It is often medically supervised, and there are fasting mimicking diets along those lines. From what I’ve read, there are various definitions of fasting, which are based on absolute or dry fasting (no food or water). Intermittent fasting is generally up to 48 hours of some kind of fasting (otherwise called energy restriction). Beyond that it is termed periodic fasting for longer periods of time. After five days, one is at risk of refeeding syndrome, where the imbalance of micronutrients in the body may cause sudden death if one eats too much at that point. Refeeding should start with vitamin supplements (or those fasting should always supplement micronutrients for that matter). Women, children, and normal weight individuals are at higher risk than overweight men for complications from fasting. It can have health benefits too, but it has to be balanced like any diet to prevent extreme reactions, and not everyone can tolerate it, as with most situations. The body is always metabolizing something, so I was just saying that should be kept in mind (it never really fasts anyway—it would merely accumulate too many poisions at some point for lack of countermeasures). Reading about heat exhaustion, whether or not someone is fasting, damage can be done to the kidneys when adequate hydration is not maintained, and this requires more than water alone. Hypothermia is also more likely to occur as a result. Thermoregulation is definitely something to keep in mind. Cognition and coordination can also be affected. I think those are the biggest risks.
An update is due - I stopped IF after about three weeks with zero scale movement. I just started feeling hungry at breakfast and didn’t see the point.
But I did find something that’s working for me and where I am right now: portion control, making lighter/lower calorie selections, and cutting down evening snacking.
Typically I count calories at breakfast, which often involves eggs or egg whites and 35-calorie toast. I measure the milk in my coffee and try to keep the whole morning consumption to <300 cal.
Lunch is often dinner leftovers but in smaller portions. There are more leftovers now because I purposely serve myself smaller amounts at dinner (I was close to matching my 6’ husband…ok…sometimes exceeding).
For dinners, I cook more poultry and lean proteins and trim excess fat, reduce oil in dressing, and hold back on cheese, sour cream, mayo, and cooking oils. If I have seconds at all, they are usually salad or vegetable side. I am bulking out grains and pasta dishes with riced cauliflower. I have tiny portions of potatoes and most other grains. I add water to my salad dressings (lol).
Drinking remains more or less stable but I avoid keeping bourbon in the house as it goes down a bit too easily for us both. I am not into beer these days so wine and dry cider are my go-tos.
When I can’t resist a snack, I reach for pickles, air-popped popcorn, rice cakes (sometimes with cheese melted on top), or weighed pretzel sticks and yellow mustard.
It took 2-3 weeks for my appetite to adjust to smaller portions, but the weight loss motivated me and now it’s easier to keep going as the scale inches lower. I feel hormones play a role, too, but after various diets (Always Hungry, IF, calorie counting all day), this one fits my lifestyle best and gets results. And I am much less frustrated with myself and (hopefully eventually even more so) how my clothes fit. I read the Reddit #1200isplenty for support/ideas/portion reality checks (personally I think I aim for more like 1400-1600/day).
I have been using this portion guide as a loose reference: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/calorie-control-guide-infographic
Thanks for reading!
Congratulations on your progress! Sounds like you found a not insane sustainable way that works for you
Very glad to hear that you find a way to hack your problem! The best is you still enjoy food!
Progress is the best reward!
The truth is, while I thought of myself as a volume eater, there aren’t that many things that taste really good that you can eat large portions of and still lose weight, aside from salad and some veg. Once I scaled my appetite down a little bit, it got easier. And that will be key for maintenance.
Sounds good. Speaking of volume, I was reading that being like a hungry hungry hippo can lead to a hippocampal disorder… so if we don’t chew much, and still eat as much as the average Joe (hippo), then we’re about twice as likely to get dementia! By the way, I was watching hippos eat whole watermelons (they didn’t chew them much)—I’d say hippos are also demented for eating their young, but I digress. Calorie restriction, or extending the time between meals (i.e., fasting) may counteract this kind of neuropathy, as it stimulates neurogenisis, similar to chewing (or prevents hormonal imbalances as a result). There are other dietary factors, like alcohol, caffeine, sugar, etc., which are related to memory and cognition too. I wasn’t aware about the cognitive importance of mastication until recently though. Reading between the lines, if we want or need to be on a soft (smoothy) diet, then that especially should be done in an energy restrictive or intermittent way.
