Is Fasting Healthy? - The Answer, And The Entire Point
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Is Fasting Healthy?  -  The Answer, And The Entire Point

Yes, fasting is healthy. Starving is not. There is a big difference.

Whenever the topic of fasting comes up, I always think of the episode of Spongebob where Spongebob and Patrick are running from the law (because they stole a balloon, on Free Balloon Day), and Patrick accuses Spongebob of eating his chocolate bar, saying “You ate my only chocolate bar! Now I’m gonna starve!”. We then see a shot of Patrick’s bulging stomach, clearly indicating that he’s not going to waste away anytime soon.

Whether or not you are as overweight as Patrick, this scene actually illustrates the premise of fasting perfectly. The reason our bodies store excess calories as fat instead of just getting rid of it (i.e pooping them out), is to prepare our bodies to defend against starvation. In the event that the food supply runs out, we’ll have extra energy reserves to burn off until we find some.

Now, with that in mind, do you see the problem with eating every single time you’re not completely full?

If you eat every single time your stomach is empty, or whenever you have the slightest urge to eat for any reason, your body never sees the need to use anything for fuel besides what’s in your stomach. Instead of looking to your love handles or gut for extra energy, your body just tells you to eat more. Meanwhile, every extra calorie you take in gets stored for later, adding to the stockpile of reserve fuel that your body never touches. Ever. Hence you gain fat, and you can’t seem to lose anything you gain.

If you had a 7-Eleven across the street from your house, would you ever go to the 7-Eleven on the other side of town? No! Why would you? That's what your body is saying with regards to the excess fat on your love handles and butt. "This stomach is keeping me supplied enough, why bother with the other sources?"

The point of fasting is to force your overweight body to realize that there are other sources of fuel available to it besides what’s sitting in your stomach. Once your body realizes this, it will start using them – and the stubborn fat you thought would never go away will begin disappearing!

However, do not go for lengthy periods of time with little to no food. This is where fasting turns into starvation, anorexia, etc. It cannot be understated that if you have any issues or concerns, please consult a doctor before starting a fasting plan. (I am not one).

I remember the first day I ever fasted, resisting the urge at work to run to the nearest vending machine for my daily combo of Twix bars and Krunchers (yes, really. I dig it). My stomach was growling, and my brain was yelling at me to eat something because I was only – ONLY *gasp* – 60% full. Then, a couple hours went by with no food, and my body calmed down. Even though I didn’t eat anything. Lo and behold, I did not starve. I went on to finish my day eating about 700 calories total, and on a typical day I take in about 3000-3500.

This was my first foray into the 5-2 diet, a popular fasting variation where you drastically limit calories for one or two days out of the week. I still do it to this day, and love it. Another popular fasting routine is intermittent fasting, where you limit your daily calories to a certain eight-hour period of the day and fast for the rest. So if you ate 2500 calories on any given day, you would eat all of them between 8am to 4pm, or noon to 8pm, or whatever – going for 16 hours straight without eating.

Whichever type of fasting you choose to do, remember the purpose is to really show your body that it can live without being constantly totally full. It will be uncomfortable at first, but the benefits are wonderful – you’ll have more energy, naturally eat less, and you’ll burn fat.

For the record, I am definitely not a doctor, so as always, if you decide to begin a fasting routine and you have any concerns, consult a doctor first. Fasting has done me a world of good, but I’m just one guy, and everyones’ bodies and situations are different.

Best of luck!


Street Talk

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