Fasting may have gained popularity around the world recently, but it dates back centuries and plays a pivotal role in many cultures. Fasting is described as abstinence from all kinds of foods and drinks, but there are many forms of this practice. Not eating for 24-hours at a time is one of them. But what happens to your body when you don’t eat for a day?
Studies have extensively examined the benefits and risks of giving up food for a day. To understand its effects, we talked to Ms. Pavithra N Raj, Chief Dietician, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur
Fasting And Weight Loss
While you find dozens of fasting plans believed to have positive effects on weight loss, the truth is there is little evidence to prove that. Dietician Pavithra explains that fasting, or eating no food, can result in weight loss, but the effects may be temporary. In other words, you may gain all the weight back within a day or two of eating normal foods. Hence, you should eat a balanced diet and do exercise if your goal is weight loss, and don’t rely on fad diets to shed the extra kilos.
Prolonged fasting can cause headaches. You may start to feel dizzy by the end of the day or may experience a severe headache the next morning. This happens because there is no energy left in the body.
Ms. Pavithra explains “Most foods that we eat contain carbohydrates and the energy generated from this helps the organs and brain to function properly. The lack of carbohydrate in the body due to fasting may hamper the normal functioning of the body parts like the brain. An initial symptom of the lack of carbohydrates in the body is headaches.”
Low Levels Of Sodium
“Fasting to a certain extent is good for health, but not when you are unable to meet the daily requirements of the body. It can lead to electrolyte imbalance in the body. A lack of minerals and fluids in the body required to create electrolytes will cause sodium deficiency, which may lead to cramps,” she said.
Sodium is an essential electrolyte that helps maintain the balance of water in and around the cells. Insufficient sodium in the body can lead to health complications, especially in older adults. Symptoms may include weakness, fatigue, headaches, irritability, confusion, muscle cramps, vomiting and nausea.
When you’re fasting, your body doesn’t get the required nutrients it needs, so it uses excess glucose or glycogen present in the liver. Moreover, not drinking water when fasting can dehydrate your system. It can disturb the normal functioning of the body and lead to several other health problems.
A Word Of Caution From The Dietician
“Drink plenty of water and other fluids like buttermilk, tender coconut, fruit juices etc. to keep yourself hydrated. It will help keep the body hydrated and avoid problems like headache, dizziness, fatigue, muscle pain, joint ache and other symptoms, depending on each individual. You should also eat a light breakfast the next day to avoid feeling nauseated.”