While there are many reasons and traditions relating to fasting, any such
activity should never be taken lightly, or without proper preparation. As
always, consult with your physician beforehand, and remember these five
healthy guidelines for fasting.
(1) Remember fluids
Should you choose to avoid food for any length of time, you will still
need to keep yourself hydrated. The human body can function fairly well
for up to three days without food, but you shouldn’t go even a few hours
without water or juice.
(2) Keep it short
After about three days without food, the body will go into starvation mode
– and this may happen in less than three days if you begin without a big
meal before your fast. It takes about a day for the body to run through
stored carbohydrates, and then your body will start to burn fat and
protein for energy. Burning fat may sound tempting, but around the third
day, it leads to a buildup in the bloodstream of acids known as ketones –
a condition known as ketosis, which can result in nausea, dizziness and
stomach pain, along with severe bad breath. As days turn to weeks, it
eventually leads to organ damage. While a two- or three-day fast might
not be dangerous, even just a few hours without calories will impact you
mental and physical performance.
(3) Don’t fast to lose weight
As stated at the beginning of this article, there are many reasons and
traditions for fasting, but losing weight should never be one of them.
Basically, fasting to lose weight is not a good idea because starvation
leads the body to absorb all the fat and oil that you eat later, which may
actually lead to weight gain.
(4) Prepare your body
A few days before your fast begins: stop eating foods with high caffeine
and sugar content; begin drinking more water than usual. The day before
your fast begins: eat something small every two hours; avoid foods with
caffeine and salt; drink plenty of water. The meal before your fast
begins: plan the menu of this meal to contain high carbohydrate and low
salt foods; sit down for the meal at least an hour before the fast begins
so there is no rush to eat quickly; do not eat too much in the meal before
the fast, but drink plenty of water.
(5) Fasting isn’t for everyone
Some people should never fast: pregnant women, diabetics or anyone on
medication that needs to be taken with food – not to mention anyone else
with a medical condition that requires regular food intake. And, people
younger than 18 should also never fast, as they are still growing and
developing. Additionally, at younger ages, fasting can set up
psychological issues with food.