Love following celebrity trends? Well, we are guilty too! The moment you see your fave celebrity carrying a new accessory, using a new night cream or sporting a cool denim skirt, you know you would want to try the trend too. It’s all good till it’s restricted to fashion and beauty products. But when your fave celeb promotes a fad diet or a new weight loss gimmick, it’s probably not a great idea to dive headfirst into something similar. And it’s also not a good idea to follow the same fasting technique or a diet just because your colleague’s cousin lost 10 kg in 10 days. So when a popular influencer spoke about practising ‘dry fasting’ to lose weight, I decided to seek an expert’s opinion
While many in our country practice dry fasting owing to religious beliefs, there’s a certain crop of ‘weight-watchers’ practising dry fasting as a method of weight loss! Sounds bonkers, right? So let’s dig deeper, shall we?
Mahima Sethia, Founder of Fitness Flue, tells us, “Dry fasting means surviving on air in order to lose weight. That means that you cannot consume food or water during this fast. It can be either done as Intermittent Dry Fasting where you eat in a window of eight hours and fast for 16 hours or Prolonged Dry Fasting (which is fasting for 24 hours). You may find the concept crazy and insane, but that’s what dry fasting is about. One of the most strict fastings we have with no scientific evidence on its long-term health benefits.”
Dry fasting basically means that you are not eating or drinking any fluids (not even tea, coffee, juice or soup). There are many who practise this method with other fasting techniques like intermittent fasting (the 16/8 method, which allows you to eat during the eight-hour window), Alternate day fasting, the eat-stop-eat method (where you fast for 24 hours twice a week), and periodic fasting (similar to eat-stop-eat except here you observe a three-day fast in a month).
If you are a novice to these fasting methods, starting with dry fasting straight away may not be a great idea. “You should first do a fast where you have the liberty to drink juices, eat fruits and see how mentally and physically prepared you are to do it. It is always recommended to eat a good diet on a daily basis so that your body does not have much-accumulated toxins. If that’s not the case, then this kind of fast will make you feel dull faster as your body is not prepared for this and you will not be able to complete this fast,” suggests Mahima.
So, before you decide to give this one a try, make sure you eliminate all the processed and junk food from your everyday diet. “Once you are prepared, pick a date when you don’t have too much to do and begin with this fast. Go easy on yourself and observe the things happening in your body when you abstain from food and water and give the system a break,” adds Mahima.
If you feel like giving up, don’t judge yourself because it’s not the end of the world. Your body is giving you signs to not be difficult on yourself. And if you happen to break the fast, “Do not eat a heavy meal instantly. Step out slowly by drinking water, eating fruit, and gradually get back to normal eating,” says Mahima.
And even if you are able to observe the fast, don’t just drop everything else and get on that weighing scale. Attaching yourself to the weighing scale immediately after you follow a fad or a diet is an unhealthy habit.
This method may have benefits like strengthening the body’s immune system. By removing the damaged cells from your body, it may help ‘reset’ the immune system. Some claim that this kind of fasting helps wounds heal faster. However, there’s no scientific data that backs these claims and proves that dry fasting is an effective and healthy way of weight loss. Mahima Sethia tells us about all the complications involved:
– Decreased muscle mass: Starvation leads to temporary weight loss. Not only that, because of this your muscle mass also gets affected. And after dry fast, once you get back to eating normally, you tend to gain back all the weight (sometimes even more).
– Uncontrollable Hunger: You require a lot of self-control during fasting that is why one needs to be mentally prepared to observe fasts because you start craving all that you like when you’re fasting (yes that cookie jar will keep calling you).
– Feeling Weak: Your body converts food into energy and when our bodies do not get food, it feels weak, tired and dizzy
– You may get cranky: You are bound to feel irritated when you are hungry
– Headaches: You may experience headaches during the fast but it gets better as soon as you get back to normal eating.
– Lack of focus: When you are low on and you feel weak, your focus tends to decrease and hence it becomes difficult to concentrate on things at that time.
– Low metabolism: When our bodies don’t get food, it gets out of balance and hence the metabolism slows down.
– Dehydration: Along with food, since water is also not allowed, chances are that you’ll get dehydrated if dry fasting is done for a longer period.
– Nutritional Deficiencies: It can also lead to several deficiencies of vitamins and minerals if done for a longer period.
– Eating disorder: Some people tend to eat more (than they used to eat earlier) after the fast, which in severe cases can lead to eating disorders.
– Life-threatening: Dry fasting for too long can be life-threatening as our body needs both food and water to survive.
People with diabetes, people with chronic illness, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, children should not try dry fasting AT ALL.
You may be looking for quick routes for weight loss, but the bottom line is that it’s always good to practise sustainable weight loss. And by that, we mean adapting to a well-rounded exercise schedule and healthy eating habits that you can practise for a lifetime. ‘Coz the risks of these methods are far greater than the benefits.
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