By Brad Pilon, MS
There are many reasons why you should include fasting as a part of your everyday lifestyle, many of which have nothing to do with diet. Fasting as a concept has been around as long as the hills, though it has been taken to extremes at times and made to look like a less than viable part of a normal and sensible health and weight control plan.
Fasts have been undertaken through the years for reasons as diverse as political causes (Bobby Sands comes to mind) and religious fasts. The Bible and many other religions promote fasting as a way to get closer to God, and to achieve enlightenment. There is also some physical evidence that deprivation can lead to a heightened state of awareness, no doubt some of which comes from the lack of additional food the system must process.
Fasts can also be used as a prelude to medical procedures. For instance, most doctors recommend a 12-hour fast before taking a lipid profile. This is also standard procedure before surgery. Complications from the combination of food and anesthesia have been known to occur. There is also at least empirical evidence that fasting can have a beneficial effect on other aspects of your health. There are those who believe that water fasting can not only work to detoxify cells and rejuvenate organs, but also can help and possibly aid in curing such diseases and conditions as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, lupus and many more autoimmune disorders.
A newer trend in terms of using fasting as an aid in a sensible weight loss plan is the concept of intermittent fasts. These are short-term fasts lasting 24-36 hours in length, which help contribute to a total caloric deficit, thus bringing about faster weight loss. This type of fasting is simple to implement, and can be adapted to most individual needs.
One danger to be aware of is the practice of extreme fasting among teens. This can lead to other types of food disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia. Few teens need to go on extreme fasts for purposes of weight loss, and if one is considered, it should be under the supervision of their physician. If the reasons for going on a fast have anything to do with pressure to be thin, or feelings of low self-esteem, then it would be wise to offer counsel. Extreme fasts tend to appear when a period of binge eating has occurred, with the intent being to purge the body of all the excess food.
Fasting can be a viable and important piece of a well thought out weight loss plan. The use of short-term fasts used in conjunction with a sound diet can offer great weight loss results, as well as some of the ancillary benefits of fasting. This combined with all the spiritual and beneficial effects fasting can have on a person’s psyche make fasting something you should definitely consider when determining your course.
Brad Pilon is a nutrition professional with over eight years experience working in the nutritional supplement industry specializing in clinical research management and new product development. Brad has completed graduate studies in nutritional sciences specializing in the use of short term fasting for weight loss.
His trademarked book Eat Stop Eat has been featured on national television and helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat without sacrificing the foods they love.