A fasting diet is a type of short-term diet plan that usually consists solely of beverages, like water, juice, or tea. Such fasts are commonly used in religious ceremonies or as protest tool. In recent years, however, dieters have begun to use fasting diets for weight loss.
By limiting the amounts and types of food consumed, many dieters believe the fasting process helps rid the body of certain toxins. Depending on the diet, individuals who fast for weight loss may only be allowed to drink water, juice, or other beverages. Some fasting diets, however, do allow dieters to consume raw vegetables and fruits, while others restrict foods on certain days, thus limiting fasting to only three or four days each week. A juice fast, for example, requires dieters to consume anywhere from 34 to 64 ounces of juice each day.
Supporters of fasting as a means of weight loss cite its many cleansing benefits as evidence of its effectiveness. Yet, despite these claims, fasting diets can have many harmful side effects. In fact, the human body is programmed to prevent fasting by using its stored energy to fuel itself. As a result, while fasting dieters may lose weight initially, as time passes, the body will adjust its metabolism accordingly — which makes it difficult to keep the weight off in the future.
In most cases, individuals are surprised to find their appetite is reduced during the first several hours of a liquid fast. As they begin to consume less food, however, the body’s metabolism gradually plummets, until its many hormones begin an attempt to ward off starvation. Unfortunately, when this happens, many dieters find they are hungrier than they were at the beginning of the fast.
Due to the effects fasting has on a person’s metabolism, medical experts do not often recommend these diets for long-term weight loss. There is also no evidence to support the detoxifying benefits of fasting. In fact, the body has its own cleansing methods, which are performed via organs such as the kidneys, liver, colon, and even the skin. Therefore, if a fasting diet does actually possess any type of cleansing benefits, they are unnecessary.
As long as a person remains hydrated, fasting for one to two days is relatively safe for healthy individuals. Fasting for longer periods of time, however, can lead to fatigue, dizziness, intolerance to cold temperatures, and constipation. In some cases, such long-term fasting can deprive the body of its much-needed nutrients and vitamins and, if maintained for too long, may even result in death. Pregnant women, individuals diagnosed with a chronic illness like diabetes or cancer, and mothers who breastfeed are therefore advised to avoid fasting diets. Furthermore, all dieters should discuss their plans with a physician prior to beginning any type of fasting diet.