Ramadan: What happens to your body when you fast for up to 20 hours for 30 days in a row?
Every year millions of Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days as part of the Ramadan festival.
In recent years, Ramadan has been celebrated to coincide with the summer months in the northern hemisphere, when the days are longer and the weather warmer. This means that some countries, like Norway, people will fast up to 20 hours each day this year.
Is this good for your health?
At Zobuz we tell you what happens to your body when you fast for 30 days.
Start: days 1 to 3
The hardest part is the first days. Technically, the body does not enter a fasted state until eight hours after your last meal. This occurs when the digestive system finishes absorbing nutrients from food.
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Soon after, the body uses glucose stored in the liver and muscles to provide energy. Once glucose reserves are depleted, the next source of energy for the body is fat. When the body begins to burn fat, this helps lose weight, lowers cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of diabetes. However, the drop in blood sugar level causes weakness and lethargy. A faster may experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even bad breath. It is the hungriest time.
Beware of dehydration: days 3 to 7
As your body begins to get used to fasting, the fats break down and turn into blood sugar. Reduced fluid intake during fasting should be made up at night; otherwise sweating can lead to dehydration. Meals should contain adequate levels of energy foods, such as carbohydrates and some fat. It is important to have a balanced diet of nutrients, including some proteins, salts and water.
The body gets used to it: days 8 to 15
In the third stage, the faster will see his mood improve as your body fully adjusts to the fast. So fasting can benefit the body by facilitating healing and also preventing and fighting infections.
Detoxification: days from 16 to 30
During the last half of Ramadan, the body will have fully adapted to the fasting process.
The colon, liver, kidney and skin will go through a period of detoxification at this point
With regard to health, at this stage, the function of the different organs should return to their maximum capacity. Memory and concentration could improve and could have more energy, says the doctor. The body does not turn to protein for energy. This is when it goes into ‘starvation’ mode and uses muscle to get it. This occurs with a long continuous fast of many days to weeks.
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Because the Ramadan fast only takes place from dawn to dusk, there are plenty of opportunities to recharge with food and fluids that provide energy. This preserves muscles but also helps with weight loss. So is fasting good for our health? Fasting is good for our health because it helps us focus on what and when we eat. However, while a one-month fasting period can be good, it is not recommended to do it continuously.
Continued fasting is not good for long-term weight loss because eventually the body will stop converting fat to energy, and instead will do it with the muscles. This is unhealthy and results in the body going into ‘ starvation mode.
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The doctor suggests that outside of Ramadan, episodic fasting, or the 5: 2 diets, that is, fasting for a couple of days a week between days when eating healthy, would be a healthier alternative to fasting.
The Ramadan fast, performed correctly, should allow you to replenish your energy supplies every day, which can mean you lose weight without your body burning valuable muscle tissue.