Nithin Kamath, CEO and Founder of Zerodha, is a firm believer in making health a priority. No wonder, his company often rolls out fitness challenges for its employees, to motivate them to remain healthy and agile. Recently, Kamath listed a few habits on Twitter that he has added to his “day-to-day routine” to become “healthier”.
Here are some things that he follows to stay fit and healthy.
*Dinner and killing all devices two hours before sleep.
*Yoga Nidra or some form of meditation for 10 minutes before sleep.
*12 hours of fasting at least (7 pm to 7 am).
*Setting daily activity goals on his smartwatch.
*Protein before a drink, so less likely to feel like binging after.
Recently, Elon Musk, too, advocated “fasting periodically” to remain healthier. As such, is it recommended to fast for 12 hours?
“Fasting for 10-16 hours can cause the body to convert its fat stores into energy, releasing ketones into the bloodstream. For beginners, this form of intermittent fasting plan may be a decent alternative. Since the fasting window is very limited, the majority of the fasting occurring during sleep,” Dr Manisha Arora, Sr Consultant Internal Medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, said.
Calling it “worth considering”, Dr Santosh Pandey, Acupuncture and Naturopathy Specialist, Founder and CEO of Dr Santosh Healthcare Centre, Mumbai, said that 12 hours of intermittent fasting is a periodic eating cycle that claims excellent long-term results. “Basically, fasting is depriving your body of food for a specific purpose. People fast for spiritual nourishment, political protest, or for health benefits such as losing weight. In intermittent fasting, a person follows a pattern of eating and fasting cycles that deprive the body of glucose, forcing it to utilise fat as an energy source.”
Benefits of fasting for 12 hours
It may have several health benefits, “including weight loss, improved mental clarity and focus, reduced inflammation, and decreased risk of chronic diseases,” Dr Rahul Singh, Chief Medical Specialist, Care4Parents.in. “When you fast, your body is able to burn through stored glycogen more quickly, leading to weight loss. In addition, fasting triggers the release of hormones that increase fat burning, such as norepinephrine and growth hormone.”
He added that when we fast, our mental clarity and focus may also improve as the “body is able to use ketones for energy more efficiently. Ketones are a byproduct of fat burning, and they have been shown to improve mental clarity and focus.”
Another benefit, according to Singh, is reduced inflammation as the body is able to use its energy to repair cells. “The risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, is reduced with regular fasting. This is likely due to the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting, as well as the increased fat-burning and weight loss,” he added.
How to practice?
Dr Pandey mentioned that the easiest way to do the 12-hour fast is to include one’s period of sleep in the fasting window. “For example, a person could choose to fast between 7 pm and 7 am. In that case, they would need to finish their dinner before 7 pm and wait until 7 am to eat breakfast — but, they would be asleep for much of the time in-between,” he explained.
Another crucial aspect is keeping a watch on what you eat, according to Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Dietitian, Apollo Hospitals, Banglore. “Make healthy choices and focus on hydration, protein, and fibre intake. While fasting, you can take water, tea and other calorie-free drinks. These fluids are essential because your body has no alternative source of fluids other than what you drink,” she said.
You can monitor your hydration level by inspecting your urine, Dr Rohatgi added. “Pale yellow or clear means you are okay, while dark-yellow urine is a sign of dehydration and can lead to headache, fatigue, or light-headedness. If you do not like plain water, you can add lemon, mint, or cucumber to the water,” she said.
Tips for beginners
According to experts, do not start fasting for 12 hours right away. “It takes time for your body to adjust to not eating, especially if you eat three meals and two snacks every day. Begin by skipping several meals, then gradually expand the period to the 12-hour ideal window as you become used to going without food for hours,” Dr Arora said.
“Start with fasting one day a week. This would help your body’s biological clock to come to terms with a new schedule. We should let the body adapt to this recent change rather than force it to give results that will not last long,” she added.
Dr Singh listed the following effective ways for beginners who are wishing to try 12 hours of fasting.
*Start with a shorter fast: A 12-hour fast may be too long for someone who has never fasted before. Try starting with a 6-hour fast and gradually increasing the duration.
*Drink plenty of water: Fasting can dehydrate your body, so it is important to drink plenty of water during and after your fast.
*Avoid strenuous activity: Fasting can make you feel weak and fatigued, so it is best to avoid any strenuous activity during your fast.
*Eat a healthy diet: Fasting can deplete your body of nutrients, so it is important to eat a healthy diet both during and after your fast.
Who should avoid fasting for 12 hours?
Despite its many benefits, 12-hour fasting is not recommended for everyone. “If a person is prone to disordered eating, these approaches may exacerbate their unhealthy relationship with food. People who should steer clear of trying intermittent fasting are children and teens under age 18, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with diabetes or blood sugar problems,” Dr Pandey said.
Dr Rohatgi concluded by saying that it is important to discuss with your doctor and seek guidance from a qualified dietitian before beginning 12-hour intermittent fasting.