Guest Post from Lauren McMahon.
I used to eat food for a lot of different reasons. Because I was bored, because I was upset (give me CHOCOLATE!!), because it was Easter/Christmas/my birthday/some other ‘special occasion’… Because I was out to dinner with friends and they chose the place with the great pizzas, because I always have a biscuit with my cuppa, because it was breakfast/lunch/dinner time so I’d eat because I should, because those left-over’s needed to be used up, because I’d had a crap day at work…
Occasionally I even ate because I was hungry!
But a couple of months ago I decided to stop. Stop eating? Yep, for 24 hours once a week I stopped. “Eat. Stop. Eat” to be exact.
I consider myself a bit of a diet guinea pig. I’ve tried a far bit of what’s out there on offer. Meal replacement shakes, appetite suppressing pills half an hour before every meal, litres of brown detox liquid everyday (a particularly yucky experience). I’ve calorie counted, I’ve followed celebrity meal plans and I’ve tried, many times, to cut anything and everything that I considered ‘bad’ completely out of my diet. None of these things have worked. I repeat, none.
The reason? Well firstly, I believe that all of these things are not sustainable. They’ll all work, if you stick to them, but I don’t know many people out there that can stick to those kind of regimes day in and day out for any extended period of time. But secondly, and more importantly, these ways of eating are not natural. The human body has been around for a long time, and it’s designed to work in a certain way. All these diets seem to work against our body’s natural processes, and are therefore not only difficult, and sometimes confusing to follow, but ultimately ineffective.
In “Eat. Stop. Eat”, Brad Pilon not only refers back to the way our ancestors ate, but also looks at the way the body functions in burning and storing energy, and has come up with a way of eating that makes sense and works with the body’s natural processes.
In a nutshell, here is my understanding of the basis behind “Eat. Stop. Eat”. Back in caveman days, we humans had to hunt for our food. What we ate, and indeed whether we ate at all, was determined by the availability of food and our hunting ability, amongst other things. So sometimes there was food to eat, and sometimes there wasn’t. If papa caveman came home with a nice big animal that he had killed, everyone would have plenty to eat, more than they needed, but they would eat until their hearts were content and they were full of food. This state is referred to as the ‘fed’ state. But after this feast it may be quite some time until they ate again, during this time they were in the ‘fasted’ state.
This situation was not a problem for the prehistoric human because the body was adequately prepared to deal with the fed vs. fasted state. While there was ample food supplies available the body would simply store the excess energy, then when there was little or no food available, the body would then start to burn the stored energy and continue to function as normal.
Compare our caveman friends to people today and you will realize two things. Firstly, while we have evolved somewhat our body continues to function in a very similar manner. If you consume more energy than your body requires, you will store that excess energy (as fat, that is!) to save for a rainy day, i.e. The fast. And secondly, the difference between cavemen and modern Western society is that there is no rainy day! Food availability isn’t an issue, food is everywhere, we don’t have to hunt for it, and we are rarely if ever in the ‘fasted’ state. But our bodies don’t know that, they just keep functioning the way they have for thousands of years, storing the excess energy, and we keep eating and providing excess energy, which ultimately is just being stored as fat.
“Eat. Stop. Eat” reintroduces the fasted state into our eating pattern. Just for 24 hours, once or twice a week, you don’t eat any food. Think of it as giving your body a break, and a chance to burn off some of that stored energy. You can still drink water (and of course it is recommended that you stay well hydrated during your fast) and any other no calorie beverages (herbal tea, black coffee etc) but no food. And you never go a day without eating, for example, if you have dinner on Monday night at 6:30pm you simply fast until 6:30pm Tuesday night and then have dinner as normal. You’ve only missed breakfast and lunch on the Tuesday.
