Looking to lose weight? Try our FREE Calorie Counter »  |  Log In
Articles Fitness Nutrition

Fasting for Weight Loss: Is it Ever Healthy?

Fasting for weight loss, of course, results in immediate and significant results in a matter of days. The major problem with fasting for weight loss is that any pounds you lose are likely to come back once you stop fasting and go back to your regular diet. Also, weight loss during a fast is partly water-weight loss, not fat loss.

What is Fasting?

The purest form of fasting is to eliminate all foods and drink from your diet except water. This can be done for a couple of days but usually not longer, as it’s difficult to stay away from all foods and drinks. Hunger cravings and dizziness will all start showing after a single day without any food.

Besides absolute fasting, there’s also the option of doing a “half fast.” This means eliminating all solids and concentrating on drinking natural fruit and vegetable juices. Other fasts allow fruits and vegetables as the only solid addition to the otherwise liquid diet. Those who believe fasts are healthy recommend them not only for weight loss, but also as a way to cleanse your body and jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.

Who Should Fast?

Fasts can be healthy when done under the supervision of a medical professional. Some fasts are medically supervised, used to prepare people for surgeries, or to help them lose weight quickly. These type of fasts can not only be helpful but can also be lifesaving for obese people who need to reduce their weight in order to ward off serious medical issues. Depending on your goals, your doctor might recommend a single day fast or prescribe special shakes that contain all nutrients you need but are low in calories.

Dangers of Fasting

The truth is that the dangers outweigh the health benefits of fasting, so fasting should be avoided if possible. The most common side effects of a fast are directly related to the lack of food. You're likely to feel dizzy, experience lightheadedness, feel weak and fatigued and get strong headaches. Longer fasts might cause more serious and permanent side effects, including muscle breakdown, irregular heartbeat and kidney problems. Because you're depriving your body of nutrients, you can also end up with problems related to the lack of specific vitamins and minerals.

Alternatives

Experts suggest cutting down on calories and switching to a healthier eating plan in order to lose weight safely and permanently. In fact, you could learn a few things from the many fasts out there and apply them to your new eating plan. For example, fasts emphasize eating lots of fruits and vegetables, a good idea because they're low in calories and high in fiber, which keeps you full and makes you eat less in the long run. Fasts also require you to drink lots of water, another great suggestion when trying to lose weight. Aside from that, try to focus on natural foods instead of highly-processed ones and stick to lean proteins and whole grains as much as possible.

Article Comments