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If there’s one artist that defines the term superstar, it’s definitely Usher. Whether he’s plastered all over my childhood bedroom walls, or taking over the Superbowl stage, the 45-year-old exudes star power. Aside from vocal training and breaking a sweat at the gym, you may be surprised to hear that the star’s secret to maintaining his stage presence comes down to one thing – fasting.

Usher Believes in Fasting on Wednesdays

“I fast, not for religious purposes, but it’s something my grandmother practiced. I typically try to start around 11 pm the previous day, then go the entire day on Wednesday just drinking water.”Usher, Wall Street Journal

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal about his health habits, Usher revealed that he opts not to eat on Wednesdays, choosing to only consume water. A type of intermittent fasting, this style of eating requires you to only consume calorie-free beverages for 24 hours, before resuming your normal intake of (healthy) food until your next 24-hour fast.

Intermittent fasting is associated with many benefits and while I can’t promise that not eating for 24 hours may transform you into an eight-time Grammy winning vocalist, it can boost your longevity in other ways.

Longevity Benefits of a 24-Hour Fast

During a fast, the body uses the last of its energy reserves to survive. This process triggers metabolic changes that may lead to the following benefits:

1. Weight management

Fasting is often the go-to option for individuals looking to lose or better manage their weight, as doing so may speed up metabolism.

According to one study published in the Annual Review of Nutrition, all forms of fasting reviewed resulted in mild to moderate weight loss (1%-8% reduction),

“Intermittent fasting is a safe diet therapy that can produce clinically significant weight loss (>5%),” explained the researchers.

While it does appear that fasting may assist with weight loss, other studies have found the opposite.

A 2022 study found that in 139 overweight or significantly obese Chinese individuals, fasting was less beneficial than calorie counting with regard to weight loss or loss of body fat.

While the findings may be contradictory, the truth is that fasting isn’t the only way to keep off excess weight, as what you eat and how much you move is also as important as not eating.

Speaking more on his dietary habits, Usher revealed that on the days when he does eat, he starts his day with celery juice and scrambled eggs with cheese, or poached or over easy eggs – but only after breaking a sweat,

“I don’t like to eat breakfast before I’ve worked out or done something physical: taking a walk, stretching, or doing yoga, sitting in the sun and raising my body’s natural heat levels. Then I eat,” he shared.

2. Better heart health

Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death worldwide, so improved heart health should be a priority for everyone.

Previous studies have found that intermittent fasting may improve heart health by reducing levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and increasing HDL cholesterol levels.

Yet, a recent study disagrees.

According to data from the American Heart Association, 8-hour intermittent fasting may be tied to a 91% higher risk of cardiovascular death. It should be noted that this study was observational, and the data provided was solely self-reported. Now, this does not mean that data published by AHA is inaccurate, but it may be too soon to confirm that fasting causes heart disease.

If you’re not looking to improve your heart health by fasting, may I suggest being more active, avoiding tobacco, getting enough sleep, and eating better?

3. Reduced diabetes risk

Over 400 million people worldwide are living with diabetes, and one study found that choosing to fast may help to reduce these numbers.

Published in Nature Medicine, the researchers found that participants who fasted for three days, between 8am and 12 pm, displayed more insulin sensitivity or a greater tolerance to glucose after 6 months than those on a daily, low-calorie diet.

“Following a time restricted, intermittent fasting diet could help lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes,” Professor Leonie Heilbronn, senior author, said.

Who should avoid not eating for a day?

Despite the remove benefits, it’s not appropriate for everyone to skip their meals for a day. It would be advisable not to fast if you are:

  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • under age 18
  • recovering from surgery
  • taking medications that you need to take with foo
  • recovering from a history of disordered eating

How to safely fast for 24 hours

When it comes to fasting, I choose the 16:8 method. However, if you’re looking to perfume a 24-hour fast, here’s how to do so safely:

  • Prepare beforehand: eat foods rich in protein, fruits, and vegetables and whole grains. These foods will help promote satiety.
  • Stay hydrated: Your body needs water to function, and some individuals supplement their water intake through food. But, since you won’t be eating, it’s important to ensure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Breaking a fast

Once your fast is complete, it’s essential not to get too eager to break it. Doing so can cause discomfort and bloating.

I choose to break a fast with a smoothie, but you can do so by eating a small meal featuring foods that are easy to digest.

Want to know more?

Usher isn’t the only Hollywood celebrity to turn to fasting to improve his health. Actress Kate Hudson shared that fasting is an integral part of her morning routine, and it helps her start her day off right.

References

American Heart Association. (2024). 8-hour time-restricted eating linked to a 91% higher risk of cardiovascular death. [online] Available at: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/8-hour-time-restricted-eating-linked-to-a-91-higher-risk-of-cardiovascular-death

Florsheim, L., (2024). Why Usher Doesn’t Eat on Wednesdays. [online] Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/lifestyle/usher-concert-tour-super-bowl-exercise-regimen-3c1e9c54

Liu, D., Huang, Y., Huang, C., Yang, S., et al. (2022). Calorie Restriction with or without Time-Restricted Eating in Weight Loss. New England Journal of Medicine, 386(16), pp.1495–1504. doi:https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2114833

Santos, H. O., & Macedo, R. C. O. (2018). Impact of intermittent fasting on the lipid profile: Assessment associated with diet and weight loss. Clinical nutrition ESPEN24, 14–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnesp.2018.01.002

Teong, X.T., Liu, K., Vincent, A.D. et al. (2023). Intermittent fasting plus early time-restricted eating versus calorie restriction and standard care in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Nat Med 29, 963–972. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-023-02287-7

Varady, K.A., Cienfuegos, S., Ezpeleta, M. and Gabel, K. (2021). Cardiometabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Annual Review of Nutrition, 41(1), pp.333–361. doi:https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-nutr-052020-041327

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: usher/instagram
Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a journalist graduate and writer, specializing in health, beauty, and wellness. She also has a passion for poetry, equality, and natural hair. Identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to provide the latest information on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle and leave a more equitable society behind.

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