Fasting may involve consuming nothing at all, drinking only water, limiting oneself to only juice and tea, restricting the diet to raw foods, avoiding foods other that bread and water or depriving oneself of meat and luxury foods.
Whether fasting to lose weight or detox, the body pulls on its fat stores to fuel itself. In the short term, this is what causes you to lose weight. In the long run, repeated fasts or long term fasts put the body in starvation mode. The body will then become more efficient, piling on more pounds when you return to your old diet.
Fasting to Detox
Fasting to detox diets say that they cleanse the body. However, the liver and kidneys do this naturally. Detox diets typically involve herbal teas, severe fruit restrictions, avoidance of fried foods and fat and supplements. You should never combine a detox fast with a colon cleanse. Nor should you fast immediately after a colon cleanse.
New age proponents state that you must engage in detox diets to eliminate food colorings, pesticides and other “toxins” from the body. Detox diets may involve costly supplements, herbs, restricted diets and fasting. Detox diets may involve going vegetarian, vegan, Paleo or raw. Many detox diet promoters also sell soaps and shampoos to remove all “toxins” excreted by the skin. In general, fasting to detox is a scam that pushes costly supplements, herbs and organic foods. Meditation, massage, stress relief and spiritual guidance are also offered during detox sessions.
Fasting to Lose Weight
Fasting to lose weight takes a number of forms. Some people fast to kick-start a diet. After eating nothing, health foods seem delicious, and reduced portions appear attractive. Some diets involve fasting one day every few days in an effort to accelerate weight loss. Other diets let someone eat anything they want for several days before requiring them to fast one day. This reduced their average caloric intake over the week. However, fasting to lose weight by denying yourself food on one day a week should not be offset by gorging the next.
Words of Warning
Short term fasting will worsen conditions like gall stones. Fasting will worsen constipation unless you are fully hydrated and eat sufficient fiber before and after the fast. Do not fast if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Do not fast to lose weight if you have Type 1 diabetes. However, those with Type 2 diabetes can discuss their fasting plan with a doctor.
Extended fasting to lose weight or for any other reason can cause electrolyte imbalances, especially if the person is only consuming water but no salts. This can trigger heart rhythm problems and even cardiac arrest.
Don’t try to work out while on a fast. Over-exercising could cause you to collapse. Nor should you rush into an exercise routine after eating a small meal to break the fast. Your blood sugar and energy levels need to rebound before you start workout out.
Avoiding Problems with Fasting
Fasting to lose weight or detox will initially leave you feeling as if you are starving. The body eventually adjusts to lower your appetite level. If you are fasting, drink at least one hundred ounces of water. Fasts in which you deny yourself both food and water should not last more than 12 hours and do not aid you in losing weight. Any weight loss is due to dehydration, not fat burning.
When you first break the fast, start with a slow, small meal. Eating too much too fast, i.e. wolfing down food, could actually make you vomit. You need to be careful after breaking the fast not to binge. You may or may not want to ease into a fast by eating a small meal before fasting.
Skipping one meal a month for religious reasons like the Mormons do has no adverse effect. The health benefits seen in the Mormon fasting studies showed decreased build-up of plaque in the arteries, but this could be in part due to their lifestyle which denies them alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Fasting for the entire day and then bingeing at night is linked to increased birth defects for children in the womb while their mothers were pregnant while fasting. In between these extremes is room for a healthy medium.