Fasting and diets need a bit of clarification before considering fasting as a method of weight loss. I do extended fasts monthly – 72 hours minimally up to and occasionally exceeding 150 hours. I do not fast to lose weight. I fast for the health benefits. Others may do it for religious reasons, and a few do it as a way to detox.
The same can be said for counting calories. Cutting back on calories can result in weight loss for some people, though not all. Restricting calories by 30% can provide terrific health benefits, but it depends on the food choices when you do eat.
https://www.webmd.com/diet/fasting. Many people have used fasting as a method to lose weight. The biggest problem is that most people use fasting as a diet – a temporary adjustment to their lifestyle. Once they stop fasting, the weight returns – negating the pounds lost when fasting.
The type of fast determines the level of success. I am an advocate for balanced nutrition. It is easy to select foods that provide 30 or more of the daily nutrients the body needs. As defined on the Wahls Protocol, most are surprised that balanced nutrition can be less than 1,000 calories/day.
Do I fast every other day, a couple of days a week, or intermittently – maybe 12 or 16 or 18 or more hours daily. The type of fast when every meal you eat is nutritionally balanced does not matter. The benefits of the extended time between meals are the real benefit.
https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/calories-chart. How many calories do you need to eat daily? That question has been updated many times over the years. It is usually broken into male vs. female, age, activity level, and more. If I am a female around 45 years of age with a sedentary lifestyle, experts tell me that I need 1,800 calories daily.
What if all the 1,800 calories came from bread and soft drinks? It is not the number of calories and the types of calories, and the total nutritional load of those foods. You will see many experts use the BMI (body mass index) to determine your physical category. BMI was designed for population studies and was never intended to describe individuals. Yet, insurance companies, your doctor, and many others misuse it.
Assume for a second you are 6’2” tall and weigh 240 pounds. Your BMI would be 30.8, and you would be considered obese. However, if your chest were 46” and your waist was 32”, no one would ever consider you to be obese. Yet maybe your chest was 38” and your waist was 48”, then the designator of obese might fit. But, again, BMI was developed to study populations, not individuals.
Experts will tell you that you must eat 15 calories per pound of body weight to maintain a steady weight. They also tell us that we need to not eat 3,500 calories to equate to one pound of body weight. Those 3,500 calories can be a combination of exercise and eating less. Many studies show both these assumptions to be wrong. https://www.aicr.org/news/the-3500-calorie-weight-loss-myth/ – https://birminghamdpc.com/2020/12/07/the-3500-calorie-deficit-equals-1-lb-fat-loss-myth/ – https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111114p36.shtml
Which is Better to Lose Weight?
https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20210616/counting-calories-beats-fasting-diets-for-weight-loss#1. A recent study compared fasting to counting calories and declared that you would lose weight when you cut back on your calories by 25%.
I lived on the Atkins Diet for over six years. I started when I was around 50 years old. I lost a lot of weight quickly – approximately 40 pounds in three months. There are problems with the Atkins Diet that can cause bone density loss if you do not make the proper food selections. However, for me, it was a super-simple diet to adhere to.
I lived in Germany for the last two years of this diet option. I would travel to Italy for a long weekend and eat a lot of pasta and bread, gain 12-14 pounds over that weekend, and two weeks later, I would be back at my starting weight before leaving Germany. Carbohydrates packed on the pounds quickly – water weight gain – and I lost a pound/day by reverting to not eating carbohydrates. I did this probably a dozen times over two years, and the results were always the same.
As far as I know, there are no essential carbohydrates the body must have to maintain health. I lived on less than ten grams of carbohydrates daily without any difficulty. I enjoyed life and the food I ate. The only problem I had at that time was that I could not run long distances.
Before Atkins, I could easily run for an hour or hour and a half. During Atkins, I had not stamina – two miles was about it, and I was out of gas. I know people on ketogenic diets who can run long distances, and they told me that it is something my body must acclimate to. Regardless, that was my observation.
The problem I see with this study cited in the link above is that it lasted three weeks. Three months would have been better, and three years would have been more meaningful. Diets are fleeting and are never intended to be the norm. A lifestyle is the foods you choose daily and the exercises you do regularly combined with stress management and a few other things.
Testing one method of losing weight to another in a short window does not make sense to me. In this article, the wording changed from losing weight to losing fat. https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/13/598/eabd8034. There is a big difference between fat loss and weight loss.
The results compared three groups of twelve lean participants on different eating plans. One group ate 25% fewer calories, another group fasted one day and ate 150% of their daily calories on the next day. The third group ate 200% of their everyday foods and fasted every other day.
First off, the people I know who fast usually eat the same way on the days of fasting – not increasing food intake to make up for the fast the previous day. This sounds a bit unusual to me. The results varied. After three weeks, the calorie counters lost the most weight and 3.5 pounds of fat loss. The 150% eating and fasting group lost a little weight and averaged 1.5 pounds of fat loss. The third group did not show any weight loss.
If I am eating the same amount of food during a week and choosing to eat it every other day, why would I expect to lose weight? The design of this study seems strange to me.
The final report emphatically stated that the fasting groups did not have any health benefits – cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin levels, etc. Why would a three-week experiment expect to show a difference when the same total number of calories was spread out over different days?
The experts applauded the 25% calorie counters for not getting caught up in the complicated rules and regimens around eating on certain days. Reading the results almost convinced me that there was a bias against fasting. https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2021/2/benefits-of-intermittent-fasting – https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2021/3/restore-cells-autophagy – https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2020/9/nutrients-that-provide-benefits-of-caloric-restriction – https://www.lifeextension.com/wellness/weight/how-to-lose-weight-without-intermittent-fasting
The links in this conclusion provide excellent information about weight loss and health benefits. I use Life Extension magazine often as a source for articles I write.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com