Last Updated on December 16, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
A fasting diet can have several different types of plans to it. While some restrict foods to liquids for a short period of time, some will require you to cut calories out completely. Although depriving yourself of food can surely cause you to lose weight, it can also cause a wide range of issues. In reality, a fasting diet can be life threatening if taken too far.
The Problems with a Fasting Diet
It seems like everywhere you look, there is another diet plan to help you lose weight fast. Mainstream diet plans are in plentiful supply while more subtle diet plans put your body at extreme risk. The fact of the matter is that everyone is different and the best diet plans are not always good for everyone.
Take a fasting diet for instance. Personally, I think this is one of the most maddening ideas I have ever come across. This isn’t because I love foods and enjoy my sweets. It’s because of the problems that can come from starving yourself.
There is a lot of talk about how “starvation mode” is a myth. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find studies that don’t contradict each other. In fact, many of the websites I’ve come across about starvation mode being a myth talk about “studies,” but don’t provide the actual study.
So, because there is a lack of evidence to the contrary…
When you deprive your body of food, your body goes into starvation mode. This means your metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy. A slow metabolism is why a lot of people are overweight to begin with. This is how even the smallest of amount of food is capable of sustaining the body over long periods of time.
Once the metabolism is nice and slow, some fasting diet plans state you can go back to normal eating. In the end, it’s quite possible to gain more weight than you would have lost. While some people may experience a bit of weight loss, many more will find that this kind of a plan is unsustainable.
If anyone can tweet an actual link to a metabolic starvation mode myth study, it would be greatly appreciated.
One of the more severe drawbacks to a fasting diet is the fact the body will begin to cannibalize itself in order to survive. Fats and proteins will be broken down to keep the body functioning. This means you will lose muscle mass as well as fat.
Although this conversion of proteins can take quite a while to begin, it’s still something you’ll need to consider before jumping on that starvation bandwagon. The materials you don’t eat during this period of time will be taken from your body.
Storing Vitamins and Minerals
The human body needs a balance of vitamins and minerals in order to function properly. In fact, our bodies do not store water-soluble vitamins such as some of the Bs, C and various components found in dairy products. We consume some of these materials through the foods we eat. When you’re depriving your body of these components, it will not have the nutrition needed to sustain itself.
These kinds of diet plans often leave people feeling lethargic. This is because the body is conserving what it has in order to survive and does not have the components to keep energy levels up. As a result, you’ll find yourself getting more tired while trying to do any physical activity throughout the day. This is because you’re exerting more energy than the body can produce.
For those who have any form of diabetes, a fasting diet can be ultimately dangerous. These kinds of diets can lead to increased or decreased blood sugar levels depending on which side of the spectrum you’re on. As I am hypoglycemic, a decrease in blood-sugar levels causes me to shake and become irrationally angry relatively quick. This is also referred to as a low blood glucose level.
Speaking from experience, going into diabetic shock is not fun. In fact, it can be extremely dangerous. In some cases, people have been known to go into a comma because of this. In the most severe cases, even death is possible.
Even those who are not normally diabetic can experience the same kind of situation when starving themselves. You don’t need to suffer from hypoglycemia to feel the effects of shock when your blood-sugar drops too low.
Should You Consider a Fasting Diet?
Too many people believe that starving themselves of food can lead to weight loss. Unfortunately, this weight loss is not considered healthy by any means. There is simply too much that go wrong, and putting your body through intense internal stress in such a way is dangerous.
Sure, there will be people out there who praise a fasting diet and how they can lose all this weight from starvation. However, I tend to put more faith in science than belief. If you are considering going on one of these diets, please keep one thing in mind: everyone’s physiology is different.
Even though humans share the basic principles of being carbon-based life forms, we are still different. What will work for one person may not work for another. For instance, a fasting diet would easily send me into shock – but it might work perfectly for someone else.
What’s an Alternative to a Fasting Diet?
With how many diets that are available online, it’s easy to find one that works for you. Again, bear in mind that everyone is different. I know some people who enjoyed the Atkins diet while another person developed gout because of it.
Here are my alternatives to any of these diet plans.
Controlling Your Portion Sizes
Portion control is one of the quickest ways to drop the weight. When you consider just how many people are overfed in the country, the amount of food being consumed is staggering.
Stick to proper portion sizes in everything you eat. This is one of the reasons why I use MyFitnessPal to track my food intake. This app helps me keep track of everything from calories to total nutrition for the day. It’s a great tool if you want to curb your eating habits.
Increasing Physical Activity
Getting more active is something you probably won’t be able to do on a fasting diet. However, it helps strengthen the body while burning away fats. Instead of focusing on exercise for weight loss, think of all the benefits that come from creating muscle mass and density.
Physical activity also helps boost metabolism, improves the cardiovascular system and aids in protecting yourself from injuries. Exercise is more than just a solution for weight loss. It’s a way to improve many aspects of your life from grocery shopping to sex.
Changing Your Mindset
Most weight loss and exercise is mental. This means the way you view these things will impact how successful you are. If you approach exercise like it’s a chore, you’ll begin doing it less and less. The same goes for reducing your food intake.
The best way to lose weight fast is to start by changing your mindset. You need to have determination and drive to succeed. Otherwise, you may find it far more difficult to drop the weight. You need to refrain from talking yourself out of healthy alternatives and focus more on the benefits of living a more healthy lifestyle.
I have lost about 40 pounds so far simply by reducing my intake and adding more physical activity. I’ve got more muscle mass than I’ve ever had in my life, and I am feeling far better both physically and emotionally.
It All Boils Down to Personal Preference
Personal preference is the primary motivation behind any diet plan. While some will have complete faith in the Paleo diet, others will believe a fasting diet is more ideal. The best diet plans and exercise routines will be completely driven by what you prefer. Find what works for you and embrace it. Just make sure it’s conducive to your health.