Intermittent Fasting & the Dangling Carrot - Diet Review

- POSTED ON: Oct 27, 2016

I recently received the comment:

Phyllis Collins, I've been following you and have been a fan of yours.
Have u tried the 24 or 36 hour fasts? Was wondering what your experience was?

I've done quite a lot of experiments with "modified" fasts --- like JUDDD & EOD, and with total water fasting as well. I’ve written quite a lot about this already. To easily find some of them here at DietHobby, …go to the right side of the page about half-way down.... for BLOG CATEGORIES, Fasting, ……where you can easily find past articles I've written about my thoughts and experiences with Intermittent Fasting.  

Once you’ve arrived at the “Fasting” category, the best way to find relevant articles is … go to the bottom of that page, below the 5 blog articles, where it says “Page 1 / Page 2 / …. Oldest", and CLICK the link to the Oldest.  Then work your way forward, from the past to the present.

Many of my previous blog articles discuss, in depth, my own experiences with various types of intermittent fasting.

The Donkey, the Stick,
and the Carrot,

an allegory applicable
to Intermittent Fasting.

"A farmer wants the donkey to take the load and travel. 

But, the donkey does not move.
He hits the donkey with a stick, but it still won’t move. 

So, he ties a carrot to the stick  and holds it in front of the donkey, just out of reach. 

The donkey wants to eat the carrot and moves forward. 

At the same time, the carrot also moves by the same distance.

The donkey cannot eat the carrot, till the farmer reaches his destination."

The Donkey is me, or another “intermittent faster”.

The Stick is Fasting = eating zero or very small amounts of food on “fasting” days or times.

The Carrot is the Promise of eating whatever you want on non-fasting days or times.

"Just get through today, and tomorrow you can eat whatever you want."

The promise of days or times of unlimited, unrestricted eating is a Carrot that lures one to an Intermittent Fasting diet, but unfortunately, …for many of us, …. that Carrot proves to be nothing more than an alluring, false promise.

The Truth is that on “tomorrow = the non-fasting days or times”,  you CANNOT eat what you want, in the amounts that you want…unless what you WANT is merely the same as what a naturally thin person consistently eats in order to maintain a normal weight.

Success with intermittent fasting requires the zero, or very-low-calorie, "fasting" days to be balanced together with days or times of eating at or near one’s maintenance calorie level … in other words, the restrictive days or times need to occur alongside the kind of “healthy” moderate diet that is followed by the naturally thin. 

However, If I WANTED only “normal” amounts of “healthy foods", obesity would never have become a problem for me.

The issue is calorie balance.  The calorie number of the fasting day or time gets added to the calorie number of the non-fasting day or time with that Total number being divided by 2. When this Averaged calorie amount creates an ongoing calorie deficit, weight-loss will result from the ongoing calorie deficit.  However, this ASSUMES that an unmonitored participant would NOT follow a “binge-fast” pattern.  For example, a fasting day or time  of 20% with a non-fasting day or time of 200% (instead of 110%) would be a “binge-fast” pattern, and a calorie Average that would result in weight-gain.

The most extensive scientific research on Intermittent Fasting to date was done by Dr. Krista Varady.  This research is frequently quoted by Dr. Jason Fung to support his own fasting viewpoints.    For a limited time, a limited number of people “moderately fasted” = i.e. ate 20% of their TDEE on one day, and ate “normally” which turned out to be 110% of their TDEE on the following day.  

Personally, I question Dr. Varady’s conclusion that the non-fasting day 110% calorie total was a “naturally occurring” limitation.  Since those people KNEW they were being temporarily watched as part of a diet research program, one could reasonably argue that … despite being told to eat “normally” on non-fasting days, they were highly motivated to “not overeat” on “normal” days during that limited time period … which resulted in a modification of the way they would probably choose to normally eat, long-term, when not being watched by scientists.

For larger, younger people – especially males -- whose daily calorie burn is between 2000 to 2500 calories, Intermittent Fasting can be relatively easy…IF… their normal way-of-eating is to  “normally” eat around that amount; and …IF…they don’t tend to be “binge-eaters”, which means that they usually only eat VERY-high-calorie on limited special occasions.

However, I am a small, elderly, inactive,"reduced obese", female whose “normal” daily calorie burn is a bit under 1000.  It is a continual struggle for me to keep my food intake within that “normal” range, and for me … the reward of getting 1000 to 1200 calories the following day doesn’t seem like much of a Reward after a day of eating only 250 to 500 calories. So, far, despite my best efforts, my results on the up days are often 1500+ calories … which tends to cancel out any weight-loss results of the 250 to 500 calorie “modified-fast” days, … while STILL being FAR LESS than the amounts I really want to eat after a day, or alternate days, of calorie deprivation.

Dr. Jason Fung, M.D. - who is the current medical guru on Fasting - recommends fasting as a fix for “insulin resistance” . However, I do not have any type of Diabetes, and my blood sugars are in the normal range. Although I am a small, “reduced obese”, inactive, elderly female with a very low metabolic rate, I don’t appear to be “insulin resistant”. 

Dr. Fung also says the nature of obesity is “multi-factorial”, and that the key to understanding obesity is understanding that many different things can contribute to the development and the treatment …. Obesity is not a single problem. There is no single solution.”

There is no one perfect “diet” for everyone.  My problem is that I find Fasting to be … in and of itself…. "a form of suffering, and I know that weight that is lost through suffering tends to comes back when I get tired of suffering.

I agree with Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, MD when he says:  "If you don't like the life you're living while you're losing, eventually you're going to find yourself going back to the life you were living before you lost. " Doing this will cause your body to re-gain the weight-loss.

Nevertheless, Fasting is an interesting issue. As part of my dieting hobby, I expect that I will continue to learn more about it, and find new ways to experiment with Intermittent Fasting concepts. 

NOTE:  Originally posted on 8/23/16, Reposted for New Viewers

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Existing Comments:

On Dec 31, 2016 oolala53 wrote:
I continue to be intrigued by the idea. I experimented this past year and found some of my "bad" habits that had gone underground during No S resurfaced with exactly that idea that I could eat what I wanted. I don't keep track of my weight but I know I did gain, but mostly it felt cruddy. I started to dread both the down days and the up days. I wasn't as interested in the weight loss, but would have taken it. I am still interested in the non-weight loss advantages, but apparently not enough to put up with the difficulties. But I'm committed to two more fast mimicking 5-day diets ala Valter Longo at least, once again not for weight loss. Oh, shoot, sure a little part of me wouldn't mind losing more fat, but the suffering would have to be minimal for that. But I am willing to do short-term remedies for health gains, and I'm getting better at navigating the refeeding urges after it's over. But it's going on faith. I can't prove it's going to make things better later, but for now, it's worth the experiment.

On Dec 31, 2016 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Oolala, the various forms of Intermittent Fasting are intriguing. Even though I've experimented with that diet concept off and on for the past 9 or 10 years, and never adapted to it, I'll still probably do more IF experiments in the future. I would be very interested in hearing how it works for you, and your personal pros and cons.

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