Work with your body – not against it
Before we start, I want to emphasize one crucial thing. You should work with your body – not against it.
Some people get into a severe diet. Putting their body in danger. Their bodies get into “survival” mode. And it knows how to survive. It has millions of years of experience in surviving.
In this “survival” mode, the body preserves its energy and adipose tissues. Also even that the person does not eat much, the body stops losing weight. Making sure that the body keeps living. Against the person will. This puts the person on a diet in a huge conflict and a very poor quality of life.
So, if you want to succeed in this diet plan, you should remember that you are not alone here. You have a partner that needs to be treated with respect. You should negotiate things with it. Throughout this process, be in touch with your body. Listen to its messages. Respond to the messages you get. Live in harmony with your body. Pamper it and it will treat you well.
Your body sends you gentle messages about its needs. It informs you if it is hungry or if you have eaten too much. A hangover is a sign that you drank too much alcohol – signaling potential damage to your liver.
Eat when you are hungry. Not at predefined times. Remember that feeling full comes about 20 minutes after a meal. So, start experimenting with your body – how it feels when you eat smaller food at every meal. There is a feeling of vitality, energy, and well-being in having a body that is fed in the food quantity it needs. There is a feeling of being heavy, tired, and low-energy when the body needs to digest a large amount of food.
Make every meal a celebration. “Festivus” as Seinfeld called it. Chew slowly and enjoy every bite. Stop eating before feeling full, and listen to your body reaction to the meal. See if you feel full after half an hour. If not, grab some food. Try to sense how you feel throughout your day. Make adjustments based on your goals and what your body tells you.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is abstinence from food or not eating for a certain amount of time. During fasting, very small amounts of calories are taken in by the body. No solid food, mostly water and/or teas are drunk. Most people associate this practice with religious beliefs. This is also sometimes done by persons to express their political or social protest (but this is more correctly called a hunger strike).
However, doing a fast to become healthy is less known to most people. The closest idea to this is the numerous dieting fads to lose weight. Dieting aims to reduce the number of calories to lose weight. Fasting takes this further than just reducing weight. Its goal is to boost a person’s overall well-being and slow down the ill-effects of aging. Fasting for better health is setting aside time to allow the digestive system to rest.
The Potential Benefits of Fasting
Studies both in laboratory animals and in trials among human patients and volunteers show the following health benefits of fasting:
- Studies showed weight loss and shedding off fat. Fasting will deprive the body of glucose sugar. This forces it to use the fat stores it has in tissues for energy. This results in the loss of weight. After a long period, there will be fewer amounts of fat molecules circulating in the blood and even in the liver, muscles, and other tissues. This contributes to better overall health.
- Fasting also enhances the renewal or rejuvenation of body organ systems. Body function or metabolism becomes more efficient. Old or diseased tissues are cannibalized and recycled for the nutrient and energy needs of the body. This provides new space and encourages new tissue to grow to help keep body systems young.
- Other studies provided evidence of the ability to extend life and counter the age-related illnesses in rats, monkeys, and humans.
- Fasting increases the resistance of cells against damage by oxidative free radical molecules. This helps prevent inflammation. Concentrations of antioxidants that fight inflammation and repair tissues, increase. An example is a glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant.
Adenopectin is a type of collagen. Collagen is a protein building block used for the growth and repair of body tissues. In serious illnesses, concentrations of adenopectin were seen to get depleted in the blood. This was observed in diabetes and coronary heart disease. It could be because of the great need to repair tissues damaged by inflammation due to these illnesses. Fasting increases the level of adenopectin to replenish the amount that had been used up.
- In mice, studies showed that fasting improves and maintains the health of blood vessels. The results are comparable to those from regular physical exercise. This suggests that their effects on the heart and circulation are similar.
- Fasting significantly protected laboratory rats against injury from the lack of oxygen. Blood vessels as well as brain and heart cells continued to function even with low oxygen supply. This beneficial effect is important for the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
- The healthy effects of fasting on digestive health can go beyond the rest and recuperation of the bowel organs. Fasting could directly influence the composition of the microbial population. In other words, fasting promotes the increase of “good” microorganisms. This results in positive effects on the liver, weight reduction, and the prevention of obesity.
- Fasting can even help keep our lungs healthy. It protects against damage from free radicals and inflammation. Symptoms of asthma were quickly and continually reduced. This shows potential as a good therapeutic option for asthma.
How to do it with a good chance of success?
Many benefits being experienced by fasting as a health practice. But it has one very obvious disadvantage. It is very difficult to do. Many will be intimidated by this practice, particularly those who have not done it before or who are very busy with work and other physical activities. Traditional methods for fasting would require days of fasting nonstop to be effective. This was what was previously thought. It is quite impractical and very hard for the ordinary person. It even harms patients living with long-term illnesses.
