We see a lot of buzz on Facebook and Twitter from girls who want to lose weight quickly and are fasting or want to try fasting. But is it beneficial, or can it be harmful? Will you see quick weight loss results? Does fasting work in the long term? In this article, we look will answer these questions and suggest further reading.
In Dr. Michael Mosley’s book, “The Fast Diet”, he recommends a diet where you eat five days per week and fast for two (although the “fasting days” still require 500-600 calories, so it is not “true” fasting in the traditional sense). According to his research, “over a period of 12 months people are more willing to stay on [The Fast Diet] more than a traditional low-calorie diet.” (New fasting diet: How does it work? – Boston Globe).
Does fasting always mean 0 calories? No. In diets like “The Fast Diet” by Dr. Michael Mosley, your diet is heavily restricted for 2 days during the week, but calories are not completely absent.
The reason this works is, we tend to be creatures of habit, and habitually snacking or eating in between meals is due to compulsion. The more we do it, the harder the habit is to break. A long term fasting plan such as “The Fast Diet” has been shown to sustain weight-loss over time (not necessarily short term) because it allows us to reduce unhealthy over-snacking patterns in our eating habits.
So is fasting beneficial to our overall health? In Joel Fuhrman, M.D.’s book, Fasting And Eating For Health, he states:
“Fasting and natural diet, though essentially unknown [in today’s U.S.] as a therapy, should be the first treatment when someone discovers that she or he has a medical problem. It should not be applied only to the most advanced cases, as is present practice. Whether the patient has a cardiac condition, hypertension, autoimmune disease, fibroids, or asthma, he or she must be informed that fasting and natural, plant-based diets are a viable alternative to conventional therapy, and an effective one. The time may come when not offering this substantially more effective nutritional approach will be considered malpractice.”
Dr. Fuhrman believes, that with the assistance of a physician, fasting can help cure and prevent ailments from the common cold to heart disease because your system is cleansed and replenished through fasting, which allows it to heal and strengthen itself on the cellular level. He also says that fasting (when combined with a long term nutrient-rich diet) can assist with quick and permanent weight loss. According to Dr. Fuhrman: “The fast does not merely detoxify; it also breaks down superfluous tissue–fat, abnormal cells, atheromatous plaque, and tumors–and releases diseased tissues and their cellular products into the circulation for elimination. Toxic or unwanted materials circulate in our bloodstream and lymphatic tissues, and are deposited in and released from our fat stores and other tissues. An important element of fasting detoxification is mobilizing the toxins from their storage areas.” (Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor’s Program for Conquering Disease – Joel Fuhrman)
Are there any drawbacks to fasting regimens? It is important to note that starving yourself without consuming the necessary nutrients before a “fasting diet” can be very hazardous to your health. It can slow the metabolism which can actually hinder weight loss efforts, and also lead to dehydration and vitamin loss which can make you sick, or even light-headed, causing fainting. That is why it is important to consult a physician before beginning any fasting-type diet.