The Pros And Cons Of 24 Hour Fasting

By:    Published: December 22, 2011

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There are a lot of trends in dieting right now, most of which focus on rapid weight loss. However, it’s ironic that the one trend that seems the most like it is focused on taking drastic measures to drop pounds is actually more focused on long-term health. With 24-hour fasting, people make sudden and temporary changes to their diet in the hopes of increasing their overall health in the long run. In this article, we’ll explore a little bit of the background of this trend as well as the health benefits it can provide.

What Is A 24-Hour Fast?

Fasting is giving up food and drink for a period of time. That includes everything but water, which is necessary for preventing dehydration. It is often connected with religion since many people fast on a regular basis according to the tenet of their faith. In addition, some people have used fasting as a part of a political protest or statement. However, it has increasingly become a trend in health and dieting.

The 24-hour period of fasting is not a set standard, but it tends to be a somewhat typical length of time for people to fast. Today, the 24-hour fast has started to become the topic of much research, so the potential health benefits of fasting are often linked to this length of time.

Potential Benefits

There are a wide variety of health benefits which have been linked to fasting for 24 hours, including:

  • Lower cholesterol: Depriving yourself of food and drink for 24 hours puts stress on the body. This causes the body to release more cholesterol.
  • Better heart health: Numerous studies have found that those who regularly fast have a lower risk for coronary disease. This can be at least partially attributed to the fact that fasting helps lower cholesterol and limit weight gain.
  • Getting rid of excess fat: When the body becomes stressed like it does while fasting, more cholesterol is released. This process allows the body to burn off fat in response to the stress rather than glucose that has been stored in the body. The fat provides fuel while the fast is in effect.
  • Improved metabolism: Studies have found that the way the body responds to fasting for 24-hours increases a person’s levels of human growth hormone. This, in turn, increases a person’s metabolism, allowing the body to process cholesterol and sugar more efficiently and avoid weight gain.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes: Keeping a healthy weight is a key factor in preventing diabetes, so the fact that fasting increases metabolism and burns fat is great for avoiding this disease. Reducing the number of fat cells in the body is also important because this decreases the chances of insulin resistance, which is the trigger for the disease. Additionally, fasting may help regulate a person’s blood sugar levels, which also helps prevent diabetes.

In addition, there is some belief among the medical community that fasting may be linked to good health simply because those who fast regularly often exhibit other healthy lifestyle habits, such as not smoking and drinking seldom or not at all. Additionally, many people connect the ability to fast successfully with self-control, noting that those who have the discipline to fast may also have more self-control when it comes to making healthy food choices on a daily basis. However, the increased number of studies on this topic have shown that, while the difference in lifestyle of those of fast versus those who don’t may play a role, there are still certain health benefits that can be directly attributed to the 24-hour fast.

Potential Risks

While the many health benefits listed here are an excellent reason to fast for 24 hours, this particular health trend is not for everyone. Certain medications need to be taken with food, so if you are currently taking a prescription drug daily you may not be able to fast. People who are diabetic or pregnant should definitely avoid fasting as well because of their need for sufficient health nutrition. There are dozens of other health conditions which may not be compatible with fasting either, so it is critical that you visit your doctor to talk about the possibility of fasting before you try this new health trend.

Do not forget that fasting excludes eating and drinking of any kind with one exception. Drinking water is not only allowed, it is also necessary for your body while you are fasting. Make sure you drink plenty of water if you do decide to do a 24-hour fast. This will help you avoid dehydration.

Finally, keep an eye out for things like lightheadedness, dizziness or a rapid or slow heartbeat. If you experience any symptoms like these or if you begin to feel unwell during your fast, seek medical attention right away.

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