The first thing I want to say is if you are thinking about doing this fast, PLEASE SEE YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. This is a personal experiment, and I am completely responsible for the choices I make here. I do not want people doing this fast because of what they read here. As you will see, it doesn’t go well and there are risks involved. If you have an undiagnosed condition, fasting could be a step too far for your body.
My partner and I have been getting a bit squishy around the middle. We have a pretty good diet, but when we over indulge it has immediate effects; this is due to an inactive lifestyle.
I recently started running again, and even though I am running every day, my weight has stayed the same. Apparently this is quite normal, and it will take a few weeks before my body starts reacting to the increased activity.
So, drastic measures are required… well not really, but we fancied doing something a little extreme and controversial – no, not LIPO!! This isn’t just about weight loss. I have various aches and pains due to an auto immune disease, and I’ve read that fasting can not only help with these pains, but can also bring wider health benefits.
So, what is fasting?
…the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.
Ask anyone about fasting and you tend to get extreme opinions; people who think it’s dangerous and unhealthy, and the people who think it’s really good for us. You don’t tend to find anyone in the middle!
We are designed for this
We haven’t evolved much from Palaeolithic man. Back then, we could go days and sometimes weeks without eating because we relied on hunting and gathering. So our bodies have adapted to this, it’s designed for this. We store energy as fat when we have too much glucose in our bloodstream, and then our body breaks down that fat when we run out of glucose in our bloodstream.
So, why do people think it’s wrong or dangerous?
Well, there are a couple of concerns. After a couple of days of fasting the body starts to produce ketones when it starts using your fat stores to produce energy; this can be life threatening and even toxic to some people, as ketones can cause a sharp decrease in blood pH, particularly in people with diabetes. So if you are considering fasting, please check with your doctor first.
In addition, if you don’t have an excess supply of fat on your body, your body will start breaking down muscle to maintain supply of energy your brain and heart – this is NOT what you want! This is what people are referring to when they say your body goes into ‘starvation mode’. The cut off point is 4% body fat as a man or 8% as a woman – at this level, fasting should not be attempted.
Women and fasting
Reading up about the effects of IF (Intermittent Fasting) on women, it appears that I should keep an eye on how my body is reacting. This article points to women experiencing problems with hormones and glucose tolerance when practicing IF on a regular basis. There is very little research into IF effects on women specifically, so proceed with caution.
Fasting vs fast mimicking diets
Do a search on the internet, and you will see quite a few articles on fasting and fasting mimicking diets; the latter is encouraged over complete fasting because of the possible dangers of total fasting if people are not careful. Here are a couple of mainstream media articles;
Five day fasting diet slows down ageing and may add years to life (The Telegraph, 2015)
Anyway, lets get on with it
So, here we are. We are going to do 5 days of proper fasting. We are allowing ourselves coffee, water and tea. I’m going to write up how it goes and I can only apologise if I seem a little grumpy – I’m one of the ‘hangry’ types!