I’ve gotten some questions regarding fasting when it comes to health and fitness. This isn’t really a topic that has a quick answer. Any question involving it usually leads to more questions, such as:
“Is fasting good for you, or is it bad?”
“What benefits and risks are there?”
“Will I lose all my muscle if I fast?”
“Will my body go into “starvation mode” when I fast and then, when I do eat, just store everything as body fat?”
So, I decided to spend some time this week on answering those questions. So we are all on the same page, the one I’ll tackle today is “What is fasting, and how does it work?”
When we talk about fasting regarding fitness, what we usually mean is what’s known as “Intermittent Fasting” or “IF.” It basically means that you take only a certain block of time each day when you eat, and you fast for the rest of that time. So, out of the 24 hours of your day, you may only choose to eat in an 8 hour time block, lets say from 12pm-8pm.
Everything you eat gets broken down into various molecules used for different purposes. When your body is going through the process of digesting what you ate and sending things where they need to go, you’re in a “fed” state. Once it’s done, you’re in a “fasted” state. This can take anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on what and how much you ate.
Most of our bodies fluctuate between these two states several times each day. Unless you only sleep for 3 hours per night, you are already in a fasted state for at least most of your unconscious hours. The average person probably spends about 6 or so hours per day in a truly fasted state. What Intermittent Fasting does it flip the norm. Instead of being in a “fed” state most of the time and only a “fasted” one when you sleep or you’re too busy or broke to eat, you intentionally spend most of your time fasted, and only a certain block fed.
The next article will talk about the reasons that people fast for health and fitness purposes.