The Whole 30 Perspective on...fasting?


luckyclover

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I realize that this isn't a can I have topic, but thought this might be an appropriate spot. Wanted to know what the Whole 30 stand on IF is. For context, I typically fast 1 day per week, and this is usually 18-24 hours. Once I went until the following day, and actually went for a run in the morning (still fasted) with no ill effects (granted, I won't lie, I was hungry, but not HUNGRY). I have been eating paleo-ish for about 2 years. This is my 2nd Whole 30 (my first was technically a Whole 27) and I've found that the process it helps me re-set from the slippage. I really enjoy the re-set of a fasting day as well, and during that day (it is typically a day I travel for work) it's so very nice to not have to worry about food. I find I'm also very alert, don't get tired or sluggish, and feel energized all day. So I'm interested in the official Whole 30 view on fasting. Thanks!

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just posted a blurb related to this within the context of another post; i'll paste it below:

...oh, one thing i should perhaps note so far as following the whole30 guidelines during and after jan: very early on, i started deviating from the whole30 meal schedule plan. typically (then and now), i eat two meals--brunch & dinner--with no snacks. for "breakfast" and sometimes again in the late afternoon, i have coffee/tea with 1tsp of MCT oil and 2Tbs coconut milk. i usually work out (CF or bikram) fasted except for that version of "bulletproof coffee". i've found this arrangement ideal for my lifestyle/workouts and for keeping me totally sated but out of "weight-gaining mode"....

(basically a form of modified IF, with a modified version of "bulletproof coffee"--for me at least, supports mental clarity, emotional well-being, & physical performance while also preventing weight gain)

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There is a difference between "I'm never hungry in the morning, so I just skip breakfast every day" and "I deliberately, intermittently fast occasionally during my week." The first tells me your hormones are dysfunctional, and skipping breakfast every day isn't going to fix 'em. In addition, unless you're making an enormous conscious effort to get all of your daily calories crammed into two meals a day, you're under-feeding yourself, which is only feeding into that hormonal dysfunction loop.

Many folks use "IF" (or "JNE" - just not eating) as a shortcut to weight loss, or a compensation for metabolic issues. This is not advisable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that things get far, far worse instead of getting better when you add an intensely stressful protocol like IF or JNE on top of an already disrupted, over-stressed system.

However, if your Health Equation is in line, you are fasting truly intermittently, and you take pains to ensure you are adequately nourishing yourself with calories and nutrients during your feeding windows, I don't have a problem with this approach. The trouble is, there are very few people with all of their life "factors" in line enough to attempt to add IF - and it's dangerous to play around with if you've got other stuff going on in your context.

So to the OP, sounds like you've got it dialed in, and I'm good with that.

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Basically you've found a way to starve yourself and not feel awful. That's terrible. If you're metabolism is working optimally starving yourself should never be necessary to not gain weight. You're talking about eating 200 calories meals. Do the math. As a former bulimic and anorexic that stinks of food issues.

FYI, i eat at least 2000 cal a day. my weight is normal. i menstruate. i lift heavy things at crossfit that i'd never be able to lift if i were starving. seems You're the one with issues.

p.s. Kindness. look into it.

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Jaryn and Dana,

Let's please keep it civil, and let's please not judge or assume without understanding each other's context. Intermittent Fasting is a scientifically-sound protocol designed to help your body "clean out" some waste material via autophagy, and give your system a break from the hard work of digesting. It's not starving yourself by any means, and it's certainly not indicative of any sort of disordered eating.

Can some folks use IF as a "cover" for unhealthy habits? Certainly - just as some can use high intensity exercise as a "cover" for disorders. But let's not jump to conclusions about Dana's motivations or situations here.

Melissa

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Melissa (or anyone else)-- could you elaborate on your statement that not being hungry in the morning indicates dysfunctional hormones? I used to eat breakfast every day, but since switching to Paleo I have found that I'm not usually hungry in the morning (and if I am, I eat.) I have coffee with some coconut oil and that lasts me til lunch around 11:30. I figured it was just a side effect of eating a large dinner full of protein and fat, but now I'm curious to know if there is more to it and if I should change things up.

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Melissa (or anyone else)-- could you elaborate on your statement that not being hungry in the morning indicates dysfunctional hormones? I used to eat breakfast every day, but since switching to Paleo I have found that I'm not usually hungry in the morning (and if I am, I eat.) I have coffee with some coconut oil and that lasts me til lunch around 11:30. I figured it was just a side effect of eating a large dinner full of protein and fat, but now I'm curious to know if there is more to it and if I should change things up.

i too noticed that shift once i went primal--and even more specifically, after i went whole30. i've considered it a healthy sign in my case...particularly since my entire digestive system has been working pretty smoothly overall. i do make sure i get that dose of fats/oil first thing in the a.m., but really don't want food until 11 or so. this is especially true if i work out in the morning--i like doing so "fasted", without food trying to get digested in my stomach as i'm slowing digestion by working out. but i also totally agree that every body and context is different, so i'm in no way saying this is a healthy or optimal pattern for everyone.

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Hey Alicia,

There are two hormones at play here: Leptin and Cortisol. In this situation (they do a whole lot more, but I'm simplifying), Leptin is a hunger/satiety hormone and Cortisol is an alertness hormone. Most of us have heard about cortisol and its role, but when leptin is low, it's a signal that says to the body, "Oh hey, I need some more fuel. You should eat something." After you eat, some leptin is released. Every time you eat during the day, a little more leptin is released.

