As fasting has become popular through various religions and health diets, it’s also become a catalyst for inspiring eating disorders. While many testify that fasting is a powerful tool for spiritual growth, it is only healthy if done for a set period of time and reasonable purpose. If you are pursuing an absolute fast to lose weight, you’re not fasting; you’re crash dieting. While crash dieting and fasting have similarities, proper fasting requires research and the replacement of lost nutrients. Crash dieting is dangerous for numerous reasons, as it deprives the body of essential nutrients and limits our ability to function.
Often, crash dieting looks attractive to people whom want to lose weight quickly without putting in the necessary research, fitness regimen, and dietary plan. Simply put, crash dieting is not a sustainable solution for weight-loss since the pounds will immediately return once you resume eating regularly (and believe me, you will).
By not eating or drastically cutting down your food intake, you deprive your body of necessary nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, etc. When the body lacks nutrients, it depletes your immune system and also will cause you to feel weak. Eventually, you’ll find yourself with a limited ability to function and food will become appealing once again to re-energize.
Additionally, crash dieting slows down your metabolism, the chemical process that allows you to burn fat and calories. That’s the exact opposite for what’s needed to lose weight effectively. Slowing down your metabolism will only cause you to gain more weight. As your body fears that you may deprive it from nutrients once again, it will store the fats and calories that it would ordinarily burn.
In contrast, a healthy fast will account for lost nutrients in full capacity. While fasting does involve abstaining from some or all foods and liquids, it should only be for a set time, depending on the fast’s dietary restrictions. As we all know that our bodies need certain nutrients to function properly, absolute fasting, which involves abstaining from all foods and liquid, should only be done for a day or two.
What happens to your body during an absolute fast? According to a research study at Bryn Mawr College, fasting technically begins when the carbohydrates stores in the body get tapped as an energy source during the first 12 to 24 hours of the fast. The fast continues so long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, but once protein stores are tapped, the person is technically starving. If you’re not consuming adequate protein, usually, your body will notice within 72 hours. That’s when you’ll feel the fast become unbearable and literally, you’ll be starving yourself.
Longer fasts, with fewer dietary restrictions, also should have a set time period, not usually to exceed two months. The key to a healthy, non-absolute fast is replacing the nutrients that are lost due to your dietary restrictions. For example, if you’re going to give up meat, you need to find other protein sources, such as nuts, beans, tofu, quinoa, and lentils. Or if you’re pursuing an absolute fast for a certain number of hours each day, you need to eat hearty and full meals outside of that time period, much like Muslim families during Ramadan. Simply put, fasting is not harmful, so long as your body receives the necessary nutrients for it to function. And if you’d like to transform your non-absolute fast into a regular eating lifestyle, the same principle applies.
Have you ever pursued a healthy fast? Share your tips for replacing nutrients and keeping the body nourished!
Read more posts celebrating Frugivore Month here.