What I did: Fasting
As I sit in my wedding office on a Saturday after officiating two elopements and preparing for a wedding ceremony and reception, I want to share a little with you about fasting. I attend a Sunday school class where several of us take turns leading the class and teaching the lesson. Being a seminary-trained former pastor, I’m alway happy to jump in and take my turn. Last fall, one of the lessons I taught was on biblical examples of fasting. In preparation for the lesson, I went beyond the scope of the various scriptural examples of this practice and I examined the modern health aspects of fasting. I decided that if I was going to teach about fasting, I should experience it. Since I was also about seven weeks into my fitness journey at that point, it made so much sense to see if this could be a new tool in my weight loss arsenal. There are a lot of very specific things to say about fasting. How to do it effectively and safely are the first and most important things to cover. If you have any medical conditions or take prescription medication, you should consult with your primary care physician before attempting fasting. Fasting is not easy if you’ve never attempted it. I had an experience with this in 2015 when I was preparing for a complete physical exam with my doctor. I was instructed to fast after dinner and until my exam, which was a 2:30 PM. After they drew blood and started an eye exam, I fainted right there in the middle of the exam room. But, I digress. The point being that one needs to prepare for fasting. The best approach for the novice is to ease your way into a fast. Pick the day you want to fast, let’s say a Saturday. On Friday, reduce your food intake by half by skipping breakfast and lunch and eat a light dinner. Eat nothing on Saturday, but drink lots of water and zero-calorie liquids. You’ll do well to pick a day when you don’t have a lot of physical activity planned for your first fast. On Sunday, come out of your fast gently. DO NOT stuff yourself with a heavy meal. Have a light breakfast or light lunch and have a normal dinner. I started incorporating regular fasting into my fitness and nutrition plan in early 2020. I have fasted one day per week for several months. Toward the end of of my weight loss, when I was SO READY to be to my goal weight, I fasted two days per week, but never two days in a row.
There are several great things about fasting from the perspective of weight loss and overall health. You can do your own research to verify all that I’m sharing with you.
According to a study at USC, fasting for 72 hours can reset the human immune system.
Fasting promotes blood sugar control and reduces insulin resistance.
Fasting reduces inflammation.
Fasting may improve heart health by lowering triglycerides and cholesterol and improving blood pressure.
Fasting may boost brain function and reduce neurodegenerative disorders.
Fasting increases HGH (Human Growth Hormone).
Fasting may help in fighting cancer, blocking tumor growth.
And of course, fasting aids in weight loss. One of the medical professionals in my Sunday school class chimed in during my lesson and said that she fasts regularly for all the health benefits. She said that there are just some befits from fasting that you simply cannot achieve from medication or other nutritional methods.
In my personal experience, fasting for 24 hours as part of my specific fitness regimen would almost always generate a 2 to 3 pound weight loss. Keep in mind, that by the time I started to incorporate fasting into my regime, I was already down to one meal per day. So, if I fasted on a Friday, that meant that I ate only dinner on Thursday, ate nothing on Friday and my next meal would be dinner on Saturday. In reality, I go a full 48 hours between meals when I fast one full day. That level of fasting is NOT for the novice. Your body needs be fully acclimated to one meal per day before you attempt such a thing. One I got used to one meal a day and to regular fasting, my stomach adjusted. You may not believe this, but I never get hungry during a fast. My body has become so much more efficient than it used to me, and I’m so accustomed to consuming smaller quantities of food, that eating one meal per day and fasting one to two days per week is not an ordeal. As a matter of fact, It is freeing. I only have to prep one meal per day, not two or three. On my fasting days I don’t have to prepare anything. I’ve gotten to the point that I will deliberately pick a very busy work day with a standard 4 to 8 mile walk to be a fasting day since fasting makes the day so much easier when I don’t have to deal with food prep, or taking the time to stop and eat. I will say that I always keep an “emergency Luna bar” with me, just in case I feel faint and need a boost. Even thought I always have them, I never use them.
You may do your own research on intermittent fasting and find several different formulas for how many hours to go between fasting and feeding, and some of those formulas may work for you. My version is much simpler. During my weight loss months, I simply at one meal per day at dinner and would fast one to two full days per week, once I build up to it. It was just that simple. The one thing I will alway emphasis is the calorie deficit. If you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume, and you have to do that consistently over a long period of time. If you get into a calorie deficit and stay in it for a long period of time, YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT. It really is just that simple. Fasting is a way to accomplish your calorie deficit with a certain degree of intensity. I never did more than one full day of fasting at a time. I attempted to do two days in a row and it was too much. I didn’t actually get hungry, but I did get weak and got a bit of brain fog. My body couldn’t handle that, so I halted the fast with some healthy protein. Fasting isn’t for everyone. Do your own research. Consult your physician. If you choose to try it, you may find that you can handle it and if so, it will help your weight loss journey. You may try it and it’s simply not something you can do, or at least not yet, and that’s OK. Fasting has worked quite well for me and it just might work for you too!
For those interested in my weight loss journey, I’ve started sharing details on my new platforms. Follow me on Facebook at Weddings and Weight Loss and on Instagram @WeddingsAndWeightLoss. You can also go to my website, WeddingsAndWeightLoss.com.