Things I Recently Learned About Fasting

A few days ago, I read Dr. Jason Fung’s series of write-ups on Fasting, Calories, and How to Lose Weight on his website after signing up for the free 12 week fasting course, and it’s been revelatory. I’ve learned about some of the benefits of fasting nine years ago, where I first read about Eat Stop Eat. Unfortunately, I did it completely wrong then, and drank sugary fruit juices in cartons and jugs.

I’m currently on lazy keto (that is, I don’t count macros and eyeball my carb intake) and 23:1. I drink about 4 liters of water daily and keep a 2 liter bottle on my workstation to keep me hydrated. Besides water, I also have cold brew coffee with no cream or sweetener while fasting. Cold brew, to me, is the best brew and it’s a game changer because it made me appreciate the differences in the flavor of various beans. At the moment, Aki and I use Vietnamese coffee grounds from Highland Coffee, which to me, has a milder and sweeter taste than our local dark chocolatey kapeng barako. I also take apple cider vinegar; I add two tablespoons to a glass of water and some lemon juice.

I recently started taking magnesium supplements (400mg daily) because they help with PCOS and insulin resistance, since magnesium deficiency is said to increase the body’s resistance to insulin.

Speaking of insulin resistance, one of the best things I learned from Dr. Fung is that obesity is a hormonal disease and that it is insulin resistance. He also said that obesity is multi-factorial, and thus its treatment should also address several factors simultaneously instead of one at a time. When we talk about dieting, we usually only talk about what to eat, or rather, what not to eat. However, Dr. Fung suggests that there is one other question that needs to be addressed: when to eat. This is because all foods cause a rise in insulin, albeit in different levels (unsurprisingly, refined carbohydrates are the worst), so every time we eat, the body produces insulin. A constant supply of food also means a steady supply of insulin, but if the body no longer processes excess insulin the way it’s supposed to, because, again, it resists it, it gets stored as fat.

One other important thing I learned is that fasting does not cause metabolism to slow and that the contrary was proven ages ago in studies done on humans. On the other hand, caloric restriction, which is what most people have been led to believe to be the be-all and end-all of dieting, does exactly what fasting is accused of doing. Until yesterday, this was also what I thought! But after reading about obesity on the IDM Program website, I no longer believe that calories-in-calories-out is the solution, because it. Did. Not. Work. On me. It doesn’t help that I also find it extremely exhausting to have to count calories and log everything I eat, which is why I love doing OMAD because I only have to worry about one meal. Overeating is not a problem the body will tell you when it’s full.

When you cut down your food intake, the body adjusts by also lowering your total energy expenditure. So if this were the case, eating less may result in weight loss, but you will eventually hit a plateau. And once you start eating normally again, you start gaining back all the weight you lost, and then some, leaving you in a much worse state than what you started with.

I know because I’ve been there. Which is why I am so accepting of the new things I’m learning about obesity and weight loss, because everything I thought I knew worked against me.

Fasting shouldn’t be difficult for people like me who have a lot of excess body fat because after the first few days, when the body has used up its supply of glucose for energy, it will switch to using ketone bodies (and I’m already on keto!), and eventually start burning fat for energy. Following that logic, the more body fat you have, the higher your energy supply!]

I wanted to go on a five day extended fast starting tomorrow, but my new OB-GYN who actually encouraged me to stick to keto and OMAD advised against it because it might cause further irregularities to my already irregular period. He said it’s great that I’m able to stick to OMAD because it’s not an easy feat for most people, so I should just keep what I’m doing. So I’ll guess I’ll follow my doctor’s advice and stick to my current program and then see what happens in the coming months.

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