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Myth Buster: Fasting Helps Weight Loss

This is a discussion on Myth Buster: Fasting Helps Weight Loss within the Weight Loss forums, part of the Health | Fitness category; Myth Buster: Fasting Helps Weight Loss Rapid weight loss accomplished through fasting or other extreme diets can cause dehydration, nutritional ...

Old 11-23-2011
Star Myth Buster: Fasting Helps Weight Loss

Myth Buster: Fasting Helps Weight Loss

Rapid weight loss accomplished through fasting or other extreme diets can cause dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and other health problems. When compared to gradual weight loss achieved through a healthy diet and exercise, weight that's lost rapidly is harder to keep off in the long-term. Here's why...

Effects of fasting on the body

Fasting can cause dizziness, dehydration, nausea, fatigue, loss of muscle tissue and electrolyte imbalances. Depending on the length of the fast, it can also cause damage to the kidneys and other organs. It is also a myth that fasting helps the body detox. Weight loss occurs when caloric intake is less than the energy output. Fasting for a certain period of time can bring about a caloric deficit which causes weight loss. But this deficit is quite difficult to maintain over a stretch of time that can support gradual and healthy weight loss. Besides, such a steep caloric deficit will only deplete your body of the much needed energy to support exercise to build the necessary lean muscle mass. Fasting is an extreme method of short-term weight loss and it will harm your health.

Modified ways to “fast”

While fasting for periods of time is not an effective or sustainable weight-loss strategy, a modified "fast" that involves adhering to a very low-calorie diet on certain days may be an effective weight-loss treatment in certain cases. A diet plan in which caloric intake is reduced to 25 percent of energy needs every other day has been proved as an effective strategy for reducing body weight and associated cardiac risk factors in obese individuals.

Safety precautions

If you still decide to go on a fasting spree, there are certain things which must be considered as safety precautions. First, get the OK from your physician, especially if you take medications or have any health conditions. Drink plenty of water throughout the fast to avoid dehydration. If you decide to do a modified fast of alternate-day calorie restriction, it is important to consume nutrient-rich foods.

The Right kind of weight loss

Even though the idea of rapid weight loss may be tempting, the most effective strategy for controlling weight over time is a combination of diet and exercise. Losing weight by reducing caloric intake and exercising to achieve a caloric deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day, or 3,500 to 7,000 calories per week is the right way of doing it. Gradual weight loss is not only safer than quick weight loss through fasting but also people who lose weight at a slow and steady pace are better able to maintain their weight loss in the long-term

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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