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  • Writer's pictureDr. Teresa Rispoli

Why Do A One-Day Fast Every Week

Why I Do a One Day Fast Every Week

One of my favorite practices that allows me to feel my best is doing a one day fast. A one day fast can help to improve autophagy, reduce inflammation, support the immune system, and boost energy, keep my weight stable and puts years on my life.

In this article, i'll explain about the benefits of intermittent fasting and why taking a break from eating is a good idea. I will share three one day fast strategies that you should try. You will learn how to do a one day fast, what to drink, when to exercise, how to break the fast, and how to support elimination.

I will explain the importance of a fasting, who would benefit from this and who shouldn’t do a one day fast.    Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting involves a period of voluntary fasting over a period of time. Some people choose to fast with the 16/8 method which involves fasting every day for 14–16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8–10 hours. of non-fasting over a certain timeframe. Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast.

For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 p.m. and don't eat until noon the next day, you’re technically fasting for 16 hours. I'll occasionally do this, to lose weight or to feel my best, or to give my digestive system a break, but note: this should only be done for for a limited duration as it can cause nutrient deficiencies. I also like to do a one day water fast, where I eat nothing solid and either drink vegetable juices or just water.

Intermittent fasting has many health benefits, including immune support, greater autophagy, and improved insulin sensitivity. Let’s take a look at all these benefits.

Intermittent Fasting Improves Immune Regulation

Your immune system is a critical part of your health. It helps to protect you from pathogens and supports your recovery if you get an infection or illness. The practice of intermittent fasting allows effective immune regulation in your body. Drinking lots of water and fluids helps to cleanse your body from toxins and reduce bad bacteria in your gut. It also gives your digestive system a break, which allows further repair and healing. Seventy percent of your immune system resides in the gut. So it makes sense the give your gut a break from digesting food so you get an immune system re-boot.

Intermittent fasting helps to control the level of inflammatory cytokines in your body. While cytokines are essential for healing when you are sick, too many of them can lead to a cytokine storm, inflammation, and more severe symptoms. By controlling cytokines, intermittent fasting can prevent a cytokine storm, reduce inflammation, and improve your immune system (1, 2, 3, 4).

Intermittent Fasting Stimulates Cellular Autophagy

Autophagy is part of your body’s innate immune system. It allows degradation and recycling of old, damaged, and unhealthy cells and the creation of new and healthier cells. 

Intermittent fasting can effectively stimulate the process of autophagy. As a result, it may restrict viral infections and the replication of intracellular parasites. It helps your body to get rid of intracellular pathogens, reduce toxicity, and lower inflammation (5).

Intermittent Fasting Improves Cellular Repair

Intermittent fasting helps to improve cellular rejuvenation. Researchers have found that your cells have a greater lifespan during food scarcity and famine, which can be achieved through intermittent fasting.

When you are fasting, your body slows down cellular division to conserve energy. Since cancer cells are driven by out of control cellular division, intermittent fasting can help to slow the growth of cancer cells. Intermittent fasting can also increase the production of human growth hormone (HGH) which helps fat burning, muscle tissue sparing, and cellular repair (6)

Intermittent Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Throughout history, the human body adapted to alternate between phases of food scarcity and abundance. It has also learned to become more efficient during times of food scarcity and use or store every bit of food efficiently.

During food abundance, your body desensitized your cells to insulin in order to avoid stress from heavy calorie intake. However, this can result in elevated insulin levels, higher inflammation, and increase oxidative stress. Food scarcity, or fasting, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect by reducing insulin secretion, improving cellular insulin sensitivity, decreasing inflammation. and reducing the overall demand for insulin (7, 8).

Intermittent Fasting Reduces Chronic Disease

People with autoimmune diseases and other chronic or inflammatory conditions may experience serious benefits from intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can reduce hyper-inflammatory processes that can increase symptoms or lead to disease. It can also improve immune function and increase energy.

Intermittent fasting may also reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage. By taking away sugar as fuel, it may help to starve cancer cells, reduce the risk of further destruction, and promote repair and recovery (9, 10, 11).

How to Do A One Day Fast

There are several ways to try a one day fast depending on your health, fasting experience, personal goals, and schedule.

22 to 24-Hour Fast

Taking a 22 to 24-hour fast is a true one day fast when you are fasting for 22 to 24 hours. You may try a lunch to lunch or a dinner to dinner approach. With the lunch to lunch one day fast, you can stop eating after lunch and not eat for 22 to 24 hours until lunch the next day. With a dinner to dinner approach to a one day fast you may stop eating after dinner and not eat until dinner the next day 22 to 24 hours later. Which approach to choose is your choice depending on your personal preference or schedule.   

36 to 42 Hour Fast

Trying a 36 to 42-hour fast is more than a one day fast and is a great idea if you have already done well on a 22 to 24-hour fast. This one day fast, or rather, one and a half day fast, involves three days total. On day one, you still eat dinner, but stop eating there after. You will be fasting all day on day two.

