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Jul 31

SUTHERLAND: Not so fast! Get the skinny on fasting to lose weight – Alaska Highway News

Intermittent fasting has recently become more popular within the fitness community. Athletes are using a variety of different fasting methods to cut body fat and lose weight. But what exactly is fasting, and what are the pros and cons to this weight loss method?

The definition of fasting is the abstinence of food and drink (except water) for any length of time after the complete absorption of a meal. Food is usually absorbed within three to five hours after eating, and that is when the body begins metabolic changes. Prolonged fasting is a fast that lasts anywhere between eight and 72 hours.

Fasting can have a lot of benefitsif it is done safely. According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, tests using fasting have shown positive effects such as stress resistance, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced morbidity, and an increased life span. Fasting gives the body a chance to rest and cleanse. Energy that is normally directed at the digestive system can be used elsewhere throughout the body to repair and detox other systems. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Fasting can also improve mental clarity, focus, and increase energy levels. After your body uses up all the available energy from the food you have recently eaten, it will begin to use the fat stores within your body. That is when you will start to see weight loss, and possibly fat loss depending on the length of the fast and how often you fast.

Although there are many positives to fasting, there are also negatives. The body needs more than carbohydrates to run efficiently; it also needs protein, vitamins, and minerals. Those are not stored in fat, unlike carbs, so your body does not have access to them and cannot perform a variety of jobs throughout the body. Even though increases in energy levels are in the positives, fasting can also make your body feel lethargic and tired due to a drop in blood sugar levels. Also, without food, stomach acids are more likely to burn through the lining in your stomach.

There are people who should not attempt fasting: pregnant and breastfeeding women (this is a time to nourish your body and your baby), children and young teenagers who are growing and active, those with adrenal fatigue, or low thyroid function. Also, if you have had eating disorders in the past, fasting may cause those issues to resurface. Lastly, if you are on medication it is important to consult with a doctor before fasting. Fasting on certain medications may cause complications. Extended or prolonged fasting can lead to thinning hair, electrolyte imbalances, downy hair, cardiac arrhythmia, renal failure, and even starvation leading to death.

I wouldnt recommend fasting for longer than 48 hours at a time, and make sure to drink plenty of water during your fast to maintain hydration. Drinking lots of water will also help to lessen the feeling of hunger you will experience during your fast. Every person is different. For some, fasting will be a walk in the park, but for others it may not be so easy. Listen to your body; if you dont feel well it is OK to break the fast.

I have done 24-hour fasts before, and I dont mind them. They can be tough at different points in the day, and exercising can be a little bit more draining, but I do experience a lot of the benefits. Weigh the pros and cons, and give fasting a try if you it is safe for you to do so. If you dont like it, hopefully you wont ever have to do it again. If you do like it then you can begin to make it apart of your routine.

Stephenie Sutherland is a Fort St. John student studying nutrition and food sciences. She can found at the gym, hiking local trails, and serving up a hot cuppa joe at Whole Wheat and Honey. Have a question? Email her at stephenie.sutherland13@gmail.com.

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SUTHERLAND: Not so fast! Get the skinny on fasting to lose weight - Alaska Highway News

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