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This is obviously NOT a W30 question, so if you're new to W30 and in the middle of yours, please ignore. Also I think that the only healthy way to approach fasting is if you're really well established with the mindset of nourishing (rather than depriving) yourself, and that takes time to develop.

 

For longer-term - those of you who have been using these guidelines over several years even when you're not actually doing a W30 - have any of you experimented with fasting? I love the idea of compliant eating with some short or longer fasts built in, but there's no question that at least now for me, the regular meals of the W30 template are part of why I feel so good when I'm doing it. I've tried a few times to do either short or 36 hour fasts because the research on it looks so terrific. But either it's not for me or my system isn't ready for it yet because my cycle goes totally wacky. I know that most of this is personal experimentation but I'm curious about the experience of others: has anyone incorporated some fasting? Is it possible that once your system/hormones are at a great point of balance and flexibility it would handle fasting better than it might if it's stressed?

 

[i'm well acquainted with BP intermittent fasting so I know that many folks do that successfully. It's experienced W30 people that I'm most curious about ...]

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I don't think the experienced W30 pioneers and veterans fast.   Some have experimented with or do fasted training but not Intermittent Fasting.

 

The body is bent on survival and hunger for food is built into our genes.  Without it, we would be long gone.

 

Binge eaters often turn to fasting as a way to get control of their weight.  At this point, they're really in over their heads.  Fasting for those with food addictions or disorders leads to more dis-eating.  Weights will begin to swing wildly UP and down.   Fasting can lead to more struggles with food or sneak eating.

 

How long anyone can continue with Intermittent Fasting for the long haul will lead to higher stress and continual thoughts about food while in the hunger mode. 

 

If you don't honor your hunger, you will create all kinds of new triggers and the primal drive to overeat will sneak up on you during the "feeding periods".   Fasting creates stress eating.   Fasting is periodic dieting that coincides with yo-yo dieting cycles of h.e.l.l. 

 

Trying to get skinny with fasting will keep you fat.  Champions of the binge - food meltdown blow-out  - let me just eat this entire bag of cookies or box of donuts.....followed by make-up for binging by stripping meals and fasting which is really starving,  plus doing a bunch of super intense cardio followed by ooooops - yet another Binge Cycle and more Fasting.

 

And long term, this approach will get you nowhere good.   If you were never a binge or thrill eater to begin with....Fasting can set you on the road to becoming one.   I don't know how many can hang in there for years while using fasting as a tool to control anything,  especially weight. 

 

Fasting leads to binging.   Truth.

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Fasting can be successful for some folks.  Mostly young, fit men. Most of the research that is done regarding fasting is done on men. Women are so, so different with our hormonal cycles and it can be really damaging if things go sideways.

 

Not to say that there are no women who can do it successfully but that it is more common for things to go wrong and you need to be aware of what that might look like.

 

Check out this article.  It's long but well worth the read:  http://paleoforwomen.com/shattering-the-myth-of-fasting-for-women-a-review-of-female-specific-responses-to-fasting-in-the-literature/

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Great advice above. One more point, fasting is a stressor, something to keep in mind if you do decide to experiment.

 

Remember that your total stress load (including but not limited to sleep quantity/quality, job stress, exercise, food intake, social relationships) matters.

 

We often point out here on the forum, even if you eat Whole30 super clean, if you have a stressful job, sick family member, only get 5-7 hours of sleep, don't make time for friends/social ... your success will be limited. 

 

You'd want to be sure your overall stress is low and you are sleeping plenty before adding in another stressor like fasting.

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I experimented with IF before I found W30 and it was not good for me--plus with being a diabetic, it really messed with my blood sugars--caused them to go up because my liver dumped its glucose load to keep me going. I tried it maybe over a month, and after that, I decided IF was definitely NOT for me. I would be really careful if you do, and it could backfire on your metabolism if you do it for long periods of time. You say that eating to the template makes you feel better -- listen to your body and ditch any thoughts of fasting.  

