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Intermittent fasting is a very common practice today in weight loss and alternative medicine.
Even most religions have periods of fasting. Fasting is an ancient healing tradition.
Fasting is one of the oldest remedies in human history.
Hippocrates, who is widely considered as the father of modern medicine, wrote “To eat when you’re sick, is to feed your illness.”
We even instinctively don’t eat when we’re sick.
Jesus Christ, Buddha, and the prophet Muhammad all shared a common belief in the power of fasting as a way of cleansing and purification.
In this post, I will give you a basic understanding of what intermittent fasting is, what you can drink, and its benefits.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- What is Intermittent Fasting?
- What Can You Drink While Fasting?
- What’s the Longest Fat Ever Recorded?
- What are the Benefits of Fasting?
- Further Reading
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is defined as the voluntary act of “not” eating food for a specific period of time.
Fasting is simply not eating.
The purpose of intermittent fasting is to avoid food for periods of time. You need to work up to longer and longer periods of time.
For instance, you can start by eating four times a day and work your way to three, two, and even one meal a day (OMAD) without feeling hungry and “starving” yourself.
After you eat a meal, you want to feel satiated until your next meal, and the way to do that is by significantly decreasing your carbohydrates and increasing your vegetables, fat, and protein intake.
Believe me, I have done it and you really don’t feel hungry for hours.
And I’m not talking about being satiated for an hour or two; I’m talking about four to six hours without eating and not feeling hungry.
You feel good.
During fasting periods, all calorie-containing foods should be withheld.
However, you must stay well hydrated throughout your fast.
What Can You Drink While Fasting?
Start your day with a full glass of water regardless of whether you’re fasting or not.
A true fast allows only water. However, while fasting, you can drink water, coffee, and/or tea.
When you increase your intake of water, you not only pee out water but also electrolytes. So, you need to replenish your electrolyte load including sodium and potassium. Drink filtered water and/or mineral water like Pellegrino.
In your water, you can squeeze lemon or lime to give some flavor, or you can add slices of orange or cucumber to a pitcher of water to sip through the day.
Tea and coffee have caffeine and caffeine in small amounts isn’t a problem. Too much caffeine could become a problem because it can stimulate the adrenals, which can increase cortisol and then activate insulin production.
A cup of coffee in the morning is fine. You can put a little bit of cream and/or butter. My favorite sweetener is Xylitol. I actually drink just one small cup of coffee with xylitol. That’s it. More than that makes me nauseous.
All types of teas are allowed and that includes green, black, oolong, and herbal teas.
They can be enjoyed hot or cold and combined with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to add some flavor.
Green tea is specially a good choice because of the catechins in it are believed to suppress appetite.
Bone broth is ok too. Bone broth has a high mineral content with very little calories. No bouillon cubes and no canned broths.
Homemade bone broth, made from beef, pork, chicken, or fish bones is also a good choice.
Vegetable broth is an option, but bone broth is better as it is more nutritious.
Apple Cider Vinegar is acceptable as it helps regulate blood sugar; helps with a fatty liver; aids digestion; increases insulin sensitivity so cells glucose in.
Anything with sugar is not acceptable. Cow milk has sugars, though, but you can put a little in your coffee.
What’s the Longest Fast Ever Recorded?
The world record for the longest fast is held by a 27-year-old male at the time.
He successfully fasted for 382 days.
Yes, 382 days!
That’s over a year without eating!
His initial weight was 456 lbs and his final weight was 180 lbs.
This man was put on a fast for weight loss, but he felt so well that he kept going.
He was medically monitored throughout this fasting period and medical doctors didn’t find any problems.
Blood sugars went down to a stable level.
Electrolytes remained stable as well.
What Are the Benefits of Fasting?
When you eat, insulin levels go up. When you fast, plasma insulin goes down.
Because you’re not eating, your body switches over to burning fat, which is stored food, and therefore your plasma fatty acids go up.
And that’s a good thing!
Fasting Maintains Your Resting Metabolic Rate
Conventional diets reduce the number of calories you take in.
As a result, your body decreases how much energy it burns to compensate for the reduction of calories.
In other words, your resting metabolic rate goes down.
You lose some weight initially, but your body then adjusts to the new lower caloric intake and you then stop losing weight.
Your body also increases your hunger hormones to get you to eat more to regain that weight.
Your body adjusts its metabolism to compensate for the caloric intake.
If you eat less calories, your body burns less calories. If you eat more calories, your body burns more calories. Your body compensates for the caloric deficit or surplus.
During fasting, these adjustments don’t happen.
Fasting Improves Your Insulin Sensitivity
Diabetes is insulin resistance.
Likewise, obesity is caused by too much insulin.
So, with fasting, you could reverse these issues because fasting improves your insulin sensitivity.
Remember that too much insulin drives insulin resistance, and insulin resistance increases levels of insulin.
But fasting breaks this cycle.
Fasting is considered the most efficient way to decrease insulin levels.
All foods raise insulin, so the most effective method at reducing insulin is to avoid all foods.
During fasting, blood glucose levels remain normal as the body switches over to burning fat for energy.
Fasting Makes You Feel Better
When fasting, adrenaline levels are significantly increased.
That’s why you feel better and more energetic.
If you think about it, when the cave man didn’t have food for a day or two, in order to go out and hunt, he needed a boost in energy, not less as a result of the lack of food.
Fasting Increases Levels of Growth Hormone
One of the most potent stimuli to growth hormone secretion is fasting.
The growth hormone increases the availability and utilization of fat storage for fuel as well as preserves muscle mass and bone density.
The human growth hormone is a fat-burning hormone!
With restricted-calorie diets, people lose fat and muscle tissue, and when they stop the diet, they regain their weight in the form of fat thereby replacing muscle for fat.
With fasting, muscle tissue isn’t lost due to the increase in growth hormone.
If you want to know more about fasting, I recommend Dr. Jason Fung’s book titled The Complete Guide to Fasting.
In addition, another excellent source of information for weight loss and fasting is Dr. Fung’s book The Obesity Code.
I hope you enjoyed this short post!
Have you ever fasted before?
Did you learn anything new about Intermittent Fasting?
Let me know in the comments below.
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