There are several reason people fast. Some people fast as a religious obligation. Some people fast a certain amount of hours before a medical procedure. Also there are people that fast as part of their weight loss regimen. Whatever the reason to fast, it is important to be safe while fasting.
Listed below is a brief lesson on body and its fuel source and tips on being safe while fasting.
Understanding the body is very helpful in staying safe while fasting:
The body use sugars as a primary fuel source. With the depletion of the sugars, the body start using proteins as a sugar substitute. After the proteins are depleted the body will start using body fats. As each fuel source is being depleted the body signals that the fuel source needs to be replenished. This signal is called hunger pains or simply hunger. As each fuel source has been depleted the signal gets stronger. That is to say the hunger pains become more intense.
Starvation is the deprivation of the body of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The longer the body is starved greater the chance of hospitalization and/or death.
Tips on being safe while fasting:
- Before fasting consult a personal physician. Have a physical exam with emphasis on the healthiness of enduring a fasting period. Be sure that the physician is aware of any prescription medicine is being taken.
- Consulting a dietician can be beneficial. The dietician will suggest meals that allows for the storing of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the body will use during the fast period.
- During the fast period avoid overexertion. Overexertion will cause the body to burn up fuels (sugars, proteins and fats) stored in the body prematurely causing a need to replenish these fuels.
- While fasting for any period of time, listen to the body. The body will give signals that there is a problem. If the body is signaling that something is wrong (other than mild hunger pains) consult a physician to determine whether or not it is safe to continue the fast.
- When using fasting as part of a weight loss regimen, be sure the proper levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the different food groups are consumed during the non-fasting periods. Supplemental vitamins and minerals can be used during this time but should not be used as the primary source of vitamins and minerals.
- Learn to listen to the body. Hunger pains may be present during fasting periods. These hunger pains signal a depleting level of fuels available in the body. The stronger the hunger pains, the lower the fuels levels available to the body.