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The Surprising Benefits of a 24-Hour Fast Once a Week
Intermittent Fasting

The Surprising Benefits of a 24-Hour Fast Once a Week

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 4, 2023
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7 min

A 24-hour fast once a week has been linked to various health benefits, including weight loss, better blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, and improved heart health. This article discusses the complete list of the benefits of this type of fasting.

benefits of 24-hour fast once a week
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Fasting, despite its current popularity, is a centuries-old practice that is vital to many cultures and religions.

Fasting is defined as abstaining from all or some foods or drinks for a set amount of time. There are various types of fasting, and 24-hour fasting is one of them.

Also known as periodic fasting, a 24-hour fast is a method of fasting in which you don’t eat for at least 24 hours. If done correctly, it can benefit your body and general health in many ways.

What are the benefits of this type of fast, and what happens after? We discuss this and more in this article. 

8 Benefits of a 24-Hour Fast Once a Week

Besides weight loss, a 24-hour fast has many health benefits that can benefit your overall health. Let’s take a look at the top 8 ways this type of fast may help you.

#1 Weight loss

Fasting’s ability to promote weight loss contributes to its vast popularity. You must consume fewer calories daily than your body burns to lose weight and reduce body fat. By doing this, you will create a caloric deficit, which will lead to weight loss. 

Fasting promotes fat loss by creating a calorie deficit. You won’t eat anything if you fast for the entire day. As your body continues to burn calories even when you are not eating because it needs energy, you will lose weight over time.

A study on whole-day fasting lasting 12 to 24 weeks showed that a 24-hour fast could reduce body fat and weight by 3–9%. Additionally, it was found that a whole-day fast lowers triglycerides and total cholesterol.

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#2 Improved cardiovascular health

Fasting for 24 hours can reduce risk factors associated with heart health. People who fast practice calorie control. This habit can help them manage their weight and make healthier food choices even when they’re not fasting. 

Changes in your eating habits can also reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, putting less stress on your blood vessels and the heart.

A study found that fasting could lower total cholesterol levels and numerous risk factors for heart disease in adults who are overweight when compared to a control group. Another study found that fasting significantly reduced blood pressure, triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Fasting is also linked to a lower risk of coronary artery disease and a much lower risk of diabetes, which are key risk factors for heart disease.

#3 Autophagy

Autophagy is the process by which the body gets rid of damaged cells and regenerates new, healthier cells. When we overeat, our systems are frequently preoccupied with digestion instead of trying to repair the damaged cells.

When you fast, your body looks for other energy sources since no food is present. Damaged or non-functioning cells become convenient energy sources, and your body will start to consume and recycle them for energy.

Research suggests that a prolonged fasting period such as 24-hour fasting induces autophagy, which is thought to prevent aging, reduce inflammation, and enhance cellular health.

#4 Reduced inflammation

While acute inflammation is essential for the body to fight off infections, chronic inflammation can seriously harm your health. According to research, inflammation may cause chronic conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The major causes of inflammation are free radicals found in the diet. These free radicals then cause oxidative stress. Once you start fasting, the free radicals are greatly reduced because there is a prolonged period during which you consume no food.

Studies suggest that fasting, including 24-hour fasts, can reduce chronic inflammation, reducing your risks of developing chronic conditions. 

#5 Helps to regulate hormones

Fasting for prolonged periods, such as the 24-hour fast, can help control ghrelin and leptin, the hormones linked to hunger and feelings of fullness, and help them stay at healthy levels.

Ghrelin controls your hunger; low amounts of this hormone make you feel more hungry, while high levels decrease this feeling. Leptin, on the other hand, signals you when you’re full, so if you have high amounts of leptin, you’ll need to eat more to feel satisfied. 

#6 Boosts immunity

Research has proven that extended periods of fasting, including the 24-hour fast, can cause your immune system’s cells to regenerate.

When you start to fast, your body destroys several immune-fighting white blood cells. It naturally eliminates old or damaged immune cells to conserve energy. It then starts regenerating new cells, increasing the quantity of immune-boosting cells.

Another study has shown that the body’s tissue immunity correlates with consuming fewer calories over shorter intervals.

This means that fasting can trigger an immune response that protects against common infections.

