Momentum in the Mountains 2024


Amazing Benefits of Prolonged Fasting

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 12/10/2023

If you haven’t thought about the great health benefits of prolonged fasting, then I will show you here to give you an idea of why you should try this diet plan. Keep reading to find out more.

RELATED: Intermittent Fasting Made Uncomplicated And Simple

In this article;

  1. Fasting Is Already an Old Method of Dieting

  2. What Is Prolonged Fasting?

  3. Prolonged Fasting vs Intermittent Fasting

  4. 11 Incredible Benefits of Prolonged Fasting

  5. How to Do Prolonged Fasting

  6. When You Shouldn't Be Fasting

What You Can Get from Prolonged Fasting


Fasting Is Already an Old Method of Dieting

The idea of the fasting diet has taken the health world by storm and is positively changing the lives of people who are taking advantage of it. But, it's not a new idea at all. It's a technique that has been utilized for centuries to boost health. If you're eating frequently—three meals a day with snacks—then you're missing out on the incredible benefits of prolonged fasting.

The great news is it's never too late to start getting these health benefits. That's why in this article, I will share with you everything you need to know about prolonged fasting, so you can start embracing a healthier life.


What Is Prolonged Fasting?

Beautiful woman at the gym stretching out | Amazing Health Benefits of Prolonged Fasting | benefits of prolonged fasting

When you think of prolonged fasting, your mind may likely jump to people on a hunger strike. Yes, fasting is a tool utilized in many ways, and it's a central part of many cultures and religions. But, you don't have to think of it that way. Fasting is simpler than it sounds. Really, it should be a staple of any healthy diet.

Prolonged fasting is when you go for a longer period without food. It's not just cutting calories or skipping one meal. People who practice prolonged fasting go 48-72 hours or longer without food. The length of time a person may fast can vary. Sometimes, it may be a week, and sometimes, it can even be 21 days or longer.

People may want to practice prolonged fasting for weight loss or for many other beneficial reasons which we will dive into in just a moment. First, it's important to understand a few things about prolonged fasting.

During prolonged fasting, your body goes into this sort of survival mode, but this is a good thing. It's like a physiological vacation for your organs, especially for the digestive system. I'm sure you enjoy a little vacation from work every now and then—so do your organs.

Your digestive system is especially thankful for this vacation. This is because every time you eat, you're kind of shutting down this system. People who eat frequently—let’s say you are doing three meals and two snacks—never get a chance to get these amazing benefits.


Prolonged Fasting vs Intermittent Fasting

If you're on the keto diet or if you keep up with my blog and videos, you've probably heard about intermittent fasting. You may even already be including intermittent fasting as part of your diet. That's great!

So, how is prolonged fasting different? If you're already taking advantage of intermittent fasting, should you be doing prolonged fasting, too? Yes, you should do both.

Intermittent fasting is when you let your body tell you when to eat. You eat when you're hungry, and you don't eat when you're not hungry. You avoid slight feelings of hunger, and you only eat when you're feeling strong hunger—like if you're feeling hunger pains or weakness.

Intermittent fasting has all kinds of benefits, but this is something you do daily to get into ketosis. Prolonged fasting is when you go for a longer period without any food. So, with intermittent fasting, you may be eating one or two meals a day. During a period of prolonged fasting, you aren't eating any meal.

RELATED: Can Intermittent Fasting Change Your Nutrient Requirements


11 Incredible Benefits of Prolonged Fasting

Back view of jumping girl on the pier | Amazing Health Benefits of Prolonged Fasting | prolonged fasting vs intermittent fasting

Now you know what prolonged fasting is, let's get into the benefits. This is not just a tool to use for weight loss, and it should not be utilized as a form of an extreme diet. This is something you use along with a healthy diet. You just put your diet on hold for a certain amount of time to gain these benefits, and then you go back to it.

The list of prolonged fasting benefits could go on and on. It could have a positive impact on your metabolism, blood pressure, and even your hormones. But, right now, we're going to focus on just these amazing benefits prolonged fasting offers for your mind and body.