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MeadowLily's post is spot on.  I have been intermittent fasting for several years now - maybe seven?  I can't remember when I started.  I have always been a dieter and struggled with binge eating, and when I learned about Fast Five (where you only eat during a five hour window, between 5pm-10pm), it sounded perfect for me.  And in fact, I liked it.  It didn't take long to get used to and my grocery bill was quite small!  And it allowed me to indulge (read: binge on chocolate and ice cream) on the weekends and still maintain a low weight.  I thought I was so smart for adapting this way of eating.

 

My periods became erratic in 2010 and stopped in 2012.  I probably should have been concerned, but I was actually elated.  I don't need to explain why, do I??  Now I am struggling with mysterious health issues that nine doctors could not help me with - multiple chemical sensitivity, scores of allergies (something I had never had prior to last year), swelling above my eyes, and days when I can't get out of bed.  A few weeks ago my new doctor ran some diagnostic tests and said he doesn't know how I am still functioning.  My cortisol, hormone, and thyroid levels are all low, and he thinks I have adrenal fatigue and an autoimmune disease.  I will not get better unless I start eating during the day, and he says the fasting is at least partly to blame for my health issues (my pre-Whole30 diet consisting primarily of Lean Cuisine and diet Coke didn't help either).  I am so used to not eating during the day that I don't WANT to.  What started out as a weight maintenance plan has become a horrible disaster.  I wish I had never started.  I would rather be fat again. 

 

I know this is all based on my experience, but I would not recommend fasting for women on a regular basis.  Days when you eat less?  That probably would be good for everyone.  But don't intentionally put your body in a situation where it thinks you are starving. 

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http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/373665/Caveman-fasting-diet-may-leave-women-diabetic

 

Aunt Jane,  thanks for sharing your experience.   There's one question I have that you can answer.  Your five hour feeding window.   When you look back upon it,  why did you think that eating from 5 pm -10 pm was a better or even a different choice than eating from 7 am - 5 pm. Five hours of eating in the evening when the metabolism is slowing down to an absolute crawl vs. hopping out of bed and running around all day with 3 meals?

 

Did you eat for one hour or grazing throughout those 5 hours steady on until bedtime?  This is the mystery for me.  Why the common sense approach to eating, with bodies moving all day long would be rejected for eating before bedtime?  Who thought this was a trade UP and you are the one to tell everyone your personal experience.

It's major.

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I've done IF for years, maybe like 5 years now? I typically do 16:8 style, from 1p to 9p, and this usually includes fasted weight training or cardio depending on the day. My feeding window is often shorter than 8 hours depending on my work schedule.

I also do 24h fasts now and then, and have done 36-40h rarely.

I've maintained the 16:8 schedule even during Whole30's.

Most of the rationale of W30's recommendations for breakfast after waking, meal timing, etc. is in regard to regulating hormones, and from both my research and personal experience, I find that IF serves to keep things regulated as well, so it's a "different routes to the same destination" as far as I can see.

re: the women & fasting thing, it definitely is a "n=1" thing and there are plenty of women who have had success with fasting. Dr. Fung has a lot of female patients https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/

... also good stuff here: http://www.dietdoctor.com/category/science-and-health/intermittent-fasting

re: the common sense approach to eating all day, one of the paleo/caveman-type arguments to be made is that we evolved to function better in a fasted state to make a better hunting experience.

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re: the women & fasting thing, it definitely is a "n=1" thing and there are plenty of women who have had success with fasting. Dr. Fung has a lot of female patients 

 

um, actually...I don't have any hard data...but I think it is significant that I, as someone who follows the diet and fitness world pretty closely, have never encountered a woman in person or in the media that had long term success with fasting without serious hormonal consequences. Never ever. I think the woman who does well on this is a unicorn at best. It's great that it is working for you--you are precisely the group for whom this works--but the female success rate is so small and the consequences so severe that I think it is irresponsible to suggest everybody try it out. It certainly isn't something we recommend to anyone in the general population of whole30ers. This is an advanced tweak to experiment with after hormones are balanced and metabolism regulated, not in the thick of trying to straighten that stuff out.

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I would put money on most bad experiences with IF being a result of accidentally creating too large a caloric deficit.

At any rate, I would steer those interested in the subject to look at Fung's material, as I think he's the current leader in the field of study.

