A thread to share experiences on fasting. Tips, ideas, suggestions, experiences, resources. And a place to ask questions about fasting.
We have not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you are have any health related symptoms or concerns, you should contact your doctor who will be able to give you advice specific to your situation.
Thanks, Ellem. I’m interested in knowing more about fasting and have LOTS of questions!
1. Other than the obvious fact that a longish period of not eating means calorie consumption is likely to be lower, so it could help with weight loss, what are the other benefits of fasting?
2. How long without food is considered a fast? (I do try to keep a gap of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, but I’m not sure that counts.)
3. As I understand it, drinking water, black tea/coffee etc is fine during a fast, but we shoudn’t consume any calories at all. Is that right? And if it is, would drinking tea with milk during a fast make the whole thing pointless?
4. Are there any dangers or downsides to fasting we should consider?
Hi, ladies! One of the most valuable resources out there on the benefits of fasting is the work of Jason Fung, M.D.
There a number of you tube lectures that are easily accessible, or his books also, “The Obesity Code”, “The Diabetes
Code” or “The Complete Guide To Fasting”. The concept of autophagy, i.e., regeneration of fresh cells to replace
old ones, is a topic that we discuss often on these boards. (pronounced au-toph’-a-gy). Have a look! 🙂 🙂 🙂
P.S. REALLY clever name for a thread!!!
I watched a Dr Benjamin Bikman podcast on YouTube about insulin resistance. He suggested restricted eating of 20/4 , I think, a few times a week. He argues that if you control the macros then the micros are taken care of. His three main points were
1. Control carbs
2. Prioritise proteins.
3. Fill up with fat.
Certainly worth a look at his podcasts.
Bickman’s podcasts are high on my list of priorities for summer education, V. Can you expand a little on what you
mean by “prioritize proteins”? Thanks!
I don’t know why, but I can’t concentrate on or take in information from podcasts, videos or audio books – I have to read it myself for it to sink in.
Squidge I make notes as I go along. Hence Allie …. priorotise proteins. Unfortunately I didn’t expand on that point in my notes! I will just have to listen to it again! Will let you know what more I learn about proteins. I think, but am not certain, that he was arguing that keeping tabs on proteins was the key to solving insulin resistance. Will let you know!
Squidge, I’m EXACTLY the same! I always have better recall if the information is in a book…I think I’m too easily distracted
by the visual, and I need to concentrate in somewhat of a vacuum. Tell me a phone number, and I’ll promptly forget it,
but if I see it written down, I’ll always remember it! Isn’t that crazy???
I think I saw that interview with Bikman too, Verano. I got the impression he said Prioritise Proteins partly because he said we remember alliteration more easily, and partly as a reminder to ensure we are getting enough protein without going overboard. I hope I’m getting that right and not misrepresenting what he said.
And I’m the same, Squidge, I prefer to read, underline and make notes.
JF says a fast is anything from 12 hours to a month -or longer. Certainly for the longer fasts he includes vegetable broth or bone broth at lunchtime, which I hadnt expected.
If I remember correctly Benjamin Bikman was talking about the fact that some people on keto/very low carb diets can go too low on protein in order to avoid coming out of ketosis. He then talks about the importance of eating enough protein in order to maintain your lean body mass.
In his (Dr Bikman’s) interview on BioHackers Lab – posted on Take A Look at This but also on YouTube – another ‘protein expert’ Dr Stuart Phillips is mentioned. I’ve attached a link to the Biohackers Lab interview with him on the Take a Look at This thread. He’s got some interesting ideas about levels of protein required.
They both also talk about the process of sarcophenia i.e. the loss of muscle mass and strength as we age, and the importance of protein (and exercise) in helping to mitigate against this process. Interesting stuff. xx
Thank you Marie for expanding on ‘priortising protein’. I was just about to listen to the interview again but now I don’t need too! I will take a look at the Stuart Phillips interview instead.
Ellem Jason Fung also says that longer fasts should only be undertaken under medical supervision. And, of course, for those people with diabetes and taking medication, especially insulin, fasting is a whole different ball game.
I’ve now read the explanation about fasting on the I have a Plan discussion – and that’s helped my understanding.
I’m not diabetic and I have no reason to suppose my insulin level is high (but I don’t think it’s ever been tested) so it seems as though weight loss might be the only benefit to me fasting? I could do with losing a few more pounds though, so will give it a try. Is 15 hours the shortest time that’s considered to make a difference?
