The impact of fasting on our bodies was previously misunderstood and somewhat unexplored however a recent wave of studies has revealed some unexpected findings.
Although it’s tricky to eliminate all the variables there are a large number of credible scientific studies that highlight the benefits of fasting.
In particular studies into diabetes have revealed some of the overwhelmingly positive effects of fasting. A key finding is fasting makes us less insulin resistant – what does that mean for you and I? Lower blood sugar: which in turn leads to less fat storage and easier weight loss.
Secondly, fasting may improve immunity, heart health and sports recovery. A handful of studies claim increased energy levels, better cognition and memory, and increased production of neurotrophic growth factor (a protein that promotes neuron growth and protection).
Whilst it is tempting to put your health aside during the month of Ramadan and adopt a ‘fast feast sleep’ approach, the results of these studies are exciting and show that with some planning its is possible to avoid the pitfalls of fasting (muscle loss, weight gain, reduced fitness) and instead make it work for you physically as well as spiritually.
This is great news –so with this in mind outlined below is some advice for healthy fasting:
Hydration is extremely important, try to drink 3 liters between dawn and sunrise, drink little and often.
A good rule of thumb is 2g per kg of body weight, as muscle preservation is a priority eat your proteins first then add carbs and fats.
Intake of carbohydrates at night (Sohour) actually protects your muscle and better enhances fat burning than eating the majority at breakfast. Eating the carbs at night helps you to feel fuller for the following days fast; it promotes better leptin levels and insulin sensitivity, and lower blood glucose. And thanks to an increase in serotonin you will sleep better too – which brings us to our next point.
A good night sleep facilitates weight loss – yes its true. A compelling study presented by the American Heart Association indicated that less sleep makes you hungrier. In the study one group were only allowed two-thirds their normal amount of sleep a night, this group ate a whopping 500 plus extra calories per day compared with those in the other study group who were able to get full nights’ sleep.