Fasting has been a part of many dietary regimens and religious observances for centuries, and while met with some skepticism, has proven to have very definite health benefits when done properly. Whether your goals are spiritual, physical or both, you can gain more from fasting by following some helpful advice.
Here are 10 secrets to fasting in a healthy way:
Allow adequate time to eliminate harmful foods and substances from your diet – Prepare for your fast by gradually weaning yourself off such things as alcohol, nicotine, and sugar. Your body will not suffer from withdrawals if you give it time to adjust before embarking on a full-blown fast.
Gradually reduce food intake – Eat increasingly less food each day leading up to a more extensive fast. Again, you want your body to adjust to the reduced caloric intake, which will allow you to fast for longer periods later.
Try a liquid diet instead of a full fast – If you are skeptical about eliminating all substances from your diet, or you are about to embark on your first fast, you can try a juice fast, rather than not eating anything. Replace solid foods with fruit or vegetable juices, which will supply the necessary nutrients for your body, and minimize any ill effects of fasting, such as headaches or irritability.
Fast carefully – Do not fast if you are not in good health, are pregnant, or are underweight. You should be in sufficient health to subsist on reduced caloric intake without any risks to your body. The benefits of fasting would be lost if your body is not receiving adequate nutrition already from your normal diet.
Stay away from rigorous exercise or activities – Avoid strenuous activities while fasting. Limiting your food intake will also reduce the energy your body requires for performing such activities. Focus instead on cleansing your body, and meditation. Your body will still burn calories efficiently enough to lose weight without being taxed too heavily.
Maintain a healthy diet when not fasting – Fasting should be preceded and followed by a nutrient-rich diet. A person will not benefit as much from a fast if their diet before and/or after the fast is not a healthy one. So build up to your fast ahead of time; then afterward, build back up to your pre-fast diet.
Avoid binge eating at the conclusion of a fast – When ending a fast do not eat a large amount of food right away. Your stomach will have shrunk during the fast and will not be able to properly digest a lot of food for several days. After several days of fasting, your appetite will also have diminished accordingly; so there’s no need to binge at its conclusion.
Stay hydrated – Drink lots of water when fasting. Your body will be eliminating a lot of toxins from your bloodstream, and the additional liquid in your diet will help to cleanse it. Avoid other liquids like coffee and soft drinks, however.
Keep the fast period short – Extended fasting should only be done under close medical supervision. A fast lasting no longer than 4 to 5 days should be no problem for a healthy individual. Beyond that, you want to be sure that your body is handling the stress and diet change without difficulty.
Pre-fast eat foods that will continue to benefit you throughout the duration of the fast – Certain foods rich in complex carbohydrates allow for a slower, gradual release of energy which facilitates fasting much better. These include: beans, barley, wheat, oats, semolina, and rice.
Fasting can provide you with an array of health benefits if it’s done the right way. By maintaining a healthy diet and staying properly hydrated before and after the fast you can receive the maximum benefits throughout.