Are you curious about fasting, but nervous about trying it because of some warnings you’ve heard in the past? Fasting, which is traditionally defined as refraining from all food for a specific period of time, is gaining popularity because of its many health benefits. But fasting isn’t anything new—in fact, it’s natural for all organisms to fast in times of sickness or stress in order to regain balance. There’s also evidence of a variety of fasting forms that were practiced by some of the earliest civilizations to enhance both physical and spiritual health.
It might seem intimidating, too difficult or unnecessary to you, but there are actually many benefits of fasting. For some people, fasting is a great way to lose weight fast, as research shows that you can lose over two percent of your body weight after one month of fasting, and almost six percent after two months. (1) Additionally, fasting has also been shown to improve cholesterol levels, mental clarity, energy levels, digestion and skin health. And the good news is that there’s a form of fasting that’s perfect for every individual. Read: You don’t have to stop eating completely.
So if you’re on the fence about fasting, it may help to start by addressing some common myths that simply aren’t true. As you’ll see, fasting is not only easier than you think, but it can also kickstart your biggest health goals.
Myth One: I’ll Starve to Death
You may be under the assumption that fasting means starving or not being able to eat or drink anything at all. But some fasts actually rely on nutrient-dense foods to help rid your body of accumulated toxins.
During a bone broth fast, you’re allowed to eat all of the healthy foods you want, plus 3-4 quarts of nutrient-rich bone broth per day. Specifically, you’ll eliminate any problematic or inflammatory foods, including packaged and processed foods, dairy, grains, sweetened drinks, and refined vegetable oils. Instead of eating those unhealthy foods, you’ll rely on fruits, vegetables, clean proteins, and healthy fats, as well as five 12-ounce servings of bone broth each day.
Thanks to the tremendous health benefits of bone broth, this kind of fast is great for boosting detoxification, supporting your immunity, improving your sleep and brain function, boosting the health of your skin, and improving digestive function.
Myth Two: I Have to Fast for a Month or More to See Results
One of the most common misconceptions about fasting is that it has to be done for days, weeks, or even months at a time to be effective. But the truth is that there are many fasting plans out there, with actual fast times ranging from 14 to 36 hours, so you definitely don’t have to sign your life away when attempting a fast.
Alternate day fasting, for example, involves severely restricting your calorie intake on fasting days and sticking to your regular diet on non-fasting days. Another form of fasting that doesn’t have to be done for months in order to see results is intermittent fasting, which involves fasting for 12 to 16 hours at a time, typically between dinner and breakfast (yes, your sleep time counts!). By skipping breakfast, or finishing dinner earlier, you give your body more time to break down any undigested foods, heal and regenerate cells throughout the body, and flush toxins. And research has shown that fasting for shorter periods of time throughout your week or month can be just as effective as long-term, unbroken fasts. (2)
Myth Three: I Don’t Need to Lose Weight, So I Don’t Need to Fast
It’s true that fasting is an excellent tool for weight loss, but it can also be used as a tool for anyone looking to improve their health and vitality. Research shows that fasting can help to delay aging, increase energy, normalize insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol levels, improve hypertension, relieve asthma, ease arthritis, and optimize your overall health. (3) And even if you’re not trying to lose weight, who couldn’t benefit from those improvements?
Myth Four: Juice Fasts are the Most Effective, But I Hate Juice
The most effective type of fast depends on the person—and it’s different for everyone. For some people, a juice cleanse is a great way to get essential nutrients into their diets, but for others, juicing doesn’t actually increases their caloric and sugar intake, and it can lead to blood sugar swings. Intermittent fasting, a Daniel fast, or a bone broth fast can be much more appropriate for your lifestyle and health goals because these fasts allow you to stay satiated and see results. So if you’re not into juice, choose another type of fast that works for you!
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He recently authored ‘Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and Five Surprising Steps to Cure It’ and he operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at http://www.DrAxe.com. Follow him on Twitter @DRJoshAxe.
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