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Why Fasting Is a Terrible Way to Lose Weight

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We're still contemplating whether or not we should try the next fad diet. Maybe you've tried the Paleo, Mediterranean, Dukan, Biggest Loser or juicing diet. Well the next in line is the "Fasting" diet. Doesn't sound all that exciting to me!

For five days a week you eat normally (whatever that means) and then, for two days, you fast. It's not complete fasting, but women can only consume 500 calories and men can only consume 600. Dr. Michael Mosley, a British doctor, has just launched, "The Fast Diet: Lose weight, stay healthy and live longer with the simple secret of intermittent fasting."

The theory is based on life extension which focuses on restricting calories and fasting. If you're only consuming 500 -- 600 calories a day, it sure isn't a lot of food! Most of us eat that many calories for breakfast. If we break down these calories over the day, that might mean that at breakfast you may have two scrambled eggs on one half of whole wheat English muffin and 1 cup of diced melon. Forget lunch; just drink liquids with no calories. Dinner could consist of 2 oz of lean fish or chicken, 1 cup of green steamed veggies and a salad with low calorie dressing. Apparently, your body adjusts to this calorie restriction within a couple of weeks and on the days that you're fasting you don't feel all that hungry. You can always snack on very low calorie veggies such as cucumber, broccoli, green beans or lettuce.

Many of us feel weak and can't focus if we're hungry. But Dr. Mosley found he was more focused. His cholesterol and blood glucose levels came under control. Dr. Mosley says you'll lose an average of two pounds per week.

My concern is that on the other five days of the week you've given carte blanche! You're advised to eat healthy, but mammals are used to "hoarding" if we know we will be deprived -- and I bet you're not going to binge on carrots and broccoli. More likely, you'll eat all those foods you crave that are high in calories, fat and sodium. Why wouldn't you? I think the Fast Diet is merely a quick fix to lose a few pounds. Cutting back calories has to be done strategically, on a daily basis and a pattern of controlled eating has to be learned. It doesn't come naturally in our North American culture.

Dr. Mosley believes scientifically fasting works due to the hormone insulin called IGF-1. When you're young you need adequate levels of this hormone, but higher levels appear as we age, which speeds up aging and cancer (specifically breast and prostate cancer). Fasting reduces these levels. Fasting also appears to protect the brain from memory loss such as in Dementia and Alzheimers.

Britain's National Health Service believes that there is not enough scientific evidence about intermittent fasting and it's safety. They listed side effects being anxiety, bad breath, irritability and dehydration. But I'm sure this will not affect those looking for the next "magic bullet" for weight loss.

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