It seems you can barely avoid another story about the benefits of fasting. On morning TV, in fitness magazines or maybe a celebrity endorsement of a new fasting technique. Is fasting just today’s Keto or Atkins diet? Is it a fast track to the beach body you crave for the coming Summer? Lets investigate the main takeaways from the currently available research.
What Are The Reported Benefits?
There are many papers and deep dive articles written about probable and proven benefits. We won’t go into extreme detail in this article but attempt to get some juicy bite-size nuggets down:
- Alternate day fasting literally prevented the growth of some cancers and made chemotherapy work better! Unfortunately this has only been tested on rats. Take this one with a pinch of salt for now. ( link )
- Alternate day fasting increased HGH production in some small studies. Human Growth Hormone appears to play a part in muscle strength, overall growth and metabolism. However, the studies were so small ( around 10 people in each ) that you should grab that pinch of salt again ok? ( link )
- Any form of fasting seems to result in weight loss as long as a healthy diet is maintained. This has been proven in many studies. The general consensus seems to be that its easier to skip meals that you think. Once you have made a decision to eat tomorrow or not until lunch sticking to it isn’t so bad. ( link )
- A great one for us Sports Massage practitioners is the benefit of reduced inflammation. If your fasting and do a big work out you can expect to have less inflammation of those stressed muscles the morning after. There is a strong science and large experiments behind this one ( link )
- Improved brain health seems like a likely benefit. Unfortunately we’ve only got our furry 4 legged friends as large scale test subjects for this one too. The fasting rats seemed to better fend of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and strokes. ( link )
The Different Flavours Of Fasting
It’s easy to get confused with the different ways people fast. People were fasting for religious reasons long before anyone imagined any health benefits too! Here’s another quick guide.
The Easy Ones:
- The 16-8 Method – Really easy one this. Although, i am biased as i use it! Wake up, don’t eat anything until 12pm. Eat your last meal of the day by 8pm. That’s it. No breakfast and no snacking after dinner. I found it way easier to achieve than i imagined. Never feel low on energy. Rarely feel annoyingly hungry.
- The 5-2 Method – This one requires a little more fore-thought but give some extra flexibility without breaking your fast. For 5 days a week ( you choose ) eat healthily. For 2 days a week ( you choose ) eat only 500 or 600 calories ( men or women ). So you can move your low calorie days around to suit your week.
The More Complicated One:
- Fat Fasting – For 2, 3 or 4 days a week eat 80% of your calories from fat sources only. You’ll need to do some research on this one to find meals and foods you can eat. Sounds good though eh? Bacon, avocados and eggs!
The Extreme Ones:
- Alternate Day Fasting – An eat day, a not-eat day. Now repeat. Simple but i expect this one will take extra willpower. Good luck!
- The Warrior Diet – Eat barely anything during the day apart from the odd piece of fruit or veg. At night scoff down a massive feast! I assume this is a nod to our caveman ancestors whose meat of the day would be the unfortunate clubbed beast found during the hunt.
Maybe fasting will work for you. I can recommend the 16-8 plan but we are all different creatures. And remember, fasting isn’t a license to gorge and reward on crisps and chocolate when the clocks ticks to eat-o-clock! A healthy diet is a must.