Ever been so sick of not losing weight on a diet you’ve thrown your hands up in the air and said, “Maybe the only way I’ll drop these pounds is to eat nothing at all!”? Well, you were wrong.
Fasting””the age-old practice of abstaining from food””may cause you to lose weight, temporarily. But health experts warn that it’s not the best way to go about doing so.
Fasts typically involve eating little to no food, drinking just water (or juice) and sometimes taking a laxative. Doing it for a day or two usually isn’t harmful for healthy adults. You’ll probably shed excess water weight, and some people report gaining a clearer mental state and increased energy.
But fasting for prolonged periods, anywhere from three days to a month, is not recommended. It can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and kidney, digestive and immune problems. It also causes muscle breakdown and affects metabolism. Fasting kicks your body into conservation mode, so calories are burned more slowly. When you start eating again, you’re likely to regain any weight you’ve lost””and it will be in the form of fat, as muscle needs to be rebuilt through exercise.
Some fasts are safe, namely those prescribed and supervised by a physician. Otherwise, you should stick to a healthy eating plan that includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein and healthy fats to manage your weight. Healthy diets feature a minimum of 1,200 calories a day and should be accompanied by regular physical exercise.
On a side note: While fasting isn’t a reliable method for losing weight, there is some evidence it may be beneficial for cardiovascular health. A study presented at an American Heart Association session in 2007 found that church members who fasted one day per month had lower rates of heart disease and were about 40 percent less likely to have clogged arteries than those who did not fast.