Fasting: Is there a place for it in our eating programs?

Here’s an important point I want to make up front. If anyone tells you that ONE diet…ONE approach…ONE way only is the way to successful, permanent, healthy weight loss….leave immediately.  For those of us with significant weight to deal with, it is like reconstructing a house. You can’t build a house all with just one screwdriver. You need a toolbox of options.

Five years ago I was almost 300lbs, sick, tired and depressed. Out of shape, eating everything, trying every diet and gaining everything (plus more!) back and desperately sad about the whole thing. I was also a successful executive, mother and fabulous actress.  Today, I am a bit of a gym rat, avid cyclist, down over 160lbs of fat and almost…almost at a weight that I like. Which, by the way, is quite a bit higher than the weight I have aimed for in past lives. But I have significantly more muscle and I am quite a bit smaller than I’ve ever been. Well, there was that time around 6 years old…

IMG_0740
I’m the cute one in the middle.

So, dial forward to today. I am a committed ketogenic lifestyle eater, nutritionist, coach and weight loss supporter. Not to say that keto is for everyone..there is a segment of the population that I would never recommend for keto..but for me, it is a lifestyle and answer that I can live with and, most importantly, sustain. And when I say keto, I don’t mean all bacon all the time. I am a committed vegetable eater because HEALTH is the bacon-avocado-friesgoal, not pounds of bacon. I came to it originally because my low carb/low fat gymtastic lifestyle was changing the shape of my body but my scale number was an obstinate one.  And I continued to feel as if I was dieting, although I could live with it if I had to, cravings and all.   Turns out, adding healthy fats (that’s right!) and listening to my hunger signals was the final change I needed to find a sustainable lifestyle that I could adopt by tweaking what worked for me already!

However, even though I am pretty happy with where my body is, I still need that number to go down. Why? Losing this much weight leaves a body looking a little deflated. And vain person that I am, I want the skin and bulgy pieces gone. Mostly so I can see all those beautiful muscles I have worked so hard for. But a little bit so that I can ‘finish’ my weight loss journey and simply take up my ‘maintenance’ piece, or as I call it, my Life. thThe surgeons rely heavily on BMI markers and won’t even see me until I am in their ‘range’ for surgery.

So, Fasting. As my Body has gone through the weight loss journey, it has become oh-so-smart. While I would normally brag about being so smart, my Body has decided that we have lost enough. So the scale continues to slowly down the same 10 lbs for months at a time, laughing at me all the while. It is time to shock and fool my Body. I have, for the last six months, embraced intermittent fasting and typically eat one or two meals a day. No, it hasn’t slowed my metabolism. No, I’m not wrecking my Body. No, I don’t need six meals a day. Been there, done that, never going back. There is enough evidence out there that I am convinced that I can simply listen to my hunger, eat when I’m hungry, and heal my metabolism and hormones that way. Caveman, anyone??

photocred: vectortunes.com
photo:vectortunes.com

I started out with one or two day fasts to remind myself of my hunger signals. I want to hear my Body ASK for food.  I like doing this, so experimented with three day fasts,supplemented by BCAA’s and exogenous ketones.  Although my body is producing ketones for food (see previous post), the supplementation helps in keeping my hunger in check and boosts my energy levels to allow for workouts and painting my bathroom.

I enjoyed the feeling of energy, the disruption to my body, the lack of need for planning and eating meals or devoting any time to food thinking that I began to research further into fasting. Turns out there is a huge community of people, doctors, scientists, dieticians, nutritionists (just Google that!) that believe that giving your body a regular REST from the work of digestion, processing and toxins in foods allows for increases in health longevity and energy. There is an increasing body of research on fasting as a disease fighting mechanism as well. Combining ketone endogenous production with exogenous supplementation seems an interesting theory to get into!

Now, these same people are not touting fasting as a weight loss mechanism, typically because people overeat when leaving fasting. I did my first long fast, 5 days, in March. I felt fantastic! I lost 7lbs, three of which came back on in the form of water as soon as I began ingesting food again. BUT, the remainder stayed off and it seemed to kick start my body weight loss again. I am down 8lbs since the fast in total, eating ketogenically and living as I had before with NO MUSCLE LOSS.alcott_theemergingwoman

Accident? Byproduct? Fooling my body? This only spurred me on to take on another in April in the interest of self experimentation. So, yesterday I started my first 7 day fast. I will post another blog describing in detail what it is like once I finish. There are people out there who water fast for 21 and 40 days. I’m definitely not there – I do have a social life – but I’m intrigued enough to play around a little.

Please click on the “follow” link and stay tuned….

Disclaimer: Please, if you have any health condition, talk to your doctor before undergoing any significant dietary change! This experience is my experience and not necessarily one for you. Be smart, people!

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