Fasting for weight loss. Does it really work?

Updated: December 23, 2012

Fasting for weight loss: Is it necessary to fast before starting a weight loss program? 

Fasting is practiced around the world as a part of many religions. Is there  that fasting produces healthy results?

Discover the facts as we cover many of the facts around fasting and how it can apply to you.

There are lots of infomercials that promote diet and exercises programs which recommend a few day fast, before starting the actual diet and exercise program. Fasting seems really popular, because it is believed it washes out any toxins and impurities, and also forces the body to use more of its fat stores for energy during the workouts. The fasting is suppose to make the lifestyle and dietary change easier and more effective. But is fasting really necessary? Nobody really enjoys fasting because it is very hard and if you need to fast for many days or even a couple of weeks, it can be very challenging.

Does fasting produce weight loss?

Fasting, like detoxification, are very sensitive subjects for a lot of folks, because they are so attached to it. Some even have religious beliefs about it and it can be impossible to fasting humour imagechange their minds. But according to scientific studies, there is no evidence that fasting helps to improve fat loss or make it any easier. There is no evidence that shows that fasting helps to prepare the body to fully utilize the fat stores. Fasting is very often used by many diet programs, because it gives very quick and often dramatic weight loss results, which makes the diet program look better and more people start following it.

A fast, at the beginning of a diet program, does generally allow people to lose weight very rapidly. And the emphasis is on  “weight”  not fat. It is not unheard of to lose 10-15 pounds in just the first 1-2 weeks with fasting. And if a diet program lasts for 5-6 weeks, then the total weight loss can be up 25-30 pounds, which is really impressive for people. But a really important question you and everyone else must ask, is do you want to lose weight or fat?

The first 15 pounds or so you lose is just water, muscle tissue and glycogen. The rest of it might be fat or you might even lose less fat, depending of the severity and length of the fast. The 15-20 pounds you have lost with the fast will certainly and very quickly come back, because it is fluid, which the body can easily restore. If the fast continues for longer periods, a person can suffer from severe muscle loss and metabolic damage.

Instant gratification or real result?

fasting logoSome people like to call a fast an “induction” phase, which is suppose to shift the metabolism to far burning mode. But lets be honest, the main reason why so many diet programs offer fasting and „induction“ phases, is because people need instant results and gratification. For most people a steady 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is not enough and to them it feels like a failure. Many dieticians and fitness experts claim that giving this positive boost at the beginning of a fat loss program is necessary, because it gives the person more motivation. But if you lose 15 pounds in 1 week and gain the 15 pounds back in 3 weeks, then it is hardly a positive boost. Very rapid weight loss nearly always backfires.

Many of the most legitimate health and fitness publications, like the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the American Dietetic Association and the American College Of Sports Medicine, all recommend the sensible and healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week or 1% of the body weight. So why is it necessary to go through very difficult, challenging and pointless fasting? If you really want to get healthier, fitter and leaner, you need to have patience. If you are overweight, then obviously these pounds didn’t appear overnight, right?

You can do fasting or detoxification, if it is a part of your religion or you like doing it. But it is certainly not necessary, when your goal is fat loss, because it doesn’t give you any advantage. Why should a person choose a lemon water diet, over a balanced, healthy and nutritious diet?

NadiaWritten by: Nadia (17 Posts)

Nadia is a life coach and health writer residing in Toronto.

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