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Thanks to all for your thoughts! I definitely wasn't thinking fasting to get skinny or to facilitate binging; more as a health practice once your hormones are balanced and you're past that deprivation/dieting mentality. Some of the health benefits just look really nice (autophagy, etc) and I have seen folks question Stephani Ruper's claims about women and fasting. I'll look at the links now, and I appreciate all of your posts.

This is an advanced tweak to experiment with after hormones are balanced and metabolism regulated, not in the thick of trying to straighten that stuff out.

 

This is what I was wondering - if there are experienced W30 folks who have done this successfully as an advanced tweak. Maybe my question should have been if there are experienced female W30 folks who have done this successfully as an advanced tweak. Kirkor, you're a guy, right?

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http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/373665/Caveman-fasting-diet-may-leave-women-diabetic

 

Aunt Jane,  thanks for sharing your experience.   There's one question I have that you can answer.  Your five hour feeding window.   When you look back upon it,  why did you think that eating from 5 pm -10 pm was a better or even a different choice than eating from 7 am - 5 pm. Five hours of eating in the evening when the metabolism is slowing down to an absolute crawl vs. hopping out of bed and running around all day with 3 meals?

 

Did you eat for one hour or grazing throughout those 5 hours steady on until bedtime?  This is the mystery for me.  Why the common sense approach to eating, with bodies moving all day long would be rejected for eating before bedtime?  Who thought this was a trade UP and you are the one to tell everyone your personal experience.

It's major.

Thanks, MeadowLily  :)   I used the 5-10 window because that is what the creator of the diet recommended, but he also said any five hour window was okay.  Also, I don't like to eat in front of people so not eating all day at work is actually my preference and I was happy to find a "credible" excuse to skip lunch.  I know some people preferred noon-5.

 

Most days I would eat dinner around 6, then a snack around 9.  There were times when I gained weight eating this way, and it was when I would graze all through my eating window, or really overdo it on the weekends. 

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Thanks to all for your thoughts! I definitely wasn't thinking fasting to get skinny or to facilitate binging; more as a health practice once your hormones are balanced and you're past that deprivation/dieting mentality. Some of the health benefits just look really nice (autophagy, etc) and I have seen folks question Stephanie Ruper's claims about women and fasting. I'll look at the links now, and I appreciate all of your posts.

This is what I was wondering - if there are experienced W30 folks who have done this successfully as an advanced tweak. Maybe my question should have been if there are experienced female W30 folks who have done this successfully as an advanced tweak. Kirkor, you're a guy, right?

I'm an experienced Whole30 female who has done fasting.  I cannot say for certain that fasting contributed to or made worse my hormonal imbalance (we're talking the female sex hormones) but I can say with 10000% certainty that eating three meals a day in proper portions solved a many years problem that I had.  It could have been caused by being very overweight, by smoking, severe restriction and binging (often in the same day), by a major weight loss, by stress, by birth control pills or what have you.  But the only thing that made a lick of difference was following the Whole30 template for the last year.  

 

Therefore, for me, fasting or messing around with the template/Whole30 guidelines isn't even an option.

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I"ve had almost the exact same experience as AuntJane, but for me, it wasn't "Intermittent Fasting" it was just decades of not bothering to pack a lunch or thinking that it was smart to keep all the calories available for the evening when I knew I was going to be eating all evening anyway.  My health issues are much like hers, more and more severe allergy symptoms over the years, very painful vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis sparked by food triggers.  And it never kept my weight down anyway, I probably ate twice the calories in the evenings than I ever would have if I had been well fueled during the day.  Add to that, a very high carb diet based on the "low fat" myth that we were all sold, and I think it is lucky I am as healthy as I am.  Blah, so many serious mistakes over the years!

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I"ve had almost the exact same experience as AuntJane, but for me, it wasn't "Intermittent Fasting" it was just decades of not bothering to pack a lunch or thinking that it was smart to keep all the calories available for the evening when I knew I was going to be eating all evening anyway.  My health issues are much like hers, more and more severe allergy symptoms over the years, very painful vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis sparked by food triggers.  And it never kept my weight down anyway, I probably ate twice the calories in the evenings than I ever would have if I had been well fueled during the day.  Add to that, a very high carb diet based on the "low fat" myth that we were all sold, and I think it is lucky I am as healthy as I am.  Blah, so many serious mistakes over the years!

