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Fasting: Definition, Season, Duration, How To Fast?

Short, intermittent, seasonal, nocturnal fasting… There are many fasting programs to cleanse your body and feel better. You have to prepare well for it and do it in good condition. 

Fasting is an old dietary practice that has been forgotten for many years but is returning to fashion. Suitable for the body and mind, it could be scary when practiced in favorable conditions. How to manage to go without eating for several days? Not to fall for sweets? What symptoms to expect? 

So many questions that deserve answers. In his book “I fast” (Editions Eyrolles), the naturopat explains how to start a fast, live it well and which one to choose. Because there is more than one fast, you can fast the day, the night, one day, two or downright ten. The main thing is to “do the fast.

What Is Fasting?

Fasting deprives the body of food. By putting the body at rest and suddenly its various organs, fasting will cleanse the body, eliminate toxins and regenerate.

The Stages Of Fasting

In the first days, fasting upsets the body: “The body must be able to maintain a regular supply of glucose at the level of the cells to have enough energy to survive,” continues the naturopath. It will fill the lack of sugar through various adaptation mechanisms and tap into the reserves. Several reactions intervene to adapt to the cessation of feeding:

  1. Phase 1 (24 hours): the body draws on glycogen reserves, a molecule that stores energy. You may feel a stronger heartbeat, and your blood pressure may rise slightly.
  2. Phase 2: the body uses the proteins and glycerol of the fatty acids present in the fatty tissues to transform them into sugar and maintain sufficient energy intake. “There is a drop in insulin; the body slowly adapts to the new situation of eating less by drawing on its reserves, making it possible to release toxins and use a new energy system, the fat system.”
  3. Phase 3: the body switches to a new adaptation when the fast continues. It produces ketone bodies as new fuel.

If you want to fast, remember that “it must come from you; you must not be told to do so.”

What Is The Right Season To Fast?

Certain seasons are more conducive to fasting, such as hot seasons. “In summer, we spontaneously eat less; we lighten the meal,”. Seasonal changes are also good “because the body changes its functioning.” The arrival of spring and autumn can thus “be key moments for cleansing the body.” Winter is more complicated. The body needs more energy. But “winter fasting can stick with an inner process,” explains the naturopath. Better to avoid it for the first few times, though.

How To Prepare For A Fast?

You have to fast for pleasure and desire and not under duress.

  1. “You have to ask yourself what is the desire for fasting and be in the approach of the call of the body,” . When the desire is there, “put the fast in a duration, a date, a period when you can take time for yourself, for example, during the holidays.” Once the fast has started, “you have to feel well-being and joy while doing it. Otherwise, you have to put food back in temporarily, advises the expert. There must be no frustration. Otherwise, there will be compensation after fasting with weight regain”. 
  2.  You must ask yourself if you are ready to “miss out.” “As the body is no longer used to fasting, food restriction can be restrictive,” It would be best to confront this fear of lack: “The idea of ​​depriving yourself of food is complex to grasp. A time of preparation is necessary to remind your body that fasting is naturally gentle.” The preparation will be more or less long, depending on the duration of the fast.

What Foods Are Prohibited?

You don’t eat solid foods when you fast, so “we don’t chew,” . On the other hand, you should drink about 3 liters of liquid daily, including at least 2 liters of pure water. You can drink herbal teas, hot lemon juice, diluted vegetable juice (rather green juice) or broth (in the evening, for example). “The color of your urine will be your most effective test. Too clear and too frequent is a sign of kidney fatigue, and you must reduce your daily amount of water,” specifies the expert.

How Long?

Everyone decides the duration of their fast. “it reduces the amount of food taken and contributes to the overall balance.” One can also practice longer fasts called “seasonal,” which last 3, 5 and up to 10 days. It is essential to hold out for at least the first three days: “These are often the most difficult, but at the end of the third day, we observe a moment of inflection (…), a real metabolic change. After this point, the body modifies its operation, expels superficial obstructions and experiments with fats.”

  1. For a one-day fast: the day before, take only a light meal or broth. “You can otherwise fast directly by drinking only a vegetable juice or an herbal tea or two during the day and nothing else,” indicates the naturopath.
  2. For a fast of more than three days: “You have to make a food descent .” In practice: “A week before, remove stimulants (coffee, tea, sugar, alcohol, tobacco)  which modify and strongly solicit the overall functioning of the body. Afterward, remove animal proteins and hard-to-digest dairy products, then cereals and vegetable proteins, and on the last day, fruits and vegetables.” In case of constipation, “purge the intestine with prune juice or magnesium sulfate, then start the fast.”

What Is Overnight Fasting?

Natural, overnight fasting is the easiest to follow. But “we have forgotten this functioning,”. “This need for nocturnal digestive rest is fully part of our physiology; it allows the body to cleanse itself.”

In practice: take a light meal in the evening (soup, steamed vegetables) and wait 2 hours before bed. The fast can be 12 hours in the beginning ( you eat at 8 p.m., you will have breakfast at 8am ), then go to 2, 4 and 6 p.m. to go up to a day when you feel ready. Note: it is necessary to reduce the consumption of sugar, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol after 4 p.m.

What Are The Effects And Benefits Of Fasting?

Depriving the body of food is not without consequences, especially at the beginning. The body draws on its reserves to make up for the lack of sugar, an essential energy source. “You can feel a little tired and hypoglycemia,”. But normally, it should last up to one morning.

 If it lasts too long, it’s because the fast is too difficult, so you have to take fruit juice or soup.” When fasting, “the body looks for a program that it knows well but has not practiced for a while, so it is advisable to fast in a relaxed setting, outside of everyday life.

” If fasting has physiological effects, “When you fast, you have more time for yourself, you save time shopping and preparing meals, for example. And you recover the energy spent on digestion. During fasting times, there is an inner remixing. We observe appeasement. Fasting is an excellent way to return to our deepest confidence,” underlines the naturopath.

What Are The Contraindications?

To fast, one must be in good health. In the following cases, fasting is contraindicated: renal and hepatic insufficiency, type 1  or insulin-dependent diabetes, hyperthyroidism, anorexia, bulimia, nutritional deficiencies, taking medication (ask for medical advice), smoking, alcoholism, drug addiction, pregnancy, children (their nutritional needs are incompatible with fasting), tired and deficient older adults. “Generally, in case of various and varied symptoms, consult your doctor and refrain from undertaking a fast,” recommends the naturopath.

Also Read: How To Have A Healthy Relationship With Food?

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