The Complete Guide to Fasting – Is Fasting Right for you? Types, Benefits, and Risks.

The newest weight-loss trend: don’t eat. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I love eating.

People eating watermelon, before fasting.
Me on any given summer day – Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Purposefully restricting meals sounds extreme and a recipe for disaster.

Don’t you enter starvation mode, slow down metabolism, reduce muscle?

Let’s find out.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about fasting, the benefits, side effects, and whether it’s right for you.

What is Fasting?

Fasting is a state in which a person does not eat for a specified period.

It can also refer to the metabolic state of a person who has not eaten overnight or after complete digestion and absorption of the last meal, usually 3 to 5 hours after eating. 

Our bodies enter a state of fast regularly without one becoming aware; it can happen while you are asleep, when you accidentally skip breakfast, or when you miss dinner. 

This is called intermittent fasting (I.F.). 

This is not starving yourself; your body is simply using the stored energy it has to continue to function; energy in adipose tissue as well as in cells.

Leading expert in fasting, Dr. Jason Fung, debunked starvation mode, metabolism reduction, and muscle lose.

He states that fasting is normal in the body, as our ancestors used to do it in regular intervals.

History of Fasting

Fasting is encoded in our DNA. 

Way back when, thousands of years ago, there was no concept of having the perfect summer body.

On the contrary, our ancestral species accumulated more fat during this time to survive later on.

It’s the reason our bodies are incredibly well adapted to storing energy in the form of fat. 

It’s the reason weight loss can be tricky – your body doesn’t want to lose it’s reserves.

During harder times, such as winter when food was scarce, the fat reserves in the body would allow species, including humans, to have energy and continue surviving. 

Benefits of Fasting

The benefits of fasting have been studied and proven true.

 These include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Cellular Repair
  • Reduction in Insulin Resistance
  • Decreased Inflammation
  • Lowered Risk for Heart Disease
  • Lowered Triglycerides.

Fasting actives repair, restoration, and recycling in the body, raising wellbeing and fitness.

How Fasting Works

Cells undergo a process called autophagy during a fasted state. 

This is a self-cleaning and detox of cells, which allow harmful toxins and the buildup of waste to be removed from the body. 

Fasting can also improve brain function, reduce heart disease, and lower chronic pain, potentially due to lowered inflammation.

People are more likely to be in a calorie deficit, which can lead to weight loss.

More importantly, in the absence of food, growth hormone (GH) is active in the body, which is responsible for repair and restoration.

Types of Fasting

Spoiler, there’s a lot.

Each person’s body is different, so there is no one size fits all; each body reacts differently. 

Here, the most common types of fasts are explained. 


IF involves not consuming food for varying periods of time. 

Most people do intermittent fasts in a variety of ways.

For example:

  • 12/12 fast: it is a 12 hour eating fasting period, with a window of 12 hours to eat. For example: if your last meal is at 7 pm, you can eat again at 7 am, which creates a fasting window of 12 hours per day. It is very easy since we will be asleep most of the time.
  • 8/16 fasting: this is a 16 hour fast, 8-hour window to eat. That means if your first meal is at 12 noon, your last meal would be at 8 pm.
  • 6/18 fasting: it is 18 hours of fasting, a 6-hour window to eat.
  • 4/20 fasting: this is a 20 hour fast, 4-hour window to eat.

You choose the one that suits you best or it could vary from one to another according to your day and needs. 

When you are in your feeding window, make sure you eat very healthy, nutrient-dense meals. 

Listen to your body and take advantage of not eating when you are not hungry. 

Removing restrictive routine and mealtimes can help you eat consciously for a healthy and happy life.


It also has several forms, it could be, eat one day and not the other. Eat two days and not the third, and so on.


This is usually fasting for 1 day a week. You choose the day.


This fast is carried out by completely eliminating calories from the diet and consuming only liquids such as natural water. 

It could be for 1 week or several, but always with medical supervision. 

Don’t do this one without medical approval.

This is done in extreme cases where a person’s life is at risk, and only with physician assistance.

Risks of Fasting

While fasting may have many benefits, there is some risk.

Common side effects include:

People tend to lose liquid, minerals, salts, and vitamins during a fast, therefore it is important to must stay hydrated, consume nutritious food during eating times, replenish electrolytes, and listen to the body.

If you feel bad fasting, don’t do it.

Is Fasting Right for Me?

Fasting is not suitable for everyone.

Softer and simpler fasts (such as intermittent fasting) may be the only type of fast you can handle.

Pushing the body is not required.

You should not fast if you:

  • Are Underweight
  • Have an Eating Disorder
  • Are Under 18
  • Are Pregnant
  • Have Type 1 Diabetes
  • Or are Recovering from Surgery

The Takeaway

There are many different ways to practice fasting. 

This can make it easy to find the one that feels best for you and fits with your lifestyle. 

Ways of fasting have not been tested against each other, no one fasting style fits all.

Try them out and see which suits you.

Current research in regards to fasting is promising, and since no one person’s body is the same, you can see if this is right for you. 

It is best to talk to your doctor if you have any underlying health condition or are planning to fast for more than 24 hours.

Stay well hydrated and make sure that when you do eat, it is with nutrient-dense food to increase fasting health benefits.

With a healthy lifestyle and a good diet, fasting can improve overall health.

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