The 411 on water-only fasting

When clients ask me about fasting, a 2011 study by the American College of Cardiology comes to mind.

The study showed favorable results in regard to heart health and diabetes in people who regularly followed a 24 hour water-only fast. The study was conducted in Utah where many Mormons follow a fast regimin one day a month. Until now, their lower rate of heart disease had been linked to the fact that devout Mormons don’t drink alcohol, caffeine or smoke. Now, it’s looking like fasting plays a key role, too.

Better health as easy as not eating for a day? We should all hop on board, right? Not so fast. For those following this practice for religious purposes, fasting doesn’t necessarily lead to a next-day food binge. However, the general population is different. Fasting is often looked to as relief from an otherwise “dirty” diet. Which can be great …  if the fasting is controlled and accompanies a balanced diet and regular exercise. If done correctly and healthfully Triglycerides and blood pressure will go down, and good cholesterol will rise.

So why do many clinicians avoid recommending the fast? Because most people have a lack of self-control. In my practice and experience, fasting is best utilized as a way to harness that self-control. Think about how much determination and will power it takes to follow through with only drinking water for a day.

Consider the challenge of after-dinner eating. When the temptation to munch and graze endlessly arises, grab a bottle of water and think as though you were fasting for a medical test. It can be challenging to trick your mind in this way, but remember that if you were truly fasting for a medical test, you could. That proves that self-control is present, and that it is a choice.

Try a a 24-hour experiment, sundown to sundown, to prove whether a water-only fast is possible. Check with your doctor first though, as certain people should not perform fasts, especially pregnant women, people with certain medical conditions and children. After a fast, carry out a pre-planned balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.