How to Fast Safely: 10 Helpful Tips

There are many different methods of fasting.

Intermittent fasting is an currently very popular and trending eating pattern which involves periods of normal eating and sharply restricting your food intake for certain periods of time.

This fasting method has been associated with large range of possible health benefits, including short-term increasing of human growth hormone (HGH) and changes in gene expression (1234).

Such effects are associated with longevity and a reduced risk of disease. Thus, people who fast on regular basis usually hope to lose weight or live a healthier, longer life.

However, fasting can be dangerous or harmful if not tried properly.

Here are given 10 tips to help you safe  fasting.

1. Keep Fasting Periods Short

There is no single way to fast, means that the duration of your fast depends on you.

Popular procedures include:

  • The 5:2 Pattern: Limit your calorie intake for two days per week (500 calories in a day for women and 600 for men).
  • The 6:1 Pattern: This pattern is same as 5:2, but there’s only one day of restricted calorie intake instead of two.
  • “Eat Stop Eat”: A fast of  whole day or 24-hour complete fast for 1–2 times every week.
  • The 16:8 Pattern: This pattern involves only taking meal in an eight-hour slot and fasting for remaining 16 hours in a day, every day of the week.

Most of these procedures suggest short fast duration of 8–24 hours. However, some people prefer to do much longer fasts of 48 and even up to 72 hours.

Longer fast periods rise your risk of fasting related issues. This includes dehydration, tiredness, irritability, mood changes, weakness, fainting, hunger, and being unable to focus (567).

The best way to avoid these side effects is to follow shorter duration fasting  of up to 24 hours.Particularly, when you are a beginner.

If you want to increase your fasting period to more than 72 hours, you should take advice of your health care provider.

2. Eat a Small Amount on Fast Days

Usually, fasting involves the removal of few or all food and drink for a period of time.

Although you can remove food altogether on fast days, some fasting patterns like the 5:2 diet allow you to take up to approximately 25% of your calorie requirements per day (8).

If you want to do fasting, restricting your calories so that you still eat in small quantity on your fast days may be a safer option than practicing a full-blown fast.

This approach may help in lowering some of the risks related to fasting, such as feeling faint, hungry, tired and unfocused.

It may also make fasting more feasible since you probably won’t feel as hungry (9).

3. Stay Hydrated

Mild dehydration can lead to fatigue, dry mouth, thirst and headaches — so it’s essential to take enough fluid on a fast (10).

Most health authorities suggest the 8×8 rule — eight 8-ounce glasses (just under 2 liters in total) of fluid per day — to prevent dehydration (11).

However, the absolute amount of fluid you require— although likely in this range — is totally vary form person to person

As you get around 20–30% of the required fluid from food, it’s very easy to get dehydrated during fast (12).

During a fast, many people target to drink 8.5–13 cups (2–3 liters) of water over the course of the day. However, your thirst should tell you when you need to drink more, so take care of your body’s requirements (13).

4. Go for Walks or Meditate

Avoiding eating on fast days can be challenging, particularly if you are feeling bored and hungry.

One way to avoid involuntarily breaking your fast is to keep yourself busy.

Activities that may divert you from hunger without using up too much energy include :walking and meditating.

However, any activity that’s calming and not too difficult would keep your mind engaged. You could take a bath, read a book or listen music or talk to your friend.

5. Don’t Break Fasts With a Feast

It can be appealing after a period of restriction to enjoy by eating in a large amount.

However, breaking your fast with a feast or celebration meal could leave you feeling bloated and tired.

Additionally, if you want to lose weight, feasting may harm your long-term goals by reducing or stopping your weight loss.

Because your overall calorie quota effects your weight, consuming excessive calories after a fast will reduce your calorie deficiency.

The best way to break a fast is to continue eating normally and return back into your regular or normal eating routine.

6. Stop Fasting If You Feel Unwell

During a fast, you may feel a little weak, tired, hungry and irritable — but you should never feel unwell.

To keep yourself safe, particularly if you are a beginner, consider restricting your fast periods to 24 hours or less and keeping a snack on hand in case you start to feel faint or ill.

If you do become ill or fainted and are concerned about your health, make sure you stop fasting immediately.

Some signs that you should give up your fast and need medical help include tiredness or weakness that cause difficulty in carrying out daily tasks, as well as unexpected feelings of illnesses and discomfort.

7. Eat Enough Protein

Many people start fasting with the intention to lose weight.

However, being in a calorie deficient can result in lose your muscle along with l fat loss(14).

One way to minimize or reduce your muscle loss while fasting is to make sure you are eating enough protein during your non fast or fed cycle(1415).

Additionally, if you are eating in small quantity on fast days, including some protein could offer other benefits, including controlling your appetite.

Some studies suggest that consuming around 30% of a meal’s calories from protein can remarkably lower your appetite (16).

Therefore, eating some protein on fast days could help counterbalance some of the side effects of fasting.

8. Eat Plenty of Whole Foods on Non-Fasting Days

Most people who fast, are making efforts to improve their health.

Even though fasting involves keeping back from food, it’s still important to maintain a healthy lifestyle on you non fasting days .

Healthy diets based on whole foods are associated with a wide range of health benefits, including a decreased risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases (171819).

You can ensure that your diet remains healthy and balanced by choosing whole foods like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits and legumes, whole grains when you eat.

9. Consider Supplements

If you fast regularly, you may be deficit of many essential nutrients.

This is because regularly eating smaller calories makes it difficult to fullfil your nutritional requirements.

In fact, people practicing weight loss diets have more chances to be deficient in a number of essential nutrients such as iron, calcium and vitamins (20).

As such, those who fast on regular basis should consider taking a multivitamin for their normal health and to help prevent deficiencies.

That said, it’s always very good to take your nutrients from whole foods (21).

10. Keep Exercise Mild

Some people find that they are able to maintain their regular exercise procedure during their fast (5).

However, if you are a beginner or not common for fasting, it is required to keep any exercise to a low intensity — particularly during starting — so you can watch how you manage.

Low-intensity exercises could have walking, mild yoga, normal stretching and housework.

Most importantly, listen to your body and take rest if it is difficult for you to exercise.

Fasting Isn’t for Everyone

Although fasting for short periods is usually considered as safe, the following populations should not try to fast without taking any advice of your doctor or healthcare provider:

  • People having medical condition like heart disease or type 2 diabetes
  • Women who are trying to conceive
  • Women who are pregnant or lactating
  • People who are underweight
  • Those who have any history of an eating disorder
  • People who have issues with blood sugar regulation
  • People with low blood pressure(hypotension)
  • Those who are taking prescription medications
  • Woman with a history of amenorrhea(absence of periods)
  • Older adults
  • Adolescents

Fasting is the practice of avoiding food and drinks for longer periods. Depending on how it’s followed, it may boost your health.

People may choose to fast for dietary, cultural or religious purposes. One common method is intermittent fasting, in which you cycle between durations of eating and fasting.

To stay healthy while fasting, it is best to keep fasting periods small, avoid exhaustive exercise and keep yourself hydrated.

Eating sufficient protein and taking a balanced diet in your non- fasting days can also maintain overall health and gurantees successful fasts.

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