First let’s start here, calories matter, A LOT, anyone trying to sell you on something different is just a distraction.
So specifics matter.
What this means is that I won’t be throwing out words like Autophagy, Catabolic or TRE (time restricted window). For some reason intermittent fasting folks like to make normal body processes a little fancier than they are. Almost every major claim from fasting ALSO happens when you eat less while doing other forms of eating less.
So let’s be clear, the part doing the “magic” is the not eating part, aka eating fewer calories.
So fasting is about managing the amount of calories you are taking in for a specific result.
Used occasionally it can be good, used all of the time your body is going to adjust and it can cause real problems.
The other issue with fasting is that you often don’t get crucial nutrients. One of the big things you will hear fasters ask is “does XYZ break my fast?”. As if somehow the clock is the reason people are losing weight using fasting. So having say, a protein shake really doesn’t matter if it allows you to get in nutrients that you need and then feel free to continue your fast.
This is the point of the article.
PEOPLE OVERUSE FASTING and eventually it imprisons them and their relationship with food.
So if we know that it’s the calories doing the majority of the work, let's see how we can use fasting as a management tool to have long term success. (also note that I am not talking about skipping breakfast, or skipping dinner or skipping lunch as a form of fasting)
1. First rule of fasting is that you shouldn’t be fasting all of the time. I get the WANT to lose a lot of weight all at once but at the end of the day what you really want is to maintain those results. So food has to come back in a manageable way and you need to know the calories in those foods to do this part right.
2. Separate your fasting days from your non-fasting days, here is what that looks like. Two days a week you fast, having lower calories on those days. A good example might be a Friday or Saturday where you only have one meal later in the day (think date night). The other FIVE days keep your calories reasonable but your calorie average high enough to support progress. (PS if you are an Eat To Performer just use your low days)
3. For days that you do back to back be careful. Once again, you can lose good weight doing it this way but over the long haul you are at more risk for losing muscle this way. You are basically just depriving yourself of nutrients like sodium and water in a lot of cases. Most of that weight is coming from dehydration.
4. Occasionally putting back to back days together is fine but you really want to keep your body ready and fueled for activity most of the time.
5. “It sounds like you are not a fan of multi-day fasting”. Correct, here is why. Not eating food and then having massive binge fests is not supportive of a healthy relationship with food. Most of the people that do this often like the freedom at the end of the fasts but their sleep is often short, metabolism gets compromised and if they push through the difficulty it often leads to really bad issues hormone wise. Especially for women. It’s also not necessary.
When you know how much you are eating you can bring bad food with a good idea of what it is doing and why. I FAST, I am an advocate for fasting but I don’t talk about it a lot because, frankly, there is a lot of noise out there that isn’t healthy. Fasting (and Keto) are good examples of simplistic approaches and are often the first point of entry for people with A LOT of weight to lose. So you will often see great transformations. What you don’t see are the massive rebounds. The people that don’t often have a lot of metabolic issues and a difficult relationship with food.
If it sounds like I am saying you actually don’t need to fast to have success.
That is correct.
But if you think of it as a tool to help with calorie restriction, for some people it’s great. I like it a lot but I don’t have silly rules so technically I am not fasting at times to preserve my muscle. (PS after a period of fasting you are more insulin sensitive. What this means is if you have a protein shake after a period of fasting and go back to fasting your body is going to use that protein to preserve muscle MOST efficiently. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? Trust me, I know a bit more about this than FastSoLong4754 on Reddit).
Fasting is a tool, use it like that and it can be part of a lifetime solution but you know what doesn’t sell books. This….
“You probably shouldn’t be fasting all of the time to live a great life.” Also this….
“Fasting isn’t magic, it’s just eating less”
That’s not nothing. Eating less occasionally is a great weight management tool.
Eating less all of the time is a good formula for metabolic dysfunction.
So hopefully this helps.
PS the picture is me, I only fast occasionally like I described and the good majority of time I don’t. I certainly did more losing weight initially but even then I was often eating a good amount of calories to support activity.
Even the programs that reverse don’t do a good job because they cave to the fear of their clients or they let AI (artificial intelligence) do the work.