Diet and Nutrition

Does Fasting Help in Weight Management?

Does Fasting Help in Weight Management?

Does Fasting Help in Weight Management?

Fasting is often considered to be a way of demonstrating spirituality and showing faith to a person's religion. Many people also consider fasting to be a way of losing those extra pounds while others consider it to be useful for detoxifying the body. There are different types of fasting based on what is eaten and what is avoided. There is fasting where only water or fluids is taken in while in another form, only fruits or raw foods are consumed.  Fasting can be for one day, on alternate days, a few days a week, or once a month. 

Fasting helps to reduce weight as body tries to obtain enough energy from the reserves but at the same time it reduces the rate of metabolism to conserve as much energy as possible. This can put weight management off track. As one tries to get back to the usual routine and diet, reduced metabolic rate causes the body to store more energy for future emergencies. Thus, the body gains back whatever was lost during the fasting period and it is possible that the body may actually increase reserves during the reversal. Reverting back to a normal diet will cause the appetite hormones to work normally, and sometimes even more, causing the person to eat more than normal. With fasting you are adding two unwanted causes of weight gain – increased hunger and lower metabolic rate. The liver, skin, and kidney are natural detoxifying organs in our body. Whether fasting will help in removing toxins from the body is still doubtful and studies have not provided any concrete evidence on this matter.

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Moreover, fasting for a long period of time may be harmful to a person. Even while fasting one should be careful to increase the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration. Fasting for a long period of time will reduce the amount of important minerals and vitamins obtained through food. This inadequacy may lead to fatigue, constipation, dehydration, and gallstones. In most cases, in the absence of enough food intake, hormones in our body may break down the muscle tissue to release amino acids to convert into sugar. Fasting can thus be damaging to the muscles of the body as it increases its break down. This may further reduce weight loss as muscles are the best fat burning organs of the body. Fasting is also known to increase stress, both physical and mental, due to increased production of stress hormone cortisol.     

Key Takeaways

  • Fasting can result in reduced metabolism and overeating once the fast ends.
  • There are many different variations of fasting.
  • While the benefits of fasting are unclear, there is reason to believe that it is harmful.