Fraser on Fasting

back to healthread                               (back to diets)

Fasting is not eating for longer periods. Some do what is known as "juice fasts" where only fruit juice is consumed. Others do a water fast once a week to supposedly clean out toxins (an idea which dates back to the Middle Ages). And people on liquid diets like Slim fast are also doing a type of fasting. Finally the quick weight loss seen in the gastric bypass patients the first few months is also due to fasting - their rebuilt digestive system takes a long time to heal and they generally only eat 300-500 calories a day.

Ironically, the fashion models in order to stay as svelte as the industry demands, must also fast - many of them eat less than 700 calories a day and supplement with lots of coffee (to overcome starvation fatigue as seen in the Ancel Keyes starvation studies of the 1940's). According to one fashion model, 95 percent of models smoke cigarettes and many use other types of "speed" to keep their energy levels up.

The main idea of fasting is to "lose weight" quickly. The problem is it really does damage to the metabolism and so once people start eating again, unless they consume very low amounts of calories, they easily regain the weight. The reason our bodies can handle fasting for short periods is because it stores up the basic vitamins and nutrients in the organs and bones. However, for anything more than a very short period, fasting can do permanent damage to the bones, muscles and organs. A study of concentration camp victims who ate around 500 calories a day during their confinement, showed a type of muscle wasting wherein the muscles were NOT rebuilt once the fast was stopped. All the subjects studied were not only obese but had a high bodyfat to muscle ratio due to this. The following article was written by Laura Fraser and is from her book, LOSING IT, an expose' of the diet industry. It is highly recommended you read this book!

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. ***

On Fasting by Laura Fraser from LOSING IT (NY, 1997)

"Very low-calorie diets starve people. Physicians have tried several means of starvation to get people to lose weight, from total fasting to modified fasts with protein supplements to more nutritionally balanced very-low-calorie diets. All of them eventually lead to the well- documented and unpleasant side effects of starvation-including fatigue, hair loss, cold intolerance, anemia, depression, loss of muscle tissue, dehydration, irritability, weakness, bad breath, gallstones, and cardiac arrhythmia's-and all have been responsible for patient deaths. A Swedish study shows about 59 sudden unexplained deaths per 100,000 people on very low-calorie diets, which is 40 times the rate of sudden death in the general population. (Lars Sjostrom of the University of Goteburg in Sweden, quoted by Frances Berg, "The Health Risks of Weight Loss" (Hettinger, ND: Healthy Living Institute, 1993) p. 71 )"

"Eating no food whatsoever will obviously cause people to lose weight quickly, though no one can keep it up for long without serious physical damage. "Fasting"-the term is a euphemism for starvation, as if the body can tell whether it is receiving no food on purpose or not, - has been popular as a diet aid, off and on, since William the Conqueror. (In 1087, having difficulties riding on horseback because of his tremendous bulk, William the Conqueror took to his bed to lose weight with a "liquid diet" consisting mainly of alcoholic beverages.)

Fasting had a recent heyday in the 1970s, when several diet doctors wrote books claiming that long-term fasting would not only help dieters lose weight, but would rid the body of impurities and give the organs a well-needed rest. Allan Cott, a Manhattan psychiatrist who wrote Fasting as a Way of Life (1977), for instance, advocated that fasting was the "healthiest way to lose weight," and believed that the body has at least a month's supply of food in reserve to feed on.

But in reality, fasting for more than a day or two is hardly healthy. Instead of eliminating toxins from the body, it creates them, and puts a great strain on the heart, kidneys, and liver. The body not only burns up fat, but muscle and organs as well. No one can last for long on a fast, and at least five hospital patients who were put on fasts in the late 1960s died. (Others died during the course of treatment, or in the re-feeding stage immediately afterward, but physicians claimed that the deaths were the result of obesity-related problems)."


LOSING IT by Laura Fraser, an exposť of the diet industry, can be purchased at any bookstore (it's in paperback) or at: