How to Lose Weight Fast Through Fasting
September 17, 2017 | 3,564 views
By Dr. Mercola
Fasting is one of the oldest health techniques when it comes to achieving overall body balance. In an interview with Dr. Jason Fung, we discussed his book, “The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting.”
Fung, who is a nephrologist (kidney specialist), notes that people are usually skeptical of fasting and whether it’s actually effective or just a fad. But after a few weeks of fasting, the results are obvious.
He notes that his patients start to lose weight, their blood sugar level starts to go down and their body just starts to detoxify and clean itself of fat and excess sugar.
Debunking the Myths About Fasting
Fasting is surrounded by myths, which sometimes stop people from actually undergoing this method of improving the body’s processes. One of the most famous myths is that fasting will have an effect on muscle mass.
Some people believe that when they start fasting, they’ll gradually lose their muscles instead of losing fat. But this is incorrect.
Fung notes that when you start fasting, you start burning the glycogen in your liver. The body also starts burning excess amino acids as the fasting occurs. This is what other people call as “burning muscles.” But instead of burning muscle, your body starts burning fat instead of burning sugar.
Another myth is that fasting means that you’re going to starve yourself. Starvation is a loaded term that suggests you don’t have a choice on whether you should consume food or not, fasting depends entirely on you. Fasting only requires limiting your food intake to specific times in the day.
There is also a belief that when you starve your body, it starts to go into a starvation phase, as you stop burning fat and your body holds on to your fats longer. Fung explains that this happens when you cut your calorie intake. When your calorie intake goes down, the rate of metabolism also goes down. With fasting, you only allow your body to switch fuels. The metabolism actually increases up to about 10 percent of the normal speed of metabolism.
The Link Between Insulin and Fasting
Before fasting, you should also learn about insulin and its effects on the body’s metabolism. Insulin is the hormone responsible for communicating to your body whether you should be storing energy or expending it. The higher your insulin levels, the more your body stores energy that adds up to your fat storage. Low insulin levels, meanwhile, prompt your body to release energy.
People who are obese or overweight usually become insulin-resistant, wherein the body has chronically elevated insulin levels. Thus, the body is on a permanent fat-storing mode. This does not only result in weight gain, but it can also have serious repercussions on your health.
Without the signal to burn energy, you end up feeling tired and sluggish. You have plenty of fuel available, but it's all "locked away" in your fat cells, and it will remain unavailable until your body receives the appropriate signal — a drop in insulin. This is also why it's so difficult to lose weight when you are insulin resistant.
The key to breaking this cycle is to have sustained low insulin for periods of time, and this is why fasting can be so tremendously beneficial. Fasting lowers insulin more powerfully than any other strategy, which then allows the stored energy (body fat) to be used again.
If your body maintains a high insulin level, you will start to feel exhausted and sluggish because the energy source is kept under lock and key. The only way that this can be used up by the body is if the insulin levels are lowered. Fasting helps lower the insulin levels by cutting off your glucose supply, allowing the body to unlock the energy that has been hoarded by the body.
Types of Fasting You Can Try
Remember that fasting is not how you cut off your food intake. It’s that you time your meals at strategic points in the day. I myself opt to skip breakfast, while some people find it easier to skip dinner.
Fung further explains that when you’re fasting, you’re not only allowing your body to utilize another form of fuel, but you’re also improving your body’s balance and your processes. However, you must look for a type of fasting that is attainable and will fit into your lifestyle. Here are some common examples:
- Water Fasting
Water fasting refers to fasting wherein you ingest only water for more than 24 hours. People usually do this fast for several days in a row.
- Water plus non-caloric beverages
This fast adds non-caloric beverages like tea and coffee to the mix. Be sure that these beverages that do not contain sugar, milk or other sweeteners.
- Bone broth variation
Fung also recommends this kind of fast where you ingest variations of bone broth. Bone broth actually contains healthy fats and a limited amount of protein. Some people don’t consider this as a fast because it still has fats. But Fung notes that this “fast” yields positive results for other people. If it doesn’t work for you, try starting with water fasting.
- Fat fasting
This refers to adding a limited amount of fat to your fast. An example of this is the bulletproof coffee, or coffee mixed with butter, MCT oil or coconut oil.
- Intermittent Fasting
This refers to spacing out your food intake where you fast for 12 or more hours straight. This fasting requires that you skip either breakfast or dinner. Intermittent fasting helps the digestive system process food entirely. Because of the long intervals in meals, it also relieves the digestive system of increased stress.
Contraindications When Doing a Fast
Fasting is not recommended for children, people who are underweight or malnourished and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Malnourished people are advised to eat healthier and nutritious food in order to help their body acquire vitamins and minerals that their bodies are lacking. Children are not encouraged to take part in fasting because they need nutrients for growth. If a child is overweight, it’s better that you cut out sweets and sugars from their diet to aid them in weight loss.
Pregnant/breast feeding women are also not advised to partake in fasting because it limits the nutrients that are passed on to the baby. This can be risky for both the mother and her child.
It is also recommended that people who are on medications seek medical advice before they undergo fasting. People who are taking metformin, aspirin and other drugs should not undergo fasting because it may cause stomach upset or even stomach ulcers.
For more information about the health benefits of fasting, read “The Complete Guide to Fasting: A Special Interview With Dr. Jason Fung.”