1. Regrowth of Your Brain

That's right. With prolonged fasting, you may regrow your brain cells. Who wouldn't benefit from getting back a few lost brain cells? You won't regrow the entire brain, but certain parts of the brain could be affected, including the hippocampus and parts of the brain stem.

Let's talk about the hippocampus for a second. The hippocampus has a unique horseshoe-like shape. This part of the brain assists with the storage of long-term memories. It's also responsible for remembering the location of objects, places, or people. You wouldn't be able to remember much if it weren't for your hippocampus.

Now, the part of the hippocampus that becomes regenerated during prolonged fasting has to do with your memory. There is almost like a relay switch in your hippocampus that helps you get access to your file cabinet of memories. Regrowing that part of the brain can help support a healthy memory.

2. Increased Mitochondria

Mitochondria | Amazing Health Benefits of Prolonged Fasting | how to do prolonged fasting

What are mitochondria? These are the energy factors of the body. This might surprise you, but you're going to find your energy levels going through the roof during prolonged fasting.

Known as the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria are the parts of the cell that turn the proteins, fats, and sugars from what you eat into chemical energy. Mitochondria produce about 90% of the chemical energy your cells need to survive—no energy, no life. Even though you're not eating, you're still burning fats, and you're going to have incredible amounts of energy.

3. Autophagy

Autophagy is a condition in your body that sparks an incredible self-cleaning action. If you're interested in anti-aging, autophagy is the epitome of that. Supporting anti-aging helps slow down the aging process—keeping your body looking younger and leading to certain health benefits. To get into autophagy, you want to do prolonged fasting.

Essentially, autophagy is the process of recycling old, damaged proteins, microbes, and damaged mitochondria. You recycle these proteins into new proteins to build new tissue.

Microbes Definition: A microorganism that exists in the form of a single cell or a colony of cells.

4. Enhanced Stem Cell Production

Your stem cells are cells that don't have a purpose yet, but you still want them around. Stem cells are cells that haven't been differentiated yet. Basically, they just sit there and hang around until the body calls them into action because other cells are damaged or needs to be replaced.

As you age, you lose stem cells. They also are lost the more stress you're under, the more sugar you eat, or the more frequently you eat, which also cause your stem cell count to go down. But during prolonged fasting, you can enhance your stem cell reserve.

You're enhancing your stem cell pool and increasing your replacement. This is another reason why you start to feel younger and even more youthful during or after a fasting period. Prolonged fasting acts as an amazing repair action.

5. Decreased Inflammation

The drugs that promote anti-inflammatory effects are currently dominating the market. Another interesting point is most of the money on drugs has to do with anti-inflammatories. Inflammation can cause pain and all kinds of issues with your health from rheumatoid arthritis to diabetes and even auto-immune diseases. Prolonged fasting is an essential tool to help someone get to the root of their inflammation.

Honestly, if you have any of the "itisis" at all, like arthritis, for example, you need to try prolonged fasting. All autoimmune diseases also involve inflammation. That's why the remedy always involves taking steroids which are anti-inflammatories.

The problem with the steroid solution is it rebounds and destroys the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are vital to your overall mental and physical health. The way prolonged fasting affects the immune system makes it essential if you have an autoimmune disease. I believe it could significantly improve these autoimmune conditions. Try prolonged fasting for anti-inflammatory support. It could be a fantastic alternative.

6. Decreased Tumor Growth

When you're fasting, you deplete your sugar reserves, and your body starts to run on ketones and fatty acids. Very simply, ketones are a byproduct of fat being burned. It's an alternative fuel source for the body. Instead of running on glucose for fuel, you switch to running on ketones which, in turn, help you burn fat.

Ketones are the body's preferred fuel source, and it's much more efficient for heart and brain functioning. The absence of carbohydrates triggers ketones. You have to stop consuming carbohydrates and let your body switch over and adapt to using ketones. This is where the ketogenic diet comes in—it helps you make the switch.

Tumors can't survive with ketones—they are starved off. So, if you have a tumor whether that's a polyp, a cyst, boils, or fibroids, you need to try prolonged fasting. Now, I also want to point out that cancer lives on sugar, so another added benefit of fasting and depleting your sugar reserves is you could starve the cancer cells as well.

Fibroids Definition: Benign tumors made of connective tissues and muscle cells that grow in the uterus.

