I’m still experimenting with fasting. I call it experimenting, because the main reason I’m doing it is for the challenge to see how I respond mentally and physically. I’ve always thought of fasting as being something done for religious reasons or before a medical procedure. And nothing I wanted any part of, since I get pretty crabby when my eating gets delayed (thus the challenge!) It never occurred to me that it might be done for general health reasons until a friend shared an article about it with me. Well, I did hear several years ago Jillian Michaels encourage no eating after dinner which should be low-carb. Which could be considered fasting. Her reasoning was similar to this new information I was reading where the time of no eating allows hormones to adjust/function (whatever) in a healthier way.
I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist and I have done very little research on fasting. It’s a topic that intrigues me. That first article I read was about Michael Mosley, who did a BBC documentary and published a diet book. I haven’t read the book, but did watch the documentary. It touched on a few studies that indicate there might be some health benefits to fasting. The key marker Michael used in the documentary with his personal trials with fasting was his blood level of the hormone IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor – 1). They talked about how lower levels of IGF-1 mean lower incidences of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, dementia and longer life span. Fasting lowers this hormone level.
I would love if fasting could help me lose weight. We’d all do it then, wouldn’t we? I would guess it will do no good unless my overall calorie intake goes down. I know I must eat less and eat healthier. My approach is not to do Michael Mosley’s plan with two days per week fasting (with 500 calories allowed). I am following the method used by Dr. Mercola by extending my overnight fast. So every day I go approximately 16 hours without eating and 8 hours eating. I have no idea if this has the same benefits as other fasting or not, I just know I can’t go a whole day with only 500 calories without biting someone’s head off.
The first week was basically extending my overnight fast until I could reach 16 hours. This was not easy for me. I am a grazer. A morning eater. A believer in breakfast-is-the-most-important-meal. I’d be happier not eating dinner than skipping breakfast. But, thinking of all the headaches that would cause, it didn’t make sense to do it that way. I finish eating by 6 or 7 in the evening and begin eating the next day at 10-11 am. The first week, I ate whatever I wanted in my eight hour window. It was very odd. Starving but shrunken stomach. Very odd to go from, No eating! to Eat whatever you want!
The second week I counted calories and I ate 3 meals a day, usually no snacking. In the last few years, I have taken the concept of 5-6 small meals and turned it into grazing all day. This is a habit I want to break. This is why I am attempting to eat only the three meals in my eight hour window. This week was easier to get to the 16 hour mark, but hard to eat my daily calories in just 3 meals since the meals are larger. I lost 2 pounds this week.
The past weekend I still fasted, but ate way too much. Saturday I ate out all three meals 😦 I gained back the 2 pounds.
This is my third week now. I’m not counting calories, but still eating three meals. I’m just being lazy about the counting.
What I’ve noticed:
- I am very irritable when I’m very hungry.
- I have a lot more energy in the morning. I call it being “squirrely”. No doubt trying to take my mind off hunger, but still energy and lots of things getting done.
- I’ve been sleeping better.
- It’s difficult for me to switch from not eating mode to eating mode.
- By not eating when I’m hungry, I’m training my mind to accept the hunger. For this reason, I would think it would be very dangerous for someone with anorexic tendencies to fast.
- I’m having some digestion adjustments. Constipation and heartburn/reflux. Because of this I’m having trouble getting enough water which doesn’t help constipation.
- I’m surprised at how well I can still concentrate when I’m very hungry.
I guess I’ll continue with my experiment for awhile and hopefully do some more research. Anyone try fasting? Anyone have any more information about fasting? Know of any studies that support/deny these claims?