It doesn’t take more than a few Google searches to discover that fasting is one of the quickest ways to lose weight and optimize health. There’s plenty of scientific (as well as anecdotal) evidence highlighting its effectiveness. But despite these facts, most people never find out about this amazing fat loss method. And many of those that do immediately discard it as useless or even harmful.
Now, there’s a good reason for this. We’ve been fed many myths for years about our metabolism and how we need to eat every few hours to keep it stoked. Of course, that’s not true and you can learn more about that here. Then, there’s the breakfast is the most important meal of the day myth. Again, also not true for reasons explained here.
And the list goes on and on.
But, after last week’s Neuroscience 2012 conference, you’re sure to see a lot more headlines reinforcing those flawed beliefs that lead you down the wrong road when it comes to weight loss.
Here’s what I mean…
One of the studies presented by Dr. Tony Goldstone showed that, after a period of fasting, people preferred high calorie foods. More specifically, the experiment examined how abstaining from food for a long time activated the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain. This is the area that decides how rewarding something will be to eat.
So, the test subjects were fasted overnight and were fed a 700 calorie breakfast in the morning. After that they were shown pictures of different foods while their brains were monitored with an MRI. Then, they repeated the experiment. But this time the subjects were shown the pictures before eating breakfast.
The researchers discovered that the participant’s reward assessment area of the brain (i.e. orbitofrontal cortex) was much more active when the subjects were not fed and shown images of high calorie foods.
Of course, that’s not at all surprising. Your body will go to great lengths to preserve energy. And when you fast (and subsequently burn a lot of it in the form of fat) it will force you to find ways to replace it. Nevertheless, that little bit of logic won’t stop the anti-fasting headlines from coming.
Listen, fasting is one of the best ways to lose weight, period. By giving your body a break from digesting and assimilating a constant supply of nutrients, it has no choice but to draw on your fat stores for energy. Do not get in its way and watch how quickly the pounds melt off (yes, I said melt because that’s exactly what will happen).
With that said, the study results – while completely obvious – aren’t without merit. If you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to break your fast you’re setting yourself up to fail. You will seek out that high calorie junk food in your moment of “starvation” without giving a second thought to what it will do to your weight loss goals. But let’s be clear: it’s not the fasting that will make you fat – it’s what you use to break your fast.
Therefore, you have to have a ready cooked and healthy meal when it’s time to eat. Either that or a well thought out plan for what you’re going to eat when the fast is over. And that’s all it takes. So in conclusion, you can get all the great fat loss benefits of food abstinence. You just have to eat right.