Intermittent Fasting – for better health and less fat!

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You know those people who get carried away with new ideas and can’t seem to stop talking about them? Well, I’m one of them. It’s part of my enthusiastic nature I guess. For the more naturally cautious – like Jean Michel! – it can seem a bit overwhelming and give the impression that I have no discernment.

fast_diet_book

But I do! So be reassured. I have given due thought to what I am about to embark upon.

Last week, I told you about Dr Saldman’s natural appetite suppressants. The second chapter is about stimulating your organism. First he talks about the importance of physical exercise – no breaking news there – followed by a section on fasting, intermittent fasting, to be more precise.

Back in the days of cavemen, our ancestors had to face periods during which they didn’t have enough food so our body is programmed to draw from our stored fat when we don’t eat. Intermittent fasting is based on this principle.

When I posted about appetite suppressants, I got a lot of clicks from a site called 52fastdiet.co.uk, so I went and had a look. What I discovered set me thinking. First I watched a BBC TV programme called Eat, Fast and Live Longer. Then I bought the book written by the author of the programme, Dr Michael Mosley, and a nutritionist called Mimi Spencer The Fast Diet, the simple secret of intermittent fasting: lose weight, stay healthy, live longer.

I’m obviously not going to condense an entire book and a one-hour TV programme into a short post. The idea is that you can lose weight (and considerably improve your health in relation to diabetes, cholesterol, heart attacks, cancer and many more) by eating normally for 5 days a week and fasting for two non-consecutive days. Once you reach your ideal weight, you can reduce the fasting to one day a week.

Fasting technically begins when you haven’t eaten for 6 hours. Fasting in Michael Mosley’s programme means consuming about 25% of your normal calorie intake i.e. 500 calories for women and 600 for men, during a 24-hour period, usually in one or two small meals, with lots of non-calorie fluids throughout the day (water, tea, coffee without milk or sugar obviously).

I find this much more appealing than having to continually limit my calorie intake every day for the rest of my life! During the diet that led to my losing 20 kilos eighteen months ago, I changed my eating habits and totally stopped snacking.  For a year, my weight stabilised, then 5 kilos gradually crept back on.

It was very discouraging because I don’t ever snack, but it’s not always easy to regulate meals, particularly going back and forward between two houses . We began having a glass of wine with our meal more often and an aperitif a couple of times a week. After working in the garden or cycling, we’d have a couple of biscuits with our tea.

I went back to my initial diet two or three weeks ago and the weight has been slowly coming off but I feel deprived and, in particular, not very enthusiastic about having to watch my weight all the time.

I was slightly hesitant about the idea of skipping meals because I have always been told that your body then goes into fast recovery mode and stores more fat for the next missed meal. However, both Dr Mosley and Dr Saldman assure readers that fasting does not have that effect.

So yesterday, I went on my first fast. I had breakfast about 7.30 am (a boiled egg, yoghurt, fromage blanc and a small glass of orange juice). As I had slept badly the night before, I decided to have a short nap about 12.30 and woke up two hours later! I didn’t feel at all hungry but at 3 pm, I decided to have a small serving of cooked octopus, a little oil and some spinach to make up my 500 calories as I had to drive over the other side of Paris and back and was worried about being hungry while stuck in peak hour traffic.

In the evening, Jean Michel and I went to the movies so that we wouldn’t think about food. He had been to a retirement party at work at lunchtime so was happy to skip dinner as well. I didn’t start feeling hungry until about 11.30 pm, and even then, I felt a little lightheaded rather than hungry but the sensation disappeared and I went to sleep.

During the night however, I up woke several times (as I always do), but each time with a headache. I finally took some aspirin but when I woke this morning at 6.30 am, the headache was still there so I decided to get up and have breakfast. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel particularly hungry. The headache disappeared after I had eaten. It seems it may have been due to dehydration, though I thought I was drinking a lot of water.

At lunchtime, I couldn’t eat the amount of food I usually do and it was the same at dinner. I certainly didn’t feel like eating anything extra. I’ve scheduled my next fast day for Monday. Anyone else willing to give it a try?

Other posts on dieting

The Natural Skinnies and Us
How I lost 20 kilos after 50 – for good: Part 1
How I lost 20 kilos after 50 – for good: Part 2
How I lost 20 kilos after 50 – for good: Part 3
How I lost 20 kilos after 50 – for good: Part 4
How I lost 20 kilos after 50 – for good: Part 5
How I lost 20 kilos after 50 – for good: Part 6
How I lost 20 kilos after 50 – for good – well, almost: Part 7
Where do all those extra kilos come from?
Appetite suppressants anyone? Some natural solutions
Intermittent fasting – for better health and less fat
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22 Responses to Intermittent Fasting – for better health and less fat!

  1. Jill says:

    Sounds good in theory, Rosemary. Dieting is such a pain in the..butt. The headache puts me off a bit, as I’m sure you were drinking heaps… Plus I never sleep well on an empty stomach…I started a diet yesterday that I use when I am desperate! High protein , lots of eggs, tomatoes ,rabbit food, and lots of weight off in a week. Yes, its definitely a fad diet,probably unhealthy , and of course if you are not extremely careful it all comes back on! I just need a kick start …ahhhhhh the things we do….Jill x

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      I understand the kick-start, but it’s the long-term effect I’m interested in. Let me know how you go!

