Fasting for Dieting Right or Wrong (I say its right)
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What happens when you fast? I decided to write this post because I had become irritated about a few things I have heard form individuals or read about fasting recently. Specifically fasting for dieting. I believe there are also good reasons for religious fasting but I won’t go into those in this article.
So what happens? First you body begins to burn glycogen and some muscle. It runs out of glycogen (which had been created from carbs and starches). It then stops burning muscle and begins to burn fats. It ramps up production of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) which saves the muscle from being burned for a period of time. Eventually if you starve long enough(30 days or more and when fat reserves have been depleted) all tissues can become food. The body converts proteins to energy and your muscles will completely consume away. But I don’t believe this will happen until all fat is gone first.
There was a man in England who fasted for 352 days, he dropped from 470lbs to 180lbs in that time. He drank water, took vitamins and some minerals such as potassium and sodium as directed by physicians. He wend back to eating, lived on and never regained the weight.
You will hear it said that fasting for weight loss is stupid because you will simply regain the weight. You will hear its because you tend to overeat after a fast and because in short fast much of the weight loss is water. You will even see write ups that talk as if you loose water and lots of muscle and won’t mention any fat loss at all. You will hear about how brutal a fast is and how hellish it is. (weak talk) There is much biased talk against the fast in my opinion.
I have not done a lot of fasting but hear me out on this. I have fasted for one day periods a dozen times maybe . For 2 days periods less but sometimes. And twice for 3 days in my life and counting. I hope to do a 5 day fast some day. Or maybe even 7 days. Survivorman Les Stroud sometimes goes 7 days without food on his shows. I’d like to see if the hunger pains (and so far I haven’t seen much in the way of actual PAIN), do go away. So far my stomach doesn’t actually hurt but just nags at me. I feel a definite hollow feeling but no pain to speak of. Sometimes it growls a bit. Nothing really bad at all though.
Eating is definitely a pleasure. If you doubt then try fasting. Telling yourself “no” the first time or two to food while fasting will be a challenge indeed. Your mind will scream at you for food. It will constantly remind you almost to the point that you can’t concentrate on other things. Its almost like a spoiled child throwing a temper tantrum. That is the first few times you fast. I broke a fast once or twice the first few times. I actually thought to myself “this is stupid”. If you do it enough you see that it is not however.
The mind is a funny thing. It learns after repeatedly being told no to accept no. The more times you repeat this fasting and the more times your mind has to endure this the less it reminds you during fast that you are not eating and should eat. It finally gives up. And finally I think its on your side. If you see some food or smell some food 30 hours in to a 48 hour fast and you being to think about it your mind will remind you “no no you are fasting” And then you put your mind on something else and the thought goes away. Maybe this is called conditioning? Training?
So don’t feed me that bull that fasting is a terrible torturous experience that won’t help you loose weight because you will gorge yourself afterwards. I have one word for you (that person) “wuss”. The answer to this is simple. Don’t gorge yourself after a fast. As a matter of fact try low carbs the day before and day after the fast. I suggest taking prescription meds and multivitamins during the fast. Consult your physician however just to clear up any safety considerations before fasting if you have never done it before. I don’t think personally that I’d bother my physician before each and every fast.
I think you may find that its easier to pass up a lot of food items that you never could before after you have practiced fasting. Meaning a little hunger won’t throw you into a feeding frenzy. Also as in most things the taste of things are enhanced after a period of abstinence from food. Things that are more healthy actually taste far better. Bread without butter taste wonderful. Salad veggies without dressing taste awesome. Triskets without cheese taste great! And less filling. Be prepared to eat these lower carb feast after a fast and even before the fast.
Finally its not the fast that causes you to loose weight and fat but the reduced energy intake. Or actually the reduced average energy intake. You can reduce your energy intake without fasting and loose the same weight. This is why many do not recommend fasting for loosing weight. I somewhat see their point except to say that there is no harm in adding fasting to the diet. I think for the conditioning of the mind it can be very helpful. If you have experienced the worst mental stresses from not eating that you can experience then you won’t eat a whole super large bag of potato chips just because you are little hungry. You will have more sense than that. You will also see where the pleasure in eating is at vs eating for health and energy.
If you ever did have a survival situation at hand then going a few days without eating won’t scare you. Or facing going a few days without food won’t scare you. Having fasted might cause you to have empathy for others that are not as lucky as you are to live in the land of milk and honey where we all have access to many times the energy our bodies actually need.
Take a look at our culture and the meals that are offered to us in restaurants. They don’t offer us reduced price meals if we cut out high starch items such as potatoes. If you don’t want the combo with the potatoes fine but you pay more for the meat. You want a large drink, then fine but you must have a larger order of potatoes to go with it. And your conscience won’t let that food go to waste. Especially when it taste so good. It should taste great, we are wired so that the energy taste best. I swear sometimes that I am addicted to carbs and starch. McDonald’s gripes me more than anyone that they don’t have something healthier to offer in place of their great french fries that has made them so famous. I have got them to substitute apple slices from a kids meal but its not in their system to do it.
A funny thing is that if you have not already developed diabetes then fasting can help in preventing it. But if you have it fasting might hurt. I need to do more research on how fasting affects people with diabetes. Fasting also helps to prevent heart disease.
My diet? Low car, low starch and low fat with occasional fasting. Find some added way to burn some calories and you can’t loose. Nothing but weight that is.