I wanted to write about something I'm trying to do for both health reasons and for losing weight. Some people advocate fasting as a way of life. Now, I don't really, but I've found this article that addresses the issue, and so I'm trying a modified version for awhile.
You've probably heard about the people who eat a "calorie restricted" diet, stay underweight, in order to live longer. Well, I'm not at all sure that I'd WANT a longer food-deprived life! Yet the benefits have been studied and the results are valid. The article above says benefits are mainly a function of rendering the body more immune to degenerative disease, including cancer. The article describes the mice experiments, people examples, and the details.
To be clear, I'm not interested in doing this for losing weight, and again, I don't ever want to be underweight. Good thing, too, 'cause it ain't never gonna happen! :D I am interested in terms of the idea that your body goes into healing and repair mode when it's not constantly working on digesting all day.
There are basically 4 ways to approach fasting:
1. Fast for a few days to a week at a time
2. Restrict calories daily
3. ADF - alternative day fasting
4. The 5:2 plan
What appears to work just as well as longer hunks of fasting or "calorie restricting" on a daily basis is "intermittent fasting." Now, you can do this two ways. Alternative Day Fasting is just what it sounds like. The 5:2 plan calls for you to do it two days per week. That's the one that I'm doing.
The idea is not exactly to eat nothing. A man would eat 600 calories and a woman 500. Testing is still going on to determine whether or not one should eat it all in one meal or spread it out, but like the article writer, I'm spreading it out. For instance:
3/4 cup Kashi Heart to Heart cereal
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup rice milk
200 calories total
1 Tumaro's low-carb tortilla
1 oz. deli ham
1 slice onion
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 serving fish
1 serving vegetables
1 salad, no dressing
So you actually do feel like you're eating something. However, because I'm a runner, I have added a Luna Bar (190 calories) about an hour before I run. So I usually get 700-800 calories on a cut-back day. I figure I'm running off the extra and I don't want to crash and burn on a run (these are short run days).
I'm doing it on Mondays and Wednesdays, since I'm at work all day and am less likely to snack. Plus, The Biggest Loser is on Monday evenings, and I get motivated to avoid night snacking! :D The next day at breakfast I eat a little bigger breakfast than usual, maybe 200 calories more, and then eat sensibly the rest of the day.
I do try to get minimal nutrients. According to my tracker, yesterday I only barely missed my minimums for protein and fat, and carbs wasn't that bad either.
Now, one key to this is that you can't go nuts the other days. I just eat my normal 1350-1500 calories. Once I hit my goal, I'll eat the calories I plan for, too, plus enough to make up for the restricted days, since I won't want to lose more weight at that point.
Supposedly, the benefits come because of hormone/chemical actions that result. When you're not eating, your body goes into repair mode, which is what helps in terms of health and longevity.
So, what the heck. If I find that doing this creates unmanageable binges or something, then I'll quit (btw, yes, I had to fight off a munchie attack Monday morning, but that cereal/blueberry thing is my usual breakfast and also I was desk-bound, which is a trigger for me). Basically, I think it's just fun to shake things up once in a while. It may not work as well once the semester is over, but then again, I'll be outside a lot during the day, and it may be just fine. I'll keep you posted.