Fast weight loss - try fasting
Although fasting has been covered a lot in the media recently it is certainly nothing new. In almost every religious tradition there is a culture of fasting. In spiritual terms it is thought to purify the body and is an act of self-discipline. Some religions believe it enables a human to get closer to their deity.
At a basic physiological level many people feel it allows for something of a mini ‘detox’ on a semi regular basis and although science may not back this up physiologically it is certainly a good way to create the feeling of a fresh start in eating habits. For more details on fasting look at the site below.
We need to remember that it is only in the last few generations that the mass population of the Western world has generally had enough to eat on a regular rather than seasonal basis. Similarly it is only relatively recently that we have enjoyed the luxury of being able to choose what we eat and increasingly, eat foods all year round whether they are locally in season or not. This may not always be a good thing and more and more people are choosing to source locally grown food, because of the taste and in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint caused by mass food transit. We also need to remember however that we still see famine in many countries.
So electing to fast is in many ways a luxury - we are only able to elect to fast because a lot of us in the Western world are lucky enough to have food in abundance.
Types of Fast
There are few different fasting options you may like to try. You are the person who decides the way in which you will fast - if at all so try a few and see which works best for you.
The simplest form of fasting and many people say they feel much better after a water only fast. Some will simply get up and not eat breakfast then continue to not eat anything until the following morning, when they will have breakfast. Others will start at different points in the day - it really is up to you BUT the only thing you have is water.
On this type of fast no food is eaten but people may drink fruit juices or possibly herbal teas some may even drink coffee but they eat no food - alcohol is best avoided when fasting.
Raw fruit or vegetables
As the title suggests cooked foods as well as proteins and carbohydrates are avoided but some fruit or vegetables are eaten usually raw or uncooked.
Fresh fruits are used to make juices, and some people have fruit smoothies during the day.
The point is it is your fast so you can choose exactly how you want it to be.
How to fast
Quite simply, to fast is to do without food. It is very important still to have water and there are a whole range of fasting ‘options’ to be considered, but in essence it is simply choosing to go without food or without certain types of food for a period of time. Clearly the more drastic the fast in terms of withdrawn food the shorter the duration would usually be. There are a whole range of benefits to fasting, but you also need to exercise a degree of caution. Generally it is best to only fast for one day at a time. This is most often for a period of 24 hours but it can be shorter. If you are still eating food but restricting yourself to certain types – such as avoiding meat for example then it is safe to continue for longer – some would argue this isn’t fasting but it is the type of ‘fast’ that was common in the Christian faith and many other faiths have extended fasting where food is restricted but not withdrawn.
Simple uncooked food
While you are fasting use the time you would have spent cooking and eating to do something else that you like. People who fast for religious reasons may use it to pray or meditate but you could try
- meeting a friend at a juice bar
- reading a book or magazine
- enjoying a walk or swim or yoga class
- listen to some of your favourite music
- go shopping
- write or email someone you haven't been in touch with for a while
Again it is your fast so any time fasting frees up is yours too - to do whatever you want with.
Benefits of Fasting
Obviously it is a way of drastically reducing your calorie intake, as mentioned earlier it is a kind of detox programme, but the greatest benefit in my view is that it simply gives an individual the opportunity to remind themselves that they are in control. Let’s be honest no – one literally forces food into your mouth and by deciding to fast you really assert to yourself that you are in charge. You make the decision about what you eat or don’t eat. In many ways it is a tool of empowerment and the day following a fast you can often really appreciate what you do eat, when so often we get used to just shovelling in food at specific times of the day. But before you think to yourself ‘well this is how to lose weight I’ll fast for several days’ be careful.
Clearly this could have a negative impact. The important thing is that you develop a pattern of eating that allows you to lose weight then maintain that loss. The body likes to maintain balance, in physiological terms this is known as homeostasis, and if you fast for several days in a row the body would go into starvation mode and conserve energy. Though when fasting for a short time this doesn't seem to be the case. So it is usually best to only fast for one day at time. However to include two days of fasting in a week, generally not consecutive, wouldn’t do any harm as long as there are no underlying medical conditions. Several popular diets lately have relied upon having a couple of ‘fast’ days and other days when eating is more normal.
We know there are risks associated with being overweight so losing weight is important to your health. A fast also allows us to feel hungry, something we don’t really experience very often but it is a feeling we need to get used to if we want to break with old habits that for some people have led to extreme weight gain.
Benefits of fasting
Are there any times I shouldn't fast?
If you do begin to fast on a regular basis, perhaps once a week you will get used to listening to your body. There may be times when a complete fast just isn’t right because of activities you have to perform or perhaps because you’ve not been well but as a general principle it is a brilliant way to help you gain control of your own food intake and weight loss, and most people I know who have tried it enjoy the feeling of empowerment it brings as well as the weight loss.
Obviously if you have any medical condition or are pregnant then do seek medical advice before fasting, but it can be a great way to change your attitude to food and eating and that can certainly kick start weight loss.