A Nutritionist’s Guide To Fasting & How To Fast Safely

A Nutritionist’s Guide To Fasting & How To Fast Safely

Some scientists say that fasting can lead to numerous health benefits, including improved metabolic health, increased longevity, better brain function, and enhanced physical performance.

Although there has been limited research on women when it comes to fasting, with most being conducted on males, some studies do suggest that fasting can help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Embarking on a fasting journey without proper guidance can be daunting and potentially harmful. It can often be seen as a quick fix for weight loss, which can put your body and health at a huge risk, however, there are many women who see fasting as part of their lifestyle, due to busy schedules, health conditions or for religious reasons.

At Free Soul we understand that your individual responses to nutrition and lifestyle are unique, so we chatted to Registered Nutritional Therapist, Marilia Chamon, for a helpful guide to fasting, to ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge to fast safely and effectively.

What is Fasting?

Fasting is the voluntary abstention from eating and sometimes drinking (except for water) for a specific period. It's a practice with ancient roots, used across various cultures and traditions for religious, spiritual, and health reasons.

Health Benefits of Fasting

Scientific research has linked fasting to numerous health benefits, including improved metabolic health, increased longevity, better brain function, and enhanced physical performance. Studies suggest that fasting can help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Metabolic Health: Fasting improves insulin sensitivity, allowing your body to manage blood glucose more effectively, which is crucial for preventing diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Weight Management: Fasting can lead to a natural reduction in calorie intake, promoting weight loss and fat reduction while preserving muscle mass.

Cellular Repair and Longevity: During fasting, cells initiate autophagy, a process of self-cleaning where damaged cells are broken down and recycled, potentially slowing the ageing process and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Brain Health: Fasting increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports brain health and cognitive function.

What Happens in the Body During Fasting?

When you fast, your body undergoes several physiological changes:

Glycogen Depletion: The body first uses stored glucose (glycogen) for energy.

Fat Burning: After glycogen stores are depleted, the body shifts to burning stored fat for energy, a state known as ketosis.

Hormonal Adjustments: Hormones like insulin decrease, while others like growth hormone may increase, facilitating fat loss and muscle preservation.

Types of Fasting

  • Intermittent Fasting: Involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting, common patterns include 16/8 (fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window) and 5:2 (eating normally for 5 days and restricting calories for 2 non-consecutive days).

  • Time-Restricted Eating: A form of IF where daily food intake is confined to a specific timeframe, usually 6–12 hours.


  • Prolonged Fasting: Lasting from 24 hours to several days, this type of fasting should be done under medical supervision.

Dos and Don’ts of Fasting


  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water and consider unsweetened herbal teas. Hydration is key, especially during longer fasting periods.
  • Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods: Prior to fasting, consume meals rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats to sustain your body. Using our Vegan Protein Blend to add to your favourite recipes is a great way to increase your protein intake.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you feel overly fatigued, dizzy, or unwell, consider ending the fast early and consult a healthcare professional.
  • Plan Your Fasting Schedule: Choose a fasting method that aligns with your lifestyle and health goals, and plan your schedule accordingly.
  • Gradually Increase Fasting Duration: If you’re new to fasting, start with shorter durations and gradually increase as your body adapts.


  • Engage in Intensive Exercise: During longer fasts, avoid strenuous activities; opt for gentle exercises like walking or yoga.
  • Break Your Fast with a Large Meal: Start with a small, light meal to gently reintroduce food to your system.
  • Ignore Health Conditions: Be aware of any pre-existing conditions that may be exacerbated by fasting and consult a healthcare provider.
  • Neglect Mental Preparation: Fasting can be as much a mental challenge as a physical one; be mentally prepared for hunger pangs and mood changes.
  • Use Fasting as a Quick Fix: View fasting as part of a broader lifestyle change, not a one-time solution for weight loss or health improvement.


Contraindications for Fasting

Fasting is not suitable for everyone. People with the following conditions should avoid fasting without consulting a healthcare provider:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • History of eating disorders
  • Severe chronic diseases or underweight

How to Prepare to Start a Fast

Preparing for a fast is crucial to ensure a safe and beneficial experience. Here’s how you can prepare:

  • Medical Consultation: Before starting, consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have health concerns or take medications.
  • Nutritional Balance: In the days leading up to the fast, eat balanced meals that include whole foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fibres, and avoid simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. Free Soul Greens, is a delicious daily serving you can add to your water to help support your nutritional balance, that tastes good whilst doing good.
  • Hydrate: Increase water intake before starting the fast to ensure you’re well-hydrated.
  • Mindset and Intentions: Set clear intentions for fasting, whether for health, spiritual, or other personal reasons.
  • Plan Your Fasting Protocol: Decide which type of fasting you’ll practise and plan your schedule, including when you’ll start and end the fast.
  • Ease into Fasting: For those new to fasting, gradually reducing food intake or starting with shorter fasting periods can help your body adjust.
  • Prepare for Break-Fast: Plan what you will eat to break the fast, opting for easily digestible foods like fruits, vegetables, or light soups.

In conclusion, fasting, when done correctly and under appropriate guidance, can be a powerful tool in enhancing overall health and well-being. However, it's crucial to approach fasting with caution, especially for individuals with specific health conditions. By understanding the principles, benefits, and safe practices of fasting, you can make informed decisions about incorporating this ancient health practice into your modern lifestyle.


Marilia Chamon
Written by Marilia Chamon
Registered Nutritional Therapist, Gut Health, IBS & SIBO Expert
Founder of Gutfulness Nutrition
   **At Free Soul, your well-being is our priority, and although we pride ourselves on our expertise in women's health and wellbeing, it is important to acknowledge the individuality of each person. Features published by Free Soul are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease, or replace the advice of your GP. We always recommend consulting with a healthcare provider if you encounter any health concerns, and we’ll always be here to support you so you’re never alone on your journey.