So down to the nitty gritty… What is it like to actually eat like this?! Like I said in my intro I started doing “Eat. Stop. Eat” about three months ago, and I fast once a week, I made Tuesday my “fast day”. But in saying that, this way of eating is flexible. If for some reason Tuesday wasn’t going to work for me I’d just change my fast day to a different day. Say I was going out to dinner on a Wednesday night and knew I would probably have an indulgent meal, I might choose to do my fast on Thursday, knowing my body had plenty of fuel from the night before. Or I might choose to actually fast Wednesday and then go out for dinner that night and have what I like off the menu and still not be eating an excessive amount of calories for the day.
Which brings me to another benefit I found from fasting, you don’t have to be as strict with your eating, you can allow that little treat now and again, or a dinner out with friends and a glass of wine, as long as you’re not doing it everyday. Over the last three months I have aimed to eat healthy, nutritious food, and this combined with fasting is where you will see results in terms of fat loss, but that “all or nothing” approach that seems attached to so many fad diets these days just isn’t there. Which means the stress and disappointment in failing to be perfect, which I believe to be big factors in people not sticking to diets, also isn’t there.
Another benefit is the amount of free time I had on my fast days. I didn’t realize how much of my day is taken up with buying, preparing, and eating foods until I didn’t have to do it! Needless to say, I got a lot done on a Tuesday.
One of the things I have learnt from fasting is to recognize when I am actually hungry, and this is an invaluable weight loss tool in itself. How many times a day do you say “I’m starving!” without stopping to think about whether you actually are? How many times do you mindlessly open the fridge, or pick up a biscuit and eat it? The first time I fasted I expected to be hungry and I was shocked/surprised/relieved when I wasn’t! Did I feel like eating during my fast? Yes. Definitely. Several times in fact. But when I actually stopped and asked myself “why?” it was because I was bored, or because if felt strange not to be eating, or because other people around me were eating, not because I was hungry.
For me, keeping busy was the key. Like I said, I wasn’t actually hungry, but if I had nothing to do, I started thinking about food. Have you ever had a really busy day at work and you get to 4 o’clock and get a moment to take a breath and think, “I haven’t eaten all day!” Chances are that was the first time you’d thought about food that day, you hadn’t been hungry when you were running around, but as soon as you stop and think about it, you want to eat. There is a fantastic quote in “Eat. Stop. Eat.” which says something along the lines of ‘if we all lead more interesting lives there wouldn’t be an obesity problem in society’. Food for thought, perhaps?
The other major benefit I experienced whilst fasting, and the reason for starting this in the first place, was fat loss. Effectively by fasting for 24 hours you are reducing your weekly calorie consumption by a whole day’s worth of calories, and as result has suggested, its what you eat over weeks and months that makes the difference, rather than day to day. I consistently lost weight each week without sticking to some impossibly strict diet. I ate healthy, yummy foods the majority of the time, I fasted one day a week, and I had any treats or an alcoholic drink if I wanted them (usually on the weekends).
It was easy, and unlike many diets on offer today, it was inexpensive. I didn’t have to go out and buy special foods, or meal replacements, or expensive supplements. If fact, my grocery bill actually decreased by one days worth of food a week!
There are a stack of other health related benefits which come from fasting, including decreased inflammation, stabilization of blood sugar levels, and decreased risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are all outlined in detail in the book. And a lot of diet myths are also debunked in “Eat. Stop. Eat.”, and backed up by a substantial amount of research. Everything you thought you knew about dieting, “you have to eat six small meals a day or your metabolism shuts down, right…??” will be turned on its head.
After years of ‘trying everything’, I have found fasting to be one of the easiest, most effective methods for fat loss. “Eat. Stop. Eat.” is simple to follow, flexible, and inexpensive. And it makes sense.
Find out more about Eat Stop Eat –> HERE <<–
Tagged as: Ancestor, Ancestors, Biscuit, Body Functions, Breakfast Lunch Dinner, Challenge Winner, Cuppa, Detox, Different Reasons, Dinner Time, Dinner With Friends, Guinea Pig, Half An Hour, Human Body, Meal Plans, Meal Replacement, Natural Processes, Pilon, Pizzas, Regimes, Special Occasion, Storing Energy, Yep