You will continue fasting on day three and conclude it with lunch on day three. This is a great opportunity to prepare your body for extended fasting.

5:2 Fasting 

The 5:2 fasting method involves two one day fasts each week. If you feel good after doing a one day fast, you may also enjoy doing two 24 to 40-hour fasts each week.

You may do two one day fasts, 24 hours each, or you may go straight to two days with a 40-hour fast once a week. I recommend that you experiment and see what works for your body.

What I Allow On The One Day Fast

If you are ready to embark on a one day fast, you may wonder what’s allowed. Taking a one day fast, obviously means no eating for 22 to 24 hours. However, non-caloric liquids are allowed. It is important that you start your day with 32 oz of clean water and continue drinking plenty of water throughout the day to allow detoxification and hydration.

Herbal tea and black coffee are also allowed. However, since coffee is a stimulant, it is good from time to time to fast from caffeine as well. I also recommend adding apple cider vinegar or lemon or lime juice to your water for extra cleansing and alkalizing benefits. If you are feeling low on energy, you can add a pinch of salt to your water or electrolytes.

Should You Exercise On The One Day Fast

I recommend moving your body during the one day fast. However, it is also important that you wait until the very end of the one day fast if you want to do high-intensity training or resistance training.

This can be a powerful way to build lean body tissue and burn fat because your human growth hormone levels will be at their highest. During your actual fast, stretching, light walks, or low-impact exercises, such as yoga, may be a good idea. 

Best Way to Break Your One Day Fast

Breaking your one day fast properly and safely is absolutely critical. Unlike during an extended fast, your digestive system doesn’t entirely shut down during a one day fast. However, it is a good idea not to overwhelm your body with heavy foods or too much food. 

I recommend that you initially break the one day fast with some fermented food, bone broth, or a protein shake. I understand that you may be hungry and ready for something more substantial than a shake. If you are going to eat a normal dinner, no problem, but it is still a good idea and beneficial to your body to include some fermented foods or have some water with apple cider vinegar about 15 mins before the meal to support your digestion and metabolism. You can also consider adding some digestive enzymes and HCL to support optimal digestion. 

Of course, it is also important that you eat anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense real food, such as greens, vegetable, low glycemic index fruits, healthy fats, and clean protein, when you beak your one day fast, as well as, on your non-fasting days, and stay away from refined sugar, refined oils, high carb meals, artificial ingredients, processed foods, and junk food.

Having Bowel Movements on a One Day Fast 

Having regular and healthy bowel movements is critical for your microbiome, detoxification, and overall health. While most people don’t have a problem with this, for others the act of chewing and digesting moves the bowels out.

If you have issues with constipation, I recommend that you drink more water or add one tablespoon of epsom salt in your water to help your body flush out.

Creating a One Day Fasting Ritual

Doing a one day fast each week is a great idea. I recommend that you create a one day fasting ritual to stay consistent. If you are already observing Sabbath or have a Monday to Friday work schedule, the weekend may be the best time. However, if that doesn’t work with your personal schedule, you may choose any other day. I recommend that you try to keep it consistent each week, it can also help you implement it when you are traveling. 

Along with consistency, you may also want to add some other practices during this one day fast. Slowing down, stretching, meditation, journaling, breathwork, time in nature, reducing stress, reducing time spent with technology, reading, gratitude, and prayer are all fantastic ideas to support body, mind, and soul rest and healing.

If your entire family or part of your family is fasting together, you may develop some rituals together. Even if they don’t take a one day fast, you may still engage in some mutual restful activities such as a family walk in nature or praying together.

Who Should Not Do a One Day Fast

As great as a one day fast is for the majority of the population, there are obviously certain cases, where I do not advocate doing this long of a fast.  These cases include:

- Individuals with Eating Disorders

- Pregnant Women and Newborns

- Young Children

- Individuals with Type I Diabetes

- Extreme Athletes Who are in Season

- Individuals Who Are Severely Underweight

- Individuals Who Are on Medications (Especially diabetes medication, anti-seizure meds and corticosteroids as these can impact blood sugar levels)

In some of these cases, fasting can be extremely helpful but it needs to be done with caution and a trained healthcare practitioner.  An example of this would be an overweight pregnant woman who is at risk for preeclampsia.

Intermittent fasting for 16-18 hours and perhaps even up to as much as 20-24 hours could help her to improve her blood sugar, blood pressure and make her internal environment safer for the baby.  But again, this needs to be done with a trained healthcare practitioner.

Final Thoughts

Honoring your body with a Sabbath from food is an incredible idea. A one day fast can help to improve autophagy, reduce inflammation, support the immune system, and lowers the risk of disease.

I recommend that you develop a one day fasting practice and ritual. Follow my tips on how to do a one day fast to experience optimal results in body, mind, and soul. 

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Dr. Teresa Rispoli,
PhD., ND, LAc.

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