We've all made mistakes.   Progress not perfection.  We are still a work in progress. 

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LadyShanny, Aunt Jane, and Ann - thank you so much! I really needed to hear the experiences of others (women especially) and this was really helpful. I think what complicates it a bit for me is not just that some of the studies on fasting are so impressive but also that I just find the idea of it appealing - there's a kind of calm simplicity to planning a day here and there without food.... but at least at this stage of my life it's clearly not for me, and it sounds like I'm in good company!

 

Thanks to all for your thoughts -

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annc, thanks for sharing your experiences.  I am still struggling to make myself eat three meals a day, and it really helps to know that someone else had such a similar experience.  Kinda' freaky too, right?!  Thank goodness we found Whole30.

 

Carrots&Blueberries, I totally get what you mean about the impressive studies.  In order to qualify for a $0 deductible on our health insurance, my company has us get a biometric screening every year.  My numbers are always excellent.  Prior to starting a Paleo/Whole30 diet last summer, my diet consisted of primarily Lean Cuisines and diet Coke (with an embarrassing amount of sweets on the weekends), so I attributed my excellent numbers to intermittent fasting and regular exercise.  Ironically, my numbers were still excellent this year, in the midst of all the health issues I am experiencing. 

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This post caught my eye and I wanted to add just another perspective, as a woman who occasionally fasts. I do 16:8 IFs for two or three days a week, a couple of weeks a year, always in the winter (typically right before and after the holidays). It usually feels good, and as soon as it stops feeling good, I stop doing it. This is because I believe that winter was typically not a "feasting" time for our ancestors, but rather a time of scarcity, so I kind of prepare my body for the holiday feasts and then do a reset afterwards. I do think long-term fasting would be damaging for me. I also do not do it if it negatively impacts my training performance. So I guess my thought is that it's a tool in the toolbox, but not a lifestyle (at least for me).

 

I have also tried BP fasts, but I cannot abide the desecration of perfectly good coffee with a crapload of butter.

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Artemiscuous, thank you for chiming in! I think one of the issues for me is that I feel great when fasting (either with BP coffee - which I do like  :) ) or just water - but then it's pretty obvious afterwards that my system is just off. My cycle gets super short  (like, 12 days!) and I just don't feel good. I would love to have shorter and longer fasts in my toolbox but I'm not sure that it's the right tool for me, at least right now. In any case, it's good to read of it working for you!

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https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/women-and-fasting-part-10/

There are hundreds of studies spanning over 100 years and clinical experience spanning 5000 years that point to the fact that women and men respond more or less equally except in the underweight situation. This is an easy problem. Should anybody who is seriously underweight, fast? Uh, no. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out yourself. If you are severely underweight and fast, you could become infertile, yes.

Consider the past 2000 years of human history. Are Muslim women ‘exempt’ from fasting? Are Buddhist women ‘exempt’ from fasting. Are Catholic women ‘exempt’ from fasting? So we have millions of person-years of practical experience with women and fasting. And there are no problems in 99.9% of cases. In our own clinic, where we’ve treated close to 1000 patients, I have noticed no significant difference between men and women. If anything, the women tend to do better. Men, it seems, are sometimes just big babies. I will mention here, too, that the highest success rates come when husband and wife do it together.

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Kirkor, I know you mean well, but saying that women on a specific medically supervised fasting plan do fine is not the same as saying that women experimenting on their own with fasting do fine. People who fast for religious reasons or in times of famine also have a very different context that isn't totally relevant. The issue with underfeeding is a big one. people fasting to lose weight are very likely to try to overcome hunger and avoid eating "too much" during the feeding window.

 

Women who are interested in fasting for weight loss would be well-served knowing it is problematic for many. Since we have said that already (several times), I'm locking this thread. Let's keep our conversations focused on whole30 related topics.

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