Is Fasting a Viable Weight Loss Tool?

It seems pretty straightforward: Want to lose weight? Stop eating! There are a number of diets out there, and some of them involve some kind of fast. If you are trying to lose weight with the help of a lower caloric intake, fasting as a weight loss tool can be a tempting route to follow. After all, you are likely to see quick results, whether you are following a specific fasting regimen, such as a juice fast, or just reduce your caloric intake to a low amount.

Fasting has a long history. Many cultures and religions consider fasting a vital part of spiritual growth. In such cases, fasting promotes discipline, and encourages adherents to overcome the carnal in favor of the spiritual. (We’re in the midst of Ramadan, the Islamic month devoted to fasting.) However, it is one thing to fast occasionally for the spiritual benefits, and quite another to use it as a weight loss tool.

Can You Keep the Weight Off?

One of the biggest issues with fasting as a path to weight loss is the fact that you might have a hard time keeping the weight off. Anytime you lose weight at a rapid pace, there is the chance that it will return — with a vengeance. Slow weight loss is recommended because it tends to coincide with actual changes in behaviors and health habits.

The idea is that, if you want to improve your health, you need to take steps to develop solid, healthy habits. Fasting to lose weight doesn’t do that. Instead of gradually adopting a lifestyle that can benefit you over the long haul, fasting is about the quick fix. After you reach your target weight loss goal, you aren’t fasting anymore, and the weight can come back quickly. One of the reasons that people get stuck in the diet cycle is because diets are temporary. Fasting occasionally for non-weight loss purposes can be beneficial to your emotional, spiritual, and mental health (if you believe in the efficacy of occasional fasting), but there is a lot of debate over whether or not fasting is healthy as a weight loss tool.

Bottom Line

Really, though, you are probably better off looking at ways you can change your lifestyle habits. Many experts recommend that you aim for losing between one and two pounds a week. It seems like a slow slog at that rate, but it will benefit you over time. Instead of seeing quick results, you make efforts to change your lifestyle habits. Include more exercise, and better eating habits, and you will eventually lose weight. However, the gradual pace, and the improved health habits will help you keep the weight off more successfully.

Permanent weight loss requires constant effort. Once you have gained weight, it’s harder to lose it — and harder to keep it off. You have to stick with the healthy lifestyle over time, or the pounds will come creeping back. Even when you have a surgery, or some other rapid weight loss procedure done, it can come back if you aren’t careful. The only way to keep the weight off is to change your habits.

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