7. Increased Antioxidants

Middle-aged woman applying anti-aging cream | Amazing Health Benefits of Prolonged Fasting | what is prolonged fasting

Your body has a whole network of antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. During fasting, your antioxidant levels go way up. That's because, during this time, your body is repairing and defending itself against things like microbes.

Zinc is another thing that goes up during fasting. Zinc is involved in a lot of enzymes that are antioxidants. Uric acid is yet another thing that goes up during fasting. This might sound like a bad thing, but it's really good.

See, uric acid is one of the body's most powerful antioxidants, and your body uses it during fasting. These levels of uric acid spike and then fall back down again. It won't stay at a prolonged high point. It goes up and down more like waves, but your body needs this wave-like uric acid action to clean up some of the damage the body is dealing with.

8. Cell Resistance to Stress

Some people will tell you that prolonged fasting is bad because it's very stressful for the adrenals. But, it's helpful to the adrenals because it increases stress tolerance. You're body no longer has to run on the ups and downs of sugar. Instead, you're going into this repair mode where your body increases resistance to all sorts of stresses.

Essentially, your cells become tougher. This is a unique survival mechanism that has been genetically established through years of past adaptation.

9. Blood Sugar Control

Longer fasting can also benefit your blood sugar level through lowering Fat Storing Hormone resistance, which then reduces your risk of diabetes, too. When your body can decrease Fat Storing Hormone resistance, it may increase Fat Storing Hormone sensitivity so it can transport glucose effectively to your cells. The lowering effects of fasting for blood sugar can aid in stabilizing your blood sugar levels, preventing crashes and spikes. 

10. Increased Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Levels

HGH is a protein hormone important to muscle strength, weight loss, metabolism, and growth. A study involving 11 healthy adults showed the hormone increased significantly when they did a 24-hour fast. Another study revealed that the nine men who fasted for two days increased their HGH production rate five-fold.  

11. Weight Loss Support

For dieters who have various body goals, long fasting is a wonderful way of reducing excess weight effectively. Avoiding unhealthy foods that can break your diet can eventually lead to an increased weight loss. In fact, you can already reduce body weight when you fast for a whole day because your body increases the number of calories it burns. When there is no intake of carbs, your body uses its stored fat for energy. Fasting can even be more effective than calorie restriction alone in reducing weight, and it can also preserve muscle tissue. 


How to Do Prolonged Fasting

Alright, so how do you do prolonged fasting? Well, it's all about listening to your body. Let your body tell you how long you can go without food. This is especially important in the beginning when you're first trying prolonged fasting.

It's best to start slow with fasting and work your way up to go longer periods of time. You might start with 24 hours without any food. Then, the next month you might want to try 36 hours, and then 48, and go up from there. It just takes time for your body to adjust, but you start to notice that as you fast, your hunger goes away and you feel better mentally and physically.

Listen to your body's signals. Let it tell you when you need to eat. If you're just feeling mild to normal feelings of hunger, try to continue the fast. If you're feeling strong hunger pains, your blood sugar crashes, and you're weak, then eat. There is no problem with needing to go a shorter amount of time. If you feel these extreme signs of hunger, then eat! But, if you're feeling great on your fast, ride it out!

Here are a few tips for you as you get started with fasting:

1. Start Gradually

It's very important to ease into prolonged fasting. When you first stop your diet and start your fast, fast for however long you can in the beginning. You will likely find you feel great, and you might even make it to 72 hours before feeling like you really need to eat. Some side effects are normal like feeling cold while fasting this is due to fat adaptation. But, when you feel those strong signs of hunger, just eat. You may notice you can go longer the next time you give it a try, but don't force yourself.

2. Take Electrolytes and Sea Salt

This is a tip that should definitely not be overlooked. During a period of fasting, your body is living off of its reserves. There are people who try to do a long period of fasting, and they feel sick or even pass out because their bodies still need certain nutrients. You need to take a multivitamin-mineral and sea salt. You also need to have plenty of electrolytes. These help give your body the vital nutrients it needs while fasting.

