When Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson wrote their books on Kegenix Prime dieting, I considered them the reasonable guys in the discussion that could make the case for eating mostly whole foods in a smart way. When they wrote those books it felt like a concession, first that there was no magic to eating mostly meats and veggies but then, the most important part, go where the money is and at that time, the money was in Ketogenic dieting. I’ve written a lot about the fact that the Paleo diet is dead (and I am pretty sure those guys figured that out before I did and they have bills to pay) but now in a surprise twist Ketogenic dieting is dying faster than anything I have seen to this point. Not because it’s too hard, apparently it wasn’t hard enough.
So let’s stop right there because it’s important to note that there are a lot of things going on here. Firstly, your body and brain would like to be fed so there is a strong connection between not eating and clinical depression. Secondly, while it might be logical that if you need to lose weight that eating less makes some sense the question becomes how much less and how fast can you do it?
Lastly for this part of the discussion it’s important to talk about water and it’s relationship to your weight and what you do. The reason why Ketogenic dieting got so popular so fast in the last couple of years is because your body is about 60% water. CarboHYDRATES contain water, as an example one of the greatest gifts nature gives us is starches, those starches turn into fuel that makes your muscles and brain function better. Fats don’t carry that same water tax, fats also provide a helpful source of fuel but that’s another article for another day, the point being is that if you can say pull 20% of the water out of your body and your goal is weight loss that’s pretty motivating. Especially if you are say 300 pounds, 60 pounds of water gone can be pretty motivating and let’s be real, if you are 300 pounds, some of that is going to be stored bodily fat too BUT IT’S THE WATER LOSS THAT IS MOTIVATING. So at the end of the day we are talking about the difference between being hydrated and de-hydrated. This is important as this discussion evolves.
Move over Ketogenic dieting, there is a new kid in the clubhouse
That new kid is fasting and not reasonable fasting either. Long periods of pro-longed restriction. I fully expect to see the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble littered this year with books on fasting while all of the Keto books are being slashed. In today’s internet economy trends move fast (pun intended).
Fasting is something I know a lot about. When I first started losing weight with exercise as an asset in my toolbox fasting protocols intrigued me because I preferred to eat bigger meals. At the time I was eating about 5,000 calories a day, my first meal of the day was 2,500 calories. For me it came down to preference and to exercise as much as I wanted to I needed energy. By the time I started doing Crossfit I weighed 162 down from 255 and within 6 months I was down to 149 and for the first time in my life I was in the single digits for body fat. I probably wasn’t different than most people in this regard at that time, I was going to prove that I could get from 32% body fat to single digits in a year and I did it. Want to know what happened, nothing, there was no fanfare, no confetti and I didn’t win the fat loss lottery.
But that’s getting ahead of myself a bit, there was a lot of chatter on the internet at that time about how you couldn’t fast (mostly intermittent fast) and do Crossfit. I was not only doing it, I was gaining muscle while doing it and losing weight. Those 5,000 calories had a lot to do with that. Within 6 months I had put on 15 pounds of muscle (thank you newbie gains), I also wrote an article for a magazine that went viral on fasting protocols for Crossfit. Not a lot of people paid attention to how much I was eating, they were more interested in how they could starve more extremely to suffer as much as possible as quick as possible. Here is the interesting part, remember the whole I got down to 149 part? I did lower my calories to get there, at the time I had fought down to 155 and to get to 149 I ate 2,000 calories FOR TWO WEEKS! Now don’t get me wrong, I was working out a good amount but for the first time in my life I was in charge and fasting helped me manage my meals and the way I ate throughout that process.
There pretty much isn’t a fasting protocol I haven’t seen but unlike my experience where you are managing meals it’s really more about managing the suffering. So let’s be clear about that, if you are using fasting to under eat that’s what you are doing but that’s not the only thing you are doing.
When you don’t eat you are pulling water out of your body but that’s true with any form of dieting but when you fast in an EXTREME way like for multiple days you lose A LOT of water. In theory you can hold a bit more water into your cells by using sodium but sodium is effective when used WITH carboHYDRATES, basically in your small intestine the sodium makes the carbs more bioavailable so they are absorbed better and go to the parts of your body that need them most like your muscles or your brain. So even if you are drinking electrolytes the chances of them actually holding water into your cells is maybe slightly more than 0 but it’s almost 0.
Water is not fat.
So here is what happens when you stop your fast, especially if you eat carbs (which you should), first of all you are going to be prone to over eat, the reason is simple. YOU ARE LITERALLY STARVING YOURSELF. So your body is going to store as much as possible as fast as possible, it’s also going to re-hydrate. This can be very frustrating with any diet but it’s more important with fasting because not only are you losing and gaining a lot of water. You are literally losing and gaining a lot of weight and so if you start to binge eat as a result you can become VERY susceptible to various eating disorders.
That’s why when I chose my form of suffering I chose working out and in the beginning I did a lot of stuff I didn’t like. Let’s also be clear as I was eating 5,000 calories I was burning more than that, that’s how weight loss works. At the time I had more free time than most people and I would often workout 2 to 3 times a day. When people ask me if I have one piece of advice based on my experience I always say the same thing “I wish I had done it slower”. The reason being is that I blew through a bunch of muscle in the process, muscle I later needed to regain to get lean.
I realize that when you see something on the internet that says “I lost 12 pounds in 8 days” that’s very appealing, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose or you are trying to lean out and lose that “last 10 pounds”. If that person was being honest with you they would admit they gained 14 back really quick as their body re-hydrated.
Essentially what is happening right now is that people are playing with fire based on reddit posts and facebook groups that are hiding in the shadows. If someone is yelling at you calling you a “fatty” (this actually does happen, I am not making this up) they are playing a game of psychological warfare on you that you should not be allowing them to do. The simple fact that someone would take advice from someone that openly demeans people is scary.
Water flushes and water manipulation are common in weight restricted sports but they have no illusion that they are addressing fat loss. “Dry Fasting” as an example is common in boxing, MMA weight lifting and wrestling The fact that people are using them in dieting protocols is misinformed, dangerous and someone is going to be harmed or worse.
Which brings me back to how I started this article, if the reasonable people cave to pay the bills all they are doing is opening the door for unreasonable people to get more extreme than the extreme that they conceded. All of which becomes more and more unreasonable and left in the middle is a population of people getting more and more obese and victimized by the predators in the world trying to make a fast buck.