I'd been meaning to follow up on this post. I had recommended two online books on fasting, Fast-5 and Eat Stop Eat. What I didn't mention is that the first of those is a free download and takes about an hour to read. The second is a purchase for download and while I get no benefit, the second work is I think far more complete in terms of the nutritional science behind fasting; and I like the recommended program far better.
The author, Brad Pilon, is a lifelong "health nut," studying clinical nutrition journals from the age of 16. Went on to college and degreed in nutrition. And then:
Immediately following graduation, and with a surprising mix of good luck and great timing, I was hired to be a Research Analyst at one of the world’s leading supplement companies.
Fast forward to June of 2006. I had just spent the last six years of my life working in one of the most secretive industries in the world. During this time, I had been entrusted with protecting some of the most confidential information in the entire industry. I was the person responsible for the inner dealings of our Research & Development Department. Unfortunately, this was part of the problem.
Part of my job was to review bodybuilding and fitness magazines. I was constantly reading about the ‘latest and greatest’ diet method. After years of reading magazine after magazine, I didn’t know what to believe anymore. Each month, it seemed like the newest diet methods contradicted the diet methods that were in last month’s magazines. It felt like the weight loss industry was full of nothing but misinformation.
He quit and went to work studying to write this book. It's short, and the reason it's short is very simple: because losing fat weight is very simple. After hundreds of books and articles in magazines and medical journals, he could only state two facts with certainty:
1) Prolonged caloric restriction is the only proven nutritional method of weight loss. And…
2) Human beings (nutritionally speaking) can only be in one of the following states: fed or fasted.
He ultimately came to the conclusion that many have come to or sense: that most of the books and articles are marketing, and much of the research is financed by food and supplement companies in order to legitimize their marketing claims. In short, it's very much politicized because what companies can and can't say, and what they need to back them up (ultimately: only money; not real, fully-integrated and honest facts) is ultimately a political matter. So, the punchline?
…the research on weight loss had become so skewed with politics that it has turned into the world’s most ironic oxymoron. After all, the research was trying to uncover the completely backwards idea; ‘what should we eat to lose weight?!’.
That's right. When you unpack and unravel everything, it is all fundamentally premised on the same lie: that you must eat, drink, or "take" something in order to lose [fat] weight, and that what you eat, drink, or "take" is more fundamentally about quality (which is better?) than about quantity. And even when quantity is spoken of — which it is, except for the worst of the charlatans — it takes a backseat position, rather than the front & center position where it should.
And why? Well, because you can't build a multi billion-dollar "weight-loss" industry on: "don't eat anything." "Just don't eat, until you really have to." So if you're really serious about getting back to the body and feeling that evolution designed, get Brad's book.
…And just a quick word about fitness and fasting from a personal perspective. I began with the weights last May, 07. I built lots of muscle, but was still eating way too much, and too much food with concentrated carbohydrate that we were never designed for. I still lost a lot of fat (net weight loss of about 7 lbs, after adding about 10 of lean). Then around October I finally began to get a bit more serious about quality, so I've pretty much cut out everything but whole foods: meats, vegetables, nuts, fruits. I keep starchy vegetables like potatoes to a minimum, as well as beans and grain-like "vegetables," such as corn. I began to loose more weight, had better workouts, better meals, better sleep and generally felt better and better.
Then I found what I consider to be the very last piece to the puzzle, which, I really believe is and should be the foundation to the whole thing: intermittent fasting. I have not felt so alive, alert, and slept to well, so long, since I was a kid. Beware: it takes getting used to. I dove right in with a 30-hr fast my first time, and I ended it with an intense workout. You may not want to do that, but it's my favorite way to fast. I go 24 to 30 hours with nothing except water & coffee, and then hit the gym. My workouts have never been so intense, and my trainer has taken to asking me: "so, is this your hunt?" And yep, I think that's precisely the mindset or feeling you develop.
But here's how the loop closes: when you break fast, it's a wonderful experience. You'll probably pig out and over indulge the first time or two, but then you might find, as I have, that my break fast meal is a normal portion and that my appetite, on average, is far more subdued than it used to be.
Here's a few ideas for those who may not want to do full-blown fasts, but might want to incorporate one of the principles: i.e., #2: being fed or fasted. I have virtually eliminated any intake between meals. Eating anything but just a few calories will release insulin and stop all usage of fat stores until you get back into a fasted state, which takes hours. On the days when I'm not doing a big fast (24-30 hours; which I do twice per week), I make sure that I have at least a period of 12-15 hours where I eat nothing, i.e., from after dinner until first meal of the next day. So, say I finish dinner at 7p.m., I won't eat a thing until at least 7a.m., but more likely somewhere between 9 and 11. In this way, I have naturally come to where I can really only eat two meals per day.
In other words, I look at it differently. Each day has my fed period and fasted period, and if it is to be something other than 50/50, then the advantage will go to the fasted state.
Have fun out there. I'd have never thought that I could get used to, or even perversely enjoy hunger, but I have and just seeing myself starting to get off medication for chronic heartburn I've suffered from since I was a teenager leads me to believe I'm on the right track.