A FASTer way to burn fat?
Fasting! Should you or shouldn’t you?
If you haven’t heard or read about fasting then ……..WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
Dear Fat Controller, I have heard that fasting is good for you and that I can eat what I like as long as I fast for two days a week. Is this true?
I get asked every day about fasting and so it’s clearly a popular topic. There are dozens of books now out there and probably more to come. If that’s the case then surely everyone should be trying it?
Not everyone no!
Anyone who knows me well will know that I LOVE food and detest diets.
Anyone who knows me REALLY well will also know that many years ago when I was a teenager (OK well a few years ago…..ha ha!).
I had a very unhealthy relationship with food and spent many years trying to eat as little as possible including long fasts (I didn’t know they were called fasts then, I just thought I was on a diet!).
Fasting for some can work really well. In the beginning for me it was a disaster!
I know lots and lots of people that get great results and can manage their lives very well incorporating fasting in some form or another.
BUT the thing I notice that they all have in common…….these people are already pretty lean or slim, their metabolisms are pretty well regulated (balanced hunger and appetite) and most haven’t ever had a deep seated issue with food and or had disordered eating behaviours.
So what is fasting exactly?
Going without food or having very little food for a period of time.
The benefits are many and include:
- Better sleep
- Better fat burning as your body switches from burning sugar to burning fat stores
- Reduced inflammation and disease
- More energy and clearer thinking
- Delayed ageing
- A leaner frame
However, if you are not ready for it or it’s not for you it can create a learned negative association with food and deprivation. Something a lot of serial dieters and people with eating disorders will relate too. A common consequence of going without food is the binge-starve cycle or yo-yo diet.
There is a lot of information out there but in particular I loved Mark Sisson’s piece (author of Mark’s Daily Apple and The Primal Blue Print) on intermittent fasting (IF) which goes into a lot more detail. There is definitely a lot of evidence proving its efficacy.
So should I fast?
Well there is a lot of opinions out there but really the best person to answer that is you! You know your body better than anyone else. And if you don’t know it yet then it’s time to get started. One thing is for certain, if you don’t get your metabolism working efficiently and you don’t focus on real foods with moderate protein and good fats, then fasting will be a nightmare!
Personally for me I prefer to FAST overnight. So EVERY night I aim for an absolute minumum of 12 and occasionally up to 16 hours without food. So if my last meal was at 7pm I will do my best to not eat until 7am or later. This is perfect for me. I am asleep so therefore I am not surrounded by food! It requires very little will power if any to do and it’s perfectly natural.
If however, your mindset is still focussed on dieting (as opposed to eating for health. Read how to un-diet yourself here) ……. this could happen
Arrrrrrrgh I am going to be starving for days! Oh the misery that will ensue’ and I will spend the whole day thinking about the food I can’t eat!
For many, fasting can lead to binges and subsequent diet failure. In my early days of experimenting with longer fasts I found that once I started eating again, it was difficult to stop! But I soon learned that it was because I wasn’t eating the right amount of fat and protein to stabilise my hunger.
It’s also worth being aware that it can take 3-14 days or more for your metabolism to adapt to fat burning. In the early days it can take longer meaning that as you switch from fat burning to sugar burning, you hunger, cravings and energy levels could be a little erratic. Once you become fat adapted, fasting will soon become effortless for most.
Does it mean I can eat what I want when I am not fasting?
Absolutely not if you want to be a fat burner!
If you are serious about health and weight loss, then you will need to adopt a beige free approach otherwise you will negate most, if not all the benefits and you will struggle with your fasts. On occasion you could test out a fast to correct an over indulgence but approach only when you are a well seasoned faster.
Yes Cavemen did fast but also they were not surrounded by food in the same way we are, nor were they exposed to chronic stress, have central heating, live a modern life with light and technology and of course they had to hunt and kill their food!
My personal choice is rather than limit my food in environments and surroundings that make it very difficult, I would rather learn how to make better food and exercise choices and habits that make living a fat controlling way of life effortless. For me the perfect fat loss lifestyle looks something like this:
- I can eat out with friends
- Easy fat controlling food prep and choices everyday for sustained blood sugar and energy management
- I am not having to plan my life around my eating schedule
- I am flexible in my eating, exercise and social activities
- I know what foods make me feel great and which foods don’t
- I understand the effect food has on me immediately and ahead of time.
- I am in control of my eating decisions and feel no guilt when I consciously choose to eat a certain way
- There is no social pressures
- I know I can eat whenever I choose
- There is no hunger
- I can eat until I feel full and know which foods I can eat freely to sustain fat loss and energy levels.
- Fasting happens when I am sleeping and repairing
I want to give it a go. Where do I start?
If you are new to fasting then why not start with the overnight fasts. See how you feel. I love feeling lighter in the morning and my tummy is always flatter after a long overnight fast. PLUS I wake up full of beans!
If you have sleep issues you need to exercise caution as you experiment. Most often poor sleep is a sign of mismanaged blood sugars.
So when you aren’t fasting, make sure you are minimising your refined beige foods and plenty of vegetables, protein and fats to balance blood sugars to encourage sound sleep.
In summary, a short guide to fasting:
YES fasting is highly beneficial. But learn to manage your blood sugar levels daily first by limiting the foods that disrupt the metabolism such as #beigedeadfood (read about beige foods here), alcohol, sugar etc.
Then introduce overnight fasts and gradually increase the time you wait to eat either by eating earlier at night (if you sleep OK but if not then move eating closer to bedtime to help promote sleep) and eating later in the morning. The FIRST meal of the day being the most important one to get right (hint avoid sugary cereals, pastries, cereals bars or bread based options for example).
I hope that has given you a clear and unbiased opinion on fasting. Yes fasting has its benefits but like anything in life there is more to it than that and as I have learned from all my clients over the years and myself, we are all very different and one size does not definitely fit all!
Big love, small tummies Jill – The Fat Controller
Metabolic Effect – Dr Jade Teta : http://www.metaboliceffect.com/intermittent-fasting-diet/