Fasting has incredible benefits for longevity and gut microbiome…

…but there are a few things being overlooked when it comes to metabolism and fasting. 

Especially when you may have been fasting for years!

If you’ve been under eating, not eating enough protein and skipping meals to begin with  – fasting can cause you to store fat and lose muscle. 

However, if you’re someone who’s always hungry, eats frequently and portion control is an issue for you, fasting can be a game changer to help you drop weight.

I’ve seen the benefits of fasting and I’ve seen the dark side in myself and my patients.

Let’s talk about the dark side first!

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The signs of fasting not being beneficial may take months to years to show up so it’s key to be aware of habits, routines and behaviors that set you up for fasting to backfire.

When I first started fasting back in 2010 before getting married I dropped weight quickly and looked great. 

My fasting included 14-16 hour fasts from dinner to breakfast daily with one 21 hour fast each weekend. 

Carbs were kept to 75-100 grams maximum a day and every so often I added more if I was running long days with marathon training.

I was able to keep that going until 2016 when my stress levels rose and I started to skip meals.

Relying on popcorn and wine for “light dinners” after more or less not eating all day was a nightly thing.

What I learned…

Extending your fasting time because it’s easier to not eat isn’t always a good idea. 

Stress drives you to make poor food choices, no matter how nutrition savvy you are, there’s an override in the brain. 

This is how I justified air popped popcorn wasn’t as bad a pizza!

Throw in alcohol for stress coping mechanisms and you have a recipe for a metabolic mess.

One meal a day (OMAD) style of eating doesn’t work well if the one meal a day you’re eating doesn’t have sufficient amounts of protein, good fat or fiber.

Unfortunately, most folks, including me, are great at getting in carbs when they’re starving!

Adding in 3 day fasts to try to “reboot” my metabolism helped my microbiome but not my weight. 

I ultimately discovered that my body needed consistent food to let go of cellulite and fat that was building up on my abdomen, arms and thighs. 

I’m currently still working to re-balance this from the last 7 years!

Fasting because you are too lazy or busy to meal prep has consequences that build over time. 

I used the fasting as an excuse…

…to justifying eating tablespoons of peanut butter or bags of pistachios as meals for the day because I was “fasting”. 

Or I’d end up at the end of the day eating a bunch of food, mostly carbs, because my body was tired and stressed. 

If this sounds like you and you’re either wondering why the fasting isn’t working any more or you’re seeing the “fat suit” coming on over your body it’s time to ditch the fasting. 

It’s not working for you anymore. 

The time has come to embrace the fact that fasting is causing you to muscle waste and gain fat.

Being afraid to add more food in is scary, I understand. 

The good news is, you’ll be shocked how your metabolism shifts, after a brief adjustment period of a few weeks to a month or so. 

Yes, you might gain weight before you lose it. 

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Be honest with yourself, are you really taking good care of yourself with your food right now?

There seems to come a time in many women’s lives when cooking just isn’t fun anymore. 

I get it. 

This is where meal services come in as does getting creative about meals. 

If you’re noticing your body composition changing and not for the better with fasting take an inventory of…

  • how much protein are you getting in – is it 25-35 grams per meal?
  • are you eating 2 cups of veggies at each meal
  • how’s your fat intake
  • where is your carb intake, is it more than a cup per meal? (if so decrease to a cup to start)

Tweak these things, keep 12-14 hours between dinner and breakfast but don’t go longer than that.

Plan out your days and test it out for 3 months. 

Be patient, you’ll be surprised how the body responds over time.

Now the benefits of fasting….

Fasting works for those who are over eating and eating too frequently. 

I was one of those “always hungry” folks prior to starting my fasting journey.

Not sure where it came from but I was a bottomless pit.

Using fasting to set boundaries and schedules around food is helpful for the metabolism. 

You need at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast to reset.

Meals are best consumed with a 3-5 hour break in between to help the cells reset again and to prevent bowel overgrowth of bugs. 

This also helps with blood sugar balance over time. 

Fasting for more than 12 hours can be incredibly important for those who have blood sugar issues and fatty livers. 

Going up to 16-21 hours every few days can be a game changer.

Notice I didn’t say every day. 

Keeping an eating window of 8-10 hours a day can be quite helpful for over indulgers. 

And as long as you’re continuing to lose weight to get toward your goal weight – go for it. 

The problem seems to be when you’re working on maintenance.

This is where the lines get crossed.

It seems finding your sweet spot for fasting is crucial.

The only way to know what’s best for you is to watch what goes on in your mind and environment.

Earlier I mentioned that stress has a way of messing with you and changing your dietary plans.

If you’re using the fasting as an excuse to not eat and you’re going into starvation mode -it’s time to stop the fasting and focus on eating balanced meals. 

When you see fat building up or cellulite increasing and you’re not eating much – it’s time to add in the protein. 

If the mind is justifying bags of chips, snacks, jars of peanut butter as the meal of the day, that’s a warning sign you’re starving. 

Finding yourself in the drive through or fantasizing about what you’re going to eat equals starvation mode. 

Not being interested in food at all, no appetite and weight is piling on is also starvation.

If you’ve been fasting for a while and you’re noticing these signs it’s time to be real with yourself and get back on a daily meal plan.

Muscle is your most precious tissue to preserve.

If you’re losing it, you’re becoming weak.

No one wants to end up hobbling around, in a wheel chair or nursing home. 

Stop the madness and preserve your health right now!

Your health is more important than the number on the scale. 

There are really great weight loss and nutrition coaches out there and on Wednesday I’m going to introduce you to a pharmacist that’s one of them!

Stay tuned!

Here’s to your health,

Dr. J

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