What is fasting? Isn’t my body starving?

Social Diary started this fortnightly feature where we will be delivering answers on the basic health related questions. This week, let’s understand the prime concept of diet , health and simple ways of maintaining these in view of a health expert Zainab Naqvi .
Fasting is completely different from starvation. Starvation is the involuntary abstention from eating. They don’t know when the next meal is going to come which usually happens during famine and war. Fasting, on the other hand is the voluntary abstention from eating for physical, spiritual and mental health reasons. Food is available but you chose not to eat it. It is a difference between recreational running and running because a lion is chasing you. Fasting has no standard duration, it is merely the absence of eating, anytime you are not eating , you are technically fasting like we all usually fast after dinner and break the fast next day calling it a “Break-fast”.
There is no correlation between constant eating and good health. Nobody makes money when you fast. Neither a food industry nor pharmaceutical industry.
What happens when we eat and what happens when we fast?
Eat Food Increase insulin Store sugar in liver
Produce fat in liver – No food “Fasting”Decrease Insulin Burn Stored Sugar
Burn Body Fat
Body really only exists in two states – the fed (high insulin)state and the fasted ( Low-insulin) state . Either we are storing food energy or we are burning food energy . If eating and fasting are balanced, then there is no weight gain. Fat is simply the body’s stored energy.
Fasting for beginners:
Before experimenting with fast, I highly recommend my clients to go on low carb diet for a while . I think it is easier and more pleasant to fast when your body isn’t still screaming out for carbohydrates.
The only thing I can tell you is to try it yourself and watch what happens. It is incredibly freeing to not think about food 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. It is mainly a mind game. You feel what you believe. Fasting shouldn’t be physically painful . End it if you don’t feel good, have something to eat and try again after some days.
What if I feel hungry?
Hunger , obviously is not simply a reflection of the amount of food filling our stomach. Instead, hunger is partly a learned phenomenon. If we constantly eat every morning at 7 am, then we develop a conditioned response to that time and become hungry at the same time. We become hungry merely because of time , not any true intrinsic hunger. This is learned through decades of association. Food companies of course spend billions of dollars trying to condition us to make these associations e.g. food at movies, food while watching tv etc.The way you experience yourself physically when you are fasting is practically identical to the way you experience yourself physically when you are eating. The reason this is so important is that when you think you experience hunger while eating normally, that same experience of hunger is present when you are fasting . In other words, the hunger sensations in fasting are the same as while eating normally. You then have to ask yourself how you can be hungry when you have eaten three hours ago when it is the same hunger sensation when you have not eaten anything at all for a week. What we think is hunger is not really hunger. That impulse to eat cannot be taken seriously. True hunger is much different than what we have come to expect. Sad fact is most people don’t listen to their bodies . They eat more out of habit, comfort and boredom than anything else.
Your body is used to getting food at certain times of the day and will send cues to your body to eat at that particular time. I have also experienced this when I went on my 72 hours fast but it is actually just your body’s internal clock trying to keep you on normal and familiar routine of eating.
What if I lose my muscle mass?
The body does not burn muscle in an effort to feed itself until all the fat stores are used up. This will only happen when body fat is less then a4 %.
Who should not fast?
You should not fast if you are malnourished and have deficiencies in body. Make sure you get your complete blood test checked before you want to try long fasting hours.
Wont I feel tired and drained with long fasting hours?
Most people think that a period of fasting will leave them drained of energy whereas the vast majority of people experience the exact opposite , they feel energized and revitalized during fasting , partly this is because that body is still fueled, however it heavily depends on what you have been eating when you are not fasting. Are you getting and storing energy from a nutritional meals or junk? Fasting can be deteriorating to health if you are not following a healthy routine in your life. Think about the last time when you had a huge meal. Did you feel more energetic or lethargic after eating that? Most of us feel sleepy because blood is rushed to your digestive system to cope with the huge influx of food, leaving less blood to go to the brain.



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