Traditionally fasting refers to avoiding all foods and calorie-containing drinks. Most cultures who fasted, and many health enthusiasts who have taken up fasting for its health and weight loss benefits, consume nothing but water during their fasts.
Clearly water fasting works, both for weight loss and other health benefits, but is it possible to achieve similar effects while not avoiding all foods during a fast? According to scientist Paul Jaminet, research shows that you may be able to consume certain foods while fasting and still derive the same benefits that you would from water fasting.
What Are You Fasting For?
What you eat while fasting, or whether you eat anything at all depends on your reason for fasting in the first place. Generally, people fast for one of three reasons.
1. For Weight Loss
2. For Improved Health Markers (such as blood pressure and insulin sensitivity)
3. To fight pathogens (infections)
If you’re only fasting for weight loss, water fasting is most likely the best thing. Although you’ll still get most of the benefits out of the fast even without avoiding all foods, you’ll likely lose more weight if you don’t eat at all for intermittent fasts. Furthermore, one of the main benefits of fasting for weight loss is that it provides a feeling of having control over what you eat, so the psychological benefit of avoiding all food can be helpful as well. On the flip side, eating the right foods during a fast can make fasting more manageable, since many overweight people have problems with food cravings.
If you’re fasting for improved health markers, such as blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, most of the benefits can be obtained while still consuming the correct foods during a fast. There are pros and cons to avoiding all foods during the fast, so you may want to experiment and see what you do best on.
If you’re fasting in order to fight chronic infections, or pathogens (which are a lot more common than most people believe) there’s virtually no reason to avoid all foods. The reason fasts are so effective at fighting pathogens is because these infectious bacteria often feed on the foods we eat, and restricting intake of those foods makes it difficult for them to live. However, if you don’t eat the kinds of foods that those bacteria are able to use, you can eat during your fast and still fight chronic infections just as effectively.
What Foods Can I Eat During A fast?
Because pathogens feed on glucose, and because glucose restriction is one of the main catalysts for the health benefits derived from fasting, you can still eat while fasting provide you avoid all foods that contain glucose, and all foods that can be converted to glucose by your body. This is essentially a ketogenic fast, in which all carbohydrates (convert to glucose) and all protein (can be converted to glucose in absence of carbohydrates) are avoided. This means you can still eat fats, or anything that converts to fat. Good food choices for fasts include coconut oil (a healthy fat) and leafy green vegetables (broken down by beneficial gut bacteria and absorbed by your body as fat).
In sum, there are pros and cons to eating while in a fasted state, but eating the right foods while fasted can make fasting easier and more enjoyable.
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