Fasting has been around for centuries. The early Greeks fasted to improve their mental and physical well-being. Today fasting has been rediscovered and can be a great way to help you control what you eat.
Certainly the grossly overweight do benefit from fasting. They are hospitalized and kept under strict medical supervision while the fast continues, sometimes for as long as six months. But for the marginally overweight the picture is quite different.
For the average woman we would only recommend a one-day fast no more than once a month. Many women lack iron and the B vitamins, and to fast more often than 24 hours once a month is unwise.
Fasting can help the average dieter by breaking their “addiction” to food. If you can go for 24 hours without food it does wonderful things for your state of mind. It shows you can control what you eat and when you eat, which is a great mental boost. It strengthens willpower which in turn can lead to successful weight loss.
The amount of weight you lose over your 24-hour fast depends on how overweight you are to begin with, but you must remember that the initial weight loss is water, not fat. This means it is not permanent.
Most of us have a 24-hour reserve of food stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. After 24 hours our body has used up this store and draws on body tissue. Protein from the muscles is the first to go, so fasting for longer than 24 hours is undesirable.
The benefit of a day’s fast once a month simply shows your mastery over your eating habits – it’s proof you can control them.
Any bad breath associated with fasting isn’t, as claimed by some people, due to the body getting rid of toxins, but to acetone which results from the breakdown of body fats in the absence of carbohydrates (or in the absence of food). Your body is burning fat for energy, not getting rid of wastes.
It is a load of rubbish that fasting cleanses the body of toxins. Your liver and kidneys work 24 hours a day excreting unwanted chemicals whether you fast or not.
You must drink at least one litre water or fruit juice during a day’s fast. When you start fasting a condition called Ketosis (breakdown of body fats) is set in motion. If this is combined with dehydration you could go into a coma.
People who should never fast include:
- Those who are pregnant, particularly those in the early stages.
- Nursing mothers.
- Those with low blood sugar levels who need to eat regularly, if they don’t th will faint.
- Those suffering from cancer, cardiac disease, liver or kidney disorders, blood disorders or some nerve malfunction.
- Those taking medication. It is wise to check with your doctor before you fast, even if it is only for 24 hours.
What you’re allowed
You can settle for three to four large bottles of different mineral waters, and experience the taste difference.
You can sip a large glass of unsweetened tomato juice every three hours.
If you prefer, you can make a deaf vegetable broth using various vegetables; simmer until soft in a rich homemade stock (skimmed of all fat).
If you have a juicer try mixing a variety of fruit and vegetable juices. Start with a large glass of carrot juice, switch to orange juice, then fresh pineapple. Have a different juice every three hours. Do not add alcohol or sugar.
After a fast
When you start eating again you’ll be surprised just how good fresh food tastes. Start eating small meals four to six times a day instead of three large ones.
It’s amazing how you won’t want to “insult” your body with rubbishy foods after fasting, but want to eat the freshest of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw or lightly steamed, small portions of meat, dairy foods and wholemeal bread.
Eat slowly, chew each mouthful well, and with a day’s fast once a month you’re on the way to fighting your food addiction.