3. Try Green Tea

Some people overcomplicate fasting. Yes, you can still have your supplements and even tea while on a fast. Green tea is a fantastic source of nutrients while fasting, but try to get decaffeinated green tea. 

This might help you switch it up from drinking water, and also help boost your antioxidant levels. Another tea that would be great for you to try while fasting is called "hoodia gardenia." This tea helps you suppress your appetite, which makes fasting even easier.

4. Take Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA)

There is a great product you can easily find online called EDTA—this is a chelator. I like this product because it pulls out heavy metals in the body. This is helpful if you have a lot of calcium deposits or stiffness, and even kidney stones. It helps pull that calcium from the body. If your iron is too high, you can notice a lot of problems with the body. EDTA helps pull that excess free iron from the body.

EDTA pulls these things out of the mitochondria, which helps increase your energy during fasting even more. This is something very beneficial to take. It's great for circulation, cardiovascular function, and mitochondria function.

You only need to take EDTA twice a week. It doesn't need to be taken regularly because it will pull too many minerals from the body if you take it too much. So, try taking it in the morning to pull out what the body doesn't need and then take your electrolytes in the afternoon to replace the minerals that the body does need. Only add EDTA twice a week.

5. Re-Feed Slowly

What about when you're finished with your fast? When you're done fasting, you might feel like you want to eat a large meal. That's not a good idea. 

Going from not eating for a long period to eating too much all at once is kind of a shock to the system. When you start eating after a fast, make it a small, light meal. Just go slowly—eat a little bit, wait, and eat a little bit more. Just like how you had to ease into fasting, you need to ease back into eating or re-feeding.

6. Keep Hydrated

Portrait of happy young woman drinking water against kitchen background | Amazing Health Benefits of Prolonged Fasting | long fasting

Hydration is always important, especially when you fast, because a little dehydration can already cause headaches, thirst, dry mouth, and fatigue. It's easy to get dehydrated when you fast because 20%-30% of the body components are fluid. You may want to drink water when you are thirsty. Just be careful not to overdrink because it may cause bloating.

7. Maintain Mild Exercises

Because you'll be eating less, which also means you'll be consuming fewer calories, it's best to keep your workouts light and easy. This is especially recommended to people who are still new to fasting, so you can evaluate how you can manage your physical activity with lower caloric intake. You can do low-intensity exercises, such as housework, gentle stretching, mild yoga, and walking. Just listen to your body when you feel like you need a break from your exercise.

8. Do Go for Long Walks

It can be tempting to eat on hours or days of fasting, especially when you start to feel hungry, you're bored, or you're new to the program. You need some diversion, like gardening or walking, so you can successfully prevent eating. The diversion can help yourself become busy and distract you from hunger. You can even try other activities to keep you busy on fasting periods, such as listening to a podcast, reading a book, and taking a long bath.


When You Shouldn't Be Fasting

Intermittent fasting and prolonged fasting are generally fantastic for the body, and they both spark incredible health benefits. Prolonged fasting side effects are also rare, but there are a few cases where you should not do prolonged fasting.

First off, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not try fasting. This includes both intermittent fasting and prolonged fasting. Eating a healthy keto diet is fine, but do not fast. You generally need more calories when you are pregnant or nursing, not less.

Another situation where I do not recommend prolonged fasting is if you're very thin already and you should not lose any more bodyweight. In this situation, you may even be on a diet that ups your calorie intake, especially if you want to gain weight. Prolonged fasting boosts your metabolism, and you lose weight. While weight loss might be a benefit for some people, if you need to gain weight, it would be an obvious issue. You can still do intermittent fasting but trying prolonged fasting could be a problem for you. 

If you're physically able to do prolonged fasting and you aren't doing it now, you're missing out on amazing health benefits. It even goes beyond what I have outlined here. The effects it has on your metabolism, hormones, weight loss, and blood pressure have changed people's lives. It may seem challenging at first, or you may assume you can't do it before you even try, but you can. This is completely possible for you to do if you are in the right physical condition.

Fasting is simple, and it doesn't have to be that hard if you follow my easy tips. Trust me. The benefits of fasting are worth it. Just give it a chance—you'll see.

What other benefits of longer fasting can you share with us? Leave them in the comments section below!

Up Next:

Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan