From intermittent to circadian… The different types of fasting, their advantages and disadvantages

For quite some time now, fitness enthusiasts have been raving about the different types of fasts. Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Intermittent fasting: The term may have been coined recently, but this way of eating has been around since ancient times. In the past, the last meal of the day was just before sunset due to lack of electricity, and the first meal was just after sunrise. This automatically gave the human body a 14-16 hour fast. So intermittent fasting was, almost, like a way of life for our ancestors. In intermittent fasting, you stop eating after a while and only move to plain water for a specific period of time, then slowly start eating again. The phase in which you fast is called the elimination phase and the phase in which you eat is called the building phase.

Intermittent fasting benefits our body beyond weight loss. It helps our digestive system to take a complete break which not only heals the digestive system but also the whole body. It boosts our immunity, calms inflammation and is said to be a natural pain reliever that works amazingly well for all arthritis pains. It helps in detoxification. It is also anti-aging and improves skin and hair health.

Who shouldn’t?

While the benefits of intermittent fasting are powerful and documented in medical and scientific journals, it’s not for everyone. Here are some cases where intermittent fasting should be avoided or done only under medical supervision.

To do

  • First, set the right intention when fasting. Intent is everything. Do not fast for the sole purpose of losing weight. Fast because it helps you become disciplined and aligned with nature. Fasting isn’t a shortcut to weight loss, and it shouldn’t stop you from making lifestyle changes.

  • During intermittent fasting, drink only plain water during the fasting phase. No tea, coffee or infused water as anything other than water. If one wants to embrace fasting, one has to do it in the right way.

  • Third, set fasting schedules, eating habits, and times to suit you and your lifestyle. Don’t fast for 16 hours just because everyone else does. If you are a beginner, start slowly and progress gradually.

  • In the construction phase, be sure to eat well. Don’t diet during the building phase or you’ll just cripple your metabolism. Get your macros and micros, vitamins and minerals. Fasting is not starvation. In fact, if you don’t eat well, you can look malnourished, weak and haggard.

Not to do

Wet fasting: Wet fasting means drinking only plain water during the fasting window and resuming your usual diet once the fasting period is over. Many people bring juice, tea, coffee, infused water, and other beverages in the name of wet fasting. However, it is important to understand that putting something other than water in your system will make your digestive system work instead of putting it to rest. Therefore, remember to drink only water.

Dry fasting: Dry fasting is one step ahead of intermittent fasting. Here, we do not even consume water during the fasting period. This is powerful because it gives our digestive system a complete break and redirects all energy towards healing, recovery, cleansing, repair and other vital functions. Dry fasting can also be transformed into wet fasting, called integrated fasting.

The mechanism of dry fasting is simple. Our digestive system is the biggest consumer of energy in our body. It uses almost 80% of the energy in digestion, absorption and assimilation, driving 20% ​​of the energy towards – healing, repair, recovery, growth, rejuvenation, detoxification, immune system. Overeating, eating at the wrong time, or overeating can direct all energy to digestion, leaving little or no energy for repair and recovery. When one fasts, the energy of the body is redirected towards healing, repair, rejuvenation, strengthening the immune system, regenerating stem cells, hormonal imbalance, etc.

Dry fasting activates our body’s intelligence to do what it needs to do. Due to the lack of water, dry fasting helps reduce inflammation.

Fasting is healthy if it works for you, your health and makes you feel better. Most of us have to let go of the idea that the 16:8 fast is good for us. What if your body didn’t need 16 hours of fasting and could function optimally with just 12 hours of fasting? We are all unique bio-individuals, so fasting should be as individualized as nutrition or exercise. The “one shoe fits all” approach won’t work here either.

Circadian fasting: By far, one of the most natural ways to fast that has worked for most people who have followed it with discipline and consistency is circadian fasting, which aligns the fasting and eating window with the circadian rhythm ( sunset and sunrise). This type of fast results in a natural 12-hour fast. We use the power of the circadian rhythm, which has a deep connection to digestion, detoxification, repair and recovery.

(The author is a specialist in Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle – Integrative Medicine and Lifestyle, Founder of YouCare – All About YOU by Luke Coutinho)

Published on: Sunday 01 May 2022, 13:00 IST