Thanks so much, Marie. I’m heading on over to the “Take A Look” thread to pick up the links. The issue of loss
of muscle mass, human growth hormone and how to stimulate it, etc., is something of interest to me 🙂 At the
age of 71, O/H is surprisingly bothered that he’s lost so much muscle! That is somewhat astonishing, because
he doesn’t have a vain bone in his body….Unfortunately 🙂 You should see his scruffy beard!
Morning from florida, ladies! Thank you for the discussion on fasting. I have been dabbling in it this week.
I get about 70
Ah yes, very good point, Verano, about medical supervision for longer periods, and also the reminder about people taking medication. Thank you for mentioning that. 👍🏻
Verano – your welcome, hope you find it interesting.
Allie – I started increasing my activity, from a very low base, and took up exercise last year not long after beginning BSD. Since the Exercise on Prescription programme I was on ended, I’ve been working out the best types of exercise/activity for me, as an older woman, to continue with – it’s a whole new world to me, quite honestly. Once again, your husband sounds delightful!
Squidge, if you are fat, you are high insulin. They are linked.
It is likely you have struggled to lose weight on a regular restricted-calorie diet — that is insulin resistance at work. If your waist size is greater than 1/2 your height — that is insulin resistance. If you are hungry all the time — that is insulin resistance. If you crave sugars and stodgy white foods — that is insulin resistance. If you put fat on your tummy — that is insulin resistance.
I used to have to say ‘yes’ to all of those, but I’m now a healthy weight, my waist is smaller than half my height, I no longer crave carbs and I rarely feel hungry (when I do, it’s because for some reason I’ve had a much longer than usual gap between meals). I do still have some fat on my tummy, but it’s going. I’m guessing I’m not particularly insulin resistant – lucky me!
I’m also guessing I may have had a bit of a problem before starting the BSD, and that it would have got worse if I hadn’t taken control. That gives me another incentive not to go back to my former, unhealthy ways.
That’s excellent Squidge! Congratulations on a proactive response! Wow, if we could just get physicians to recommend those changes early the diabetes epidemic could be ended. I’m hoping that the word gets out from researchers and early adopters like you and me and others on these forums — your results are the best recommendation. Nicely done!
Hi BSD’ers in the Fast Lane!
I wanted to say a bit about fasting in general and this information comes from Dr. Bikman’s podcasts.
We should change our focus from FASTING to TIME RESTRICTED EATING — of course, the clever thread title should stay as it is, as “Life in the Time Restricted Eating Lane” just doesn’t have the same punch!
Fasting beyond a day (or two) can truly be dangerous, as there is a condition called “refeeding syndrome” where your body can become dangerously low on potassium if you break the fast with a high carbohydrate meal. (It is caused by your insulin moving potassium in and out of your cells).
Dr. Bikman is very supportive however, of going 18 to 20 hours between meals, thus restricting your eating to a short window of time in every 24 hours. He also has no serious concerns about a 1 day fast (24 hours).
I was listening to his podcast and it struck me that this was serious enough to bring up as some people prefer to go longer on fasts. But if you do want to go longer than 24 hours, you must watch your electrolytes and so maybe you should seek professional guidance just to be safe.
For the rest of us who can’t get that far without food anyway (that’s me) we still get immense benefit from the shorter restricted eating program as it gets those pesky insulin levels down.
Ahhh Californiagirl, this is so helpful, thank you. And reassuring, to be honest. I really wouldn’t fancy longer fasting. Yes, Time Restricted Eating is a better descriptor. When Jason Fung talks about longer fasts, they seem to be for specific medical reasons, and peope are carefully monitored throughout.
For the past week I’ve fallen into a 16:8 pattern, which suits me very well, and my weight loss this week is 2.5lbs (it’s been mostly 1lb a week on other weeks, apart from week 1). On a couple of the days I had a coffee in the morning with a tablespoon of cream. I have another week on 800, and then will be slowly upping my calories.
What I’m wondering is, when I am off the 8wk 800, can I just continue on a mostly 16:8 basis, of on-plan food, or will I need to change it up and do occasional 20:4 or even 24 hours. I think I’d have to be very convinced of the benefits to push through to 24. I realise you wont have all the answers, as we are all different, and need to work out what is best for us, but it would be interesting to hear how others have approached it, and what they found works for them.
