Ramadan, the month of fasting observed by Muslims around the world, just started. Limiting calorie intake is a spiritual practice in many cultures and religions, but people also fast for health and other non-religious reasons, including weight loss, preparation for medical testing, and anti-aging, or to detox, boost immunity, or overcome addictions.
If you’re think about fasting for any reason, here are several tips that will help you fast safely:
1. Consult a Doctor Before FastingIf you have a health condition, are pregnant, or, especially, if you are taking medications, you need to speak with your healthcare provider about how to fast without harming your health. This is especially true for those with type 2 diabetes, who are at risk of hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, and dehydration during a fast. Plan ahead before fasting and make an appointment with your provider to create a customized plan that you can safely follow. You may need to modify your medications during the fast and your provider will help you with those adjustments.
2. Try Different Fasting TacticsIf you are fasting to lose weight, consider a modified approach. Rapid weight loss sets you up for long-term weight maintenance failure. The key to weight loss is to lose it slowly, as this allows you to maintain the greatest amount of muscle and, therefore, keep your metabolism stimulated. Instead of going to extremes by fasting to lose weight rapidly, think about initially eliminating some (but not all) foods for a few weeks.
Pay attention to any trigger foods or foods for which you struggle to control portion size. Some people find that eliminating sugar can help them readjust their palates and rediscover the natural sweetness in foods. Packaged foods, coffee, and soda are other examples of foods that you can begin to cut back on. Another way to change your diet to lose weight is to limit meat to one meal (if any) or to try not to snack during the day. An effective strategy is to focus on what you can have versus what you cannot have. Begin by setting a goal to have one to two cups of vegetables at every meal and two to three servings of fruit each day.