Is the method of fasting once or twice a week a good means of weight control?
The Oxford dictionary defines fasting as “ going without some kinds of food” or “ going without food”. The Bible defines it as “ abstaining from physical nourishment”.
In ancient times fasting was instituted mainly to enable a person to develop a sense of self control over ones physical body and also enable one to concentrate more on God and strengthen ones mind and spirit.
Many saints and sages have been seen to have abstained from food totally for long durations of time without any health hazards. I would say that is possible by divine power and in that particular circumstance. For any of us with a regular life style, I would say even abstaining from all food for 24 hours is dangerous and harmful to the body. I personally believe in fasting and spending more time that day in prayer but I prefer to follow the definition of abstaining from some kinds of food rather than total abstinence. E.g. if you are a non vegetarian then you may abstain from non veg food once or twice a week. If you are a vegetarian you may abstain from rice and rice items like idli, dosa, etc. on one or two days in the week. You may also choose to give up eating all sweets or all deep fried food for a period of time, like one week, nine days, a month or a year to fast and pray for a particular issue.
Consuming only water or only fruits and juices the whole day is not a good idea. The human body has to be nourished with water, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrate, proteins and fat everyday. Fruits and vegetables provide sugar and starch, vitamins, minerals and water, but they contain no protein at all. The human body requires protein on a daily basis of 0.8 –1gm. per Kg. ideal body weight. So every adult would need about 50-60 gm. per day. This should be provided ideally as 20 gm. of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily. This protein is essential for hair, skin, tissues and muscle maintenance of the body. If you are in the habit of skipping meals and fasting regularly, at those times your body will be in a state of protein deficiency and the protein need for that meal or day will be met by your muscle tissue being broken down and used for maintenance.
This will lower your basal metabolic rate, which will slow down your rate of weight loss eventually. It will also make your skin sag and wrinkle because underlying muscle is being destroyed. Hair loss and fatigue as well as anemia are also common features that will result. Therefore please do not skip any meals. No meals should consist of only fruit or soups or salad because one portion of your day’s protein requirement will then be cut off.
Another great danger and unhealthy habit that develops with the practice of fasting is feasting before and after the fast. I see many people who fast on Mondays after heavy feasting on Saturday and Sunday. Please note you are depositing a lot of fat during your feast days and then destroying a lot of muscle when you fast. Some people fast the whole day and then when they break the fast they eat whatever they wish to eat including sweets, fried snacks, etc. They may also eat food in unlimited quantities in that one meal. This will lead to a lot of fat deposition. However they would have lost muscle during the day while they were fasting.