Fortunately, a recent method of fasting has more successful results of healthful benefits. This practice is called Intermittent Fasting or Time Restricted Fasting. The lengths of time for fasting is not done continually. These are restricted into shorter periods. And in between are periods of normal eating.
So for example, after 1-2 days of fasts, the person can eat as much as he wants for the 3rd day. This pattern is routinely repeated throughout the week. This ends up with 4 days of fast and 3 days when you can eat. Another variation for more advanced fasting is 5 days of fast and 2 days normal.
And there is even an easier method. This is more popular for newbies, working, or physically active people is the daily fasting protocol. It further reduces the fasting to a period within 24 hours. In other words, fasting is done within a day, but consistently every day. In the remaining time, meals can be eaten normally.
The scheduling can have several variations. One schedule will have the fast for 16 hours, with the remaining 8-hour time allowed for nutrition. Another is 18 hours of fast for 6 hours of eating. For people who work during the day, they can choose to have their fast at night time. This is usually the time that they sleep anyway. The fast can start at 6 in the evening and last until 10 in the morning. Then they can eat as much as they want within the remaining time. The scheduling can be moved around depending on their needs or lifestyle.
The advantage of the 24-hour protocol is the flexibility in how to carry it out. It can still provide as much of the benefits of fasting as possible. Intermittent fasting is becoming popular among many people. It is easier to do than previous dieting fads or fasting for multiple days.
Still, attempting to strictly follow the fasting protocol can present challenges to the normal person. Trying to be perfect at the start is a flawed approach and the person can easily fail. Even if successful at the beginning, your body may not react favorably during the adjustment. It tempts you to “binge” eat when you finish a schedule and not continue with it. This will lead you to quit altogether.
So the goal is not to force yourself to follow it 100 percent at the very beginning. You should allow your body to adjust to this lifestyle slowly. Take it a step at a time.
You could begin with the following schedule:
- Take a heavy breakfast at 6 a.m. and a moderate lunch at 12 noon. Have a light dinner (a salad or small sandwich with a cup of hot soup) at 6 in the evening. You could have some fruit in between. When you start the fast, you could have hunger pangs at night that prevent sleep. You can eat a piece of banana, hot tea, or a small cup of soup to take them away. Hunger pangs are normal in the first few weeks as your body adjusts. If you succeed (with no hunger pangs at night), you would have effectively done 12 hours of fasting in a day.In about one month’s time, your body will find it easier if you try to lengthen the fast to 14 or 16 hours.
The overall aim is not to “climb a mountain” but small hills at first. Small but consistent achievements, not “miracles” are needed to help ensure success.
Intermittent Fasting for Patients
The fasting protocol is a great option for patients coping with long-term disease, including digestive illness. They can slowly incorporate it into their daily schedule through trial and error. They can find out how it would best suit their situation as they manage their illness.
You must consult your doctor or nutritionist if still recovering from serious disease, or just came out from the emergency room. You might still be taking the pale, liquid diet, or just went through an operation. It would be prudent not to do this yet. This is best done by patients who have sufficiently recovered from critical illness. They would be patients who are taking prescription pills and drugs for a long time, probably for the rest of their lives.
Maybe you can already eat solid foods like those mentioned in previous posts. You can start this even with a 6-hour time window to rest your bowels. This is already very beneficial, especially for patients with bowel disease. If you do not have to do any work at night (since you are still recovering, it is best to just rest during the night), you should fast while you sleep for a more complete body rest.
It is best to seek first the advice of your doctor or nutritionist before trying to do fasting therapy.
Disadvantages of Intermittent Fasting:
Fasting therapy has its disadvantages. Precautions are needed especially for those who have a pre-existing condition:
- 1. When you start the fast and your body has to adjust, the person’s mood can be negatively affected because of low blood sugar about 6 hours after the start. There could be fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and dizziness. The body needs time to get adjusted.
- This protocol may not be good for patients with low or unstable blood sugar. It can be dangerous for patients taking diabetic medications. The risk of cardiovascular disease, heart palpitations, and stroke can increase for the elderly. Fasting can worsen diabetic symptoms and insulin sensitivity.
- 3. Fasting was observed to worsen menstrual cycle disorders in women. Hormonal imbalance like reduced testosterone can occur in men.
- This should not be done by pregnant women, children, people doing athletic sports training, heavy physical work, or exercise.
It is best to seek first the advice of your doctor or nutritionist before carrying out this fasting therapy.
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