There are many reasons why someone would want a useful fasting plan. One of the main reasons though, is actually for fitness purposes. Body builders, people attempting to lose weight and even average people working out to get fitter might at some point take up fasting. Other reasons why people might fast could be religious, but many religions already have their own guidelines on fasting and if this is what you are interested in then you should consult your rabbi, priest, minister, imam or monk.
The metabolism and fasting
The human metabolism works on timed principles. Before you start to eat, when you are hungry, certain acids are already produced in your mouth (saliva), digestive tract and stomach that prepare for digestion. After you have consumed your meal, the carbohydrates are broken down first as they provide the quickest means of energy available — glucose. This glucose is transported around the body in the bloodstream and provides energy for a variety of functions. It’s often said that if you want a quick boost of energy you should consume something high in sugar.
Fasting has been shown to put the body into a number of states. At first these might seem problematic, but short periods of fasting (intermittent fasting) can actually be beneficial for the body. One possible effect of fasting is that the metabolism is slowed down. The body slows down its digestion of food and after a week or even just a few days of introducing a fasting plan (Fastenplan in German) into your lifestyle, you will find that you need to eat less to keep going. This is a natural way of conditioning your body to eat less and does not resort to invasive surgery such as a stomach ring to achieve a similar effect. Another side effect of intermittent fasting is of course weight loss. The body will stop expecting food for its energy and if you are using more energy than you are getting from consumption, your body will start to burn up body fat as energy.
Body fat or muscle?
Some people have noticed that the body first uses muscle and then body fat. This is true, but there is a way to trick your body into using only body fat. If you are getting most of your nutrition from protein and fat, and only a little bit from carbohydrates, then you can condition your body to use an alternate energy source that it derives from fat and protein called ketones. This effectively replaces glucose in your bloodstream (apart from the brain, which uses the liver to produce its own glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis). The side effect of this is that you will not be using your muscle volume for energy, but actually any stored body fat will be used first. A strict fasting plan combined with this type of low carb diet is one often used by body builders and is often referred to as the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.