  2. Jane's cousin says:

    How strange this should be the topic of your post for today. I just discovered this book last week and was talking about it enthusiastically to my family when I visited them on the weekend. Then I discovered a niece was trying it after seeing the TV program here. I had discovered the book (haven’t seen the program yet) while looking for Dr Mosley’s program on exercise which I did see last year. This book kept popping up in my search and I eventually investigated it. I also checked out their website. I actually tried a bit of a fast day yesterday altho I am following another program at the moment to try to lose a few kilos. I tried waiting till about 10.30 before I had breakfast and didn’t find that too hard but I started to feel a little flu-ey so it was not a good day to test out out properly. it does look very interesting, however, and the thought of not having to constantly watch what you eat (within reason) on the other five days is appealing. Please let us know of your experience with it.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      It seems to be becoming increasingly well-known. I was amazed that I didn’t really feel hungry – sleeping through lunch was probably beneficial. I’ll see how I go with the next one.

  3. Susan Walter says:

    We’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for some months now. I really like it, Simon struggles but is determined. He takes a much nerdier approach to it and records every calorie on the fast days to motivate himself. Occasionally we have a really bad fast day, with severe headaches and uncontrollable hunger, but mostly it’s not difficult to get through like a normal day. I’ve spent the afternoon of a fast day gardening and working physically hard a couple of times with no problems. We have both reached our initial target weights in around 6 months. I don’t really need to lose more, but Simon does, and we will continue anyway, as it fits extremely well with our lifestyle.

    My initial reservations were twofold. First, Michael Moseley is a psychiatrist, not a nutritionist. However, he comes across as very genuine and the television programme was fascinating. We already knew some of the theory eg that periods of famine or deliberate calorie restriction appear to prolong life. My second reservation was that I get migraines, and missing meals can result in a migraine. However, I find that except on a few occasions I haven’t had a problem.

    We skip breakfast (just a cup of coffee), have a light protein rich lunch (eg a piece of fruit and a boiled egg or a pot of natural yoghurt, with a cup of coffee) then save most of our calories (around 400 calories) for dinner, which is often a veggie curry, followed a cup of tea. I dislike going to bed hungry, but so far that hasn’t been a problem either.

    It makes you much more aware of how calorific what you eat on the non-fast days are, and we find we tend to eat less (eg taking smaller servings). The fact that you only have to diet on 2 days a week means your whole life doesn’t revolve around the next meal in a negative way. We actually fast every third day, but are not anal about it — if we have guests or clients, when we fast is flexible and scheduled around them.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you, Susan, for sharing your experience. I like the fact that each person can adapt it according to their wants. I don’t like starting the day without breakfast (unless I’ve had a very big meal the night before), but if we’ve had a big lunch, we often only have a piece of fruit and a yoghurt at night. When I had my late lunch, I wasn’t even hungry.

      Are you going to continue twice a week after Simon has lost more weight or are you going to reduce to one day a week?

      • Susan Walter says:

        Before we started intermittent fasting I would not have dreamed of missing breakfast, but Simon is one of those people who are better off not having breakfast even on a non-fast day. Breakfast being the most important meal of the day appears to be a piece of received wisdom, and not actually true. Some people, like Simon, eat more over the course of a day if they eat breakfast, and less if they don’t — it does not result in a binge at lunchtime. I’m skipping breakfast to support him as much as possible, and also because the longer the genuine fast the more effective the diet seems to be in terms of positive changes other than weight loss. Some people choose a sort of ‘brunch and supper’ timetable, but we stick with normal meal times, just go for lunch and dinner. Ideally you should just have 2 meals on fast days.

        I think we will continue as now once Simon is down to his ideal weight (he has more than 20kg to lose, so it’s not going to be anytime soon…) You must get to a state of equilibrium, so it is worth continuing for the additional health benefits apart from weight loss.

  4. Redfern says:

    I think you approach this topic very sensibly and I am interested tracking your long term success. I developed quite the little pot belly after our wonderful 7 weeks of fine living in France ( feasting?). All I need do now is remove the ‘e’ and try ‘fasting’ for a while. I’ll look to giving it a go next week.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Yes, fine living in France does not help! I like the feast to fast. Might use it as a title, Redfern. I’m up to my 3rd fast day today so will post on Thursday with an update. Jean Michel even joined me the 2nd day. We skipped breakfast and I didn’t get any headaches.

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  6. Andrea says:

    I read up on intermittent fasting about a year ago and tried it myself to see if it worked. I was fasting almost every day and only eating between 1pm and 8pm. It worked really well for me. I didn’t feel tired or get headaches but after a while I did start to get dizzy so I gave it up. I’ve just started it again as I feel much better when eating that way. It’s a slightly different approach as to what you are doing but it still works. Here’s the site I was following: http://www.theiflife.com/intermittent-fasting-101-how-to-start-part-i/

  7. Rosemary Kneipp says:

    Very interesting because it gives a different slant. I think it’s important for people to be able to find a system that works for them individually. Did you lose much weight the first time? Did you see a doctor about the dizziness?

  8. Andrea says:

    I was slowly losing weight but generally felt better and more energetic which surprised me. I’ll let you know in a few weeks if I manage to lose weight this time around. I haven’t seen a doctor about the dizziness and I am still getting that now and again so I probably should look into it.

  9. Rosemary Kneipp says:

    The slower the weight loss, the more likely it is to stay off. I found it very slow at first, then suddenly lost a couple of kilos. Definitely see a doctor about the dizziness particularly if it is persistent.

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  13. Re the 5-2 fast information above, that Vimeo link (URL) above is ‘dead’ for copyright breach reasons.

    The video is now on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/8-E_r4gApPg

    Cheers!

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