Fasting for weight loss is a popular method among some people who are trying to lose weight quickly. While it can be helpful to fast if you are trying to lose a small amount of weight quickly and for a short period of time, fasting is not a good option for long-term dieting or weight loss.
How Fasting for Weight Loss Works
Much as the name implies, fasting for weight loss is a means of severely reducing calorie consumption in order to lose weight. There are many different varieties of weight-loss fasts, but some of the most popular are the Master Cleanse, liquid diets and various sorts of fruit juice diets.
Fasting usually involves some kind of liquid that is consumed exclusively throughout the day. With this drink, you get a limited number of calories to keep your body functioning but, the theory goes, your body will quickly begin to burn fat as it goes into starvation mode. People frequently report results of losing one pound to as many as three or four pounds a day when fasting for weight loss. These diets are usually continued for about a week, though some diets may be maintained longer. Many juice diets, for instance, emphasize a continued diet of lots of juice, along with raw foods, to maintain weight loss and good health after the initial fasting period.
The Truth About Fasting
All this sounds pretty good so far. You go without eating for a few days and lose enough weight to fit into that sexy dress. But there's a big downside to fasting for weight loss, and that has to do with the method: starvation.
The number of calories allowed in fasting diets is severely limited. Yes, you will lose weight, but it is the result of water and muscle loss than actual fat loss, so all that weight will come back once you start eating normally again.
Because fasting diets are so limited in calories and food choice (since you're usually drinking just one kind of drink exclusively for the duration), you're also likely to face vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which can be serious if you stay on the diet for a long time. Likewise, you could find yourself getting too much of whatever vitamins and minerals are present in what you are consuming that could also be a problem.
The extreme lack of calories is also likely to make you feel sick and irritable at best, dizzy, nauseated or depressed at worse. Your caloric intake may be so limited when you are fasting for weight loss that you find it impossible to take part in your normal daily activities.
Fasting for weight loss can be nasty business. The above-mentioned Master Cleanse, also known as The Lemonade Diet, is famous for its ability to, shall we say, clean out the system of anyone who uses it. Even if you weren't feeling tired from the lack of calories, you probably wouldn't want to leave home because of all the "cleansing" your body is going through on the diet.
Life After Fasting
If you decide to try fasting for weight loss, you need to know that most people quickly gain back all the weight they lose during the regimen, and some even gain more weight afterward because they end up eating more than normal to make up for being "deprived" while on the diet.
It doesn't have to be this way, of course. You could choose to try fasting as a way to jumpstart a more healthy diet and exercise plan. But if you're willing to put in the work to start eating better and exercising more, why not just do that from the beginning and skip the fast?
Fasting puts a lot of strain on the body, from the physical stress of not getting enough calories to the emotional strain of keeping yourself from eating and feeling very different from your normal self during the fasting period. Most people who think seriously about fasting for weight loss and who want to lose weight and keep it off will likely decide that it is not worth it and will choose a healthier and safer method to meet their weight-loss goals.
It is highly advisable to discuss any diet or fitness program with your physician. If you are taking any medications, or suffer from any chronic illnesses, do not begin a fast without first consulting with your medical team. Also, fasting is not recommended for any person with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, women trying to conceive, or during menstruation.