With losing weight, it can be incredibly tempting to find a quick and easy solution. Fasting diets have soared in popularity over recent years, and is often seen as a quick way to lose weight or an easy way to detox. A person’s reason for fasting isn’t always about losing weight or detoxing. In many cases, people choose to fast due to religious and medical reasons, such as fasting the day before a medical procedure. With fasting diets, are there any health benefits? We explore this question below.
What Are Fasting Diets?
Fasting diets are diets in which you don’t eat or you eat very little. Not all fasting diets are the same, though. Some fasting diets require you to only consume liquids, while others require you to consume tiny portions and cut calories. Other fasting diets may require you to eat every other day. Regardless of what the fasting diet looks like, the consensus is that fasting is supposed to be an efficient way to lose weight and detoxify your body. However, your body naturally detoxifies itself, and as you’ll see below, fasting may not be the best way in order to try to lose weight either.
Is Fasting OK to Lose Weight?
While some may see fasting as a quick and easy way to lose weight, this can actually work against you. When you’re not eating, your metabolism starts to slow down due to starvation. While you might not feel as hungry after a while, once you start eating again, your hunger overcompensates to a point where you may overeat and end up back to your original weight. Even more so, you may find it more difficult to shed the extra pounds due to your slow metabolism. However, if you are doing an intermittent type of fasting where you eat within a window and then fast for the rest of the day, you have a better chance of getting the weight off and keeping it off, especially if you stick to the diet.
Are Fasting Diets Safe?
While fasting for two or three days won’t hurt most people as long as they stay hydrated, fasting for long periods of time can cause you significant harm. Your body needs vitamins and minerals in order to function properly. If your body goes without these essential vitamins and minerals, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Not being able to stand cold temperatures. Even the slightest calorie reduction can cause lower your core body temperature, making you feel chillier than you would if you were on a full stomach
It’s important to approach any type of fasting diet in a proper and healthy way. Please talk to your doctor first before taking any fasting diet into consideration.
What Kinds of Fasting Are There?
There’s three main kinds of fasting diets:
- Alternate day fasting. This involves going from a normal diet one day to fasting completely or eating one small meal the next and alternating between the two each day.
- Whole day fasting. This involves multiple days of fasting or having a restricted diet each week. A popular version of this is the 5:2 diet where there are no restrictions for five days followed by little to no food consumption for the other two.
- Time restricted fasting. This involves allowing a window of time each day to eat and strictly adhere to fasting the rest of the day.
Picking the right fasting diet for you is going to be based on what your body is capable of handling. In recent years, the most popular type of fasting has become time restricted, and out of the three, it is considered to be the safest type of fasting and is even recommended by health professionals.
What is the 16:8 Diet?
The 16:8 diet is a type of fasting in which you allow yourself to eat for 8 hours and then fast for 16. Where that 8 hour window falls is entirely up to the person who’s on the diet. However, the most common windows are between noon and 8pm so they’re basically just skipping breakfast, or between 9am and 5pm, so they can still get 3 meals a day in, even if they end up being smaller meals. It’s a type of intermittent fasting which has its own set of benefits and side effects. These benefits include:
- Weight loss
- Reduction of inflammation
- Helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and other afflictions affiliated with inflammation
- Improved blood sugar control
- Cutting down on the amount of cooking you have to do each week
However, there are a handful of side effects to watch out for with intermittent fasting. Many of these tend to subside once you get into the routine of this type of fasting. If any of these become severe, reconsider doing a fasting diet. Potential side effects include:
Intermittent fasting is a safe way to fast, but it may not be for everyone. It’s important to maintain a healthy amount of hydration and nutrition while pursuing any sort of fasting. Speak with your provider or health coach to address your concerns with fasting, especially if you may have any underlying conditions that may affect you.
While fasting may seem like a simple way to lose weight, it must be taken with caution. Fasting combined with proper exercise and hydration can help you lose weight, but you may not be able to keep it off. Remember, the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is by eating nutritious foods, avoiding processed foods that are high in saturated fats and staying physically active.
If you are interested in doing a fasting diet, check with your provider or our health coach to find out it’s the right choice for you and to learn of any potential complications and/or side effects you may encounter along the way. Your health is always of utmost importance and there are healthier alternatives to losing weight than not eating; remember, it’s better to eat the right foods than none at all.