Nutrition Wednesday: Fasting

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Fasting causes you to crave food and over eat

When I was in high school, my friends and I would “fast” before school dances to look good in our dresses. Some of us took it further than others, but we all thought cutting calories two weeks before a dance would make all of the difference. Unfortunately, we also didn’t know how dangerous these behaviors were. Your body needs glucose (fuel) throughout the day and if it cannot get it from incoming food, it will take it from the proteins in your lean tissues. Your body can only survive off of those proteins for 10 days. These behaviors are also scary because you end up weakening your body. Overall, fasting for short periods is not terrible, but not the best thing for your body (I totally understand if you do it for religious purposes, I’m not saying you shouldn’t, I’m just stating the scientific research behind it). While my fasting to lose weight for school dances was in no means extreme (I still ate at least two meals a day), it is the idea behind implementing a fast that is dangerous. Fasts are usually associated with losing weight, but extreme fasting (and even repetitive short term fasting) really takes its toll on our bodies.

  • Fasting makes you want starchy foods (breads, pastas, etc.), which aren’t bad and we all need them, but not in excess
  • It causes your metabolism to slow down, which could eventually cause weight gain
  • It can affect your blood cells since the tissues are losing necessary proteins
  • It can cause you to lose large amounts of minerals in your urine
  • I don’t know about you, but when I am hangry (hungry angry) all I want to eat is a donut, cookie, piece of cake, or a brownie, and etc…. yeah pretty much fasting can make you overeat to the max. The worst part is that this behavior can be so affected by the fasting that it becomes a habit for years (obvi in more extreme cases)
  • Don’t buy into the mumbo jumbo that fasting cleanses your body… it just makes it weaker

I’m not sure if I am being clear about what the word fasting means, and if you feel like this is totally unnecessary then I’m sorry and please ignore my explanation. Fasting is not the sense of feeling hungry. Fasting is not eating for a time frame. With that meaning, it is not bad to limit your calories to what your body actually needs so that you do not eat in excess. I am not saying that you can’t ever diet (although I think diets are pointless and you should change your lifestyle instead). These are just salient points that researchers have discovered about fasting.

Have you ever fasted to lose weight? How did it go?

Please note that I am *not* a nutritionist or nutrition expert, this is information based on my own knowledge and experience that I took away from the book Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Sizer and Whitney. Please consult a doctor before starting any nutrition routine, taking any supplements, or prescribing to any diet. 

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