It is that time of the year when everyone wants an easy, fast way to get rid of all the extra pounds gained during the holidays. Some turn to fasting as a way to lose the weight. Those who do it drink only water or juice and avoid food for 24-48 hours. Many religions promote the practice but medical experts caution people from doing it.

“A lot of churches will do this without checking on these things and that’s not good,” said Gloria Fuller, Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) Registered Dietitian. “If someone is diabetic, if they’re hypertensive or if they’re on medications that’s problematic. Many medications require food.”

For most healthy adults fasting for a couple days won’t be dangerous. But it can be for those with chronic diseases, the elderly, pregnant women or children. Plus, Fuller says you are not losing weight during that period.

“The first 24 hours is really water loss more than anything,” she said. “But the next day you’re going to eat twice as much and be right back where you were. That’s the problem.”

Fasting for extended periods of time can have serious effects on your health. You will lose muscle because you don’t have the energy to exercise, you can experience dizziness, headaches, low blood sugar, dehydration, and more. Plus, your body learns to burn calories at a slower rate to conserve. That means when you go back to eating, you gain weight more easily.
The bottom line is there is no easy way to drop the weight.

“Weight loss is exercise plus portion control,” said Fuller. “So, you need to expend more energy than you put in. You need to exercise no less than an hour every day. So, its calories in, energy expended.”

CHI has two nutritionists that can help you plan your diet. Just ask your doctor for a referral and start losing weight the healthy way.