Column: Why you should consider a brief and water-only diet | VailDaily.com

Column: Why you should consider a brief and water-only diet

Ryan Richards
Make It Count

There is a magic formula that guarantees weight loss, and it doesn't require dieting or hard work in the gym.

This solution requires no money, and is the fastest and safest way to the promised land. Before you consider the simple suggestions to follow, understand this process is counter to what health care professional may tell you. While simple and effective, this method is challenging.

Simply stop eating. Drink water and nothing else for several days or weeks. But that's unhealthy, you may say, it will slow down my metabolism and is too extreme and dangerous. All concerns, no matter how logical they seem, are simply not true.

Fasting is nothing new. People have fastest since the beginning of time for growing closer to God, weight loss, cell regeneration, forced discipline and digestive problems. Here's what you need to know about this brilliant weight loss and health solution.

Quite simply, our body stores fat for health reasons beyond the scope of this discussion. However, most of us carry around too much body fat. One pound of body fat is equivalent to roughly two days of energy needs for healthy adults. If you're 150 pounds, and lean at 10 percent body fat, then that's 30 days you could survive before even flirting with starvation mode — when your body will start eating muscle and organ tissue — which is not a good thing. More realistically, people who should consider a water fast are much fatter than the former example. Here's why you should consider a long and sustainable water fast.

FAT LOSS

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Our bodies and brain need food or we'll die. Deprive yourself completely and you have no choice but to breakdown body fat for fuel conversion. It's that simple. No, you won't burn muscle. You don't stock up bundles of wood for the fire and decide to burn the couch instead. And why would your metabolism slow down? You're giving your body all the calories it needs from your own reserves — the metabolism myth is a convenient argument for people who don't want to give up eating too much. After my recent 6 day water-only fast, I lost 18 pounds. Two weeks later, I'm exactly the same weight the day I finished the fast. However, the first five days breaking the fast, I gained four pounds — likely fluid replacement and solid food weight — all which regulated and my weight came back down. That's 18 real pounds, folks.

AUTOPHAGY

Autophagy is the natural, regulated destructive mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Autophagy happens during severe caloric restriction — which, by the way, is one of two key findings in longevity of humans. As a side note, I had a persistent bacterial infection on my face for 9 months that all powerful antibiotics and ointments wouldn't put a dent in. After my recent 6 fast, my rash is gone to never return. When you deprive yourself of all food, your system destroys bad cells in your body as a fuel source.

BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION

This was the biggest insight for me. Over the last year I had developed very poor dietary and behavior patterns that I was literally sick from. My skin was bad, I was heavy and generally unhealthy. When you deprive yourself of food for an extended period of time, you come out of the fast craving what your body needs — vegetables, fruit and protein sources. I've never felt so grateful to eat an apple in my life after that journey. Fasting changes your perspective on food — which is fuel for life — not something strictly for hedonistic addiction.

SELF-DISCIPLINE

This is self-explanatory. Having the will to not eat for several days is somewhat uncomfortable. But, pulling through gives you the hope and strength to accomplish other things in your life you know you should.

Stay tuned, in a few weeks I'll discuss specifically how to tackle a water fast, how to break it so you don't gain the weight back and other health considerations before your journey. Have a great week.

Ryan Richards is a fitness professional who has been keeping the Vail Valley strong for over a decade. You can find him at ryanrichards.com or 970-401-0720.