Fasting is an age-old tradition that is mostly performed for religious purposes, but abstinence of food for reduction of weight is gaining popularity. There are hundreds of do-it-yourself fasting plans available, with claims ranging from wiping “toxins” from the bloodstream to losing 30 pounds in 30 days.
Fasting, or consuming very little to no food, does, in fact, lead to loss of weight, at least for the short term. In addition, intermittent fasting also has several health benefits. Having said that, it is important to remember there are in fact a lot of disadvantages linked to fasting as well. So let us tell you all about how fasting works, its advantages and disadvantages.
How does fasting aid in weight loss?
Your pancreas normally releases a hormone called insulin after you eat. This burst of insulin aids in the transport of glucose from your blood into your cells, where it is used for energy.
The left-over glucose is either absorbed by your muscles or metabolized and deposited as triglycerides in your fat cells. Your insulin levels drop when you fast, and your body then breaks down and uses the stored fats in order to get the energy required by your body to function properly.
What can be the advantages of fasting?
Nowadays, many people are opting for intermittent fasting. This type of fasting particularly had many techniques and has shown many advantages (apart from weight loss) including:
1. Reduction of insulin resistance- and thus, control of blood sugar
2. Reduction of chronic inflammation
3. Improvement of heart health by reducing the amount of bad cholesterols
4. Improvement of brain function
5. Increment of growth hormone secretion
6. Prevention of degenerative diseases
7. May help delay aging
8. May help in cancer prevention
What are the disadvantages of fasting?
Although there are so many advantages, if the particular type of fasting technique does not suit you, you may experience unwanted effects such as:
5. Abnormalities in heart rhythm
6. Low blood pressure
7. Damage to the immune system
8. Negative effects on the body organs (mainly liver and kidneys) due to prolonged starvation.
Sometimes, fasting may even lead to weight gain since starvation can cause people to crave foods with higher calorie content. Starving yourself for extremely long periods of time may even be fatal.
What are the types of intermittent fasting?
You can fast in a variety of ways. Some of the techniques may be more challenging than others:
The most serious version is alternate-day fasting. One day, you consume nothing and drink only water or calorie-free drinks, and the next day, you eat whatever you want.
In the modified alternate-day fasting, you alternate between a low-calorie (around 500 calories) and a normal-calorie day.
The 5:2 diet (also known as the Fast Diet) entails eating regularly five days a week and then restricting calories to lesser than 500 calories on the other two days.
The fasting-mimicking diet requires you to eat an extremely low-calorie diet for a few days before returning to a regular diet.
Time-restricted fasting mainly depends on timing your diets properly. You only eat within a certain time span each day, such as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. After that, you refrain from eating for remainder of the day.
Is fasting an effective way for weight loss?
Although fasting has now gained a lot off popularity, the truth is that fasting is not a very useful way for weight loss if we consider the risks associated with it. Instead of trying to starve yourself, try to eat a well-balanced healthy diet with a minimum of 1200 calories per day. Refrain from eating fast foods and high fat foods. Include a large variety of fruits, vegetables and grains in your diet. Add regular exercise with this diet plan, and you will be able to see the difference within some weeks. However, if you still feel that fasting may be good for you, please be sure to consult a professional first. Losing unwanted weight is good, but your health is more important.