How will fasting for religious reasons, such as Lent, affect my weight loss?
Today, religious fasts have different connotations for each individual, based on religious beliefs and preferences. However, it usually is not a complete abstinence from food, but rather it is the omission of one or two food items (often luxury foods) from the diet. Usually the omitted food is something that you would normally eat during the course of the day. Each time you get an appetite for that food, you’re reminded of the fast, and will therefore remember the reason for the fast and can pray instead of eating. This can have immense spiritual benefits.
Others may fast more restrictively. Most healthy adults can safely fast for one day and their bodies will be able to adjust, drawing upon energy and nutrient stores. However, always check with your physician regarding how fasting will affect your medical conditions, medications, and health history. Certain disease conditions may warrant against fasting altogether. You should also discuss with your doctor the specific danger signs and symptoms that would indicate the need to stop the fast, such as dizziness, light-headedness, inability to focus or concentrate, blurred vision, heart rate changes, etc. Talking with your religious leaders can help you determine an appropriate fasting option to meet both your medical needs and religious commitment.
Healthy adults need not worry about altering their metabolic rates when going on a one-day, modified fast. Although the body will sense the drop in calories, it will bounce back when you at food the following day.
Written by Becky Hand, Registered & Licensed Dietitian
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