Fasting is an age-old tradition mainly performed for religious purposes, but abstaining from food for weight reduction is gaining popularity. Hundreds of do-it-yourself fasting plans are 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, leads to weight loss, at least for the short term. In addition, intermittent fasting also has several health benefits. It is important to remember there are, in fact, a lot of disadvantages linked to fasting. So let us tell you all about how fasting works, its advantages and disadvantages.
How does fasting aid in weight loss?
Your pancreas typically releases a hormone called insulin after you eat. This insulin burst aids in transporting glucose from your blood into your cells, which are 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 breaks down and uses the stored fats to get the energy required to function correctly.
What can be the advantages of fasting?
Nowadays, many people are opting for intermittent fasting. This type of fasting mainly has 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 number 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 highly long periods 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 severe version is alternate-day fasting. One day, you consume nothing and drink only water or calorie-free drinks; the next, 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 regularly eating 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 diet correctly. You only eat within a specific period each day, such as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. After that, you refrain from eating for the remainder of the day.
Is fasting an effective way of weight loss?
Although fasting has now gained a lot of popularity, the truth is that fasting is not a very useful way of weight loss if we consider its risks. Instead of starving 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 to 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 consult a professional first. Losing unwanted weight is good, but your health is more important.