As much as diet has an impact on cardiovascular health, cancer risks and longevity, it has also an impact on mental health. Research over the last 5 years has now clearly established that our learning and memory abilities, as well as our mood, can be influenced by diet, not only during development, but also during adulthood… Calorie restriction can extend lifespan, improve behavioural outcomes in some experimental animal models of neurodegenerative disorders and enhance spatial learning.
It is also important that these diets be balanced, as calorie restriction could cause depression, for instance, if it leads to malnourishment (such as iron deficiency). I’m sure some of this is well known. Well, I’m still learning about it for the sake of looking at long term effects (based on what has been studied—eating has a lot to do with chewing, I’ve found).
Just stumbled on this thread. This topic was covered at a Nutritional Medicine Conference I recently attended.
FWIW, I don’t have a weight problem, but I have had a blood sugar problem, that I preferred not to treat with medication. Not quite as simple as calories in/calories out science, as I and others have long suspected. The timing of the fast is particularly intriguing. I’ll add references when I can.
So after some back and forth with IF, OMAD (one meal a day) and and going out and eating/drinking too much, my weight loss has stalled out at about 15lbs above my goal weight for the past few months (5’8 male, 150 goal weight, 166ish current weight).
I’m tired of carrying a bowling ball’s worth of fat in my gut all the time so I decided to go a little deeper. I’m very used to OMAD now, I can do it without much discomfort, hunger or tiredness. So I decided to try a longer fast. Going to attempt 48 hours starting tonight and will try to bump that out to 72 if my body cooperates. I’ll report back!
I will say though I am really enjoying fasting in general. My only gripe with it is that there’s always a surplus of food for me to eat!
Congrats on trying IF.
If possible Shop small, or freeze portions into separate meals, and hydrate often.
I found cutting back on salt and sugar whenever possible helped with certain challenging points in weight loss
My body got so lean at one point I had to carb load once or twice a week not to lose strength. My biggest challenge on IF was the doozy headache and when I cut back on salty and sugary foods that eventually stopped. I still bake and cook for family and friends but I save splurges for dining out and eat cleaner at home.
Thanks Rooster. The food surplus isn’t really an issue, I throw out almost zero food and have a pretty good food management. When I want to eat but I’m out of window, I’ll just hang out and “study” my fridge and freezer and plan out my consumption over the next few days.
I generally don’t have an issue with resisting foods, and don’t really crave sweets, but I have had three tubs of haagen dazs and a bunch of delicious fruit that’s been calling my name every day. I generally have a piece of fruit after my meals but I’ve cut that out the last couple weeks. Today I had a clementine after dinner though.
My body got so lean at one point I had to carb load once or twice a week not to lose strength.
If only I had that problem! Even when I was training for a marathon the lowest I got was 159, still didn’t have a flat stomach. I’m sick and tired of my stupid belly and I decided I’m basically just going to fast whenever I don’t have a social engagement.
Oh I couldn’t cut sugar completely ever and salt I’m careful. Getting leaner was a result of yoga and swimming. If I didn’t exercise things for me would be difficult. 50% of my career involved driving tour and gear buses and trucks…sitting!
I like IF because it forces me to schedule what/how and where my meal plan goes each week. Grazing was a real problem back in the day.
Never did IF but smaller portions, aka eat less of what you normally eat, and more calorie burning activities, walking, lots of it, worked for me
It’s something that I can stick for a long time with without cutting out any food I may want to eat
Actually - this is my current strategy, and it’s been working. I have been holding back on portions, particularly at dinner and when eating dinner leftovers at lunch. My appetite reduced when my husband traveled out of town twice recently - it takes a week or two to fully calm down, but just making boring meals and spending less time focused on preparing and eating them has curbed my hunger. I also try to have protein at breakfast if possible.
We’ve also reduced carby sides with meals and cut back on late-night snacks. More wine than beer.
