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4 Dangers of Fasting for Weight Loss

Nov 18, 2010

In your endeavor to lose weight fast, you may consider the option of fasting. However, you should be aware that most medical experts and dietitians warn against the practice of fasting for weight loss. It has been proven that prolonged fasting is not an effective way to lose weight, and it can also be detrimental to your health.

Fasting is a natural process that occurs when you do not consume any food for 3 to 5 hours and during sleep. Natural fasting is an essential process, and it is not detrimental to your body. Prolonged fasting refers to the abstinence from food for 16 to 24 hours each day, and it is continuously practiced over a certain number of days or weeks. The level of abstinence varies from one individual to another. While some people only abstain from solid foods, allowing fruit juices and water, others insist that they should not eat or drink anything for several days in a row. Here's a look at some of the dangers of fasting for weight loss:

1. Fasting for Weight Loss Increases Stress

When you are fasting, your body will go into a self-preservation mode to counter starvation. It will begin to slow down your metabolism and increase the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. When you are suffering from illness or stress, there will be a larger than usual amount of cortisol in your body. A high amount of cortisol can make you feel physically, mentally or emotionally stressed.

2. Fasting Damages Your Muscles

When you are not taking enough food, the cortisol in your body will try to release certain amino acids from your muscles and convert them to sugar. The sugar will then be fed to the brain, kidneys and red blood cells. The brain can use fats or sugar as fuel, but it usually prefers sugar, and red blood cells need sugar to survive. By releasing amino acids, cortisol is actually breaking down your muscle tissues. Losing muscles can slow down weight loss, because you need muscles to burn excess fat in your body.

3. Fasting Leads to Increased Hunger

If you do not consume food for a prolonged period of time, your body will produce fewer thyroid hormones. The loss of thyroid hormones and muscle tissue breakdown will slow down your body's overall metabolism significantly. This consequence becomes evident when you stop fasting and resume normal eating habits. When you begin to fast, your appetite hormones will be suppressed, but they will go into full gear when normal eating resumes, resulting in increased hunger. With slower metabolism and increased appetite, you will begin to gain weight fast.

4. Fasting Causes Health Problems

Prolonged fasting can deplete the supply of essential nutrients in your body, such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fatty acids, minerals and electrolytes. This can lead to the development of various health problems, including fatigue, headache, dehydration, dizziness, constipation, hypoglycemia, anemia, muscle weakness, gallstones and mental confusion. If you are suffering from some kind of health problem, it is advisable that you do not fast, because you will become more susceptible to the detrimental effects of fasting.

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