December 05, 2016
If you haven’t heard of fasting then you need to. There is an impressive and constantly growing body of research demonstrating how fasting can have huge health benefits. If you are unfamiliar with fasting it essentially means food restriction for a set period of time. How you go about that varies a lot.
There is intermittent fasting which focuses on limiting food to a few hours per day (typically 8-12 hours). All the rage over the past few years is the 5:2 Diet which limits calorie intake to 500cals per day twice a week. The most challenging is water fasting which involves water only for a set period.
So what are the health benefits? Rather than a detailed description of the research I’ll summarize it in my own words. When your body is not in the process of breaking down food it switches to a repair and rejuvenation mode. Consider it a vitalistic approach to cellular regeneration. The longer the period of time without food the better healing you go through. There is research showing improvements in life extension, cancer therapy, immune system regeneration, weight loss, and reductions in chronic inflammation.
To give you an idea of what’s possible our CBD chiropractor Dr Micky completed six and half day water fast recently. If that seems a lot there are people who go weeks without food and not only are they not adversely affected their results show huge improvements in many health markers.
It is generally accepted that water fasting has the most health benefits but also is the most challenging and that’s where the Fast Mimicking Diet (FMD) comes in. The FMD is a diet developed by the Longevity Institute in the University of Southern California. Aware of the benefits of water fasting but also of the poor compliance that comes from such an intense protocol that have developed a diet that supposedly has the same health benefits without the intense effort required.Fasting
So what is it? The FMD involves five days of specific limited calorie restriction with a very specific macro breakdown. Exact information is hard to come by but my research basically says Day 1 involves 1090 kcals (10% protein, 56% fat & 34% carbohydrate) and Days 2-5 is 725 kcals (9% protein, 44% fat & 47% carbohydrate). Some websites use a percentage of your body weight to find the calorie intake. Food should be limited to plant based sources (i.e. vegan) and high in micronutrients (i.e. good quality vegetables etc).
I decided to give this a shot. I love the idea of fasting and I love self experimenting. My diet just prior was getting sloppy and I was starting to feel tired and noticed a little extra weight. What really tipped me over the edge was that I was getting hayfever which I don’t typically suffer from. I decided I needed to make a change. I have done three day water fast in the past but struggled to go that far again. I had great results but I was having difficulty mustering up the enthusiasm required. Enter the FMD.
So what was my experience? For starters it was easier than I expected. Don’t get me wrong there were moments of challenge, especially during the night time when you’re not as occupied and food starts entering the mind. As opposed to water fasting I found the small amount of food can really settle those moments and by the way food tastes amazing when you’re hungry!
By far the most amazing improvement was my energy and mental clarity. I don’t think I have ever experienced such clarity and focus. Rather than feel tired I felt a huge surge of energy. Long days at work seemed much easier. I felt overwhelming positive in my mental state.
I lost 4kgs in five days. I know that is mostly water weight but I went down a belt size (or two) and have maintained that in the subsequent weeks.
My mobility was considerably better. I also noticed this when I did my water fast in the past (probably more so then) but it was really obvious. I could get into a deep squat with much more ease. From what I have read this may be a water retention thing.
I still managed to train at CrossFit three times that week. In fact I was more energetic for my usual 6am class but I did back off from the intensity a little (maybe 75% effort). If there were really long endurance or really heavy workouts I’m not sure how I would have gone. I know Dr Sam who also tried this found training very difficult at the end of the week. Some people may need to limit exercise.
My hayfever stopped and has not returned since. It may be a coincidence but all I know was I had hayfever before and now I don’t.
There were definite moments of mental irritation. I would call it intensity more than anything as it coincided with the clarity. It’s kind of a good and bad thing at the same time.
The macro portions are crazily specific and almost impossible to get right on. I used the My Fitness Pal app to help but could not get it exact. I think the FMD is ideally done using supplements from the company who designed it so you don’t have to think. I managed to get pretty close regardless.
I look at it as a detox. In fact I regard fasting as the only true type of detox. It is supposed to be done once per month and as this is being sent out I’m about to start my second round. After a family Christmas party last weekend I know I could use the break from the excess. I think this has the potential to be very useful at this time of year to counterbalance the excessive drinking and eating we all do.
If you want to ask further questions please do so next time you’re in or shoot me an email.
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