Fasting for weight loss is a sensitive topic for many people because they immediately think of starving themselves. The truth is that you can lose weight through fasting and it’s 100% safe and healthy!
There is so much diet advice out there that sometimes it feels like the easiest thing to do would be to stop eating altogether, which brings up the topic of fasting. It can be grueling to stay on a restricted diet for a long time.
A lot of people think that fasting for weight loss consists of starving yourself of food, but that’s not the truth. Fasting does mean not eating for a certain length of time, but you don’t have to only drink water for a week to get the weight loss benefits. (That sounds terrible).
Fasting can be a great way to help you boost your metabolism and shed pounds, and you’ll also enjoy some pretty great health benefits as well!
While some experts feel like the risks of fasting outweigh the benefits, most studies show that if you do it right, it’s a safe and effective way to lose weight.
It’s important to educate yourself first before you make a decision to incorporate fasting into your diet regimen.
Different Types of Fasts
Intermittent Fasting: Most fasts are intermittent, which means that you take a break from eating for up to 24 hours. It might sound extreme, but it’s way less extreme than going on a 10-day Master Cleanse or doing a liquid diet.
Water Fasting: Water fasting is hardcore because you don’t take any calories in for the length of time you’re doing the fast. It’s a quick way to detox, but water fasting isn’t for everyone.
Experts suggest that if you’re not going to eat anything for more than 24 hours, you should talk to your doctor first. If you have an illness or blood sugar issues, it could cause more harm than good.
Juice Fasting: Juice fasts are also popular because you get oodles of nutrients, even though you aren’t eating solid food. You can safely go longer without eating than a water only fast.
A well-known juice fast is the Master Cleanse diet, which consists of drinking lemonade made of maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and salt water for 10 days. It’s been used since 1940 for detoxing and rapid weight loss.
Fasting Works as Well as Traditional Dieting
We have good news and bad news: intermittent fasting works just about the same as restricting your calories, but it’s not going to put you on the fast track to weight loss.
A study done on 100 people had half of them on a restricted calorie diet, while the other half did an alternate day fast and ate normally when they weren’t fasting. There was no significant difference after a year in weight loss or the health of the people in the study. (1)
They did lose weight, though, and they didn’t have to restrict their calories on non-fasting days. The problem, though, was that participants had a hard time following the protocol.
Short-term juice fasts will definitely take the weight off quickly. Participants in a study did a 72 hour fast and lost an average of 3.7 pounds each. Two weeks later, they were still down a couple of pounds. (2)
Liquid-only fasts seem to melt the pounds, but they only last so long. When you go back to eating, you’ll most like gain at least some of the weight back.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to have the RIGHT diet in place to prevent gaining the weight back!
Fasts Can Be Difficult to Stick To
It’s hard enough to stick to a diet, but according to multiple studies, it’s even harder to stick to a fast. In general, participants in studies on fasting drop out at higher rates than people who are following a specific diet. (2)
Anyone who hasn’t eaten for an extended length of time will tell you that the first bite of food you eat after a liquid-only fast will taste like heaven. The urge to shovel food into your mouth at a rate that even Mario Andretti would be proud of is extreme.
The truth is that it’s hard for most people to change their eating habits, even for a short period of time. They key word in that sentence is “habits.”
Most of us are addicted to eating, and not in a healthy “food is medicine” kind of way.
The reason that so many people drop out of fasting studies is that it’s so hard to follow the rules. Researchers believe that we are hardwired mentally and emotionally to eat three times a day with snacks. (3)
It’s not the physical cravings, but the mental ones that get us. On a subconscious level, we are terrified we’re going to starve.
When you’re able to stick to one, though, it can help you recognize just how strong you are mentally. If you can curb your hunger and food cravings, which are a basic survival instinct, you can probably do anything.
There are Amazing Health Benefits to Fasting
There are more studies on the benefits of fasting than we can count. Not only can a fast trim your waistline, but it can reduce inflammation, which is the cause of practically every health issue that exists.
Fasting helps to normalize insulin sensitivity, so if you’ve gained more weight than you’d like and heading down that road, it can cut it off at the pass.
Intermittent fasting can help people with type-2 diabetes and has been shown to be as effective for controlling insulin levels as diet. (4)(5) Check with your doctor and see if this is a safe option for you.
It also helps lower your bad cholesterol but has no effect on your good cholesterol levels. (6) This is great news for your cardiovascular system.
Your heart will thank you later.
There are a Few Cons to Fasting for Weight Loss
You get a lot of health benefits from fasting, but nothing’s perfect. While you might be a fasting warrior, able to traverse the slippery slopes of non-eating without falling, the rest of us have a few things to consider first before going down that road.
We talked about how difficult it is for many study participants to stick to a fast because of hunger pangs and food cravings. It’s just like that out in the real world.
If you can’t stick to it, not only will you not lose weight, but you might even gain some when you succumb to your urges and binge eat a box of donuts instead of drinking your smoothie.
A study on Ramadan fasters who are also athletes showed that athletic performance can go down a little bit during long-term fasting but isn’t affected at all during a short-term fast. (5)
Most researchers think that fasting is generally safe, but if you have medical issues, make sure to talk to your doctor before you start one.
Fasting Can Be a Great Way to Lose Weight if You Do it Right
If you want to take the plunge and give fasting a try, there are some things that successful fasters suggest you do:
- Eat healthy, no matter what type of fast you’re on. If you’re going on a liquid-only fast, make sure to have a healthy diet and stop or slow down drinking caffeine about a week before to decrease any detox symptoms. Even with intermittent fasting, it will help you feel better during the times you aren’t eating.
- Not all fasts are created equal, so choose one that you think you can handle. Don’t set yourself up for failure if you know you have no willpower and the thought of not eating makes you freak out.
- Drink a LOT of water. It helps fill your belly and flush out toxins. If you’re not eating as much, you’re automatically not getting as much hydration as you normally do, anyway.
If you are having wicked caffeine headaches, try a cup of green tea instead of coffee. You’ll get a dose of caffeine without the acidity.
Need some help getting started with fasting for weight loss?
Intermittent fasting is explained in a LOT more detail in our fast weight loss program, the 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge. The fasting is completely optional because it’s certainly not for everyone. But it’s a great way to try it out and see if it’s right for you, and most of our clients end up LOVING it!
Our diet plan helps our clients lose an average of 10-21 pounds in 21 days! But even better than the weight loss is the feedback we get from people about how the program has taught them how to change their eating habits and find a diet that truly works for them in the long-term.
We have over 2,000 women in our private support group going through the Challenge together and sharing experiences, results, motivation, and lots of recipes!
If you are ready to make some changes in your life, this is truly the best place to start. We will teach you exactly how to make the necessary changes in your diet and your lifestyle and how to keep them “beyond the diet.”
If you enjoyed this article on fasting for weight loss or have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!
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