HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE WEIGHT LOSS WITH FASTING
by: Carolyn Berghuis, MS, ND, CTN
Last year I undertook a 7 Day Water Fast during Holy Week. This year I was busy writing a 35 page research paper for my MA in Theology so it wasn’t a good time to fast – I needed lots of brain fuel. The results were amazing and long lasting! I continue to incorporate various types of fasting in my life as a result of our positive experience and I recommend fasting to my clients on a regular basis. All in, my net weight loss during the 7 days was 11 pounds and there was a definite shift in my relationship with God. I did a little research and I have learned some pretty amazing benefits of fasting. Here are the three main fasting take-aways I’ll share with you in this blog:
- Hunger just isn’t a big deal anymore.
- Intermittent Fasting is my new way of life.
- Key dietary changes I made.
All of my adult life I have struggled with blood sugar issues. I have craved carbs, experienced sugar cravings, and I have suffered from afternoon fatigue on a daily basis for at least 25 years. Even in my young adult years when I was very thin (under 120 lbs. at 5’5’’) I remember experiencing regular drops in my blood sugar. I suspect this underlying pattern contributed to the high birth weight of my children despite my unremarkable weight gain with each pregnancy. My oldest child weighed 11 pounds and my youngest weighed in at barely under 10 pounds at birth. My little 7 lb. 4 oz. middle child was prematurely induced – my MD feared her birth weight would be high so she induced labor. I am convinced my daughter would have been much larger without intervention (although looking back, I wish I didn’t take this route). Anyway, something has definitely been up with my blood sugar handling capacity for decades!
So how did I manage my blood sugar levels all those years? Well, I grazed – like all the natural health experts (myself included) said to do. And if I didn’t have time to grab an afternoon snack, fatigue became the inevitable outcome. Heck, afternoon fatigue presented even if I had a snack! I fought through this fatigue on a daily basis. It seems my body always told me when 3 PM rolled around. The sand man never relented in sending a little sleepy sand my way – not the “beach” I was looking for! And as far as weight gain goes, I gained a pound or two every year and I couldn’t change this. At age 55 I felt a bit defeated – especially since I was a Naturopath!
So imagine my joy when I discovered that after my 7 Day Water Fast my hunger and relationship with food had dramatically shifted for the better! While I do get a little hungry from time to time, I am never ravenous like I used to be. No more pillaging through the pantry for a sweet carb snack in the afternoon. Heck, I often sit down to dinner, look at my plate, and feel I could take it or leave it. That’s a really good feeling.
Over the last couple of years information on Intermittent Fasting has been coming across my desk and it has captured my attention. The research is impressive an the health benefits are vast. Now, after my 7 Day Water Fast was complete Intermittent Fasting seemed the perfect fit. I moved forward with a combined Blood Type/Keto diet. To date, Intermittent Fasting has not only sustained my original 11 pound weight loss. I have lost 3 more additional pounds!
So what does my Intermittent Fasting look like? I am following the 18/6 plan. This means that over the course of a 24 hour day there are 18 consecutive hours where I consume only water or coffee. It’s really pretty easy. Instead of starting my day with coffee and a morning shake I start my day with a cup of coffee. I used to think I needed the shake to get through my morning Pure Barre class (a ballet inspired exercise class I attend 3-5 days a week); however, this is definitely not the case now.
At 11 AM I have my first meal of the day – a protein/green smoothie I make with SP Complete Chocolate or SP Complete Vanilla. I’ve noticed that now, after my Pure Barre class, I am very satiated. Admittedly, some days I might want a little snack in the afternoon. This seems to be on the days when I am immersed in deep theological writing. Normally a spoonful of organic peanut butter is more than enough; however, some days I whip up a couple of eggs (see below). Dinner is at 6 PM – which leaves plenty of time to enjoy the evening.
Key Dietary Changes of Mine
It is obvious to me that my body was using carbohydrates as a source of fuel. This is akin to going to the fridge to grab a snack when you are hungry. It’s quick, easy, and readily available. I kept feeding my body the carbs it wanted on a daily basis – the fridge was always stocked. However, using carbs for energy will not produce weight loss! And I did want to lose weight. I needed my body to seek out a new fuel source – I wanted it to turn to body fat. I thought exercising was enough; however, it never was for me.
In order for my body to turn to body fat as a source of fuel a biological shift needed to happen. My body had to become what we refer to as “fat adapted” – meaning it had to look towards fat as a fuel source instead of carbs. Think of your freezer vs. your fridge. Your freezer has food in it; however, consuming this food requires a little more effort to use than the fridge food does. The freezer is more of a food “reserve”. Well, body fat is akin to the food in your freezer. It is also a reserve. My 7 Day Water Fast helped my body switch gears and look to the “freezer” as fuel – a 3 Day Water Fast will also accomplish this. My body was already looking to the “freezer” for food! Yeah!!!!All I had to do was maintain this pattern. This required an increase in my dietary fats and a decrease in my dietary carbs. Here are a few key changes I made to support this change.
- I omitted sugar in my morning coffee and added stevia. (my sugar was only 3 tsp., but heck, every bit will tell your body to burn carbs and not fat for fuel)
- I add 1 Tbls MCT oil or 1 Tbls walnut oil to my morning coffee.
- I cut out berries in my smoothie.
- I add an avocado to my smoothie.
- If I need an afternoon snack I have 1 Tbls. of organic peanut butter or a couple of organic eggs.
- I started using Ghee when skillet cooking.
- No more bread, pasta (even brown rice pasta) or rice with dinner – something I don’t desire anymore.
- Dinner consists of meat or fish (per my blood type) and vegetables with Celtic Sea Salt and butter/ Ghee and olive oil. I also have a dark green salad.
The end results are fabulous!
I have maintained my weight loss and I have more energy during the day! Not more afternoon slump. Woohooo! I have greater mental clarity and an increased zest for life. And my Pure Barre class, well, I have more energy there too! This surprised me because I truly believed I needed my morning shake to have the energy needed for class. On top of that I am not exceedingly hungry or tired after my workout like before. I like the new me and for the first time in years I am looking forward to summer clothes!
That’s all for today!
If you would like guidance on your journey into health and wellness you are invited to schedule a session with me via my On-Line Scheduler – here is the link: On-Line Scheduler. In the mean-time have a marvelously healthy and happy day!