Fasting has always been more than a diet choice. It has religious significance and has been used as a form of protest throughout the world. Some people consider fasting a way to shed toxins from the body and other people believe the body can shed toxins without help.
Fasting has also been used for weight loss. However, it can be hard on the health if not done properly and may have no effect in the long term. There are several different types of fasting diets including liquids only or drastically reducing calories.
Fasting and Weight Loss
If you don’t eat food, your body will use stored fat for energy. This will help you lose weight. However, when you fast, your metabolism gets slower, so after you have lost weight and begun eating again, your metabolism may not be high enough to burn the calories, and the fat returns. Humans are genetically disposed to survive during the times food is scarce. The metabolism slows to conserve energy. If this happens, you could gain more weight from eating less food than you did before the fast.
During the fast, you will lose appetite, but once you stop, your appetite will return, and you could start eating more than you did before. Studies show that most people will lose weight if they fast on alternate days and eat what they want on the other days, but the results will not last for long.
Fasting and Detoxification
Your colon, kidneys, liver and sweat are natural ways in which toxins are removed from your body. There is no proof that fasting removes toxins from your body even though some fasting diets claim to do so. There is also no proof that the body needs extra detoxification.
Fasting and Longevity
Fasting has been linked to a longer life span in humans and rodents. Restricting calories in overweight people improved the signs of aging. Fasting may also delay aged-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease.
Mormons who skip meals every month have been shown to have a lower risk of clogged arteries, which are caused by the build-up of plaque, which causes strokes and heart attacks. The lower risk could be due to their generally healthy diet and not to their fasting.
There is not enough research to prove that fasting increases the lifespan because no study has followed a group of people who fast to get accurate data. However, skipping meals occasionally has shown to be a safe and easy way to reduce caloric intake, but this is not a generally accepted practice.
Fasting is considered safe for healthy people if it is done for a day or two and they drink enough fluids. Fasting for long periods and taking no fluids can be harmful to your health because the required vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are lacking. This kind of fasting should be avoided. It can cause dizziness, fatigue, constipation, gallstones, dehydration and susceptibility to colds. Death from starvation is the result of fasting too long.
Any type of fasting is not healthy for people who have type I diabetes. It can cause dangerous spikes and dips in blood sugar. Anyone with a chronic disease as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid fasting. Rather than trying irresponsible fasting to lose weight or detoxify, it is better to ask your doctor if fasting is safe for you. Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian who will help you design a healthy eating plan as well as tell you if it would be risky for you to go on a fasting diet.