- What is the benefit
- How much weight can you lose?
- How to get out of fasting
- Expert commentary
Alena Potasheva, gastroenterologist, nutritionist at the Semeynaya network of clinics;
Olga Kalinina, nutritionist at Real Clinic.
Together with experts, we figured out how the body reacts to abstaining from food for several days, what the consequences may be, and how to get out of such a long fast.
Is fasting healthy?
In modern dietetics, intermittent fasting is also actively used, which involves abstaining from food for several hours or days.
Fasting in itself is not critical. For the body Dehydration is much worse than hunger. However, the duration of fasting is of great importance. Doctors say that one or two days of fasting without eliminating water from the diet can even be beneficial.
However, doctors do not recommend excluding food from the diet for a week, at least without the supervision of specialists. This period can negatively affect your health and lead to hormonal imbalances. And most importantly, the effect that those who choose this diet are trying to achieve may be the opposite.
Many people decide to fast for a week in order to lose weight or detox. Unfortunately, such a long-term fast will lead to the fact that the body will begin to store as many substances as possible from food for the future, which leads to an increase in body weight.
What happens if you don’t eat for a week: possible consequences
In a healthy person, blood sugar levels drop if the body does not receive food for several hours
The first thing that reacts to fasting – this is the sugar level. Many people know that diabetics are advised to always carry some kind of food with them to regulate blood sugar levels. In a healthy person, this level drops if the body does not receive food for several hours. Then the hormone ghrelin is released, which is responsible for the feeling of hunger (1). The body begins to send signals that something needs to be eaten. You may feel stomach cramps and a feeling of nausea. But if food stops entering the stomach and stimulating the receptors, the feeling of hunger will decrease.
The main participant in energy exchange – just glucose. If the body stops receiving it, it begins to use up reserves to produce energy. However, when reserves run out, the body begins to use muscles to obtain the necessary elements to nourish the brain. Then weight loss occurs, but it occurs due to the loss of muscle mass.
When glucose reserves are depleted, the body begins to produce ketone bodies. The liver is responsible for this, so the load on it increases. The longer you abstain from food, the higher the risk of their increase. The effect associated with this the smell of a diabetic, when you can smell the aroma of acetone or nail polish on your breath. It occurs as a result of a sharp drop in insulin or rapid burning of fat and clearly signals a threat to life (2). This phenomenon can be observed already on the third day of fasting.
What you can feel as a result of a week-long fast:
- dizziness and weakness;
- nausea and stomach cramps;
- increased susceptibility to viruses and bacteria due to decreased immunity;
- decreased blood pressure;
- slow heart rate;
- fluctuations in body temperature;
- gradual weight loss.
How much weight can you lose if you don’t eat for a week?
A week-long fast with a fluid intake of 300 kcal per day leads to weight loss of 2-3.5 kilograms over four months
Scientific experiments were carried out on patients with type 2 diabetes. Their week-long fasting showed good results. For example, in one case, a week-long fast with a fluid intake of 300 kcal per day led to a weight loss of 2-3.5 kg over four months (3).
You can lose more weight, but the results will be temporary. When you return to your normal diet, the body will begin to store nutrients and some of the weight will return.
During the first five days, the body will lose 1-2 kg per day. But solely due to the release of fluid and imbalance of electrolytes. After this period, metabolism will slow down, and weight loss will proceed at a rate of up to 300 g per day (4).
When a person loses approximately 10% of weight, there is a high risk of complications as a result of starvation – coma, heart attack, organ failure (5).
How to restore the body after fasting
As for the drinking regime, it is better to calculate the optimal level using the Devine formula and increase it by one and a half times
You need to end fasting gradually, otherwise there is a high risk of developing refeeding syndrome. – a condition that occurs during intensive feeding of malnourished people (6).
- Drink plenty of water.
- Start with processed foods and small portions.
- Try to eat soft foods, such as soups, purees, minced meat.
- Balance your diet so that you start getting a variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Avoid large amounts of sugar and salt.
- Avoid tea, coffee and cigarettes.
There is another interesting method – this is a diet that imitates fasting, in which you reduce the caloric content of your diet