Saturday, January 11, 2014
I posted about this subject on a team thread, and judging by the response, thereís a lot of misinformation around, about exactly what fasting is, and isnít.
I started fasting on 17th March 2013, after reading a book about the 5:2 fast diet, and how fasting can considerably cut oneís cancer risk, and I am already a breast cancer survivor, of a type of tumour that is aggressive and prone to reoccur.
It cuts this risk by cutting down the rate that cells divide, which cuts down the rate that mutations occur, (they repair and recycle instead), by reducing a measurable blood marker IGF-1, (Insulin-like Growth Factor) which encourages cancerous cells to divide, and by reducing glucose levels in the blood, glucose is the cancer cells prime fuel source.
The research on this program has been ongoing for over 16 years. The evidence is very difficult to refute, and is well published in scientific journals, by Dr Krista Varaday, who deserves all the credit for it.
It is not a starvation diet! On the 5:2, you can eat normally on 5 days out of 7, but I soon discovered that I could overeat on those 5 days, to a far greater extent than the 500 calories eaten on the other two allowed for.
I then decided to try Dr Varadayís own recommendation, which was 500 calories, in the form of a 400 calorie meal, and a 100 calorie snack, every other day, and eating as much as I liked, of whatever I liked, on the others. Since starting in March I have gone from 179lbs to 151lbs, a loss of 28lbs.
Iím not too precious about it, I Ďtook offí my three week holiday in the USA last September, also Christmas and New Year, and if a fasting day falls awkwardly, or I have a horrible day that needs a beer and a takeaway, or am unexpectedly asked out, I simply move the whole thing on a day. You NEVER fast two days running.
Also during this time, I have never felt weak, wobbly or faint due to fasting. I don't suffer headaches, or even much hunger. In fact I routinely do 2 hours of karate on 2 evenings a week, (Monday and Wednesday, so if I fast on one, I fast on both,) and regularly burn 6,000+ calories during a week according to my spark tracker. Which is public, so you can check! On the contrary, I have this enormous surge of energy on fasting days, so much so, that sometimes I have trouble getting to sleep.
Now whether or not you feel that this program is for you, and I am the first to say that it doesnít suit everyone, (one size doesnít fit all remember), there is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that people who cut their calorie level daily by several 100 calories a day, permanently reduce their BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate). Thatís permanently!!! Which explains why itís so difficult to maintain weight loss, as successful dieters need several hundred calories a day less to maintain, than those who are at that weight naturally. Also why, if you Ďfall off the wagoní, you regain hand over fist, much, much faster than you were losing it.
(Done that, been there, got the tee-shirt in every conceivable size, design and colour)
So may I humbly suggest, that you try calorie cycling? E.g. if the middle of your allotted range is 1,500 calories, then one day at 1,500, one at 1,000, one at 1,500, one at 2,000. The calorie intake over a week/month/year is precisely the same, but the effect on your metabolism isnít. It basically keeps it Ďon itís toes.í
If on the other hand you would like to try it, but donít see how you can achieve it, or are nervous of trying, and letís be honest, nobody LIKES being hungry, (even Iím not that odd), then try this gradual alternative.
On alternate days, aim to eat no more than 1,000 or maybe 1,200 calories, (up to you where you set the bar, this is YOUR program), but on the others eat as much as you like, of whatever you like. It has also been proved that fasting is easier and more weight is lost on a high fat diet than a low fat one, contrary to perceived wisdom!
Now, I can see you all recoiling in horror! ĎIíll gain weight,í you all wail! Bear with me though and read through to the end. Yes you might, probably will even, during the first few weeks, but this is long term remember, for life in fact, not just till the next weigh in.
As former dieters, we actually need to practice eating like this, because weíre so unused to it, and feel such guilt even thinking of it. It is necessary however to practice NOT cutting our calories since when you eat only 500 calories on alternate days, you need to eat well on the others, and anyway, you will do it like this for only one week, possibly a couple if you feel more comfortable taking more time.
The next week you cut down by 100 calories a day, on your proto-fasting days, while still eating properly on your non fasting days. Also you are going to eat your calories on fasting days, in three meals or two meals and one snack, because snacking is not fasting! On non fasting days you can snack as much as you like.
Continue cutting down by 100 calories each week on your fasting days, until you reach 500 for ladies, or 600 for men. When youíre on 800 calories per fasting day, cut it down to two meals a day, or one meal and one snack, which is what youíll be doing on 500 calories per fast day. At that point (about 800 calories) you should start to see the pounds come off too.
Iíve been doing this for 10+ months now, so it's not a fad diet, and I intend to continue for life. Itís nice to have to intentionally eat enough on my non fasting days too. I hope that a few of you will try it and succeed, but if not, at least will understand a bit more about it, and my passion about it.