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 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV


Why Fasting Backfires in Weight Loss (and What to Do About It)

Posted on December 19, 2017 at 9:50 AM

Image by Mimzy on Pixabay

Are you trying to lose weight by skipping meals a couple of days before and a couple after a special Christmas event? I've done it myself before I knew better. I have a secret for you: I didn't lose weight that way and neither will you. In fact, I gained weight! That's right. Gained it. It doesn't make sense, does it? There are valuable reasons why it doesn't work and what really works instead.

1. It drops your metabolism. Fasting may initially cause weight loss, but it causes your body to drop your metabolism to protect itself from starvation. (ACE, NETA) Essentially, fasting for weight loss undermines your efforts.

2. You feel starved so you overeat at the party. Your blood sugar levels drop during your fast because you aren't taking in an adequate amount of carbs to fuel you through your regular day. As a result, when you walk through the serving line, you will find yourself heap your plate full of carb-laden foods! This causes a sudden spike with a big drop coming later. This yo-yo effect fuels unhealthy eating patterns.

3. You mentally assume the worst about your ability to control your eating, so you overeat when you break your fast. Most dieters don't believe they have the will power to control their food intake. I've witnessed this happen numerous times over the past 20 years in clients. This negative mentality causes you to fail at weight loss every time, when in fact, you do have will power and don't employ it.

4. Continued fasting causes nutritional deficiencies. If you continue to fast, your body will be starved of valuable nutrients. The glycogen stores in your muscles that fuel your muscles for work dwindles causing your body to burn protein (muscle) as fuel. You will also begin to experience dehydration (ACE). I would say that at this point, you would be at the threshold of a serious disorder should you continue.

Since fasting for weight loss doesn't really work, there is a better way. Let's fire up your metabolism so you can enjoy, in a controlled manner, the foods you only have at Christmas.

1. Control your food intake by dropping your caloric intake slightly. A modest drop in caloric intake avoids dropping the metabolism (NETA). So if you cut 250-500 calories from your daily diet for a couple of days before the event, you won't feel starved because your blood sugar levels don't drop.

2. Increase your physical exercise. Bump up your cardio by adding a bit more time or change to vigorous intervals. You fire up your metabolism to handle the increase of calories the day of the event (NETA, ACE).

3. Enjoy the food during the event ONLY, but control your portion sizes. Don't go crazy by heaping your plate to overflowing or go back for seconds and thirds. Do put a small serving of some of your favorite foods on your plate. Fill up on fresh veggies and fruit without the dip. Sit and talk with friends away from the food table; out of sight, out of mind. You will feel full sooner so you don't over eat.

4. Remind yourself that you really can lose weight. Tell yourself the truth that you can lose the weight, you can control your food intake. Coach yourself just before you leave for the Christmas party about what you will do to prevent overdoing it. Trust the Holy Spirit's promptings. After all, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you don't want to wreck it.

Feasting for special holidays is biblical, so it makes sense to indulge a bit on Christmas for Jesus' birthday, but don't go too crazy with it. Sensible eating and consistent exercise is the best approach. If you need additional help, Healthy Lifestyles groups or personal coaching is available to help you reach your goals. I will walk along side of you on your weight loss journey to help you every step of the way.

May you enjoy the beauty of celebrating Jesus' birthday while you care for the body God gave you.


ACE Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Manual, Second Edition by the American Council on Exercise.Cedrick X. Bryant, PhD and Daniel Green, Editors. Copyright 2008 by The American Council on Exercise. USA. p.191.

The Fitness Professional's Manual by Michael Iserman, C.S.C.S. and Kristie Walker, M.P.H. Copyright 2014 by the National Exercise Trainers Association. Minneapolis, MN. p. 129.

Categories: weight loss, health, fitness

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