Does fasting help lose weight?

  1. If you presently have a lot of belly fat, for sure, you are Insulin Resistant (IR)…perhaps, even Diabetic. In case you haven’t got checked/diagnosed yet by a Doctor, please do so right away.
  2. The related issues that go with IR and Diabetes, such as Higher than normal Insulin, Higher than normal Blood Sugar, Hypertension/High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis etc, all need to be tested for regularly and need to be controlled. In case you haven’t checked these recently, do so right away (need to be checked by a Doctor and a Reputed Lab).

The above are VERY IMPORTANT and please get them done right away in case you haven’t done so already.

With these out of the way, now, let us discuss about if/how Fasting helps to reduce excess body fat.

Basics

  1. People tend to accumulate Fat under their skin (Sub-Cutaneous Fat) and around their internal organs (Visceral Fat), particularly, in their Belly area. Visceral Fat is FAR more dangerous than Sub-Cutaneous Fat.
  2. The first step to reducing excess body fat, is by maintaining a proper Calorie Balance (Imbalance in this case…in the Right Direction). You need to ensure that Calories In is LESS than Calories Out. No amount of exercise or any kind of dieting, would be effective, if this is not looked at. Calories In needs to be LESS than Calories Out…no way around this.
  3. This can be ensured by eating less and by increasing our activities a LOT more. (Remember though, you CANNOT out-exercise a bad diet).
  4. Beyond this, you can think of Insulin as a kind of Storage Promoting Hormone. So, whenever Insulin gets triggered, then, the tendency of the body is to store the Calories as Fat, rather than to “burn them for energy”.
  5. Therefore, think of which foods trigger Insulin and try to restrict (or even better, try to avoid as much as possible) such foods. Simple Carbohydrates and Sugar trigger insulin almost immediately.
  6. Protein has a much lower effect on Insulin. Fats have almost no effect on Insulin production. (However, it is important to eat healthy fats. Avoid the Trans Fat variety completely).
  7. If you are Insulin Resistant and possibly Diabetic, the Insulin Response,
    1. Happens later than normal
    2. Spikes higher than normal
    3. Stays in your system MUCH later than normal
    4. Note that, all these add to your Insulin Resistance, thus promoting a vicious cycle that spirals towards increasing Severity, Risk and Complications from IR and Diabetes.
  8. The way to reduce Insulin Resistance, is (as mentioned above), to restrict (or to avoid) foods that trigger insulin.
  9. Glucose is the primary/preferred source of Energy for the body. Glucose is stored as Glycogen, in Skeletal Muscles and in the Liver (also a small portion in the Cardiac Muscles). Glycogen Stores usually last for about 24 hours.
  10. Your body will begin to use Stored Fat for energy whenever,
    1. You are in a Calorie Deficit situation (Calories In is Less than Calories Out), AND,
    2. In the absence of Insulin, AND,
    3. You are in a “FASTED” State (as opposed to a “FED” State), AND,
    4. Once you run out of Glycogen stores… This is really what you want.
  11. Fasting is of course, a PRETTY EFFECTIVE way to not trigger insulin, (as you do not consume any food and therefore, a very important reason for Insulin production is taken out).
  12. Additionally, adequate gaps between meals is also a good way to ensure increase in Insulin Sensitivity (opposite of Insulin Resistance) as there is sufficient time for the Insulin levels to go down, before Insulin Production is triggered again during the next meal.
  13. Fasting is good, in that you go for an extended period of time without any food. This could be for certain hours in a day, could be for a whole day or could be for more than 2–3 days…perhaps, even more than that.
  14. However, remember ALL the rules from above. They ALL still hold good. You cannot fast one day and the next day, fill up with huge quantities of Junk Food and with Simple Carbohydrates and Sugar. As you now know, this will,
    1. Tilt the overall Calories In vs Calories Out balance in an Unhealthy Direction
    2. Trigger a gush of Insulin production, which promotes Insulin Resistance and also promotes Fat Production and Storage.
  15. With ALL the above then, Fasting will be effective at reducing excess body fat all over your body, including from your belly area. Your Insulin Resistance too will improve over time, as will your Blood Sugar levels.

Notes

  1. With Extended Fasts, ensure that you stay hydrated and that you consume electrolytes. The more days you plan on fasting, it is a good idea to be monitored by a Doctor.
  2. When coming out of an Extended Fast, be sure to understand aspects of Re-feeding Syndrome.
  3. If you go on fasts periodically, then, make sure overall, that you do not go deficient on Vitamins and Minerals. You also need to consume adequate amounts of Quality Protein, whenever you do eat to maintain healthy Lean Body Mass.

Additional Information

  1. Here’s a small but significant twist though… Your body also gets used to prevailing Calorie Balances and similar to a thermostat, adjusts itself to maintain Homeostasis (body’s Steady State, so to speak). That is, your body will reduce Metabolic Rate to lower levels (aggressively) when Calories levels fall and will raise Metabolic Rate upwards (but, not as aggressively) when Calorie levels rise. This is known as Body’s Fat Set Point.
  2. Reduced Metabolism is NOT a preferred state to be in, especially if you are looking to continue with reductions to your excess body fat.
  3. Thus, you will find that reductions in your excess body fat will start to plateau after a while. That is why It is very important to not get into too much of a Predictable Routine, for too long… You need to keep changing your Schedules and your Calorie Balances, periodically, in order to prevent stall/plateaus in your continuing efforts to reduce excess body fat.

One Final Thought

  1. Last (but definitely not the least), being Stressed increases Cortisol production which in turn increases Insulin levels. So, it is very important to keep control of your Stress Levels, by controlling your response to Stressful events. Do NOT get into a state of Chronic Stress.

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