I wrote this blog post originally in August 2011 following my own fasting experience having read the book ‘Eat. Stop. Eat’. It is a great book and a fantastically referenced resource for those people who want to give fasting a try. The Horizon programme this month has bought fasting onto the radar for most of the public. My concern is that some people will think this is both a magic bullet with which to address their weight issues without really considering what their real problems are and also a way to eat without consideration on feed days.
The basic principals of Eat Stop Eat (ESE) are that:
- on one or two days per week you undertake a 24 hour fast.
- that on the other days of the week you eat normally.
- you lift weights about twice a week to retain muscle mass.
In the Horizon programme there was an alternate day fast introduced. One day you eat one meal of 600 calories, the next day you eat normally. There was no reference to exercise. The Horizon programme did give some good information but suggestions that on the ‘normal eating’ day you could eat whatever you wanted did strike me as a bit counter-productive. Stashing up on junk food isn’t great for your long term health, satiety, cravings or energy.
I think that adding fasting into your regime can be useful but you need to know a few more basics about you and also how to make managing it easier:
- if you have weight issues because you have unresolved food and/or body image issues, this probably won’t help fix the root of the problem. If you already spend all day thinking about food, wondering what you can have next, eating without thinking about why, eating crap foods all day, feeling guilty, having food anxiety or body image problems. I think this will be tough.
- if you expect it to fix all your problems really quickly by the very nature of the fact that you aren’t eating anything ergo it should be quick fix. It’s not. You’ll probably lose 2-3lbs per week.
- you need to find the best 24 hour period of time for you ( I prefer dinner to dinner) whereas my daughter preferred lunch to lunch. And if you are going to include a 600 calorie meal in your fast each time, do you really know what 600 calories is?* It is incredibly easy to eat too much or choose foods which make the rest of the fast difficult.
- if you do include a meal make sure it is one that will satisfy not amplify your appetite. If you eat fruit or sweet foods or simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta, jams etc. you will make your hunger so much worse for the rest of the fast. Eat protein and vegetables to keep you satisfied.
- drink enough water when you are fasting. My husband has taken a shine to soda water with a squirt of fresh lemon juice. The bubbles fill you up!
- start with one fast day per week. Two days a week maximum and never next to each other, allow a feed day inbetween. If you are attempting fasting for weight loss, coming back to once per week is good for maintenance.
- unless you know your body really well, I’d avoid fasting on an exercise day. Get to know how you respond to a fast before doing that.
- I would still aim for good healthy choices on feed days. You know that if you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. Therefore feed days should still be lots of vegetables, good quality protein, limited wheat and processed carbohydrates and sugar. It is for improved health after all that many of us aspire to. Eating healthily is still by far and away one of the absolutely best ways to do it! 🙂
- *Starbucks Berry Scone is 436 calories (without added butter or jam)
- *Starbucks Chocolate chunk cookie 499 calories
- *Starbucks Carrot Cake 560 calories
- *Starbucks Raspberry & White Chocolate Muffin 498 calories
- *Starbucks Sausage Buttie 479 calories
I think fasting is useful for sure. However it’s not for everyone. It’s not a quick fix and it requires some good will power! Here is the original blog post …
Eat Stop Eat is an online and audio book written by Brad Pilon which goes into understandable but great length about the benefits of intermittent fasting for health and weight loss or weight management.
I found it easy to read and listen to and found Brad’s indepth research and referencing to his material to be useful. I like his style of writing, there is no fluff, nothing to pad out the book to make it more than it is. He refers at one point to most diet books being half detail and half recipes. His is not like this. He explains how fasting can benefit health as well as weight management and explains how the over-worked statements like ‘starvation mode’ or ‘breaking down your muscles for fuel’ have no scientific evidence in short intermittent fasting.
I have been following this method now for three weeks. Each week I chose two days when I won’t eat for 24 hours. I have found I work best when I go from something like 18:00 – 18:00 or dinner to dinner (whenever that may be). My daughter however found that she functioned much better when she did it 14:00-14:00. I also found that if I was busy it was easier, if I am sat at home doing admin at the PC it’s way too easy to fall into grazing mode.
It’s way easier than I was expecting. It has helped me to focus on real hunger. Stopped me thinking about whether I should eat or not that day (not! then eat as normal* as soon as the fast is over) and given me time to do other things rather than prepare meals! *normal being healthy, avoiding foods I know to be unhealthy rather than binging for five days because I have fasted for two.
In this time I have lost 4/5lbs and look less rounded around my belly. So I am going to be keeping with this as a great tool for calorie restriction and weight management without having to reduce calories all day every day in an attempt to shift extra pounds. And for those of you who are wondering how I manage to teach classes on no food, it’s achievable! My preferred days have me teaching both cardio and resistance classes during the fast without any detrimental effect.
For more information on Eat Stop Eat — Click Here!
Please note that purchasing this product will generate a small commission back to me for making it so easy for you to buy!