What’s the difference between dieting, fasting and detoxing?

Cleaning hands under water
Sometimes the words dieting, fasting and detoxing (detoxification) is used interchangeable, like they have the same meaning. They are all in one way or another used as methods to lose weight, or improve health, but they are in fact quite different. Here’s a short explanation about the similarities and differences.

Dieting

Dieting is when you regulate your food intake to achieve or maintain a controlled weight. Generally speaking, a diet is the sum of food that you consume.

There are numerous different kinds of diets, ranging from traditional diets, to diets for weight loss, weight gain, and diets adapted for specific health problems, like diabetes and epilepsy.

Most nutritionally diverse diets for weight loss can generally be situated in one of these categories:

  • Low-calorie
  • Low-carbohydrate
  • Low-fat

Although most weight loss diets makes you lose weight, some are only effective short-term and might have an adverse effect on other health variables that’s more important than weight.

For more information about which diet to choose and the reasons why, I’ll suggest you’ll keep on following this blog for the latest info on diets and health.

Fasting

Fasting is when you abstain from food/drink intake for a certain period of time. There are fasts that abstain from all food and drinks for a defined period, while other fasts may be partial in scope of food and drink.

Fasting practices can also mean to abstain from sex and other human activities. Many fasting practices have a religious base, and/or are connected to certain times of the year. Extended fasting has been recommended  for various conditions throughout history, from ancient times to today.

Prolonged fasting can be dangerous. If the body is not in ketosis, the brain and vital organs need a certain amount of calories to function. If the brain and vital organs are deprived of necessary glucose, it can cause damage and in some cases, death. Therefore, fasting is only safe when the body enters and remains in ketosis during the fast. Lengthy fasting should always be carried out under medical supervision.

Detoxing

Detoxing is when you remove potentially poisonous substances from the body. While detox is primarily thought of as a treatment for alcohol or drug dependence, the term is also used to refer to certain diets and other methods of eliminating toxins from the body.

Willie
Creative Commons License photo credit: Furryscaly

There’s little evidence that detox diets have any health benefits, but alternative medicines often suggest that many modern foods are contaminated by various unnecessary elements, like flavor enhancers, food colorings, and artificial preservatives, and therefore needs to be eliminated.

Detoxification can often be put in one of these groups:

  • Dieting
  • Fasting,
  • Colon cleansing,
  • Chelation therapy
  • Removal of dental fillings

Detox diets can put great limits to food and drink intake. As an example: just drinking water or fruit juice. Supporters claim that this limitation causes the body to burn stored fats, release toxins, and in the end eliminate them from the body. Short term detoxifications are unlikely to cause harm, but prolonged “body cleanings” can be fatal.

Wrap Up

So there you go… dieting, fasting and detoxing might be similar, but they are not the same. They are interweaved sometimes, but starvation is never a substitute for a real diet. To stay healthy in the long run you need to change your food intake forever and not jump in, out and between the latest fads. If you find the lifestyle that fits you, then stick to it, enjoy it , lose weight and stay healthy… in the long run.

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