Should You Be Fasting or Is it a Fad?

You know when you haven’t thought of something in ages. Or perhaps there’s something that you haven’t heard of before. And all of a sudden you’re hearing about it everywhere…

Well that’s been happening to me a lot lately. And the topic ‘du jour’ is fasting. My obstetrician, my Irishman’s boss, even one of my favourite fashion bloggers have all mentioned they’ve been dabbling with different forms of fasting.

So when I saw this request come in on my Stonesoup by request survey, I decided it was time for a blog post about ‘not eating’ for a change.

Hi Jules.

I would be interested in your opinion on intermittent fasting.

I know it seems like a “new” craze/fad diet/whatever, but it is something I have practiced on and off for a while after reading Brad Pilon’s Eat, Stop, Eat, and more frequently since watching the BBC’s Horizon documentary last August.

Your recipes fit very well in my non-fasting days, as they’re not “too” Paleo and they’re tasty, healthy and filling. Would you consider commenting on this way of eating?

Claudine

My experience with fasting

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to practice fasting. When we decided it was time to start a family, I stopped fasting because I was worried it might not be conducive to fertility. Then once I was pregnant I was too hungry to even think about it.

But back to my experience of actually fasting…

I first heard about the concept, from Leo over at Zen Habits back in about 2009 when he mentioned the concept of intermittent fasting and recommended an ebook called ‘Eat Stop Eat‘.

After reading the ebook, I decided to give this fasting thing a go. The idea is to take 1-2 days per week when you don’t eat anything in a 24 hour period.

The first few times I tried it I was amazed that it wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as you’d think. I’d have breakfast in the morning and then skip lunch and dinner and have breakfast a little later the next day. This way I’d get in my 24 hours but I wouldn’t actually have to go a day without eating something.

And I really liked the way I felt.

My head felt clearer and sharper. My body felt lighter. And man did I enjoy my breakfast when the fast ended.

The other thing I liked was the extra time that suddenly became available on fasting days when I didn’t have to plan, prepare, cook and clean up. A nice little side benefit.

But then I did a fast when I was travelling for work. It didn’t go so well. I found myself getting super irritable. So after that I gave the fasting a rest.

A few years later my Irishman and I decided to try fasting again. This time we just did a mini fast and skipped dinner and sometimes breakfast the next day. We found we got the good fast feelings of clarity and lightness, without me becoming a cranky-pants.

I don’t remember either of us seeing any amazing results to our actual weight. But we both enjoyed feeling lighter and clearer enough that we’re planning on getting back into fasting soon.

Benefits of fasting

According to Brad Pilon in Eat Stop Eat, the scientifically proven benefits of intermittent fasting include:

– Decreased body weight (and body fat)
– Increased insulin sensitivity
– Increased growth hormone levels
– Decreased food related stress
– And 6 more benefits.

As I mentioned before, I loved feeling cleaner, clearer and leaner. I also really noticed how much extra time I had on fasting days when I wasn’t preparing, eating and cleaning up after dinner.

The downside to fasting

As I discovered, there’s the potential to become irritable.

Pilon admits that some people experience headaches, similar to caffeine withdrawal headaches. But he also mentions that most people get over these after their first few fasts.

To see any benefits from a weight loss perspective, it’s important to keep eating normally on your non-fasting days. And it can be tough not to have a few little ‘rewards’. I also suspect that you need to be fasting twice a week for weight loss, not the once a week ‘mini’ fast we were doing.

But that being said, I’m keen to get back into experimenting with fasting when Little F no longer needs my milk-making services.

So is this fasting thing a fad?

Its a good question. In one sense it probably is. I’m sure there are lots of people will try it out now that its topical and then move onto the next shiny new diet craze that comes along.

But the thing is, fasting or going without food for long periods of time, would have been a part of life for our paleo ancestors. And as Pillon mentions in his ebook, fasting has been an integral part of many religions for centuries.

One thing I found interesting was that according to Pillon the original research study that found the Mediterranean diet to be beneficial for heart disease was conducted on people living in Crete. What the study didn’t mention was that these people use a combination of dietary restrictions and fasting for religious purposes for 180 to 200 days a year.

So if you’re a Greek Orthodox Christian person or follow one of the other religions that recommends it, fasting is probably not anything new or faddish at all.

Like to learn more?

eatstopeat2012

If you think fasting might be something you’d benefit from, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the ebook Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon.

Brad Pilon has a degree in nutrition and worked in the sports supplement industry. He’s also a body builder and is super passionate about discovering what works for weight loss. He loves reading scientific journals for fun. So he’s done all the research ‘heavy lifting’ for you.

If you do decide to buy Eat Stop Eat using the Stonesoup affiliate links on this page, you’ll be supporting the Stonesoup business too. THANK YOU!

blat salad

The ‘BLAT’ Salad

There’s a cafe my Irishman and I have been going to quite a bit recently that has a ‘BLAT’ sandwich on the breakfast menu. While it doesn’t sound as appealing as a BLT, the addition of avocado far outweighs the dodgy sounding name.

The other day I was inspired to turn said sandwich into a lunch time salad. To be honest I prefer this lighter ‘paleo’ salad to the sandwich version. I love when that happens.

Enough for 2
4-6 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
3-4 handfuls lettuce leaves
1 avocado
large handful semi dried tomatoes

1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook bacon on a medium high heat until crispy.

2. Combine vinegar with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season.

3. Toss leaves in the dressing. Sprinkle over chunks of avocado, tomatoes and the hot crunchy bacon.

VARIATIONS
vegan – replace bacon with sliced grilled or roast mushrooms.

vegetarian – skip the bacon and serve with a poached egg on top.

more substantial – toss in a drained can of white beans such as cannellini or butter beans in to warm up in the bacon fat and add to the salad.

don’t have semi dried tomatoes? - replace with halved fresh cherry tomatoes instead.

Video version of the recipe.

What about you?

Have you experimented with fasting? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…

With Love,
Jules x

eatstopeat2012ps. The links to ‘Eat Stop Eat‘ are affiliate links. So if you decide to buy you’ll be supporting Stonesoup!

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