Some seniors may benefit from fasting. Men and women have been fasting for thousands of years for spiritual and health reasons, and now many adults regard it as a weight-loss tool as well.
We’ve probably seen headlines about celebrities drinking exotic fruit juices to prepare for movie roles, and heard friends talking about their weekly fast days. At the same time, fasting is still controversial among medical experts.
If we’re trying to decide whether to give up food for weight loss or other purposes, let’s consider these suggestions for staying safe while we fast.
1. Lose weight. Any diet extremely low in calories will cause us to lose weight quickly, but we’re likely to gain it right back. That’s because we lose water and muscle mass, and our metabolism slows down.
When we resume eating, we may gain weight while consuming the same amount of food we used to be able to manage.
2. Detoxify our bodies. Some diet books claim that fasts purify our system and remove environmental pollutants. Most doctors believe that our liver and other organs do that job automatically
3. Feel empowered. The stigma associated with being overweight can create a difficult relationship with food. We may appreciate the experience of control that comes with brief fasting.
4. Practice our religion. Many faiths include rituals based on fasting. Practitioners say it heightens their awareness and brings them closer to the divine.
5. Prepare for medical treatment. Listen to our doctors when they give us directions not to eat before certain medical tests or surgery. Proper treatment may require establishing an accurate baseline or giving our body a break from digesting food.
6. Live longer. A large body of research supports a connection between consuming fewer calories and extending our life span. The tradeoffs may be worth it for us
1. Drink liquids. Dehydration is one of the biggest concerns during any extreme diet. If we feel dizzy or confused, we should drink more water and see our doctor if the symptoms continue.
2. Clarify our terms. There are many different kinds of fasts. Most healthy individuals can handle consuming nothing but water for up to two days. Fasts that allow liquid calories or eating at certain hours may be feasible for longer periods.
3. Alternate days. Alternate day fasting is a hot trend since a British TV doctor wrote a book about his experience. We may want to experiment with his formula for five days on and two days off.
4. Study nutrition. If we’re trying to take off weight, keep in mind that fasting is a temporary and intense approach. In the long term, it’s important for us to understand how to eat healthy to stay in shape. We could pick up a book on nutrition and try out two new recipes for vegetables.
5. Watch for side effects. In addition to dehydration, there can be other consequences to fasting. Look out for bad breath, trouble sleeping, and changes in mood. We may find it helpful to decrease our level of physical activity and postpone tasks that require heavy thinking.
6. Know our risks. Some adults need to avoid fasting altogether, including pregnant women and those who suffer from diabetes.
The bottom line is that there are many diets more effective than fasting if we’re trying to lose weight. On the other hand, we may have other good reasons to stop eating temporarily.
In that case, fasting may be good for our body and soul, as long as we talk with our doctor and take precautions that will keep us safe while we cut out calories.
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