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The History of Fasting

Fasting has been used therapeutically since at least the time of the pharaohs. "Fasting in Ancient Egypt was among the fundamental tenets of the religious beliefs," as discussed by Waseem al-Sisi, professor of Egyptology. He notes that "Ancient Egyptians used to fast for 30 days a year. The purpose of fasting for them was to uphold the moral law, through training the human spirit to exercise self control. This law relied on the concept of restraint. They believed that people had to restrain themselves from various activities, such as stealing and killing, as well as abstaining from food and drink for a certain period. Fasting would begin at dawn and last until sunset, and throughout the days of the fast, they would abstain from sex, even after sunset." Fasting has also been used in religious practices as well, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.

How does fasting work, physiologically speaking?

(Glucose and fat are the body’s main sources of energy. If glucose is not available, then the body will adjust by using fat, without any detrimental health effects).

4-8 Hours. Blood sugar and insulin levels drop. 12 Hours. Food eaten has most likely been burned, digestive system starts resting, body begins the healing process, human growth hormone (HGH) increases, and glucagon is released to balance blood sugar. 14 Hours. HGH keeps increasing and body begins to burn fat as energy. 16 Hours. Fat burning increases. 18 Hours. HGH increases even more. 18-20 Hours. Autophagy starts to kick in and ketones are released. 36 Hours. Autophagy increases by 300%. 48 Hours. Cellular regeneration starts, and inflammation starts going down. 72 Hours. Autophagy peaks.

Stage 1: Fed State

Fasting begins 8 hours after your last meal, which is characterized by your blood sugar levels. After about 8 hours without food, your blood glucose begins to dip. You may experience hunger, fatigue, food cravings, and trouble concentrating. However, if you can make it over this initial hurdle, these symptoms pass pretty quickly.

At 12 hours, you’ll also start switching into the early stages of ketosis — your body stops relying on carbohydrates for fuel and begins burning your body fat stores instead. In addition, your blood glucose levels will stabilize. Short-term fasting may also lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity, making this type of fasting useful for people with type 2 diabetes or other blood sugar control issues[*].

Stage 2: Ketosis

After 16 to 18 hours of fasting, you should be in full ketosis. Your liver begins converting your fat stores into ketone bodies — bundles of fuel that power your muscles, heart, and brain. During this time you max experience appetite suppression due to the build up of ketones in your system. You also start to burn fat at this time because you don’t have any food in your system.

In addition, this stage of fasting decreases ghrelin which is the hormone that makes you want to eat a lot of food, and also stabilizes your insulin levels, which prevents food cravings. Another benefit of fasting 16-18 hours is mental clarity or BNDF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is a protein that your brain makes to protect existing brain cells. BDNF also encourages the growth of new brain pathways. also enhances learning and boosts mood.

Stage 3: Autophagy and Anti-aging

After a full-day fast, your body goes into repair mode. It begins recycling old or damaged cells and reducing inflammation. If you’re looking for anti-aging or anti-inflammatory benefits, a 24-hour fast may help.

When your body is under mild stress (such as exercise or an extended fast), your cells respond by becoming more efficient. One thing they do is turn on autophagy. During autophagy, your cells check all their internal parts, find anything that’s old, damaged, or functioning poorly, and replace them with shiny new versions. The old parts are either recycled into new materials or destroyed.

Studies show that fasting-induced autophagy comes with a variety of benefits. Fasting triggered autophagy in the brain, clearing out misfolded proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Autophagy declines naturally as you age, which is connected to a variety of diseases. Fasting may be able to combat the age-related decline, keeping you biologically younger and protecting your cells from oxidative stress. Early research suggests that fasting-related autophagy may help kill cancer cells. Fasting reduces bodywide inflammation via autophagy.

Stage 4: Hormone Growth and Repair A study of healthy adults found that 48-hour fasting increased human growth hormone (HGH) secretion by up to 400%. HGH increases muscle mass and stimulates faster muscle repair. It may also speed up the healing process for wounds and more serious injuries. HGH is so effective that taking it externally is banned in professional sports and is considered doping. Stage 5: Stem Cells and Immune Function The final stage of fasting begins after a full three days without food. A 2014 study found that 72-hour fasting led to a near-complete rejuvenation of the immune system. Fasting triggered stem cell production, creating brand new immune cells to replace old ones. The same study also had cancer patients fast throughout chemotherapy treatment and when patients fasted during chemo, their immune system stayed strong throughout the process.

Types of Fasts

Dry fasts- no water or food for a set number of hours or days

Intermittent fasting- is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.

16/8- it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between. OMAD- One meal a day

Eating every other day

24, 36, 48, 72 hour fasts- you only consume calorie free liquids, (such as water or herbal tea) or fresh juice for an extended period of time.

5:2 Diet- eat normally for 5 days and then eat 500-600 calories on the 2 fasting days


  • Weight loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories.

  • Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes.

  • Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases.

  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease.

  • Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer.

  • Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Dehydration: Prolonged fasting can cause dehydration. This may result in electrolyte imbalances and low blood pressure, which can be life threatening.

  • Urinary and kidney problems: Dehydration can result in urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

  • Nutrient deficiencies: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are associated with continuous fasting.

  • Fainting: Dehydration and hypoglycemia increase your risk of fainting.

  • Disordered eating: Some individuals may be more likely to binge eat after fasting, which increases the risk for disordered eating.

  • Diabetes: People who take medications for blood pressure or heart disease also may be more prone to electrolyte abnormalities from fasting

Recipe for "Nature's Gatorade" (aids in electrolyte balance, appetite suppression and headaches)

  • 2 cups of filtered water

  • A sprinkle of sea salt

  • Half a lemon or lime