Both hormones have circadian rhythms, but they run opposite one another (when functioning properly). Leptin is low when cortisol is high, and vice versa. So in the morning, when cortisol should be at its highest, leptin should be low, and you should be hungry. In the evening, when cortisol is dipping low to get you ready for bed, leptin should be high and you should be fully sated.

Note that this reinforces the "eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch, a pauper for dinner" axiom of old....

Anyway, so if those signals aren't going on with you, it's possible that there could be some dysfunction going on. Again, this is different than the conscious, deliberate IFing that Melissa was talking about above.

Sorry for the geek out. I tried to keep it high level!

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This is such a tricky topic because ONLY YOU can know what your true intentions are ...

If you have done a Whole30, you have proven that you have steely self-dicipline! What an amazing virtue to have! But be careful and don't fool yourself into using that self-dicipline into possibly doing somehting harmful to yourself. Seriously ask yourself, "is IF going to make my a happier and healthier person?" or "is this a personal challenge to try and keep up with someone else's protocol?" I think many of us (competitive, Type A personalities) can fall victim of this. I know I have caught myself trying to be competitive with my paleo/whole30ness and I have to stop and ask myself those two questions.

The whole30 is about self-care. Become an expert on you, not paleo! Because I promise no one is walking around with extra gold stars if they IF or not.

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This is such a tricky topic because ONLY YOU can know what your true intentions are ...

If you have done a Whole30, you have proven that you have steely self-dicipline! What an amazing virtue to have! But be careful and don't fool yourself into using that self-dicipline into possibly doing somehting harmful to yourself. Seriously ask yourself, "is IF going to make my a happier and healthier person?" or "is this a personal challenge to try and keep up with someone else's protocol?" I think many of us (competitive, Type A personalities) can fall victim of this. I know I have caught myself trying to be competitive with my paleo/whole30ness and I have to stop and ask myself those two questions.

The whole30 is about self-care. Become an expert on you, not paleo! Because I promise no one is walking around with extra gold stars if they IF or not.

totally hear you and agree, Megan.

and i came to my own version of IF far outside of the full-on IF crowd and conversation (meaning the version that works for me and feels like how my body wants to "meal plan" naturally, given my current lifestyle patterns as a whole). while i don't discount potential benefits of "real" or stricter IF, for me and my body and my life, what works is having "breakfast" be an "MCT oil-coconut milk" coffee. then a big healthy meal for brunch/lunch, then eating another big healthy meal for dinner (usually around 8, so not particularly early for most folks). after that, i just don't feel like i want or need anything else in a day. my body rests and fully digests, and i start again the next morning. i'm not saying this pattern will always be best for me, but with my current physical activities and food choices (lots of meat and fat), it feels right.

i doubt many hardcore IF folks would even consider it IF. BUT, in defence of IF ("real" or my version), i will nod again to the recent 5-part coverage on potential benefits of IF by Mark Sisson. here's one of five articles (each has a different theme; they cover weight loss, exercise, brain health, cancer, longevity).

again, i think you're spot-on about steering way clear of competition--not just with IF, but with any diet/eating choices or patterns. or with physical activities, for that matter. i currently go to CF and Bikram classes, which can sort of work "against" each other in terms of truly excelling at either (at least in certain ways, though definitely not all). but i really like the way they balance and complement each other--and how each makes me feel (in different ways). also like straddling two communities that are very different in some ways--gives me perspective and counters any sense of "competition" i might feel in regard to either (since excelling "too" much in one will mean sliding backwards in the other, at least so far as the whole strength-and-flexibility balance). my point in this ramble is that yes, it's all so individual and competing over any of it just makes no sense.

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I'm in the midst of a Whole30 while continuing my 16/8 LeanGains style IF protocol. So far, it seems to be working for me... but this is my first W30 so I can't compare to a W30 without IF. I love to eat and have no trouble eating enough during my feeding window. I'm not shy around food! :) I started my W30 to refocus myself, not take my first steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

You could easily argue that it's fundamentally contradictory to do a W30 while adding or continuing IF because the general idea of the W30 is to start fixing what's broken. If we need a nutritional reset, is it wise to pile on a potentially stressful nutrition regimen like IF?

I guess ultimately, it's an n=1 experiment and each of us must answer the "Should I IF" question for ourselves. If I wasn't already doing an IF protocol before W30, I probably wouldn't have mixed the two.

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I guess ultimately, it's an n=1 experiment and each of us must answer the "Should I IF" question for ourselves. If I wasn't already doing an IF protocol before W30, I probably wouldn't have mixed the two.

agree on the n=1. it's wonderful to draw on guidance from myriad, well-informed sources (ideally ones representing different perpectives), but in the end it's figuring out what works for your body and lifestyle at a particular age/time of day/time of month/season/etc. a balance that is individual and shifting.

so far as IF (at least the "bulletproof coffee version" i do most days), i fell into it naturally early on in my first whole30. but i had already been eating mostly primal and whole30 seemed to give me the slight nudge i needed to move from sugar/carb-burning mode to fat-burning mode. my entire metabolism shifted and so did my natural eating patterns in terms of timing. but this also all overlapped with upping my crossfit days, so that played a role too...and what works for me now might not always work, depending on how numerous factors in my lifestyle/age/etc. shift over time. Mark Sisson just did a 6th part to his recent IF series where he describes various flavours of IF. the last one--"eat when hunger ensues naturally" really resonated with me. (http://www.marksdail.../#axzz1sXNLEzMb)

BUT if "eating whole30" was totally different from my regular diet, i doubt i'd combine starting a whole30 and experimenting with IF at once. probably good to do a whole30 first to help get yourself at a more balanced place--one where "eating when hunger ensues naturally" isn't totally skewed in some unhealthy way.

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