Californiagirl – absolutely excellent post. I really love the Dr Bikman’s podcasts also – as his advice is so sensible and helpful. I absolutely agree with your warning about longer fasts and the dangers that they pose and that we should be focussing on time restricted feeding instead as it is such a brilliant way to fast and very safe. As Ellem said – although Dr Fung is an advocate of longer fasts they are all done under strict medical supervision.
Ellem – your plan for continuing after the 8 weeks is absolutely spot on and you will continue to see a good weight loss. A good suggestion from a forum member (I can’t remember who) was to increase calories by 50 a week to see what happens. I mostly do 18/6 and 16/8 with an occasional 20hr. I find it better, for me, to charge it up with one 12/12 and one 14/10 which seems to ramp up my metabolism a notch. Not sure why – and of course it might just be me it helps and no one else. I, personally, wouldn’t do longer than a 20hr and only do one a week.
Thanks Krysia, thats sounds like a good plan, and eminently doable. Easy to fit around normal life too. I think it was Allie who said about upping by 50 a week.
Hi, and firstly Julia I hope all is well with you and yours with the wild fires in California.
I really enjoyed your post for several reasons. Firstly, you have summed up Ben Bikman’s podcast really well. I’m still going to take a second look at it though because I think I missed some of his points.
Secondly, I’m delighted that you have brought the possible dangers of ‘long fasts’ to everyone’s attention. I very rarely get involved in ‘fasting’ discussions because I’ve always felt that fasting for long periods can be dangerous. In the past, when I have suggested this I’ve been ‘shouted’ down, so I’ve kept my opinions to myself. I sometimes felt that there were competitions going on on these threads to see who could fast for the longest period of time. There are always references made to JF and I have to admit that I am not a fan of his. I heard one of his interviews a while ago, where he was talking about having a ‘good blow out’, at a wedding for example, and then doing a fast afterwards to ‘repair the damage’ , my words not his. It was almost like giving people permission to binge and purge! He does indeed say that prolonged fasts, and I’m not sure when a fast becomes ‘prolonged’ in his eyes, should be monitored carefully, as Elle has pointed out. However, people seemed either not to hear this part of his interviews or chose to ignore it.
Finally, I think that we also have to remember that their are many people on this site with differing medical health, of different ages, different weights and different mental attitudes. This definitely should not be a ‘one size fits all’ way of eating or fasting!
By the way I have written down your six points indicating whether or not you are insulin resistant and I fulfill two! Very interesting. I’m off to do some more reading about insulin resistance now.
Elle I agree completely with Krysia. I do think there may be a bit of trial and error involved before you find exactly the right formula for yourself, but you will.
Restricted eating does seem the way forward to me although my usual day is 15:9. I think I need to lengthen the ‘fast’ period and I will do that.
Really valuable insights being discussed this morning, so thank you Julia, and also Elle for setting
up this tread! V., I also got the impression some months back that a bit of “competition” was going
on too, and it worried me that new comers to the community were using fasting to reverse over-
indulgence before they had mastered the Fast 800. I’ve been listening to Bickman, but I’m not knowledgeable
on Fung’s work, and I’d really like to know how their theories differ! More reading is necessary, I think!
I agree that the concept of medical supervision is often overlooked, so I’m happy to see it emphasized
today. Do any of you remember the topic of “euphoria on a 3 day fast” being discussed? There must
be a physiological reason for this? The cautions are worth noting, as well as the benefits, so thank you
all for your contributions 🙂
Restricting the period of time in which we eat somehow sounds less of a challenge than a fast – even if we go without food for the same length of time. I feel that restricting the period in which I eat has been helpful to me, even though I don’t actually go long enough between meals for it to count as a proper fast.
So glad to have found this thread!
I’ve never been a fan of late night or early morning eating so intermittent fasting came very naturally to me the I started following the BSD life. I did kind of 16/8 at first, then 18/6 and now 20/4 or one meal a day.
I’ve been mixing in a few 24 and 48h fasts lately and I was wondering what others do when combining the fast800 to fasting days? Do yo eat more calories on the days you’re not fasting?
I’m not advocating fasting to anyone, btw, but it does suit me personally very well and I feel great! I’m a responsible adult who has no health issues bar overweight .
My reasons for gaining weight were mindless boredom eating and bingeing on bad carbs and I find that fasting is great for me as I makes me feel in control of my eating choices and also lessens the carb/sugar cravings.
When breaking my fast it’s always something like eggs of salmon I’m craving.
