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FASTING: A Review of Current Popular Methods of Fasting

A “fast” or “fasting” is essentially defined as voluntarily abstaining from nutritional intake, solid and liquid, for a specific period of time. Often the indication for a fast is typically for therapeutic or religious purposes. The word “fast” - the act of fasting - has its origins in the late Old English term "fæsten". This term referenced voluntary abstinence from food, or certain kinds of food, and drink typically, but not exclusively, as pertaining to religious responsibilities. The Old Norse "fasta" also has a similar meaning and referenced certain seasons or seasonal events as times during which to fast.

In this blog series we will focus on fasting from the perspective of health, as opposed to religious, with an attempt to provide a broad introductory overview to learn more about the benefits and risks of fasting. Fasting has become a popular way to manage health and weight relatively recently in Western society. However, while personal fasting has the potential to impact health positively it is not without risks.

Below is a partial list of some of the more popular methods of fasting:

Time Restricted Feeding

Fasting Mimicking Diet

Intermittent Fasting

Prolonged Fasting

Water Only Fasting

Juice Fasting

Pathological Fasting (a.k.a. Eating Disorders)

This series will review the different types of "fasting" and the aspects that define and differentiate them. In addition, relevant medical literature pertaining to each type of fasting will be presented to help inform the reader about identified risks and benefits associated with these type of fasts.