The holidays tend to be a season of indulgence, but you can make it through without gaining weight by incorporating an occasional fast day into your seasonal schedule.
Fasting to improve health dates back to ancient times. Greeks such as Hippocrates and Plato fasted, as did ancient Christians and Israelites. I practice regular fasting as well.
Fasting can mean anything from abstinence from food and beverages to restricting specific foods or the hours of food intake. For instance:
• The popular 5:2 diet calls for fasting two days of the week, but not completely. Instead, you eat one-fourth of your typical daily calories, which is roughly 500 calories for women, 600 calories for men — and eat what you want the remaining five days.
• The 4:3 plan involves fasting on alternate days.
• Time restricted eating involves eating only during certain hours of the day, typically six to eight hours of the day, and fasting the rest of the time.
There are a lot of animal studies that attest to the benefits of fasting, and human studies are getting underway.
Here’s a list of benefits attributed to fasting, no matter what type you practice.
• Lowers insulin levels, and a protein called insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1, which is linked to cancer and diabetes. This is why it’s believed that fasting may help retard the aging process.
• Acts as a mild stressor, which may cause immediate stress and inflammation, but reduces the likelihood of chronic disease in the long run.
• Forces the body to shift from the metabolism of glucose for fuel to fat, which initiates a process called ketosis, the same process that occurs during low-carbohydrate diets. This initiates processes beneficial to
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