Sasha & Me

Burning Body Fat for Fuel

Many people choose to do a juice or water fast for the primary purpose of losing weight. It certainly can be a fun and easy way to trim down the excess fat on one's body, and many people have used this approach successfully. However, it is important to understand that weight loss and fat loss are not always the same thing. When doing a water fast, a person traditionally loses both fat and lean body mass (comprised of muscle and bone). The loss of lean body mass on a water fast is not huge, but it does occur. I am not totally sure what happens on a juice fast that includes fruits or vegetables high in sugar, like apples and carrots, because I did not have the equipment to measure this during past fasts of this kind that I have done.

Therefore, I have been particularly interested in tracking the numbers of my weight loss during my current low-sugar, leafy green juice fast using a scale that calculates not just total weight, but body fat percentage and lean body mass as well. This allows me to see exactly what kind of weight I am losing. Ideally, you want your metabolism to burn calories stored as body fat, not muscle or bone. I did not acquire this scale until about the third week into my fast, but it has still been extremely enlightening.

When I have had my body fat measured professionally in the past, it was generally in the 20-24% range. My weight has been relatively stable at around 120 lbs. (+/- 5 lbs.) for most of my adult life. Consequently, my estimates for body fat percentages, as well and muscle and bone mass, for the first three weeks of this fast are based on these previous measurements, plus the pattern that has unfolded during this fast since acquiring the scale. As you will see, my total weight and body fat percentage drops each week, but my muscle and bone mass remain remarkably stable week-to-week.

Because my total caloric intake is substantially below what is needed to meet all of my energy requirements (1000 kcal verses 1700 kcal), my body must access its own tissue in order to make up the caloric deficit. The fact that it is only pulling from body fat, and not muscle or bone, is a really good thing, and it indicates that I am indeed getting adequate protein from the leafy greens to meet all of my lean body mass maintenance requirements.

There are two main reasons why you want to burn body fat (not lean body mass) for fuel while on a fast: 1) body fat is basically expendable, there is really nothing potentially dangerous about losing it (down to a certain point), as long as essential fatty acid requirements (omega 3 & 6) are still being met; and 2) toxins are stored in body fat and, when body fat is dismantled for energy production, these toxins are liberated and eliminated through the natural detoxification pathways of the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and other organs. Thus, burning body fat for energy allows a person to stay on a fast longer and, therefore, accomplish a deeper level of detoxification than is possible if lean body mass is also being burned for energy.

Water-only fasting certainly has its place in healing, as sometimes the body really needs to be left completely alone to rest and do its work. But when that is not possible due to either time constraints or economic limitations, then juice fasting can provide a powerful alternative path to greater well-being. And, I would even venture to suggest that juice fasting, especially one based exclusively on low-sugar leafy greens, may have some unique therapeutic advantages all its own. For example, it is well-known by those who professionally supervise water-only fasts that it is NOT an option for people who have cancer to undertake a water-only fast because of certain metabolic peculiarities present in that form of dis-ease, and it can actually be dangerous for them to do so. While juice fasting, on the other hand, is often highly beneficial and completely safe in such situations.

As I have explained in one of my video posts regarding this green juice fast, I have not undertaken this juicy journey for the purpose of weight loss myself. Rather, I am doing it for the purpose of detoxification and overall greater well-being. I have done many, many fasts (juice, water-only, and dry) over the years and have benefited from every single one of them. Fasting, for me, is a way to "push the reset button" for my body, much the same way meditation does for the mind. I always feel better after completing a fast. I also know from past experience that once I resume eating other foods, my body fat percentage will slowly return to the 18-22% range, which is considered to be very healthy for woman.

Weight loss on a fast is inevitable and just part of the process. It is nothing to be concerned about, even for people who start out relatively thin like myself. One of my all-time favorite fasting stories is Triumph Over Disease by Dr. Jack Goldstein. At around age 40, Dr. Goldstein, who had suffered with very severe ulcerative colitis for many years, reached a low point in which a colostomy appeared to be the only solution to end his misery. He learned about fasting and decided to do a supervised water-only fast under a doctor in upstate New York. Dr. Goldstein was already severely emaciated and underweight by about 40 lbs. from his illness when he started his fast. But, he ended up fasting for a total of 42 days, or 7 weeks on only water! His final weight was not much more than 100 lbs., and he was not a short man. He received enormous benefit from his fast, but did not obtain a complete healing this first time around. Consequently, he returned to this doctor every year for 6 years to do a long water-only fast of 4-5 weeks each time, and every year his health improved more and more. Dr. Goldstein went on to live a very active and healthy life into his 80s, with his colon completely intact.

If you are seriously considering a water-only fast, I high recommend the TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, CA. That is where I did my 25-day water only fast, and I was extremely happy with my experience there. There are very few things that can go wrong on a juice fast, but there are some things that need to be monitored during a water-only fast. Some people do not retain electrolytes for more than 2 weeks once they stop eating, and they can run into trouble if they try to extend a water-only fast beyond that point. At the TrueNorth Health Center, you are supervised by a medical doctor and blood work is conducted several times per week or as needed. I felt incredibly well-cared for and completely safe in hands of Dr. Alan Goldhamer and his excellent staff. If you even feel uncomfortable about doing a juice fast on your own, the TrueNorth Health Center offers guided juice fasting as well.


At Start: 08/28/14
Total Weight = 120 lbs.
Body Fat = 22%
Muscle = 80.4 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs

Week One : 09/04/14
Total Weight = 116 lbs.
Body Fat = 21%
Muscle = 80.4 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Two: 09/11/14
Total Weight = 111 lbs.
Body Fat = 20%
Muscle = 80.4 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Three: 09/18/14
Total Weight = 106 lbs.
Body Fat = 19%
Muscle = 80.4 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Four: 09/25/14
Total Weight = 104 lbs.
Body Fat = 18%
Muscle = 80.2 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Five: 10/02/14
Total Weight = 102 lbs.
Body Fat = 17%
Muscle = 80.2 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Six: 10/09/14
Total Weight = 100 lbs.
Body Fat = 16%
Muscle = 80.0 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Seven: 10/16/14
Total Weight = 98 lbs.
Body Fat = 15%
Muscle = 80.0 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Eight: 10/23/14
Total Weight = 97 lbs.
Body Fat = 14%
Muscle = 80.0 lbs.
Bone = 4.4 lbs.

Week Nine: 10/30/14
Total Weight: 96 lbs.
Body Fat: 13%
Muscle: 79.8 lbs.
Bone: 4.4 lbs.

At End: 11/2/14
Total Weight: 95 lbs.
Body Fat: 12%
Muscle: 79.8 lbs.
Muscle: 4.4 lbs.

Love & Joy, Esmée

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