Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Truth About Intermittent Fasting

As some of you may know, I have a pretty strong desire to lose weight. I'm one of those people who loves to dive into the new fad diets and try my hand at different methods to see how they work for me.

A good friend of mine, who has been doing the low-carb ketogenic diet for a while now inspired me to give it a go as well. I did see some weight loss in the beginning, and my clothes seemed to fit better. But as is the case with most diets, my weight loss plateaued. I was doing everything right, so I couldn't figure out why I didn't continue losing the weight. I spoke to my aforementioned friend about this, and she suggested intermittent fasting. Basically, you fast for 18 hours out of the day and eat your entire day's worth of calories in one 6-hour window, usually around dinnertime. I laughed her off and said there was no way I could do anything that drastic. I wanted to lose weight, but I didn't feel the need to starve myself to do so.

Fast forward a few months. I discover something called the Bulletproof Diet. Essentially, this guy Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley investor, spent a ridiculous amount of money on dietary pills, methods, and research to come up with the most effective way to lose weight. After his study had been conducted, Dave claims to have lost 100 pounds by incorporating Bulletproof Coffee into his diet. Now, this guy is a total modern-day snake oil salesman, and his website is completely self-serving. HOWEVER, I was kind of curious about this Bulletproof Coffee, so I started making my own and drinking it for breakfast. I wasn't completely turned off by the taste, so I decided to continue drinking it just to see if it affected my weight at all. One thing is for sure-- after a cup of this coffee, I wasn't hungry for the rest of the day.

Once I ventured away from the BPD website, I started reading forums about how people were combining the Bulletproof Coffee into their Intermittent Fasting routine. There, again, I saw the Intermittent Fasting concept come up. I read through all the reviews and forums, and people seemed to be having positive results by combining the two. So, I began thinking about it. Since Bulletproof Coffee kept me from getting hungry throughout the day, it probably wouldn't be that hard to fast. To put this theory to the test, I decided to conduct an experiment. I wanted to go at least 72 hours ingesting nothing but water and BP coffee. As it turns out, the experiment was relatively easy. After 72 hours I had to FORCE myself to eat something because I simply wasn't as hungry as I had expected.

Having realized that fasting was in fact doable, I decided to take to the internet again and research a little more. As it turns out, there are several types of Intermittent Fasting. The most common two are 1) the 18/6 approach, where you fast for 18 hours and eat within a 6 hour window, and 2) the 5:2 approach, where you eat normally for 5 days per week and fast outright for 2 of them (non-consecutively). To see which works best for me personally, I've been toying with a combination of the two.

All this seems a little outrageous, right? Fasting seems to be kind of an extreme approach to eating. But let's look at this historically.. our primal ancestors didn't have three square meals a day. In fact, they didn't always eat every day. Their bodies were only adapted to ingesting fat and protein (no processed carbs.. no cereal or bagels or pasta), so their glucose and insulin levels were always relatively steady. The little fat that was stored on their bodies was a failsafe for periods where foodsources weren't readily available.

And exercise? Come on, think about it. Do you think our ancestors ran 5ks or attended pilates classes? No, the only exercise they experienced took place in short, sporadic bursts while they were hunting their next meal. I'm sure they walked plenty as well, but they didn't spend hours at the gym to get their perfectly toned physique.. and this is why I stand by my theory that exercise is great for some people, but the food and nutrients (or lack thereof) that you ingest contributes to 90% of your body composition. No amount of Zumba classes can make up for a shitty diet. It may help in the short-term, but if you want to change your body permanently, you need to analyze your food choices.

You may think that fasting for short periods of time will make you feel tired and weak and will leave you hungry. And that's exactly what I thought. But once I tried it, I changed my entire outlook. Fasting is a completely normal (and HEALTHY, believe it or not.. you're giving your body a chance to repair and regenerate) way of life. Not only does it give you a greater mental focus, but you have much more energy once your body has processed out all the lingering glycogen (carbohydrates) that have been stored inside your muscles. And the only reason you'll feel hungry is if your body is so used to the processed carbs that it creates a severe drop in insulin, which gives you temporary cravings. Once you pass that point, and teach your body to become fat-adapted.

I could write for hours on this subject because I've been doing copious amounts of research on it lately, and I've become absolutely enthralled in it. If you want to know more about it, feel free to check it out online.. there are plenty of studies and reviews and success stories to support this theory.

And if you need any more evidence.. let's just say I started this diet way of eating on May 1st. Today is May 6th and I've lost seven pounds. You can say it's just water weight, but I can't remember the last time losing water weight made my work pants this baggy in my stomach area.

I'll keep you updated on my progress.


  1. Hi Mary, I'm the "snake oil salesman" you reference above.

    You've rediscovered the Rapid Fat Loss protocol, which is available for free on the website, just like all the other info. Hopefully you didn't feel pressured into reading it or making use of it by the slick way all the science is posted right there for you...

    http://www.bulletproofexec.com/rapid-fat-loss-protocol/ explains more details about only using the coffee.

    http://www.bulletproofexec.com/bulletproof-fasting/ is the full write up on modifying intermittent fasting using Bulletproof Coffee.

    For weight loss in women, intermittent fasting isn't usually a good idea. Here's more slickly produced snake oil science: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/a-bad-combination-for-women-intermittent-fasting-and-paleo/

    Be well!

  2. Dave,

    Thanks for taking the time to read this recent post. As I mentioned above, I do love the Bulletproof Coffee recipe you've shared with the world, and it has made all the difference in my weight loss journey. And don't worry.. I made sure to link back to your website as a reference to anyone else who may be interested in your version of intermittent fasting.

    While I don't disagree or question your "slickly produced snake oil science", I simply think that the array of specialized supplements and overpriced name-brand coffee you promote on your website is not necessary for this diet to be successful. That being said, I understand that you must make a profit on your weight loss program, and many people may find these products helpful.

    Congratulations with your success in this arena, and I wish you the best.