The human body needs both calories and nutrients in order to survive and thrive. Calories and nutrients provide your body with the energy it needs to go about your day and keep your organs functioning at an optimal level.
Fasting occurs when you go a set period of time without eating. Even though you’re not taking in any calories or nutrients, a fast that lasts for 24 hours isn’t at all dangerous for a healthy person. In fact, a 24 hour fast can cause immense health benefits.
But, before we get into the benefits, let’s first go over what a fast really consists of, as there are many misconceptions about what a fast actually is. Here’s a look at what to expect when you’re attempting a 24 hour fast.
- A period without food. Fasting doesn’t just mean skipping major meals. For the average fast, you won’t be eating any type of food, no matter how healthy it is. Your goal is to avoid all types of solid food.
- Hydration is key. Your body can survive a long period of time without food, but only a few days without water. While you’re fasting, you can drink water or coffee, as long as your beverages don’t include any added calories.
- Food moderation. Once your fast is officially over, you might want to eat just about any food in sight. However, eating extra food to “make up” for the calories you didn’t take in while you were fasting is counterproductive.
If you’ve never fasted before, a 24 hour fast will seem like a long period to go without eating and might be difficult. So, it might be a good idea to slowly work your way up to a 24 hour fast (i.e. start with 8 hours, increase to 12, then to 16, etc.).
If you’re a health-conscious individual, you might be a little concerned about trying a fast because of the lack of nutrients and calories. Here’s an overview of everything you absolutely need to know about fasting before you try your first 24 hour fast.
- You might feel dizzy or tired when you fast, but these effects will subside once you fuel your body with nutrients and calories when you break the fast.
- If the effects of a fast are becoming too overwhelming or even dangerous (i.e. Extremely low blood sugar), it’s okay to end a fast early to limit these effects.
- Your metabolism will speed up a little with a fast, but not enough to cause intense muscle wasting or weight loss.
- The fading of your appetite after a prolonged period of not eating is normal, but it will begin to return to normal once you start eating again.
- It’s safe to fast for 24 hours about once a week, but doing prolonged fasts for too many times a week can actually hurt your health.
Now that you know what to expect from a 24 hour fast, it’s time to take better control of your health and attempt to improve the quality of your life. Just as a reminder, you should check with a doctor before attempting a 24 hour fast if you have pre-existing health conditions.
Benefits of a 24 Hour Fast
As long as you’re healthy and work your way up to a 24 hour fast, you should see nothing but positive effects from your fasting efforts. But, to see the most benefits with a 24 hour fast, it’s going to take several fasts to see noticeable health changes.
So, if you’re still on the edge about trying a 24 hour fast, here’s what you might experience. Remember, you won’t be eating, but you will need to be staying hydrated during your fast. Here are the potential benefits of a 24 hour fast:
Since you’re not taking in any calories during the day, your body has to depend on your fat and glucose stores to fuel your body instead. There’s also a pretty good chance that your metabolism will increase, meaning you’re burning even more calories every single minute.
That means you’ll be burning an impressive number of calories during the day and actually targeting fat loss instead of muscle loss. This effect will be present in a 24 hour fast, but this isn’t a great weight loss strategy in the long-term.
When you fast for too long (i.e. Starve yourself), your metabolism will actually begin to slow down, meaning your weight loss won’t be as efficient and you won’t be taking in the nutrients your body needs. Just make sure that you’re limiting your 24 hour fasts to about once a week.
When you’re fasting, you’re no longer getting all of the nutrients your body cells need to thrive. At the same time, you’re also depriving the harmful cells in your body the nutrients they need too, meaning they’re less likely to be functioning at full capacity.
That means your body’s natural inflammatory response is suddenly not as effective as it once was. Fasting for 24 hours can reduce inflammation within your body and help you to cope with diseases like diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
There’s also a chance that 24 hour fasts can reduce your risk of developing cancer. There’s plenty of evidence that proves that an extended fasting period can starve the cancer cells and make them more receptive to treatments like chemotherapy.
Improve Blood Sugar Levels
When your body’s glucose stores are overloaded, this causes an increase in your blood glucose levels. The more carbohydrates and sugars you consume during the day, the higher your blood sugar levels will be.
With extended periods of high blood sugar, you’re more likely to experience hyperglycemia. This condition can leave you feeling tired, thirsty, and uncomfortable, but can also severely impact your nerves.
When you’re fasting for 24 hours, you’re depriving your body of any extra carbohydrates that would normally raise your blood sugar. That’s exactly why fasting has recently been linked to improved health in those with diabetes.
Though weight loss and lower blood sugar are definitely positive effects of a 24 hour fast, the impact on your heart health is much more significant. In particular, fasting for long periods of time can greatly reduce your cholesterol levels.
When you fast for periods of about 24 hours, you’re not really impacting your HDL, which is your good cholesterol level, but you will begin decreasing your triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol). However, you won’t notice these effects after just one fast.
By lowering your bad cholesterol and triglycerides, you can successfully reduce your chances of getting heart disease or experiencing a heart attack. There’s also a lower risk for stroke and atherosclerosis, which is a condition where your arteries get noticeably thicker.
The weight loss you experience from periods of fasting won’t just be because of the lower calorie count. You might also begin to lose some additional weight because a 24 hour fast can help you to control your appetite levels.
There are two major hunger-related hormones in the body: Ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin boosts your appetite while leptin reduces it, but the actual control of these hormones depends on several factors.
Even though ghrelin naturally raises when you’re hungry, your ghrelin levels will begin to decrease as you progress through your 24 hour fast. As you persist with your 24 hour fasts, your appetite will remain stable and increase your chances of losing weight.
It appears that fasting for 24 hours can cause a boost in HGH levels within your body. In fact, the longer you fast, the greater your HGH levels within your body will be, though a 24 hour fast should be just fine.
When your HGH levels are higher, that means your body has even more opportunity to repair and rebuild its cells. That means your wounds or injuries might heal quicker and that your muscles will repair more rapidly after a workout.
Though these benefits are quite noticeable, high HGH levels in still-developing individuals can be potentially harmful. With that said, make sure you’re completely done growing before you attempt a 24 hour fast.
Since you’re not taking in any solid foods, your body can focus on getting rid of the harmful toxins when you’re in the midst of a 24 hour fast. As long as you’re staying hydrated with water or coffee, your fast will send your kidneys into overdrive and clear out your system.
Even though you might feel a little tired, weak, or dizzy with a 24 hour fast, your organs will return to a state of optimal functioning with fewer toxins running through your bloodstream. That also means your immune system will be recovered with this type of fast.
When your immune system is functioning at an all-time high, common sicknesses like the cold, flu, or basic infections will be less likely to penetrate your system. In the long term, this allows you to better reach your health and fitness goals.
24 Hour fasts have the following benefits:
- Weight Loss
- Less Inflammation
- Improved Blood Sugar Levels
- Controlled Appetite
- More HGH