5 Tips for Fasting the Healthy Way
If fasting is part of your wellness or religious routine, do it in a way that maintains your health and energy level. Follow these five tips.
Just the thought of fasting may make you hungry. But going without food for a time — whether for health or religious reasons — can be good for you, says Nizar Zein, MD, Director of the Mikati Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation.
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“There’s actually a range of ways to fast,” he says. “Sometimes fasting means avoiding certain types of food, like carbohydrates or fats. Other times it just means reducing calories overall. Then there’s the type of fasting when you don’t eat (or sometimes drink) at all for a day or more.”
Many religions promote some form of fasting as a spiritual discipline. And medical literature indicates fasting, in general, can:
“There also are theories that periodic fasting may help you live longer, boost brain function and prevent neurodegenerative disease,” says Dr. Zein.
If you’re planning a fast in which you don’t eat at all, Dr. Zein recommends these five tips for maintaining your health and energy level.
Even when following these tips, too much fasting can be dangerous. Don’t abstain from all food and drink for longer than a few hours, says Dr. Zein. Fasting for too long may cause dehydration, mental stress and disrupted sleep.
“Overall, fasting can be a healthy practice. I recommend it,” says Dr. Zein. “However, it can cause problems for people with certain health conditions.”
Those who should not fast from all food and drink include people who:
Otherwise, fasting may provide psychological and physical benefits when done a healthy way. Talk with your doctor before making it part of your routine.