fasting journal day 8

Fasting Journal Day Eight: Thoughts on How to End a Fast Without Rebound Weight Gain

  • Weight: 155.6
  • Blood Pressure: 120/80
  • Temp: 96.6

Feeling a little tired, general overall muscle weakness, very slight lower back ache, and slightly bitter taste in the back of my mouth.

Stayed in bed from 2 pm yesterday and read and slept. Watched a movie and a bunch of fasting videos on YouTube and then went back to sleep for the night.

Dreamed I broke the fast and thought it was real

Had my first food dream so far in this fast. In the dream I was eating rosemary baked potatoes with tons of olive oil drizzled on them and some pasta or something, I can’t quite remember. I was gobbling it down as usual. Then I realized I wanted to eat mindfully so I started to chew well halfway through the meal. Then I realized I had broken my fast and was miserable about it.

A friend said I should just begin the fast again, but I decided not to, now that I had broken it and would have muscle wasting for days before getting back into ketosis and I knew that the first 2 or 3 days were the most taxing. I was relieved to wake up and realize it had been a dream.

Weight gain after fasting

I thought I would run out of things to write about and start posting less frequently but after watching a bunch of fasting videos it brought up how people usually gain most or all the weight back after the fast.

Some weight gain of 5 to 7 pounds immediately after ending the fast is normal because of the added bulk of food gut microbiome and feces. Also, the microbiota that repopulates the colon weighs around 3 to 4 pounds. So you cannot possibly avoid immediate weight gain in the first week or two back to eating.

Rapid weight loss sends the body into hoarding mode

One problem seems to be that when you have any kind of dieting or rapid weight loss the body wants to replenish and to slightly lower the metabolism. fasting itself does not seem to lower your metabolism as much as an ultra-low-calorie diet. Nutrition Facts on fasting and weight loss shows some evidence for this.

But when you go back to eating after a diet or a fast your body holds onto every morsel and stores fat more readily. The show Biggest Losers demonstrates this powerfully. So many people were not able to maintain weight loss after their time on the show ended. But they also were not eating huge mounds of fiber-rich foods that were high in nutrients so that may have been part of the problem.

Another obvious reason people regain weight rapidly after a fast is that they don’t change their diet after the fast and resume eating all the same crap that made them fat in the first place.

One Meal a Day Keto or OMAD

A third reason people regain weight rapidly after fasting is that they go on a super strict diet like the keto diet with only one meal a day (OMAD). This type of diet can set you up mentally for eating disorders, especially if you have just finished a long fast and your body is depleted of nutrients. Also, the Ketogenic diet itself can be dangerous because it is so high in fat and animal toxins, and hormones, and so low in fiber and micronutrients.

Although the one meal a day system works for some people it can be too extremely rigid for most people and might not work long term. Bodies change, seasons change, and nutritional needs may change over time. Absorption of enough nutrients becomes impossible eating one meal a day and people begin to have deficiencies, which then leads to binging.

Any eating system that is too rigid tends to stress people out emotionally and makes them less likely to be joyful and compassionate toward their bodies. Once any eating system becomes stressful weight gain is bound to follow.

I have done one meal a day with a plant-based diet for short periods and enjoyed it. The freedom of not having to think about food all the time was very pleasant. But after a while, I realized I wasn’t able to fit in enough nutrients in one meal.

I went back to two or three eating periods per day. I eat a huge amount of low-caloric greens and other veggies every day, up to 3 pounds on some days, and it is uncomfortable to stuff myself at one sitting.

Eating Mindfully is a full 30 percent of nutritional excellence

Pleasure during eating helps keep the weight off, figs on dark background

Mindset is a big factor in rebound weight gain in general. If you hate your body and feel negative and fearful around food you end up being stressed out every time you eat. You end up eating furtively and with a lot of guilt mixed in.

When you are fearful, judging, worrying, about eating your nervous system is in fight or flight during mealtimes and you end up obsessing about your weight and the way you look.

This food stress makes it harder to chew your food well and digest it well. When you are in stress mode your body shoots out cortisol which helps to shunt fat into your cells more efficiently. Just by criticizing your body in the mirror every time you look at yourself you are setting yourself up to gain more weight.

Exercise and food quality alone will not do the job of helping you lose weight permanently

Eating mindfully and being in a state of acceptance of your body and self-nourishment is crucial to lasting healthy weight loss.

When you are judging yourself and eating in a stressful mindset this will make anything you eat more likely to end up in your fat cells regardless of how healthy the content of the food is.

According to Marc David, a clinical nutritionist at Eating Psychology, a full 30 percent of good digestion and assimilation of nutrients is based on just seeing and enjoying the food. The process of chewing and experiencing your food in a relaxed way makes it possible for the body to have healthy gut bacteria.

70 percent of nutritional excellence comes from the food choices we make. The other 30 percent comes from our attitudes and beliefs toward what we eat. If we are judging our bodies and hating ourselves for eating, this is enough to create enhanced fat storage, chronic weight gain, digestive distress, and a host of other problems.

