Do You Lose Muscle or Fat When You Fast?

Do You Lose Muscle or Fat When You Fast?

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Fasting is often practiced for spiritual enlightenment.

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Fasting is becoming more prevalent as people are finding new ways to shed some extra pounds. However, some people worry about losing muscle in the process of fasting. According to expert advice, the claims about losing muscle may be far-fetched. As with anything, it's important to consult your doctor if you are contemplating fasting to make sure it's safe for you.

What Is Fasting?

Fasting is when you cycle between periods of eating regularly and fasting. During the days of fasting, you will significantly restrict your caloric intake. With many ways to fast, you will ideally find what works for you, but some people fast for hours while some go a full day. A common way to fast, according to CNN, is the 5:2 diet. This diet requires you to restrict calories for two days a week, and to some people, this may mean as little as a 500 calories. The two fasting days should be spaced apart during the week. The other five days during the week involve eating normally without restriction. Some people choose to fast each day by only eating during time windows.

Losing Muscle Mass and Theories

It's a legitimate worry to lose muscle mass. Having strong muscles is important as they help you move freely. Not to mention, muscles help your skeletal and heart muscle strong. According to Dr. Jason Fung, M.D., you don't have to worry about losing muscle while fasting. Some people have always believed that if you fast long enough, your body will start to burn muscle so it can produce glucose for the body, which is claimed to be false by some experts. Another nutrition expert, creator of Ample, also states that fasting can help maintain or even build muscle.

As far as weight loss, WebMD states that fasting is going to promote weight loss since you're not consuming any calories, but also says you can gain it right back.

Is Fasting Safe?

There are different methods of fasting. According to WebMD, it's safe to fast for a day or two if you are an overall healthy adult. People who should avoid fasting are elderly individuals, people who are pregnant, children or anyone with a chronic disease.

Fasting becomes dangerous when it happens for multiple days or weeks. If the way you're fasting is cutting out food completely all day, it can lead to health problems including fatigue, low blood sugar, dizziness, irregular heartbeat and weak immune system. Additionally, the weight you lose at first will be water weight.

While there is that harmful side of fasting, there is a safer way. Intermittent fasting comes with some research that proves it works. WebMD says that during a study, people who were overweight cut calories by 20 percent every other day and lost eight percent of their body weight in eight weeks. As a bonus, those people also noticed less inflammation. Most intermittent diets are the same, but as a general idea, it's where you normally eat for some days of the week and cut calories down drastically other days. Studies show that intermittent fasting leads to short-term weight loss, but more research needs to be conducted to determine long-term weight loss results.