intake. Then, you can resume food consumption for 12 hours, only to begin the fast again.

The 5:2 version of a fasting diet calls for reduced caloric consumption for two non-consecutive days. However, on the “fasting days”, women are still allowed to eat 500 calories and men can consume 600 calories, so little quantities of food are permissible. On the other 5 days, a light, Mediterranean diet is followed, consisting largely of fresh fish, healthy oils and vegetables. Many people find this fasting diet more manageable and attainable as they can eat some foods even during fasting periods.

Health Benefits of a Fasting Diet

The main goal behind each type of fasting diet is to improve one’s health. There have been many studies conducted regarding fasting diets and the health benefits of reducing or restricting calorie consumption. Here are a few proven benefits that a fasting diet can have:

  1. Improve Blood Sugar Levels- Fasting has been shown to improve blood sugar and be helpful to those with diabetes. Fasting can lower blood sugar level immediately and then help to keep them steady.
  2. Reduce Inflammation- Fasting has been proven to decrease several markers of inflammation, therefore treating inflammation associated diseases such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease and arthritis.
  3. Improve Blood Pressure and Heart Health- Studies have shown that following a fasting diet significantly decreases blood pressure as well as blood triglycerides and cholesterol.
  4. Aids Weight Loss- Decreased caloric intake caused by a fasting diet can help you lose weight. In addition, a fasting diet has been shown to increase metabolism, therefore enhancing weight loss as well.
  5. Increase Hormone Levels- Several studies have found that a fasting diet can increase the human growth hormone, a protein that is necessary for muscle development, weight loss and metabolism.

All of these benefits seem fantastic, making one want to start fasting right away. Yet that brings us to the main question- is a fasting diet safe?

Is a Fasting Diet Safe?

To answer simply, yes. Most fasting diets are safe when followed correctly by people who are well suited for the diet. Before you begin a fasting diet (or any diet), you should always consult your doctor. Fasting can be risky for people with low blood sugar, low blood pressure or those who are on certain medications. Many people who have serious health issues need constant calories in order to maintain their delicate health. However, that being said, your doctor will be able to best guide you toward a fasting diet that can benefit you.

What Fasting Diet is Safest?

Intermittent fasting is considered to be the safest form of a fasting diet which is also why it is the most popular. The 16:8 plan is more of a strict eating schedule rather than a complete elimination of calories. When following this plan, you are actually sleeping the majority of the fast, making it easier for you mentally and physically to fast.

The 5:2 fasting diet is also a more modest way to fast as you can choose what days you will restrict your calories, working the fasting days into your personal schedule. Even on the days when food is cut out, you can still consume small amounts of calories in order to help you get through the day.

Unsafe Fasting Diet

Alternate day fasting, while proven to be the most effective in terms of weight loss, can be harder on the body. This fast should not be taken lightly as even the healthiest of individuals may have a hard time getting through the fasting period. You will be missing important nutrients that your body needs, experience a lack of energy and may also become easily dehydrated. Only opt for the alternate day fasting diet when a doctor has approved you to give it a try and you have carefully planned your fasting periods.

Should You Try a Fasting Diet?

Fasting diets can be beneficial to your health when followed correctly. It is a great way to teach your body to restrict calories and still enjoy the foods you love during the non fasting times. Weight loss is just one of the many benefits you will experience when following a fasting diet with disease control and prevention being a bigger bonus. Ask your doctor is a fasting diet would be a good fit for you and then start off with a simpler fasting plan. In non fasting times, remember to always eat a healthy balanced diet to get the full effects and advantages of your fast! 

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