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Introduction to the different kinds of fasting protocols.
Fasting is not new. Fasting is just a prolonged period of time when you abstain from eating any food. We do it. Animals do it.
We do that everyday while we are sleeping.
The practice of fasting is different. You make a decision to fast for a specific amount of time. You could do it for religious purposes (i.e ramadan), spiritual progress (i.e buddhism, hinduism..) or just to reap the benefits.
Our digestive system like anything else, needs to rest every now and then.
We just don’t realize it because shoving ourselves with food all the time is de rigueur.
With so much abundance, why should one deprive the body of such luxury?
In the book Time restricted eating, it is said that during the day we should have an eating window of about 10-12 hours, the rest of the time should be spent without food.
This is similar to intermittent fasting(IF). With IF you can restrict your window of eating at your convenience and desire. This could be 8hours (one of the most popular ones), 6 or even 4 which is close to OMAD (one meal a day).
You can choose whichever one you think suits you best and play around with it.
I , myself practice a 6-8 hours eating window and fast the rest of the time. I do not eat more than twice a day.
If you want, there is another practice of a higher level which we call water fasting. That is when you abstain from food for a period of 24hours or longer. During this time you are only allow to drink water. No calories are getting into your system.
And if you want the ultimate fasting and also the hardest, you can try dry fasting. Dry fasting is to abstain from food and liquid for a given amount of time.
Water fasting is pretty easy compare to dry fasting. Seven days or more on water fasting is much easier than 3 days on dry fasting.
You can also do intermittent dry fasting which is what I practice when I abstain from food and water for about 16-18 hours.
How can you fast ?
If you are new to it, I suggest that you begin with incremental steps to make the process smoother.
If you are eating 3 meals a day. Reduce your daily eating to twice by getting rid of the lightest meal which will automatically put you in a 8-10 hours feeding window and give you 14-16hours of fasting. During this time you can choose to drink or abstain from it. It’s all up to you.
When your body gets accustomed to the fasting. You can reduce your window of feeding to fewer hours. Or you can go on a water fasting for 24 hours or more.
If you are already used to IF, 24-36 hours of water fasting won’t be too hard. You can do a few 24-36hours water fasting every now and then. Once you have done this a few times, you can easily do more than a 36 hours fast.
Or you can try dry fasting. As I mentioned above, dry fasting is complete abstinence from food and liquids for a given period of time.
After your body has been accustomed to IF and water fasting, you can try a 24hours dry fasting. If you feel at ease, you can stretch it to 36hours or even longer.
48-72 hours of dry fasting is harder than longer periods of water fasting but it should not be too hard because of the experience you already had with IF and water fasting.
You can choose to do it longer but it gets hard to let go of the thirst.
Benefits and caution
Fasting is known to be significantly beneficial. I won’t list the benefits because I think it is something you should experience for yourself without any or too much expectations.
When I first went to the meditation center, I was told not to read anything about meditation because it will only make me doubt my practice and give me false expectations.
Life is meant to be experienced in the present and not always in theoretical knowledge. Try and see for yourself, if it gets too hard don’t push yourself.
Fasting is healing and you might have some serious ailments that will require your body to work extra hard. The "cleansing" period can be hard.
It is a kind of ‘it gets better, then worse before it gets better again’ situation but it does not mean you need to push through. When it gets really hard, stop, slow down. Go back to some form of fasting that is easier on you and come back to the “harder” forms of practice when you feel better.
Fasting will give you some form of discomfort but you should not be in agony. Learn to listen to your body and give it the appropriate rest it deserves.
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