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What Are the Hazards of Fasting for Weight Loss?

Updated on May 6, 2014
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What is Fasting Diet?

Fasting diet is a prescribed period where a person lives on a very minimal food, sometimes include nothing but fluids. Performed for a number of different reasons, fasting can be use as a political statement, for losing weight, and for religious observance, fasting is often a risky practice that most health experts warn against its risks. It is best to get a clear picture of fasting health risks before considering attempting a period without food.

Although a number of people can easily endure a fast and feel healthy and energized, others experience many temporary effects. A sick stomach, dizziness, agonizing headaches, and low energy are all common fasting health risks felt within the first few days of a fast. Fasting risks in this initial stage are fatigue and a drop in productivity or work efficiency. A few fasting programs are not calorie-free, most dieters use fruit and vegetable juices or specific teas, but not enough solid food on the body may turn to a sudden appearance of unwanted health issues unfortunately.

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Fasting and Weight Loss

While you fast, your entire body is compelled to use the energy reserve to get the fuel it needs to function properly, which means you will lose weight. The bigger issue is until when you will maintain that weight off. Since food was often in short supply for our ancestors, our bodies are actually genetically designed to deal with the effects of fasting. When you eat a lesser amount of food, your metabolism activity diminishes to conserve energy. Then, when you return to your normal diet, your limited metabolism may cause you to stock up additional energy, and therefore you can expect to regain all that weight you lost and can even gain more weight when consuming the same foods you did before the fast.

As you fast, your whole body will adapt by limiting your appetite, so you will at the start feel less starving. However, after you have temporarily halted fasting, your appetite hormones will jump back into gear so you may actually feel hungrier and be very vulnerable to over-eat.

Numerous studies have found that fasting on every other day may help people lose weight, although not for an extended time. In one study, people who implemented an alternate-day fasting drop a few pounds, even if they have eaten all the required foods on the non-fasting days. Even so, they could not sustain the weight loss in the long run.

Can Fasting Cleanse the Body of Harmful Poisons?

A few fasting diets claim that they can detoxify the body of harmful particles. Yet, you cannot find any indication that fasting detoxifies your body, or simply that your body actually require removing toxic substances. Our body is biologically adapted to eliminate poisons through the skin (by perspiration), liver, intestines, and kidneys.

Can Fasting Help You Live Longer?

Research of fasting in both mice and humans apparently reveal a connection between calorie reduction and life expectancy. In one study of overweight people, a limited calorie diet increased markers of aging, for example insulin levels and total body temperature.

Fasting may well help longevity by slowing the onset of age-related diseases like Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, and all forms of diabetes. One study confirmed that skipping meals once per month, like members of the Mormon religious group do, lowers the risk of blocked arteries (the clogging up of plaque that can cause heart attacks and strokes). Still it is certainly not definite from this study whether fasting alone or the Mormons' usually healthy way of living (they also avoid coffee, alcoholic beverages, and smoking) is responsible for the increased heart health.

Researchers do not still know whether the benefits of fasting represent a real improvement in longevity, since they have not observed people for in sufficient length periods of time. Nevertheless the idea of periodic fasting, such as skipping a meal purposely on an intermittent basis, is drawing attention. It seems to be a pretty risk-free way to cut down caloric intake that is less difficult for most people to do. The facts still is not there yet nor will be an accepted practice.

Is Fasting Safe?

Fasting for one day or two certainly won't harm people who are generally in good health, given they maintain a sufficient fluid consumption. However, fasting completely for an extended time is often harmful. Your body requires a number of different nutritional vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients from food to stay in good shape. Not getting a sufficient amount of these nutrients and vitamins during fasting diets may result in health problems like low energy, dizziness, bowel irregularity, dehydration, gallstones, and sensitivity to cold. Possibility of dying is high in case you fast for extended periods.

Before you start on any specific diet program, particularly one that demands fasting, discuss with your doctor to see whether it is healthy and right for you. Also ask your doctor to recommend you to a licensed dietitian, who can help you how to plan a healthy weight loss diet.

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Higher Risk of Sickness

Higher chance of sickness is another of the more severe fasting health risks. Deficiencies in minerals and vitamins open the body to get irritation or infections, while others suffer from a cold or influenza within days of starting a fast. Blood pressure in most cases plunge without diet, causing shivers, fatigue, sleepiness, and oftentimes intense mood swings.

After a couple of days on a fasting regime, fasting risks greatly increase. Your system, which requires sugars to maintain fasting, starts to feed on inner tissues to sustain a survivable metabolism. Even if dieters may believe that the body will consume the remaining fat, it may inflict damage on muscles and organ cells from the kidneys and liver. Long periods of fasting may end up in serious tissue damage, which includes the sensitive heart muscle tissues.

Diet Fasting Dangers

One must always keep in mind, continuous fasting leads to long term problems for our systems or may result to death. There have been cases of death by starvation during fasting, generally a result of extreme malnutrition. If the body arrives at a point in which it can no longer provide the energy needed to function, recovery is often impossible and loss of life can happen in some cases.

Various health experts strongly suggest avoiding a food-free diet for any person with diabetes, heart or kidney complications. Pregnant and nursing women are likewise encouraged to refrain from fasting because it will deprive a growing fetus or breastfeeding infant of nutrition essential to normal growth. Equally, young people and teenagers are often highly discouraged from fasting since it could upset growth with long term consequences.

Fasting health risks can be prevented by knowing the right steps before and during a fast. Medical experts frequently warn that a fast must only be carried out under careful medical guidance. Taking a few days carefully adjusting a diet to prepare you for a fast will help minimize early consequences like headache and stomach problems. Aside from that, taking health supplements and ensuring sufficient hydration can even help the body keep up normal activity during a fast.

Informative Video About Fasting

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