The facts behind fasting

Does fasting really work, and who should do it and what will we get out of it?

Fasting has many benefits for the body, but don’t use it to lose weight.

Bondi Beauty talks with nutritionist and founder of w8less program Kate Troup about the truth behind fasting.

“Fasting is any period of time during which solid food isn’t consumed” says Troup. This includes juice fasts, water fasts, and any other liquid diet you can think of. “Unfortunately, fasting for many people now includes drinking expensive “miracle” drinks or popping handfuls of pills” says Troup, so what do we really need to know about fasting?

Fact 1: Fasting isn’t for weightless
Firstly, we need to change the way we think about fasting. “Fasting as method to help heal or cleanse your body is great” says Troup, “using it for weight loss is tricky though”.

The weight you lose whilst fasting can usually reappear once you finish the fast. With the extreme diet change involved with fasts “Most people find it too difficult in the long run and  go back to their old eating habits, and regain any weight that they had lost” says Troup.

Instead of looking at fasts as a quick way to slim down, we should be looking at them as a way to heal our body.  “Fasting has been used traditionally for a very long time but only as a method of purifying or cleansing” says Troup, “Using fasting to crash diet is never going to be successful. You simply can’t starve your body into submission!”

“Instead of looking at fasts as a quick way to slim down, we should be looking at them as a way to heal our body.

Fact 2: Fasting is natural – and shouldn’t be artificially enhanced
“Our body has evolved with periods of feast and famine, so the constant supply of food which we now consume is actually quite unnatural” says Troup. She explains that periods of calorie restriction have been linked to an “increase lifespan in many animal species, and to a reduction in  risk factors for many chronic diseases in humans”.

Somewhat controversially Troup encourages periods of fasting to allow our bodies blood sugar and insulin levels a chance to return to a base point. “I think that the current paradigm of advising people to eat every few hours is problematic for most of us” she says.

Fasting can also reduce stress from the pancreas and “allow the body to use fat as a source of energy”. Fasting can make the body do all this without any help from ‘super’ pills or powders.

Fact 3: Everyone fasts differently
Just because you’ve heard great feedback from particular fasts doesn’t mean the results of someone else will be the same on your own body. We must remember that the results of fasting are dependent on the individual. “The consequences of fasting are all down to the state of health of the person doing it” says Troup.

For example, if someone is healthy and has a good diet their fasting results will be greater than someone whose diet is poor and their lifestyle unhealthy. According to Troup “We should be able to go without food, most of us have plenty of stored energy in the form of body fat to keep us running during periods of famine”

Troup also warns “It’s important to point out that fasting isn’t suitable for teenagers and children, or pregnant or breastfeeding women”

Fact 4: Fasts and frequent exercise don’t work

We need fuel to give us energy when we workout. “Without food coming in, your body needs to be able to tap into its stored energy, your body fat, to provide the fuel for exercise” says Troup “Most people would struggle to do this and feel weak, dizzy and light headed as blood sugar levels drop too low” she continues.

Troup suggests modified fasts if athletes decide to fast and train at the same time, this way they can still get the energy they need, however workout plans should be cut back. “Maintaining frequent exercise (whilst fasting) is possible if you’re super fit and your blood sugar and insulin response is in good shape” says Troup  “but I wouldn’t recommend it for your average person”.

Kate Troup’s top 6 tips to maintain weight and diet

  1. Have a high protein breakfast.
  2. What you eat in the morning largely determines what you feel like eating later on.
  3. Only eat if you are genuinely hungry.
  4. You probably don’t need to snack every few hours. Ask yourself if it’s “head hunger” or “belly hunger”. If it’s head hunger then you’re probably bored or stressed and you need to fix that, not eat.
  5. Get more sleep.
  6. You can’t lose weight and stay healthy if you are constantly tired.

Visit Kate Troup’s website for further information:

By BB intern Dominique Tait

What was the best thing about a fast you have done?


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