#7 Helps to manage insulin levels

Consuming more food, particularly sweets, dairy, and carbohydrates, raises glucose levels, which leads to insulin imbalance. This causes type 2 diabetes since your kidneys are overloaded.

When you fast, your body receives no food, and no insulin is created. Fasting can thus assist your body in rebalancing its insulin levels.

Fasting for several hours helps reduce insulin resistance, which benefits your blood sugar levels. If you have high insulin resistance, your blood sugar levels will remain high, increasing your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

#8 Boosts brain health

Fasting has been shown to improve brain function and protect against neurodegenerative disorders. While these studies have been done on mice, they have proven that fasting may help improve cognitive function, and researchers believe this can also happen to humans. 

Fasting also increases the level of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein. BDNF is a protein that promotes brain health by signaling the creation of neurons. This potent protein has also been shown to alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

What Happens When You Fast for 24 Hours?

When you start fasting for 24 hours, at around 8 hours of fasting, your body will use its glucose reserves, also known as glycogen, for energy. At this time, the body enters a state known as gluconeogenesis, which marks the body’s transition into fasting mode.

Gluconeogenesis has been shown to boost the number of calories the body burns. When no carbs are available, the body produces glucose primarily from fat stores.

Once your glucose levels are depleted, fasting mode turns into starvation mode.

At this stage, your metabolism slows down, and your body begins to burn muscular tissue for energy.

Is a 24-Hour Fast Healthy?

A 24-hour fast has been linked to various health benefits, including fat loss, better blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, and improved heart health. It may also protect against diseases like cancer and neurological disorders.

Fasting is one healthy way to improve your gut health. There is evidence that a drastic shift in diet, such as fasting, can affect the gut’s microbial makeup and change what gut bacteria do.

Another research reveals that alternate-day fasting (24 hours of eating followed by 24 hours of fasting) increased bacterial clearance, which could help the gut microbiome’s health.

How Often Should You Do a 24-Hour Fast?

A 24-hour fast entails fasting for a whole 24 hours. It’s usually done once or twice a week. You can fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch. Food is necessary for survival. You can’t fast for 24 hours every day.

A 24-hour fast with no calorie intake done a few times per month for decades is likely the best type of fasting to prevent chronic diseases since it is doable consistently across a lifetime – the period in which chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary arteries develop.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Fasting for 24 Hours?

When fasting for 24 hours, the number of calories you burn is determined by your body’s basal metabolic rate, total body expenditure, and food. Your basal metabolic rate can influence calories burned by up to 75%, total body expenditure by 15% to 30%, and the thermic effect of food by roughly 10%.

Fat burns fewer calories than muscle. As a result, the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn. This is true even while you’re resting, and it’s all because of having a higher metabolic rate.

A Word From a Dietitian

A 24-hour fast won’t affect most healthy people as long as they don’t become dehydrated.

Your body requires minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients from your diet to keep healthy. If you don’t get enough, you may have dizziness, fatigue, dehydration, constipation, and an inability to tolerate cold temperatures.

You should not practice fasting if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. When a mother is expectant or nursing, IF practice may harm her child’s growth. Calorie intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding must be adequate to ensure the baby’s overall well-being and milk supply. Fasting intervals will limit your calorie intake.

Other people who should not fast include anyone with a chronic disease, weak immunity, eating disorder, issues sleeping, the elderly, teenagers, and children.

Remember that intermittent fasting may have different side effects for some people. Consult your doctor if you have unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea, or other symptoms after beginning intermittent fasting.

Conclusion

Periodic fasting provides many benefits. The main reason people choose this type of fast is to lose weight. However, various other benefits of fasting are not related to fat loss. Fasting for the whole day once a week is a safe diet for most people.

A whole day of fasting once a week may also benefit individuals as a lifestyle instead of just a short-term diet. If you have any pre-existing health condition or experience any negative side effects from trying this diet, consult your doctor before starting or continuing fasting.

DoFasting
The fastest track to healthy weight loss
  • Useful progress tracker and calendar
  • Calorie tracker to track daily caloric intake
  • Over 5,000 nutritious recipes
Our rating:
4.7
Visit DoFasting
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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