It’s working 🤷10.6 lbs. down since my highest post-partum.
Activity right now consists of brisk walks with a 25-lb. toddler strapped to my back, and days spend chasing same.
Glad you found something that works for you, I think at the end of the day that’s the most important thing that people lose sight of. Everyone will respond to different diets differently. For me portion control never worked well because I find experiencing full satiation to be really important. That’s what I love about OMAD as it lets me eat to my heart’s content, even if it’s once a day.
The funny thing for me is that as I keep going with fasting my general appetite seems to be getting lower and lower. Perhaps this is what normal human appetite is supposed to be like and I’ve somehow corrected my hunger levels through diet? I used to throw down for my one meal, but lately I’m finding that I am done after a normal size meal and don’t feel the urge to keep eating like I used to.
I like IF because it forces me to schedule what/how and where my meal plan goes each week. Grazing was a real problem back in the day.
I like one meal a day especially for that reason. No more snacking, no more nothing. Eat once and that’s it. I just moved in with a friend and he’s got an enormous stash of chips and nuts and other snacks. I kind of went nuts (har har) for a couple weeks before I snapped myself out of it.
I think there is something to this. As you reduce calories, your caloric needs also start to go down. And your appetite can readjust. I know there’s at least one diet doctor out there who promotes the idea of a “set point,” the natural weight your body tends to hover around. I think he or she contends that you can adjust it lower through the right combination of diet exercise. It has definitely happened to me in the past (pre-baby) - I lost between 15 and 20 pounds, and that became my new normal.
Yeah, I guess it’s part of what to expect from fasting, because there’s a lot of talk about insulin sensitivity and hormonal appetite regulation that are supposed to be corrected through fasts. I’m attempting my first fast over 24 hours right now, trying for a 48-72 hour fast. Just crossed the 24 hour mark and I’m not really feeling the need to eat! Also, when I started fasting, I would get really tired and my eyes would glaze over around 4-5pm, and that stopped happening recently. Feeling great!
I am a short 5 foot 5 inches, and at my peak, a little over a year ago, I was a very obese 165 pounds! My job entails me mainly sitting in front of a computer all day for 10 hours. I did not exercise or do anything, so you can see how easy it was to gain weight. Over a year ago when I renewed my driver’s license I was shocked to see that I had 3 chins in my picture I guess that was the shock I needed to get my almost 61 year old ass moving. I changed my diet (during the work week at least) by just having a little Fiber One cereal for breakfast with some dried figs, and a combination of riced cauliflower and quinoa with some diced vegetables for lunch. For dinner we have mainly chicken, fish, quail during the week. I switched out my nighttime snacks from chips and crackers to grapes. On the weekends I just have breakfast and we eat dinner out. I skip lunch on the weekends. I still pig out when we eat out on weekends. Also, the biggest thing is that I set time aside every single day to do a brisk walk on the treadmill for at least 40 minutes (2 1/2 miles) during the week, and 45/50 minutes on the weekend (3 miles). I keep my very old treadmill on the highest incline (12), so it is like walking uphill the whole time. My fastest speed is 4 miles an hour for 5 minutes, and I average about 3.7 miles an hour. I used to do over 4.5 miles an hour but that was on a lower incline. I burn much more calories at a slower pace and higher incline. During the week I burn over 500 calories a day and on the weekend I burn over 600 calories. This combination of diet and exercise has helped me lose almost 40 pounds! I was 126 pounds last time I weighed myself and my waist size has dropped from a 34 to a 30 (and possibly 29 since the 30 is loose). I am able to put on my old pants without unbuttoning or unzipping them
I am not sure how healthy it is to completely fast. Some experts say that it is better to have 8 small meals/snacks a day, (than 3 big meals), to keep your metabolism going.
That’s why my wife and I have always seen med pros. I wouldn’t monkey with my health without some kind of med supervision and finding the right plan for yourself is 90% of it. I’m no longer a big eater but I want to be able to eat what I do want. IF makes that doable.
While my heaviest years are a lifetime ago I never think like a thin person or a non smoker for fear I’ll slip. Being thin and healthy and smoke free is the best reward but I will always have to watch.