Some people fast as a way to lose weight. Others fast to try to detox their bodies, or for religious reasons. If you’re fasting to lose weight, you may want to reconsider.
What is fasting?
Fasting is not consuming any calories or severely limiting calories for a specific amount of time.
Intermittent fasting is eating on most days but fasting periodically. For instance, eating three meals a day for a week then going two days without eating before eating again for a week would be considered intermittent fasting.
Several fad diets encourage fasting for weight loss. Though they allow some food, limit calories to fewer than 800 per day, claiming that you’ll lose weight fast. One example of a fasting diet is the cabbage soup diet. It involves eating only cabbage soup and drinking water for a certain amount of time. Diet plans like this one come with many unproven claims, like getting rid of a pound a day for a month or removing toxins from your body.
While fasting is likely to help you lose weight, if it’s done without a medical doctor’s supervision, it’s a risky practice that can actually lead to more weight gain in the long run and can cause significant health problems.
If you are interested in learning about how to effectively diet to lose weight quickly and safely, talk to the doctor’s at Beaumont’s medical weight loss program.
Is fasting safe or effective for weight loss?
Most types of fasting are not safe, nor are they effective for long-term weight loss. Young people in good health may be able to safely do intermittent water fasting, but even they should talk to their doctor about whether they can do it safely and, if so, how they should do it.
Limiting calories too much can lead to weight gain in the future since it can both increase your appetite and slow your metabolic rate. While healthy weight loss programs involve limiting calories (especially limiting calories from processed foods), they do not typically include fasting. If the body doesn’t get the number of calories it needs to function normally, it will go into what some refer to as starvation mode, slowing down and storing calories. This slows the metabolism and makes it difficult to lose weight in the future. The key to successful weight loss and health is to get enough of the right kind of calories. Nutritionists and dietitians can recommend a healthy diet and tell you how many calories you should eat based on your current weight, height, and age and your weight loss goals.
Risks of prolonged fasting
Fasting comes with several risks. For example, fasting (or just not getting enough calories and fluids) can cause:
– Electrolyte abnormalities
– Heart arrhythmias
– Muscle loss
– Decreased metabolic rate
– Cold intolerance
– Quick drops and spikes in blood sugar
– Feeling dizzy or fainting
– Stones in the gall bladder
There are people who should never fast, including:
– Pregnant women
– Breastfeeding women
– Elderly people
– People with diabetes
– People who have a chronic disease or health condition