Impact of Fasting on the Body

Impact of Fasting on the Body

Fasting causes a biochemical trigger of the hormones glucagon and cortisol, which stimulates the release of fatty acids from fat tissue into the bloodstream. The fatty acids are taken up by the muscles and other tissues and broken down (oxidised) to produce energy in the cells. Eating triggers the hormone insulin into the blood to shuttle glucose into muscles and tissues to be used as energy. Excess glucose is converted into and stored as fat. 

During fasting, the body switches from utilising carbohydrates to fats as its primary fuel and ensures a constant source of energy to the body. This is all very convenient as long as the body can actually make the metabolic switch. In science, it is called metabolic flexibility, or fat-adapted. If you are fat-adapted or metabolically flexible, you can switch easily from oxidising carbohydrates after eating to oxidising fat in the fasted state, and vice versa. 

On the other hand, people who are said to be carb-adapted are metabolically inflexible, meaning that they are constantly burning carbohydrates and have trouble switching to fat oxidation. Fatty acids are still released from fat storage into the bloodstream but have diminished capacity to oxidise fatty acids in the muscle and other tissues. This is also closely linked with insulin resistance and weight gain. 

Listen to your body

Researchers have been struggling to find consensus on this topic as well as how many meals are best and whether one should fast for periods of the day. Many cultures have established patterns of fasting and may well have slowly adapted to make this practice work as part of a healthy diet to manage weight and cleanse the body. 

for non-Muslims who want to look at intermittent fasting or are trying to establish a fasting routine from the point of detoxification, according to Stephanie Karl, Clinical Nutritionist, is to establish what works for you by starting to either fast with just fluids and add a fruit juice; or skip breakfast for a period of time and see how it affects your weight, performance, mood, productivity, digestion and appetite.

“Transition slowly as you are trying to establish it long term and accept that the predictors of success with fasting are individual and only you can really know if works well for you,” added Karl. (source gulfnews)

Photo: Discover Magazine

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