Fasting--or consuming nothing but water for a specific period of time--seems a quick and easy way to drop a few pounds quickly. Most major health organizations, including the American Heart Association, do not recommend taking drastic measure to lose weight. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics warns that fasting for any period of time will slow down your metabolism and when you return to eating regular food, your body will be tempted to store every calorie as fat to store up for the next fasting event. Despite the problems associated with fasting, a short fast--lasting one to three days--may help you break from eating poor-quality processed food and fast food and help you embark on a healthy weight-loss regimen that includes healthy foods and increased physical activity. If you are committed to a fast for weight loss, use the following tips to make it a safe process.
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Some People Should Avoid Fasting
Certain people should not attempt a fast for any period of time. Pregnant and nursing women, children and the elderly have nutritional needs that must be met. People who have certain illnesses or on certain medications also should check with their doctor before attempting a fast.
Reduce Physical Activity
One reason fasts are not recommended for weight loss is that they rob you of energy. Increased physical activity is usually recommended to spur weight loss, but if you are fasting you should lie low. You may find yourself becoming exhausted during exercise or unable to complete a workout with good form, potentially causing injury. Your body will also dip into lean muscle for energy.
Minimize Your Expectations
After a few days of fasting, you will most likely lose weight. Do not expect the weight loss to last for the long run, however. You have lost significant water weight that will return when you begin to eat again. You may have trouble adhering to a complete fast and end up binging because of extreme hunger. If you decide to fast for a few days, limit your social functions so that you are not exposed to tempting meals.
While fasting, be sure to keep drinking plenty of water or herbal teas. Do not allow yourself to become dehydrated because that may lead to health problems.
Be prepared to suffer side effects of your fast. If you are giving up caffeine, alcohol and excessive amounts of sugar, you may experience headaches. Hunger can cause you to feel nauseated and dizzy.
Following your fast, introduce foods gradually as recommended by the Healing Daily website. Instead of shocking your system with a huge, fatty meal, begin by eating light meals that contain whole foods like fresh produce and lean meats. Your digestive system needs time to adjust to going back to working full-time.