Is Fasting Healthy?

There are three fundamental triggers that toss these yearning hormones twisted and make it that much harder to adhere to a good dieting arrangement.

It sounds so simple – no choices, no counting calories, no cooking. Just say ‘no’ to food, and start fasting for quick weight loss and other health benefits.

She said she lost 20 pounds by fasting (and using a concoction of syrup, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper) for her role in Dreamgirls.

But what about the rest of us mortals? We wonder:

  • Is fasting an effective way to lose weight?
  • Can fasting really help with medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis and other auto-immune disorders?
  • Will fasting help you live longer?

And finally, is fasting healthy? Although fasting has been practiced for thousands of years, the question is still a subject of intense medical debate. WebMD consulted experts on weight loss and fasting for some answers.

Fasting and Weight Loss

If you weed through all the controversy, you’ll find that most medical experts agree on one thing: fasting is not a healthy weight loss tool.

“The appeal is that [fasting] is quick, but it is quick fluid loss, not substantial weight loss,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, CNS, founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Weight Loss Management Center.

“If it’s easy off, it will come back quickly” — as soon as you start eating normally again, she says.

Even some proponents of fasting for other medical purposes do not support fasting for weight loss. Some say it can actually make weight problems worse.

“Fasting is not a weight loss tool. Fasting slows your metabolic rate down so your diet from before the fast is even more fattening after you fast,” says Joel Fuhrman MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Plan for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss and Fasting and Eating for Health.

Fasting for weight loss carries other health risks as well.