Is it okay to cleanse your body whilst fasting from time to time?

I’ve heard this plenty of times. “I am going to fast to cleanse my body”.

What I find so interesting about this is that “detoxing” by definition assumes that there is some toxic element to your food. Otherwise, why would you need to cleanse yourself of it?

For thousands of years the medicinal qualities of food have been know. Hippocrates famously said “let food by thy medicine”

I would therefore question as to why do you need to cleanse? Foods that are highly processed, high in calories, saturated and trans fats have shown to be very harmful for our health, promoting everything from joint disease, inflammation (ref) to diabetes and heart disease (ref). Therefore if consuming foods which cause us harm, refraining from them may help us.

It has also been documented that fasting may increase our sensitivity to adrenaline (ref) because the body needs to release more stored sugar (glycogen) into the blood stream. This can cause a greater pump during our training sessions. Dr Matthew Walker also observed a calorie deficit causing earlier waking times in hunter gatherers (ref) which may be due to an inbred desire to “search for food” when fasting.

I have also personally found that if I can refrain from eating anything until about 12pm, and then break my fast with a fruit smoothie, my energy levels are a lot higher. My productivity also increases which is great. So we can conclude that due to innate physiological drivers, fasting can improve our energy levels and productivity. But what about health?

There are some studies which I have read and will have to source which have concluded that cancer growth can be slowed by fasting. Diabetes and heart disease may also reduce in severity or risk due to the calorie deficit which many people experience during intermittent fasting.

Examples of Fasting

5:2 Diet

Eat for 5 days normally (or at your basal metabolic rate) calculate here and then eat for 2 days at an extreme calorie deficit. This may be 500kcal a day or less

Intermittent Fasting

You have a time limit to eat. For example, you can only eat between 1pm and 8pm. This normally results in a calorie deficit. Calorie intake must be observed as many people when skipping breakfast, over eat throughout the day. Download MyFitnessPal to track your calories

Want some help?

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