Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging in Maryland, has not had breakfast in 35 years. Most days he practices a form of fasting – skipping lunch, taking a midafternoon run, and then eating all of his daily calories (about 2,000) in a six-hour window starting in the afternoon.
About five months ago I listened to a podcast from The Nutrition Diva that talked about slowing metabolisms. There’s a common thought that losing weight rapidly slows your metabolism but this was more observational science rather than numbers and physiological science. With the show, The Biggest Loser, scientists now had a large pool of people in which to look at metabolic rates. The conclusion was not shocking, losing weight rapidly does indeed slow your normal metabolic rate. Hence, the large numbers of people that gain the weight back, gain more than they had before.
The bigger question was to determine if there was a way to reset a metabolism without harsh drugs. The answered surprised me and sent me down a research rabbit hole.
Fasting. Not a long juice cleanse but rather alternate day fasting.
And by fasting, they did not mean 0 calories but about 20-25% of what you normally eat. So around 500 calories.
I read this book:
And watched Michael Mosley’s documentary, Eat, Fast, Live Longer. It’s available on Vimeo here.
There is science to support this diet. One of the most recent studies have found it’s as good as any standard calorie-restrictive diet with one major difference. You only have to suffer for 2 days versus the rest of your life.
I think this is the most compelling part of the diet. Suffer two days but reap the benefits. Dieting is hard. That’s why we don’t stick with it. No one likes feeling hungry. But don’t underestimate how hard those two days can be. I really suffered on those days. But on the other five, I didn’t really think about it. The science was right for me, as I wasn’t eating more than normal on a day after 500 calories. I woke up like it was just another day. For week #1, I did Tuesday and Thursday. I think I’ll stick with that regime. I drink some coffee with half-n-half in the morning and have a frozen 290 – 300 calorie dinner. It’s easier than having to account for every portion size and morsel.
After one week, I’m down 2 lbs. Not earth shattering but still down 2 lbs even after up days.
I don’t relish Tuesdays and Thursdays but feel that this is something I can sustain. I’ll keep you posted.