My Experience with Fasting for Weight Loss and the 6 Small Meals Debate
I had a friend who was very into fasting. His most impressive effort was 18 days without food, surviving on only herbal tea, water and a teaspoon of honey when he got very tired and needed some energy. Most people would say this was extreme – but there are many advocates for fasting.
6 Small Meals no Better than 3
This week there have been studies that suggested that eating frequently throughout the day (as we are told so often to do) can actually lead to feeling less full and satisfied with your food. The study spilt a group into two; both groups ate the same number of calories, but group 1 had the calories split between 3 meals and group 2 had the calories split into 6 small meals.
So what happened?
Nothing – they lost the same amount of weight, but the 6 small meals group reported more feelings of hunger and deprivation. I personally prefer to eat 3 balanced meals and avoid snacking – that’s what works for me. I like to sit down to a decent meal, not a mini-meal which leaves me feeling unfulfilled. But we are all different.
My Time in Overeaters Anonymous
I spent some time in OA (Overeaters Anonymous) which I have very mixed feelings about. These days OA will not provide a meal or menu plan or ban certain foods – the idea is that you design your own plan and stick to it. I found the whole things very waffly and odd – and I’m not the only one. Here’s a great article on the crazy history of OA and the in-fighting in its ranks.
When I went there, the group I attended preached 3 small meals a day with nothing in between and I thought that made sense. Often it was being given the green light to snack that made my diet come undone. These days I do snack if I want to and I maintain a healthy weight – but avoiding excess food is still very helpful to me.
My Experience with Fasting
The longest I ever went without food was 5 days. Yes, that’s right – for 5 days no morsel of food touched my lips and I similarly survived on herbal tea alone. To make matters even more difficult, I was working in a French Patisserie at the time. I think I sipped on a herbal tea in a coffee take-away cup for the entirety of each of my shifts.
I blogged about my fasting and I lost quite a bit of weight. However, this was at the end of a very intense period of dieting for me where I lost 31 pounds (14 kilos) in 70 days through heavily restricting my diet. It was not a healthy way to do drop pounds and I gained the weight back quickly. Not only that – I ended up with some very disordered eating from this which ended up making me feel emotionally fragile when I gained the weight back – I felt like a failure.
Now I try to be Sensible
I had to learn how to love myself and not punish myself. I realised (the hard way) what damage I was doing to myself – that it was easy to lose weight but hard to feel good. That it was easy to get lighter but harder to stay that way. I knew that I would be a classic yo-yo dieter unless I resolved my issues with food. Now I go up and down, I fluctuate very little, but I still fluctuate. The best thing I have achieved is that I feel happier now and more in tune with my body. I no longer suffer as I did before.
I No Longer Fast
But I can give you some great fasting resources.
The Braggs have lots of great tools for you – but I have to say that in my opinion, they are very alternative and quite fanatical. Still, they’re great for inspiration.
By far the BEST book you can read on the topic was written in the 1920s. This book is by Julia Seton and it’s incredible. It’s very old and rare – but you can order it online (of course!). It’s called The Short Cut: Regeneration Through Fasting. It’s well worth ordering.
I will probably write more on this topic – so if you’re new to my blog – please follow me or drop me a line to say “hi”.