I’ve been reading about and practicing Intermittent Fasting for about two years now. Fasting is something that came naturally as a kid–you eat your three small meals a day, and nothing in between. (Yes, I’m THAT old.) I didn’t struggle with my weight until I was age 10, we moved out into the country, and there wasn’t much for me to do except stay in the house and eat. I gained an astonishing 70 pounds in six months.
It has been a challenge to keep my weight in the reasonable ranges ever since.
A little family history: my family of origin is rife with Type 2 Diabetics. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Many are overweight. Many eat pasta (the Italian side) and many eat potatoes (the Pennsylvania Dutch side) liberally. While pregnant with baby #4, I was given a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes. At some point, my medical team told me that I would likely develop full on Type 2 within five years of the diagnosis. The docs were pretty certain I was going to be one of those statistics.
No thank you. No way, no how. I had to do something to stay out of that statistic. I didn’t want to be part of the typical group–I’ve always liked to “blow the curve” by having results better than the norm. Just one of those personality characteristics, I guess.
So, I took what seemed like a fail-safe route a few years back. I joined a commercial diet program that included a coach and pre-packaged meals. I worked hard for a year. I ate six times a day. I bought boxes and boxes of meal replacements.
My success was phenomenal.
Until it wasn’t.
We had moved from city to country (notice a trend here?) and I had started a very stressful job that required 24/7 attention. I developed a craving for fattier foods. Soon afterwards, I developed anemia, discovered I had a severe Vitamin D deficiency. I had a few other abnormal labs, too. Enough to make me wonder what the heck was going on with my body. And the weight started coming back. Not all of it, but much more than I ever hoped to see again.
I knew about ketosis, because the meal replacements I used were designed to help a person get into mild ketosis. Ketosis, if you haven’t been reading up on it already, is where the body relies on fat for its primary fuel, not sugar. (Not to be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous condition and should be treated immediately by medical professionals.)
I watched some videos on how to get into ketosis while eating regular foods (not the “processed chemicals” I was buying every month — my spouse had some concerns). I listened to some Podcasts. And went further with the ketosis by whole and natural foods idea. I watched Thomas DeLauer, Dr. Berry, and Dr. Boz. I looked at Keto sites, like Keto Connect and Diet Doctor.
It made perfect sense. And so I started devouring books to help me understand how to be successful with fasting. For the non-book-readers, you can check out The Fasting Method, which is a site led by Megan Ramos and features visits from Dr. Fung and other top professionals in this health revolution. Another helpful online resource is run by Gin Stephens on Facebook. If you do a name search, you should be able to find her support groups.
The following books are my top 5 books (in ranked order) for someone just starting out or for those who want a comprehensive and/or clear view of fasting and how it works (and yes, I’ve read them all, plus many more that didn’t hit this list):
- The Obesity Code by Jason Fung, MD
- Fast. Feast. Repeat.: The Comprehensive Guide to Delay, Don’t Deny® Intermittent Fasting by Gin Stephens
- Delay, Don’t Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle by Gin Stephens
- Life in the Fasting Lane: How to Make Intermittent Fasting a Lifestyle―and Reap the Benefits of Weight Loss and Better Health by Dr. Jason Fung, Megan Ramos, and Eve Mayer
- The Complete Guide to Fasting (Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting) by Jason Fung, MD and Jimmy Moore
A brief rundown of each book:
The Obesity Code is the most science-oriented of all of them. You might want to listen to it, rather than read it. Dr. Fung is no-nonsense in the book. He provides clear evidence for the proposal to just “stop eating.” We don’t need to eat all day long. We weren’t designed that way. This book has template fasting schedules and also lists recommended dietary changes that go hand in hand with fasting.
Fast. Feast. Repeat. is a truly a comprehensive overview of “One Meal a Day” (OMAD) type fasting. It also includes sections on Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) which may be helpful for the more insulin resistant among us. Gin Stephens is down to earth and helpful. She reads the studies so you don’t have to (unless you want to) and has parsed it out for us.
Delay, Don’t Deny is Gin Stephens’ first book and explains how to improve your health without having to give up your favorite foods. You simply delay when you have them, and you learn quite a bit about eating windows and what not to do when it’s not time to eat. It’s a friendly, accessible book, especially for folks who are just dipping their toes in the fasting waters.
Life in the Fasting Lane feels like it was written just for me and any middle(ish) -aged woman who has struggled with emotional eating. It has the fasting, eating, and emotional components all in one book, along with helpful starting tips for those who are serious about “trying this fasting thing.” Plus I think Eve Mayer has a friendly and inspiring writing style. So this was an easy read, actually.
The Complete Guide to Fasting is a “how to” book. It’s a great book to get started, with lots of great advice from renowned fasting experts. I should note that it may have some outdated advice as to how much fat should be used as a fasting aid on fasting days. The book says up to six tablespoons of fat on a fasing day, but I’ve confirmed that The Fasting Method (and Megan Ramos) recommends up to three tablespoons of fat, and ONLY if you need it. So, Bulletproof Coffee is best used during a mealtime.
NOTE: if you are interested in fasting but scared, take a look at one of these five books. Many are in the library. The results can be transformative. At the very least, if you know what it is, you don’t have to be afraid of not eating anymore. It’s OK to go more than a few hours without a meal. Your body will not shut down.
On the contrary, after you get past some of the early days (entering ketosis), you’ll feel better than ever. That’s my experience, anyway.
And for the record, baby #4 is almost TEN years old. Mama (that’s me!) has not developed diabetes and does not have abnormal blood sugar readings. That, in and of itself, is a major win.
I’m blowing the curve. You can, too.