Fasting has played a part in humanity since the beginning, from survival to religious practices. In recent years much attention has been given to the health benefits of fasting. However, this runs contrary to a “pop culture” belief that eating at regular intervals is ideal for health. Is that true? The answer is both yes and no.
While fasting can be used as a quick fix to lose a few unwanted pounds it is pointless for long-term weight loss. The reason? When you decrease your food intake your metabolic rate slows down. This means your body burns fewer calories. At some point you will begin eating again and your body will still be set, for a time, at a lower metabolic rate. Now, you are eating the same amount of food as before, sometimes more, and your body is unable to burn those calories. In addition, half the weight you “lost” during your fasting period was water, not fat. This weight loss gives you the “illusion” of fat loss.
Unlike weight loss, fasting for improving ones health is heavily debated with some scientists heavily in favor and some adamantly against it. The general body of scientists states that fasting is not a good method of “detoxifying” the body because our bodies already have organs in place for that: liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and skin. However, Dr. Fuhrman, a strong proponent of fasting for improved health, states good portions of toxins we consume are never removed from our bodies. His logic? Most of the food we eat is highly processed, even for those of us who think we follow a healthy diet. He believes AGE (advanced glycation end) products still remain in our fat cells. How do we activate and remove these AGE producs? By burning fat. After 2 days of fasting the human body goes into a state of ketosis (fat burning). By restricting our food intake our bodies are better able to utilize these fat cells and remove AGE products.
Nearly every religion and culture on the planet calls for its followers to fast for a specified period of time, from a single day to weeks. While the debate for the health benefits for fasting remains it is worth noting the universal acceptance of fasting across a multitude of religions and cultures as to benefits of fasting. In many instances fasting is used as a means of “suffering” for past sins or “purifying” the body of evil. No matter the reason, fasting appears to be used as a method of mental focus and clarity. More studies need to be conducted to show whether or not fasting improves mood and the ability to think.
While many studies have been conducted showing a longer lifespan in animals on a fasting diet, followed by eating intervals low in calories for the majority of their lives, there are no long-term studies on humans to carry more weight to the argument. The animal studies look promising but it would take years to determine if, in fact, periods of fasting could prolong our lifespan.
If you plan on fasting for a period of time to improve your health there are a few key factors to consider before starting:
- You should have been following a very healthy diet for years and continue following said diet after your fast is complete. Performing a fast while eating an unhealthy diet will lead to more health issues, not less.
- If you are pregnant, do not attempt a fasting diet.
- If you’re underweight, do not attempt a fasting diet.
- If you are under the age of 18, do not attempt a fasting diet.
- If you have a history of an eating disorder, do not attempt a fasting diet.
- If you are in poor health and require food with medications, do not attempt a fasting diet.
- ALWAYS CONSULT WITH A MEDICAL PROFESSIONSL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY FASTING DIET!!!
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!