Consistent fasting for several weeks can push many people to their limits. But that is not necessary at all. The scientific findings showed that one fasting day per week is enough to benefit from numerous health benefits.
Fasting one day a week lowers cholesterol levels
In a study by the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, the researchers examined how exactly one fasting day per week affects health. To do this, the test persons had to do without food completely on the day in question for more than six weeks. Only water was allowed – between 2 and 3.5 liters depending on body size and activity.
The first effects were already visible after ten to 12 hours. The test subjects’ metabolism changed because the body began to burn fat reserves after the energy supply was cut off. The researchers were also able to observe that cholesterol and sugar levels fell: “We believe that cholesterol is broken down when fasting,” explains study leader Benjamin Horne and continues: “We have known for a long time that fasting is healthy – but the biological mechanism behind it we have only now understood.”
Prevent diabetes and heart disease with one off day per week
Ultimately, the cholesterol levels in the study participants had already dropped by an average of 12 percent after six weeks. This impressive effect in turn reduces the risk of diabetes in the long term and can even reverse existing forms of so-called prediabetes, the precursor to diabetes. According to scientists, in addition to the risk of diabetes, the risk of certain heart diseases is also reduced. Previous studies have also shown that regular fasting hardens human nerve cells and makes them more resistant to neurological diseases.
Fasting 1 day a week changes habits
However, nutrition experts recommend fasting once a week not only because of the reduction in cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Due to the 24-hour break in food intake, people are more aware of their eating habits and, according to doctors, are better able to break with unhealthy living and eating habits. In this sense, the measure of inserting one day off per week is primarily the same as “cleansing one’s habits”.
Lose weight more easily with one fasting day per week
Fasting can reduce the risk of various diseases. But there is another effect if you regularly fast one day a week: If the body does not receive any food, it has to use the glucose and fat stores to generate energy. The result: the fat melts away, and the pounds tumble. It is not without reason that the relief day is referred to as a “one-day diet”.
By not eating, a large calorie deficit develops, which gets the metabolism into high gear. Because fasting is limited to one day a week, deficiency symptoms, muscle breakdown, and cardiovascular problems can be prevented at the same time.
Fasting supports cell renewal
The fact that the risk of illness decreases through regular fasting days is partly due to what is known as autophagy. This means the self-renewal and repair of the cells. If the body is in starvation mode, it not only mobilizes fat deposits for energy production but also the cells. The longer the body has to go without food, the more cell regeneration takes place, during which broken and old cell parts are removed.
The breakdown process not only provides the body with energy but also rids it of cell damage and plaque that can develop into various diseases as we age. At the same time, this enables the formation of new cell parts, which means that the cells stay healthy for longer.
Fasting: Is 1 day a week enough?
A regular fasting day can promote health, reduce the risk of illness and help you lose weight – but only if you pay attention to a healthy, nutritious diet on the remaining days. Fasting alone cannot work miracles. Anyone who eats chips, pizza, and sweets six days a week, i.e. burdens their body with pro-inflammatory foods, negates the positive effects of the weekly relief day. Anyone who fasts one day a week for health reasons should therefore adjust their diet.