So here's to 2014! In these early days of January when we all decide to make resolutions and plan changes to our lifestyles, how many of us actually follow through with these big life changing decisions? Statistics say that it is not many at all. Inevitably the pressures of life and work get on top of us, we miss days in the gym and eat fast food on the way home from work just a little too often. No doubt our bodies will then be filled with toxins and nasties which have no place in a healthy human system. This is where the idea of fasting and weight loss comes in.
Fasting is one activity which has not always received the best press. In religion the practice is used as a means to show faith and humility to a God, sometimes denying oneself food is a means of protest, for example in a prison hunger strike. Now no one is saying that you should starve yourself into oblivion but are there times when fasting is better than dieting?
The answer is yes, depending on how you do it and whether you are healthy enough to consider this in the first place. Some fasts involve only eating raw foods, others are water only whereas others involve fasting on alternative days or only drinking juices. There are also the extremely low calorie food fasts which are popular nowadays.
Can you lose weight by fasting?
The short answer to this is yes it does as the body makes use of its existing energy and fat stores in order to keep going, therefore you lose weight. Does this keep the lost weight off? Well no, the metabolism slows down during times of fasting meaning that when we go back to our usual diet, the body stores more energy and can gain even more weight than it once carried as a result. In addition the appetite will become more voracious and binge eating can and more often than not will occur.
Fasting on alternate days will result in a short term weight loss however over time this is unlikely to be maintained as research has shown.
Is fasting even safe?
Fasting for long periods, even for the healthiest of individuals is not recommended. The body requires plenty of nutrients, vitamins and minerals which can only be obtained from eating a healthy balanced diet. In an otherwise healthy individual a few days of fasting shouldn't hurt so long as there is an adequate fluid intake however in order to lose weight healthily fasting and weight loss do not go hand in hand. Individuals with type 1 diabetes, underlying health conditions, pregnant women and so on should never fast.
In conclusion, following a healthy and diet and exercise plan is recommended for long term weight loss. Fasting is most certainly not. Before you even consider trying to lose weight by fasting it is important to speak to your doctor. Fasting has its place however it is not recommended for weight loss or dieting.
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