(Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Consult with your doctor before attempting any new diet or exercise routine.)
You have probably heard about fasting before.
But have you ever considered fasting to help achieve your health and fitness goals?
Maybe instead of constantly changing what you eat to get healthy, you actually need to go on a fast and eat nothing at all…
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is when you choose to stop consuming food and/or drink for a set period of time.
Once you decide to stop eating food for a while, you are fasting. You actually fast for at least 6+ hours every single day when you go to sleep.
Did you ever wonder why the first meal of the day is called “Break-fast”?
Contrary to what many people believe, fasting is not starvation.
Fasting is a natural and healthy abstinence from food while starvation means that your body is dying from a lack of food and nutrients.
There are many different types of fasting out there and there are many different ways that you can go about fasting.
Water Fast, Juice Fast, Dry Fast
The most common type of fasting is a water fast. A water fast is when you consume nothing but water for a set period of time, usually 24 – 72 hours.
More experienced fasters may participate in a water fast for 7, 10, 21, or even 40 days straight!
(IMPORTANT: Only drink Distilled Water during a fast.)
There are Juice fasts, a type of fast where you consume all of your daily calories, vitamins, and nutrients through drinking juice made from ground up fruits and vegetables.
There are dry fasts, a type of fast where you don’t consume anything at all, including water. (NOT RECOMMENDED)
Finally, there is a method of fasting that has begun to gain a lot of popularity in the fitness world within recent years called intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a dietary routine that you can adopt where you only eat during a set period of time each and everyday.
One of the most popular types of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 protocol, where you fast for 16 hours a day and are able to eat during an 8 hour window each day.
Some people choose to fast for 20 hours a day and eat during a 4 hour window while other people choose to fast for 18 hours a day and eat during a 6 hour window.
As with all things, it’s important to start with whatever you are most comfortable with and then tweak it as you go along.
While you still are eating every single day during intermittent fasting, you can still reap the rewards that fasting can provide due to the large amount of time that you spend in a fasted state.
If you are doing the 16/8 protocol for example, in 1 week you will have fasted for at least 112 hours! (That means you spent around 70% of the entire week in a fasted state!)
What Are The Benefits Of Fasting?
Fasting is a dietary technique known for thousands of years to help cleanse and detoxify the body.
When you go on a fast, it gives your body a break from constantly digesting and breaking down food, freeing up resources to help heal the body instead.
Every time that you eat something your body begins the digestion process which takes ton of time and energy to break down and convert the food you ate into nutrients that your body can use.
However, your daily energy levels are a finite resource.
When you are eating all day, your digestive system is constantly working to break down all of the food that you ate, leaving you with less energy to use for other tasks such as working, exercising, etc.
(Have you ever felt sleepy after eating a huge meal?)
Going on a fast actually helps to improve energy levels by removing the dietary energy expenditure that comes with your body constantly processing food all day long.
In addition to conserving energy, the longer that you fast, the more time your body is able to focus on removing the build up of toxic wastes that have accumulated in your body.
This is due to the fact that fasting primarily works by self-digestion.
As you transition into a fasted state, your body will begin to naturally decompose and burn only the substances and tissues that are damaged, diseased, or unneeded, such as abscesses, tumors, excess fat deposits, excess water and congestive wastes.
The self-digestion process you experience while in a fasted state is also the reason why fasting is fantastic for aiding with weight loss.
When your body needs more energy it will always try and take the path of least resistance to acquire that energy.
If you just ate a bunch of carbohydrates, it will break those down into glucose and use them for energy before it does anything else.
During a fast however, you are not consuming any additional food to replenish the energy you use, but your body still needs energy to survive, so after it burns through your glucose reserves, it turns to the next best option–the stored fat reserves on your body.
Many people don’t realize this but the human body actually has two main “engines” that use two different types of “fuel” to produce energy for the body.
The first engine uses glucose as its main source of fuel. Once that fuel source is depleted, the body will switch to it’s secondary engine for support, and that engine uses ketones for fuel.
Your body creates ketones by breaking down your stored fat.
When you are in a fasted state and not eating any food, your body is unable to replenish the glucose that it burns up.
This leads your body to greatly improve your insulin sensitivity because it knows that it is running low on glucose. Which increases the efficiency with which your body absorbs nutrients.
Once all that glucose is gone, your body will turn to ketones for energy, kicking your natural fat burning potential into overdrive as stored fat becomes your primary source of fuel for energy.
(This switch to ketones is the reason why diets such as the zero carb diet are so effective for helping you lose body fat!)
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