Recently, I have become aware that fasting is integrated into the lives of many people. Some have religious purposes such as the recent Muslim holiday Ramadan. Others fast in hopes of achieving weightloss (I do not believe this is a safe way for long term health). This stirred up curiosity about the science behind fasting and the affects on your body.
Let’s start off as to why people fast as many times it goes way beyond weight loss. While some people fast to attempt to drop a few pounds, I have found that people also fast for the following reasons:
1. Detox – Most of us ingest so many toxins on a daily basis and think nothing of it. By completely removing all inflammatory, addictive & acidic foods, one my allow the body to release all of the crap. In return, one may feel an increase of energy because they aren’t being drudged through the mud by all the readily crappy garbage we seem to call food. This can be a very beneficial fast if done in a smart way.
2. Religion – This should obviously not be a surprise. Most Christian religions have holidays that require fasting for those that want to celebrate in the fullest sense. As a non-practicing Catholic I do not participate in any religious fasting, however, it has been my experience that fasting for this reason is typically in place to reveal the hardships that many have to go through compared to us living our privileged lives. There are millions around the globe that do not have fresh fruits, veggies, meats or even water. The next time you turn on your faucet to get a glass of water remember that many do not have this luxury. This type of fasting is typically nutrient deficient and rarely if ever recommended by anyone in the fitness industry.
3. Weightloss – So many of us struggle with maintaining a healthy weight especially in the United States. It has been my experience that people are either too tempted by addictive foods to resist them in their diet or that their idea of healthy eating is skewed far from reality. In an effort to “clean up their diet”, many will eat next to nothing or go on some sort of calorie restricted cleanse because the thought of making healthy decisions is too overwhelming.
To enter a fast it’s best if your diet is gradually lightened over a few days. First, remove heavy foods such as meats and dairy products. Grains, nuts, and beans should then be eliminated. About a day prior, eat only easily digested foods like fruits, light salads, and soups. The diet after a fast should emphasize fresh, wholesome foods. If you attempt to consume any fast or heavily processed food you may risk an upset stomach due to the amount of chemicals and unhealthy levels of fats, sugars and carbs typically incorporated into these “foods”. It’s also vital that before, during, and after a fast you drink a lot of plain water. This keeps you hydrated and helps flush your system.
It’s also important to note that fasting is not appropriate for everyone—especially pregnant and nursing women—and, in some cases, could be harmful. Those with health conditions should always have medical support during fasting.
With that said, there are numerous side affects when it comes to fasting. Here are a few that you could notice should you decide to fast: