Intervention 3

Day 7 – This is going a bit better than expected and a bit worse. Here is what I’ve found so far.

After 2 previous tries I have noticed that your body doesn’t tend to really adjust to a fasting until after week one. Despite the lost of 18 lbs after 7 days, while my waist has gone down an inch (2.54cm for millennials) my neck size is still what it was when I started. 

To be fair I was sort of expecting this primarily because the body needs about 3-4 days in order to switch from glucose to ketones. That means most of the carbon dioxide that has been exhaled has not been the result of fat burning but rather excess glucose and some muscle loss.

As I start into week number two however the fat stores should start to become more obvious and measurable and the amount of fat more substantive.

In the previous two attempts at fasting I ended up stopping as a result of feeling unwell going into the end part of week 2. The first time I had to quit on day 14 as the unwellness I was experiencing after day 12 wasn’t abating. The second time I ended up quitting (sort of) after day 9. Again in part due to feeling unwell, although I did try to continue it through to the 14 day mark. 

While I had made some substantive adjustments in terms of nutritional supplements, the changes were not enough to get me to my goal.

This time around I have changed a couple of different things

  1. inclusion of low calorie / low glycemic load foods 
  2. keeping the number of additional calories to 400/dy or less (ideally less than 100)
  3. addition of an amino acid supplement
  4. allowance of no-sugar substitutes and zero calorie drinks

So far, the results have been that in seven days I’ve lost 18 lbs (8.15 kg) as compared to an average of 23 lbs (10.5 kg) in previous fasts by not having any food substances at all. 

My thinking at this point is that the addition of diet soda and some food solids has resulted in my insulin levels not dropping as much as they might have had I gone completely off any form of insulin driving factors. It is important to note that diet sodas and sugar substitutes, while they have zero calories, do drive up insulin.

However, this first week is always the toughest as trying to go from a state of over eating, especially carbohydrates, to next to zero is a major challenge. So having flavors which are satiating, but at the same time not contributing to overall calories, is extremely important.

For example, avocado and peanut butter are both low calorie / low glycemic foods which are high in healthy fats and have very strong flavors as compared to many vegetables. The inclusion of small portions when experiencing food cravings can held satiate the desire of those cravings while not getting above a 400 maximum calorie count. 

And unfortunately you do get food cravings. As most people who do an extended fast like this will tell you, after some days you will start to dream of food. It is important to put those types of internal pressures into perspective.

You are trying to break a habit
through disassociation with foods
that create unhealthy patterns of behavior

Notice I did not say unhealthy foods. The problem is not which foods you eat but the patterns of behavior around those foods. For example, pizza is delicious and having a slice of pizza every once in awhile is not a bad thing. A whole pizza, in one day, on your own, even if its spread over an entire day, is an unhealthy pattern of behavior.

My hope, is that by including some minimum real foods, I can break through the 14 day barrier. My feeling at this point is that it is better to see smaller results, spread over a longer period of time, than trying to get maximum results in the shortest period of time.

That being said, the ‘two pounds per week’ philosophy is completely demoralizing as it is so easily sabotaged by one night out with friends or family. This is probably one of the most hurtful things to obese people as it presupposes that you already have a healthy relationship with food, which is never the case. While there is a small percentage of people who are obese that are this way due to medical reasons, the vast majority of us who have BMIs above 35 are the result of bad eating and exercise habits. 

Considering the real benefits of fasting doesn’t seem to take place until week number two, its important to find a method to sustain a fast that can be extended into 2, 3, or 4 weeks without causing any ill effects. Going full ‘water only’, while its a great sense of achievement of willpower, isn’t necessarily the way to go unless you can build up to it.

My goal for this fast is to get to somewhere between day 16 and 18 without feeling ill and feeling the need to stop. As I have a conference coming up, I know its unreasonable to be able to sustain the fast while I’m away. But the fact that I’m not feeling stressed out about having undertaken this third food intervention makes me feel that getting past the two week point is something that is doable, and hopefully sustainable.

— Kevin

The Two Pounds a Week Myth

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