Fasting is when a person abstains from food or drink (or both) for a certain length of time. As a weight loss program most health advocates have great concerns of even short-term success. However, some professionals consider it good for your body to fast for a short period of time to cleanse or detoxify your system.
Some religions consider fasting during certain time periods part of their purifying process; Muslims fast during Ramadan as do the Jews during Yom Kippur. However, no one would argue that fasting, even a modified fast allowing some liquids, would be a successful healthy long term diet and weight loss program.
The first full day of a fast is relatively safe for most people and will have no negative impact on your body. Previously stored carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen) can be used to energize the essential body processes.
After your glycogen reserves are used up, the body will use fat as its primary energy source, saving protein stored in muscle tissue for use as a last resort.
Extra Benefits To You Body
As well as aiding weight loss, some professionals think that fasting allows the body “free” time to eliminate toxins from its system, minimizing the risk of some future diseases. Scientific studies show favorable results from fasting in dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, migraines and skin diseases. Other illnesses such as the flu and colds, allergies, colon disorders, respiratory diseases, and obesity might also respond positively to fasting.
How Long Should You Fast For?
It’s believed it takes about three days to start losing non-water related pounds but some advocates recommend a 24 hour fast to cleanse or de-tox the body. Most healthcare professionals agree that even for a healthy person, a fast lasting more than two to three days should only be attempted if supervised by medical personnel.
Fasting must be avoided if you are going to be putting yourself at risk, especially if you are pregnant, or suffer from diabetes, kidney problems, stomach ulcers, gout, liver problems, hypoglycemia, lung disease, and if you have a deficient immune system.
Even during a short fast, some muscle tissue is lost. As muscle tissue starts to break down, nitrogen and ammonia are released into your blood stream. This often leads to feeling of weakness, nausea, headaches, and depression, as both these products are toxic until they are filtered out by the kidneys.
While fasting for long periods of time can result in rapid weight loss, this typically will not cause permanent fat loss, but will more likely lead to major health including fatigue, diarrhea or constipation, heart problems and even sudden death. These are also risks even with very low calorie liquid diets, where you don’t eat except for consuming liquids containing trace amounts of fat.
The Truth About Fasting
While fasting can result in weight loss, this is usually only a temporary situation as permanent weight loss takes a combination of a healthy diet, behavior changes and exercise. Typically, the small amount of pounds the body loses in the first few days of a fast are from water and the weight will come back a short time after the fast is complete.
A Healthier Way To Fast
One of the compromises people use is a modified fast where they only drink herbal tea, juice, or water. This is much easier on your body and with juice made from fruit or vegetables, you will be digesting some nutrients into your body. But even these types of adjusted fast should only be used for a few days and need to be supervised by a medical professional if lasting more than a week.