Every year, a new diet program appears promising to make our weight loss dreams a reality. Whether it is the high-fat, protein-packed Atkins diet, or the calorie-restrictive South Beach Diet, there is no shortage of programs to choose from.
Unfortunately, for most of us, diet programs are just too, well… programmatic. Calorie counting, special ingredients, and special measuring devices make it difficult to follow many programs day after day. And if we give into our cravings, jumping back onto our chosen diet plan feels like a punishment.
Losing weight requires your body to burn more calories than it takes in. Although this is an overly simplistic explanation of how someone loses weight, this premise forms the foundation of almost every diet plan.
Fasting, however, is different. The idea behind fasting is to reduce the number of hours when we eat and allow more time for our bodies to rest, repair, and rejuvenate itself. Consequently, fewer hours of eating will likely result in few calories consumed when not fasting.
When someone fasts, the body intakes less energy (calories), has more time to regulate fat stores, and weight will begin to shed. And, because there are no calories to count, recipes to learn, or special meals to purchase, fasting is an incredibly easy program to stick to. But fasting is not a silver bullet.
While theoretically calorie intake should drop along with the pounds, studies are showing the opposite is occurring in many individuals. The culprit – not understanding basic nutrition.
After not eating for 16 hours, or completely fasting for a whole day, it is not uncommon for people to consume more calories than when not fasting. This often occurs as a means to “reward” oneself for completing their fast. Ultimately, the benefits of resting the body are wasted, having now needing to process even more food than before.
Like any form of diet or exercise, discuss the benefits and risks of fasting with your physician before starting your own regime. Like any weight management program, proper nutrition and exercise are critical. Fasting alone will not help you reach your goals, but as a part of a healthy lifestyle, fasting could increase your overall health and energy.