The best way to avoid the body storing fat rapidly is to eat every meal mindfully, without judgment with the intention of nourishing your body. The other key is to lose weight gradually, so the body doesn’t “panic” and try to horde every calorie.

And the best way to keep the body out of hoarding mode is to eat a diet rich in juicy watery whole foods high in micronutrients and fiber so you feel full.

With high enough volumes of low caloric foods that are high in fiber, you are always satisfied and never feel overly hungry or deprived. So you are looking at 2.5 pounds of weight loss per week maximum to keep your body from freaking out.

Do the benefits of a long fast out way the rebound factor?

It depends. If you have high blood pressure, chronic joint inflammation and chronic sinusitis like I do, a longer fast can be helpful. Or if you have other chronic conditions that are not responding to nutritional changes alone, a fast can be indicated and can be lifesaving. The amount of plaque that can be released from the blood vessels is dramatic.

The drop in inflammation from arthritis, Chron’s, and other autoimmune diseases can be lasting. And the repair of the gut lining can be critical to health.

So in some cases fasts of one week or longer can be useful once or twice in your lifetime. But I don’t think regular long fasts two or three times a year are a good idea. Fasting may not be the best way to achieve sustained weight loss. Only long-term dietary changes can help you sustain weight loss.

Short intermittent fasts a couple of times a month of just one meal a day can be very helpful to give the body a rest especially if you choose the first meal of the day to eat and then fast for the rest of the day.

What about intermittent fasting?

A short daily 6 to 8-hour eating window is very helpful for digestion and elimination of toxins and increasing overall health. Making a habit of eating your last meal around 5 or 6 pm and making that meal lighter than earlier meals can make a huge difference in your health long term. Just by cutting out nightly snacking you can improve your health.

The spiritual and emotional benefits of fasting are huge if you take the time to meditate and reflect and stop focusing so much on weight loss.

My experience with rebound weight gain after a long fast

I know that rebound weight gain is a problem after a long fast because it happened to me after the two fasts I did last year.

I fasted in March of 2019 starting at a weight of 160 and got all the way down to 140 in about 8 days. I did a combination of dry fasting and water fasting. I ended the fast early because I got a case of scabies staying in one of the Airbnb apartments. Gross! I had to spray myself with toxic stuff and take horse medicine to get rid of it and I couldn’t fast while doing that.

 I was under a lot of stress and even though I tried to eat well I ended up regaining all the weight gradually over a few months. I started having cravings for high caloric foods and ate vegan mac and cheese, bread, and baked goods a few times a week and it all added up.

Then I fasted again in July of 2019, one year ago for another 10 days.  My starting weight was 162 pounds. I was hungry and miserable just like I am now and broke the fast after getting down to 146 pounds.

Soon after the fast, I was house-sitting at a mansion where they have a pantry full of chocolate, cookies, pasta, and snack foods, and no matter how I tried to resist I ended up snacking and had a hard time staying on a healthy diet after that. Once again I gained all the weight back.

But at least I never went back up to my highest weight of 190. So there has been some progress in my health.

Rethinking the long fast

I am planning to go another few days and see how I feel. I may end the fast after 2 full weeks and focus on mindful eating and just letting go of attachment to how I look and what I weigh. Chef AJ used this method to go from obese to thin.

The Whole-food plant-based (WFPB) method is to just eat a lot of plant foods, and exclude processed foods, stop weighing yourself and enjoy eating until you are full.

I am still feeling good on day 14 I might take the fast to a full 21 days because of the healing benefits I am getting. My joints feel so much better already and my blood pressure is coming down. But I can probably continue to get better just by focusing on eating even better than I was before.

Chef AJ goes to the True North Fasting Center every year, but she never fasts because she feels it is dangerous for her as a food addict. She just eats lots of healthy low-fat vegan foods and enjoys the community.

She commented once that everyone she knows who goes through the fasting process at the center rebounds and binges afterward. So she suggests steady slow weight loss over time.

Jon McMahon is a great example of this rebound effect. He went to the True North Fasting Center in Santa Rosa and didn’t eat for 30 days. Then he rebounded hard and gained all the weight back plus some. He had type 2 diabetes and was a chronic junk food junkie eating the worst kinds of fast foods. He almost lost his feet because he didn’t feel them when he burned them from sitting too close to a campfire.

Jon made an incredible documentary showing his health crisis and interviewed lots of specialists in weight loss and nutrition. Then he went back to True North again and really learned to refeed himself properly and finally lost the weight and got on a healthy diet for good.

Now Jon is a health advocate and does programs to encourage others to stick with it. Get on his mailing list or join his Facebook group to get great email pep talks every week or two.

But it took a few years of research and learning to prepare healthy meals before he finally got out of the danger zone.

Overcoming eating issues is a long process and different things work for different people. So do your research and decide for yourself what you want to try.

Disclaimer: Do not fast if you have issues with a weak heart, medical conditions, or are on medications, and be sure you have supervision if you plan to go on a long fast. I am not a medical professional. This is my personal fasting journal. Please consult a medical professional before you fast.

Read more of my Fasting Journals

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