As usual I get even more out of all the follow up posts — thanks for the feedback everyone. I agree that it sometimes could appear to be a “competition” and that was definitely worrisome.
Verano, our fires are out of control — air quality is just awful all over the western states — I was in Sun Valley Idaho (oh my goodness, so beautiful) last week and it is even smoky there (and was smoky for the whole 10 hour drive). Mornings dawn red and we are missing our standard blue skies. Poor California — it feels like we are burning up — we have millions of dead trees from bark beetle attacks and drought and it is massive amounts of fuel just waiting to burn.
What a difficult year all of you have had on the west coast, Julia. It is one huge tinderbox, ready to
go up in flames. I’ve only heard bits and pieces of coverage on the news, but I did hear mention of arson?
Are you in any immediate danger, either personally or your property? This must be difficult, being
in Tahoe as your new base of operations. The sullied air has a broad reach. Be safe, my friend!!!
Thanks Allie! We are ok right now but our homes are in the wild-land interface both at Tahoe and in Silicon Valley. I always worry about arson which is how the fire in Idylwild started (you heard right). I think it is so tempting for an arsonist because it would just blow up.
We have the insurance companies breathing down our neck about “defensible space” but even with massive clearing of plants and trees a lot of homes burn anyway. We’ve been cancelled by our insurer twice in the past three years (no stated reason, just company “withdrawing” from our area) — new insurance is three times more expensive — it is a serious problem. I’m not sure how everyone is managing this issue — it’s almost unaffordable right now.
Meanwhile, you’ve been flooding on the east coast, the UK has had record heat and wild thunder storms! It feels a bit out of control.
Although I never called it intermittent fasting, pretty much like you, I’ve vary rarely eaten breakfast and had learnt through previous diets that I lose weight faster if I stop eating after my evening meal. So, it’s something I naturally started doing on BSD (and 2 meals a day also meant more calories per meal).
I haven’t done any other fasts regularly. I’ve done maybe 4 one-off fasts – 2 x 32, 1x 36 and 1x 42 hrs. I just carried on afterwards doing 800 cals/ <20g carbs (or at least I didn’t deliberately eat more, can’t check back). Given my experience is very limited, hopefully, someone else with more experience may be able to offer advice.
For general info, as a Type II diabetic I didn’t fast until after my Hba1c in November 2017 confirmed my diabetes was in remission, and I monitored by glucose levels very carefully throughout. I chose longer water-only fasts (although not sure JF classes these hours as longer fasts) not for any competitive reasons, but because my understanding is these are more likely to trigger autophagy – which is what I’m interested in.
Californiagirl – sorry to hear about what is happening in California, it sounds pretty awful – hope everything goes well.
Julia sorry to hear of the demise of California. I saw some TV footage this morning and it looks truly horrifying. Arsonists…. why? I have seen it in Tenerife too where many many square acres of forest land are just destroyed. Fortunately they do rejuvenate. Let’s hope it’s soon under control and no more lives are lost.
Amarela, I think if you sat some days it would be a good idea to eat extra on other days – so your weekly average is the same as if you are 800 calories every day. If you drop much below that it would be really difficult to get all the nutrients you need. Lack of fibre could be a problem too.
Jason Fung, a nephrologist who treats patients on dialysis, gave the following answer on Dietdoctor when asked about the optimum length of time for fasting …….
“ There is no set time limit. It depends on how you are feeling. We have had people go as long as a month, BUT THIS IS UNDER DIRECT MEDICAL SUPERVISION. We have many people doing 10day to 2 week fasts as well, BUT AGAIN, UNDER SUPERVISION. There are many people who do a 1week fast themselves, or as part of a cleanse.
(And here comes the legal bit)
However, I cannot provide personalised advice and you would have to make your own decision with your physician.”
So make of that what you will
In another podcast his ‘evidence’ is based on figures from a 4 day fast. (Therapeutic Fasting: Solving the Two-Compartment Problem) on Low Carb Down Under, YouTube, it comes across to me as 4 days being minimum/optimum.
In yet another podcast ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting ( and how to burn fat), 180 Nutrition, again on YouTube. When discussing intermittent fasting he has a ‘throw away comment’ regarding fasting length … “ … 12 hours or 12 days it doesn’t matter’. He argues that up to 70 days of alternate day fasting is ok. He also says …” fasting has unlimited power. But you do have to have THE PROPER MEDICAL SUPERVISION.”
