Recently, I had a friend ask me about fasting and how it related to health and weight loss. I have had this asked of me before, so I thought I would go ahead and post on it.
The first thing that comes to mind for me when talking about fasting is the religous aspect of it. Fasting is something every Christian should do now and again.In Matthew 6:16 Jesus tells us, ” 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. ” Notice He does not say “if you decide to fast,” he say, “when.” So religously I am all for it.
Now on to weight loss. The problem with fasting and weight loss is two-fold. First, it raises cortisol levels. This is a stress hormone that causes the body to store fat in anticipation of famine. So you may lose weight, but it will be lean tissue and you’ll get that awesome “skinny-fat” look. Secondly, fasting often leads to just not eating all day and then binging at night. This is not healthy and you will not lose weight this way. People who follow the second pattern often binge on high calorie foods (cause you body thinks you need it) and justify it because they havn’t eaten all day. I see this particularly with sweets and alcohol. This can actually cause weight gain.
The last note i’ll write on fasting is that I do think it can be useful in breaking a persons addiction to food. Many people can’t diet because their bodies have been trained to be hungry at a certain time for a certain caloric amount. Fasting for short periods of time can help break that cycle. For instance, if a person eats lunch at noon everyday, I might suggest packing that same lunch and eating half at 10 am and half at 3 pm. By varying meal times, a person can better tune into when and how hungry their body is.