Fasting is the partial or complete abstinence from food. In the early days of the church, this practice was strictly observed that only the sick were allowed to eat on special days.

Modern church regulations on fasting were established in 1966. The new law allows one full meal a day on special ...Fasting is the partial or complete abstinence from food. In the early days of the church, this practice was strictly observed that only the sick were allowed to eat on special days.

Modern church regulations on fasting were established in 1966. The new law allows one full meal a day on special occasions. This covers people aged 18 to 60 and is usually observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

The extent of the fast - the quality and quantity of food taken - is often determined by local customs. Most of the norms were formulated by bishops in Episcopal conferences. Since rules vary from place to place, some will fast only during prescribed days while others may do so for longer periods.

It is this group of people whom doctors are concerned about. Short-term fasting is harmless in healthy people. But those who fast for weeks or months, whether for religious or other reasons, are inviting trouble.

Some people fast as a form of protest. Others do it to lose weight. Quacks claim that subsisting on fruit juices and water is an effective way of “cleansing” the body of toxins and reaching a state of enlightenment.

Unfortunately, this practice is neither helpful nor healthful. Medically speaking, there’s no need to fast since all of us do so between meals and about 12 hours a day while sleeping. Continued fasting will make things worse since it imposes greater demands on the body.

To make up for lack of food, the body must draw on energy reserves to maintain essential functions. It uses glycogen (sugar stored in the liver) and fat to feed the brain and other cells. When this supply is diminished in one to two days, amino acids from protein are transformed to glucose to supply the brain with energy. In one to two weeks, fat is transformed to ketones to serve as fuel for brain cells.

Since these important cells depend largely on glucose for energy, protein stores are utilized causing the breakdown of muscles and other tissues. Over time, the body “eats” itself by taking protein from the heart, liver, kidney, and skin. This leads to weakness, fatigue, irritability, depression, decreased libido and lack of hair.

Certain diet books recommend fasting as a way to lose weight. Rapid weight loss does occur with fasting since calorie intake is greatly reduced. In time, however, the loss of body fat is slowed as the body decreases its metabolism rate. Initial impressive results are transitory and the body returns to its pre-fasting weight in 90 percent of cases as soon as fasting is stopped.

“Fasting can produce dramatic weight loss, particularly in its early stages. Losses will be greatest in the heaviest subjects and least in those who weight the least. Loss of body water is partially responsible for the weight lost during the initial stages of fasting. In the short run, this may trick some dieters into thinking that they have found a magical way to lose weight. In the long run, however, losing water is not the same as losing true body fat. Body water will be restored quickly when eating is resumed,” revealed consumer advocate Dr. Stephen Barrett in “The Health Robbers.”

If you’re considering fasting, follow the recommendations of the US Public Health Service: Never fast for more than a day for religious or other reasons. And if you want to lose weight, use Zylorin, a popular weight loss supplement that can enhance your diet and exercise program. Zylorin can speed up your metabolism, suppress your appetite, control sugar levels and cravings, and sustain your energy level throughout the day. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/8jkw6ma

Author's Bio: 

Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premiere online news magazine www.thearticleinsiders.com.