So for me, I guess we all pick out the parts of any research that proves our point! I feel, depending on age, that fasting may not be in the best interests of everybody. But if you are young(ish) without any medical issues then if it ‘feels’ right for your body then why not, if you keep in mind the provisos.
Such wonderful input, today!! V., thank you so much for summarizing Fung’s position. There does
seem to be some gray areas here. 🙂 I never though intermittent fasting would be possible, but now
that it is, I more or less want to look under every stone, while not losing anymore weight! I did ask
JGwen how she fit in 800 cal. in a 4 hr. period, and her response was so helpful! Marie, I see that
you didn’t go beyond 24hrs until your BGL were well controlled…That seems very wise to me…Were
you hungry? I’d like to advance to 1/24hr fast once a week. I’ll re-evaluate when I accomplish that.
(O/H not thrilled with my being 12lbs under target, and he’s becoming rather a pest about it! The
other day he actually said I finally “look my age”. THANK YOU, darling 🙂 Twit! ) Isn’t it the better part
of valor to just lie??? Ha
Sad to say, I hesitated to post on this thread but wanted to respond to Amarela’s question. When someone responds by writing in capital letters, it seems to me it’s time for me to call it a day.
I do wish everyone good fortune going forward.
Marie I only posted in capitals, not to shout but there was no way to underline or post in bold! I was just trying to highlight the provisos that are sonetimes missed.
I’m so very sorry, Marie! Have I said something inadvertently to offend you? I must confess to being
a little lost???
No Allie I don’t think that Marie’s post was aimed at you but rather at me. I was actually responding to your post earlier in the day when you said that you weren’t familiar with Jason Fung work. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. But you know what, I’m also getting a bit sick and tired of being attacked for saying things that don’t always fit well with others or are contrary to their ideas, so maybe I won’t say anything anymore either!
No, no, no, V.! I truly value your ideas, and they always add to the general discourse. Of course it
was clear to all of us that the caps were for emphasis 🙂 I rely heavily on them too, as well as exclamation
points!! (see?) Don’t change a thing…You are wonderful 🙂
Verano – please please do not leave the site. You will be so much missed. I thought your post was actually a very important post because Jason Fung always emphasises just how important it is to to have medical supervision for longer fasts, which is why I made the decision not to do the longer fasts as I don’t have that medical supervision.
We would be very negligent though if we didn’t flag up the possible dangers of longer fasts. I would really be upset if a new person harmed themselves because they hadn’t read Fung and Bikman and as a result missed the message.
Allie your post made me smile. If I ask my husband if the garment I am trying on suits me he says yes without even looking up. He does this every time!
That IS funny, Krys! Why do you suppose that we keep on asking? Habits of a lifetime, I think 🙂
We’re coming up on 49 years next month…How about you?
Allie – we reached 49 years in June. He has learnt that it is the better part of valor to lie – but just doesn’t make it convincing. I still keep on asking – you are right that it is a habit of a lifetime.
Ah I think many are feeling a bit jumpy after the way Maggie was hounded off this forum.. 🙁 hope we don’t lose anymore knowledgeable posters!
I’m of the school of thought that we are all adults here and capable of making our decisions based on doing our own research and knowing our own bodies and I haven’t seen anybody advising others to fast or doing competitive fasting here so I can kinda see how emphasising medical supervision several times in caps is a bit off putting!
Thanks for the replies ladies, I think I’ll play it by ear and see how I feel.
Hi Amarela! Perhaps we should have been more specific? Many months before you arrived here
there was 4-5 day fasting go on…I think we are quite sensible, now 🙂
I’m quite heartsick about Maggie, too. Please try not to judge us by that incident. We all did our
best to mitigate against the fallout, but it was simply too late, I’m afraid. The damage was already
done. I’ve been on the receiving end of a diatribe or two, and the community always comes together
to make it known that this isn’t acceptable to us. What bothers me the most, after Maggie’s feelings
of course, is how it might affect new members to the community.
Thank you for bringing this up. I appreciate it. Perhaps it needed to be commented on? For the
record, I found it to be grotesque and atypical for these forums. I certainly hope that you stay with
Happy belated Anniversary, Krysia! We seem to be walking in tandem, here 🙂 Reflecting on half a
century spent across the dinner table from the same face..somewhat overwhelming! I know that
you are optimally healthy, and I hope the same is true for your O/H! I don’t know if you’re familiar
with this expression, but “every day above ground is a good day!” 🙂 🙂 🙂