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Fasting (starting)... Advice on the right approach?

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  • Fasting (starting)... Advice on the right approach?

    Another question for yall! I'm thinking I might start fasting periodically, just wondering of the two methods to which I seem to have narrowed it down, which is best? Or maybe I've neglected one? Basically, I'm looking for your suggestions/advice!

    1) A couple whole-day fasts per week... Basically stop eating after dinner one day, eat dinner the next day with water and maybe some coffee in the non-eating window...

    2) Not eating til dinner most days of the week, stopping eating only a little before going to bed... I haven't decided the amount of days, whether all days/weekdays/every other day/4 days would be the best approach for this... approach.

    Questions, caveats, more info: I'm nursing and don't want to possibly jeopardize anything with that, so maybe it's not the right time to start? Or maybe it wouldn't affect nursing... considering back in the day people probably nursed and (within limits) went hungry. Next, maybe it's the effect of conventional thinking, maybe it's fact, that's what you're here to help with!-- would skipping breakfast most/all days lower metabolism? Next, my goal here is overall health, not weight loss, not lowering my caloric intake... just would rather shake things up and enjoy the benefits of fasting. I think that's it, let me know what you think if you get a second and have anything to add, I very much appreciate it! )

  • #2
    Hi Maria,

    I'm no expert on the matter but a couple thoughts for you. The benefit of IF is that the body goes into a kind of detox mode that allows for cellular repair and regeneration. This quote is from a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on alternate day fasting (a technique where people ate 25% of their caloric intake on the fasting day, then normal amounts of food on the second day):

    In terms of diabetes risk, animal studies of ADF find lower diabetes incidence and lower fasting glucose and insulin concentrations, effects that are comparable to those of CR. Human trials to date have reported greater insulin-mediated glucose uptake but no effect on fasting glucose or insulin concentrations. In terms of cardiovascular disease risk, animal ADF data show lower total cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations, a lower heart rate, improved cardiac response to myocardial infarction, and lower blood pressure. The limited human evidence suggests higher HDL-cholesterol concentrations and lower triacylglycerol concentrations but no effect on blood pressure. In terms of cancer risk, there is no human evidence to date, yet animal studies found decreases in lymphoma incidence, longer survival after tumor inoculation, and lower rates of proliferation of several cell types. The findings in animals suggest that ADF may effectively modulate several risk factors, thereby preventing chronic disease, and that ADF may modulate disease risk to an extent similar to that of CR. More research is required to establish definitively the consequences of ADF.

    Mark posted on the article and sums it up here:

    A recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gives a great overview of these benefits which include decreases in blood pressure, reduction in oxidative damage to lipids, protein and DNA, improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, as well as decreases in fat mass.

    So a longer duration without food definitely has some benefits, but you are nursing so now maybe isn't the time to push it. I really don't know whether a shorter period of 'detox mode' would affect your nursing but a longer one might. It would seem logical that a longer period of 'detox' would mean the body might reduce milk production. Also, Martin of Lean Gains recommends slightly shorter fasting periods for women compared to men (14 hours vs 16 hours) but I don't have the quote; it is something to do with differences in glycogen depletion. If you want to try it, maybe just start with skipping breakfast, then eat as usual from noon to evening or whatever window fits best with your schedule. Also read up on the Lean Gains site; a few people on this board have also recommended this protocol. You can adjust the diet recommendations to more primal eating. He pretty much dispels the myth that skipping breakfast lowers metabolism; and a lot of people find that breakfast is the easiest meal to skip. You can also get by with some coffee/tea with a spoon of coconut cream or milk. Skipping breakfast doesn't slow metabolism in the least; also keep in mind that Martin (and others who IF) are getting a full supply of calories in the eating window. Skipping or even just delaying breakfast makes it easy to get a 14 hour fast (say last food 8 pm, then first food at 10 am; noon would be 16 hours) might be all that is appropriate right now. Also I have read that after about 17 hours most of the benefits are in. Definitely break the fast with a high protein and perhaps some carb meal. If you really feel good on that and it hasn't impacted your nursing you could extend to the 16+ hours one day a week (like a weekend) when you have more time to rest anyway. But start slower and see how it affects you. It takes a few days for the body to get used to a certain eating time and also get used to the idea of going for longer stretches of time without food. Bottom line just try a shorter fast for a few days or a week and see how it feels. Lastly, a note from personal experience, make sure to drink more water when you go without food. The body gets some of its water from food and when we skip a meal we still could use the water.

