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You Asked: Will Fasting Jump-Start My Weight-Loss Efforts and Boost My Health?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/19/2012 8:00 AM   :  4 comments   :  6,556 Views

Fasting has long been touted as a healthy process with many benefits such as cleaning the system, ridding the body of so-called toxins, benefiting the intestinal track, boosting metabolism, and jumpstarting weight loss. However none of these notions is true, nor is any of them backed up by medical research.
 
While a short-term fast probably won’t harm most people, it could be quite dangerous for others, depending on their medical conditions, health histories, and medication use. I strongly urge you to talk to your physician before ever starting or considering a fast.
 
During normal metabolic conditions (non-fasting), the body gets its energy primarily from glucose and fat (in the blood), which are supplied by the carbohydrates and fats that you eat. Both the brain and nervous systems use blood glucose for energy and proper functioning. Your body also stores energy in both the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen.
 
Within only hours after starting a fast, when dietary glucose is used up, the body draws on its glycogen stores, but these don’t last very long. When these stores are exhausted, your body enters an altered metabolic state. It turns to its own protein (and a portion of its fat) to make more glucose for the brain and nervous system. This results in a considerable breakdown of both lean muscle tissue and fat tissue, and a production of ketones. This is not considered a healthy or desirable state.
 
As a result, you might lose weight, but it is due to water loss, dehydration, and muscle tissue wasting, and is usually accompanied with symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness.
 
Therefore, you can reason that after years of abusing the body with a poor diet and excessive fat and calories, a fasting state is not the answer to better health. Your body is truly craving proper nutrition, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, healthy fats, and lean meats, fish, beans, and other protein sources. Then and only then, can the body systems work together effectively and efficiently. This healthy diet will results in improved energy and overall health.
 
NOTE: Certain medical procedures and tests require patients to fast for a designated time period. Always follow the advice of your primary health care provider in these situations.
 
Additional Reading:
Detox Diets: Helpful or Full of Hype?
Do Detox Diets Work? Are They Safe?
 


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Comments

  • 4
    Ketosis as such is NOT a bad thing. It's ketoacidosis which is the problem, though many people, including medical professionals get them confused. There a lot of good information on this at Mark's Daily Apple.

    And from an article in the Journal of the International Society for Sports Nutrition, found at BioMed Central:
    "During very low carbohydrate intake, the regulated and controlled production of ketone bodies causes a harmless physiological state known as dietary ketosis. Ketone bodies flow from the liver to extra-hepatic tissues (e.g., brain) for use as a fuel; this spares glucose metabolism via a mechanism similar to the sparing of glucose by oxidation of fatty acids as an alternative fuel. In comparison with glucose, the ketone bodies are actually a very good respiratory fuel. Indeed, there is no clear requirement for dietary carbohydrates for human adults."
    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P
    MC2129159
    /


    - 5/13/2014   9:44:56 PM
  • HOOKTONTRAVEL
    3
    there're some interesting studies lately showing that 'intermittent fasting' can be very helpful and healthy. this would involve 2 non-consecutive days each week where you restrict yourself to 500 calories, and eat normally (not overeating to make up for the restrictions) the other days. it seems to help cholesterol, blood sugar, and other health issues. I'll be interested to see what more studies will show. - 5/12/2014   5:37:12 PM
  • 2
    as soon as we stop eating aren't we basically starting a fast? And then while we sleep are fasting.
    And it is better not to eat right before going to bed so your body and use it's energy to restore your body than digest food.

    So how long is to long to fast in an average day? - 5/12/2014   11:52:34 AM
  • KCHLOEE
    1
    I do a water fast after cheat days, with little to no exercise. It helps me shed the weight gained from my cheat meals and jump-starts my week. - 3/21/2014   1:03:57 PM

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