The Pros and Cons of Fasting
Fasting, when practised intermittently, can have a range of effects on your body. These effects could fall under the broad spectrum of being healthy, on one end and unhealthy, on the other. Here is what fasting does to your body:
- Faster Weight Loss
A dramatic decrease in the consumption of calories aids rapid loss of weight but that is not necessarily helpful because along with burning fats, the body initiates muscle loss as well. Fasting does help in losing weight but when you fall back to the prior non-fasting phase, it starts storing the fats much more rapidly. Intermittent fasting does provide some renewed energy and gifts you with an experience of feeling ‘lighter’ but this feeling sets in a few days into the fasting regimen. The immediate effects of fasting could be fatigue and lack of motivation to indulge in daily activities but this gradually dwindles with time.
- Promotes Overall Health and Longevity
Fasting, in a way, resets the circadian clocks in your body. This reorganization of systems helps the body get rid of bad habits that were having adverse effects on your immunity. Reprogramming of this entire systemic rhythm, facilitated through fasting, benefits your health and provides the necessary protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s, Obesity and Parkinson’s. It also helps build the immune system, keeping common colds and allergies at bay.
- Overeating Upon Breaking the Fast
Since the hunter-gatherer days man has been taught to be well prepared for the scarcity of food and evolution has aided our body to store fats, as much as possible, when a proper meal is being consumed, as there was no confirmation on the availability of food later on. Replicating this basic instinct, when our body is given food after an extended period of fasting, it tends to store the fats obtained from the food, to provide energy later. This results in overeating and has the opposite effect of weight loss, making the fast quite superfluous.
- Health Ailments due to Extended Fasting
Long term or extended fasting can cause an imbalance in the bodily fluids leading to several health-related issues like thinning of hair, lesser electrolyte content and cardiac arrhythmia. It might worsen existing health conditions if the necessary medications are avoided to observe the fast diligently. Here, it is important to note the difference between fasting and starvation. Fasting is a lifestyle choice and can be observed only when the person feels fit enough to undertake it. Starvation on the other hand, is inclining more towards the unavailability and unwillingness to consume food which could have adverse effects on your system and overall health.
By flushing out all the toxins from the body, fasting acts like a great detox routine as it helps clear all the junk that you may have dumped into the body, working like a great rejuvenating push for the digestive tract. The digestive system experiences less activity due to which, it is well-rested and more effective in its functions. This much needed body cleansing provides a greater scope of healing and repairing of damaged and irregular bodily systems.
Apart from its obvious physical benefits, fasting is found to have a lasting spiritual benefit on human beings. It helps achieve some clarity and enlightenment, thereby justifying its presence in most Holy Scriptures. Fasting is present in a variety of religions in different avatars, be it Ramadaan Roza or Lent Fasting or Shravan Upvaas. Every religious teaching has upheld the benefits of intermittent fasting, therefore despite its cons, the pros outweigh its benefits, provided it is practised in a safe, legitimate and appropriate manner. Indulging in cholesterol-drenched diets post-fast can do more harm than good and takes away from the entire purpose of fasting and to achieve the actual benefit out of the fast, it best to steer clear from these cholesterol soaked food items.