    Last edited by TigerJ; 05-30-2010, 08:12 AM.


    • #3

      I found Martin's quote for adjusting the window for women. Whether this is true on primal diet I do not know, but you can ask around to others here.

      As weíre on the subject, Iíll also mention that Iíve revamped the diet guidelines I use for my female clients. For example, the fasted phase is now 14 hours by default, not 16 hours which is the case for men. This has brought about much greater diet compliance and less negative symptoms among women. The rationale for changing the guidelines makes a lot of sense based on the amount of feedback Iíve been getting, as well as my research on the topic. It turns out that women has lower plasma glucose concentrations than men after the same time spent fasting. In practical terms, this means that women in general are more likely to get moody and hungry if they go too long without feeding, while men can go longer without experiencing any negative effects, and this is exactly what Iíve been seeing. Men can do 16 hours quite easily, not so with women; for them, 14 hours is the sweet spot.


      • #4
        careful with fasting and nursing, the health of your baby is more important than weight loss right now
        Get on my Level


        • #5
          Muslim and Jewish women have historically fasted safely while nursing during Yom Kipper and Ramadan. These fasts are very typical of 16-20 hour intermittent fasts - not eating during the day then having dinner. There's plenty of discussion online for and from women of both faiths about their experiences and caveats. It comes down to milk supply. If it's interrupted by fasting then don't do it. If not, then go for it. If feeling a little weak, eating is always okay. Let your body tell you what it can and cannot do.


          • #6
            I did about a 22 hour fast today along with my first sprints (ran like the wind) and some nice pull-up training exercises. Never really felt very hungry at all. I could probably have gone 36 hours easy.


            • #7
              It really ain't that hard when you dont feel hunger, it's an empowering feeling.
              "I know what my body needs and what it can handle. There's no better way to achieve my goal than what im doing now. If my regimen leads to my death, be it in six days or six months...I will die fullfiled. The outcome is irrelavent so long as i steer towards my fate. If death is to be my prize, i welcome it with open arms."

              "A pound of meat a day keeps the doctor away"


              • #8
                Thanks all!

                Sounds good, will try the skipping breakfast and not eating til lunch... a couple days a week sufficient? Or this more of a daily thing? Getting all my daily calories in in a smaller window doesn't present any problems, I generally only start wanting to eat around lunch/dinner anyway... Just eat breakfast on a regular basis cuz of the traditional thinking that says it's a good plan. Also, as far as milk supply, that's a hard thing to guage-- I really would rather it not dip and then have to go about bringing it back up, that's why I figured I'd check and see if anyone had any experience or anecdotal stuff about it... We'll see, I'd skipped breakfast a couple days this week, no issues starting eating at lunch, probably will be alrite. Also, I noticed, before cutting out most grains and switching to a primal/paleo way of eating, that I'd be shaky and IRRITABLE by lunchtime (ate breakfast around 630/7, lunch was about 1130/12) or after lunch by dinnertime... That hasn't happened so far with the skipping breakfast or having a very delayed lunch/dinner on weekend days... Maybe it's the changes that help with that, hopefully... Anyways, that was more of a ramble, I'll try a 14/16 hour fast and see how that goes... Thanks!


                • #9
                  For me it just got easier and easier the more i did it. It's a conditioned response where my body knows that it's not a bad thing, and that i can handle it. Our bodies are amazing machines, we just have to unlock their potential!
                  "I know what my body needs and what it can handle. There's no better way to achieve my goal than what im doing now. If my regimen leads to my death, be it in six days or six months...I will die fullfiled. The outcome is irrelavent so long as i steer towards my fate. If death is to be my prize, i welcome it with open arms."

                  "A pound of meat a day keeps the doctor away"


                  • #10
                    I'm no expert on the topic, but I've read/heard from several sources (Robb Wolf is one in particular) that suggest not fasting beyond about 16 hours. I believe this was with performance in mind and has to do with the body beginning to break down muscle at around this point regardless of what you ate before hand.
                    There was also talk of making sure you rest fully and don't overly stress your body with heavy exercise (light/moderate is good) during the IF.