There are many fad diets that help you lose weight rapidly for a little while because they remove processed foods from your diet.
But inevitably, you hit a plateau after a few weeks of dramatic weight loss and you may even begin to regain the weight.
One way to keep that from happening is to adopt a whole-foods plant-based diet.
A plant-based diet consisting of whole foods is sustainable over the long haul and will prevent you from gaining the weight back because it is a lifestyle and not a fad diet.
The problem with Ketosis
Keto, Paleo, and other high-fat, high-protein animal-based diets give you rapid weight loss at first.
But a high protein high-fat with virtually no carbohydrates causes drastic water loss and only about 75% fat loss, the rest is muscle and water.
You don’t want to lose muscle mass when you diet because muscle mass is one of the best ways to keep your metabolism up so you can burn fat easily.
People tend to gain more fat than before the diet every time they go on and off a high protein and high-fat diet.
On a balanced, low-fat, plant-strong, whole foods diet you are losing 90 to 95% fat and very little muscle mass.
Being in ketosis is dangerous long term and can cause insulin resistance due to the fat in the blood blocking insulin receptors in the cells. So when you do go off your diet or stray even a tiny bit you spike your insulin levels. this is why people gain so much weight so fast when they end ketosis or a high-fat diet.
Diets high in saturated fat are not natural and can be dangerous for your health in the long run. Keto diets can raise your cholesterol and inflammation levels
Another problem with a diet low in whole-plant sourced complex carbohydrates; like fruits, veggies, nut, and seeds, is that you are missing out on most phytonutrients you need to fight diseases.
A Plant-Based Diet is Safe and Sustainable
A plant-based low-fat diet high in whole unprocessed foods does not give you such a dramatic initial weight loss.
But a plant-strong diet is one you can stay on for life without adverse effects.
When you lose weight slowly, one to two pounds per week maximum, you can ensure that you are losing 90% fat.
A Whole-Foods, plant diet can take the weight off fast at first
When I first started on a whole-foods plant-based diet using Chef AJ’s book, I lost 30 pounds in a couple of months.
The diet was so high in nutrients I had been missing for a long time. this made it easy to stick with and I was never hungry.
Whole plant foods like beans, sweet potatoes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are so low in calories and so high in fiber that the amount I had to eat to get enough calories was about 4 or 5 times as much as the SAD or Standard American Diet.
There was a huge variety of food to choose from and recipes that made it all taste pretty good.
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What I learned about weight loss plateaus:
- Weight loss plateaus are natural
- Higher nutrients and fiber equal fast initial weight loss
- Your Microbiome plays a big part in weight loss
- Reduce stress to lose weight more easily
- Increasing raw foods can aid in speeding up weight loss
- Increasing exercise is not exactly the answer
- Eating the right fats and essential fatty acids is important
- Eating complex carbs instead of processed sugars and powders works best
- Smoothies and juicing could be hindering fat loss for some people
- The right kind of protein and the right amounts are important
- Detoxification might be necessary to get rid of cravings
- Intermittent fasting can help some people along with a whole-foods diet
- On the other hand, eating more often can help others
Related Articles and Resources:
Weight Loss Plateaus are Natural
Eating a plant-based whole-food diet can mean rapid weight loss at first.
Your body is eager to dump toxins built up in the tissues and colon.
The fiber in plant foods helps carry away toxins rapidly and help you feel much more satiated with fewer calories.
You may also lose a lot of water weight early on if you cut back on salt consumption.
Higher nutrients levels with plant-based nutrition gradually help you get rid of cravings for processed foods.
When you eat a whole-food diet, your body is receiving many more nutrients than on the Standard American diet (SAD).
As you up to the levels of plants, including berries, beans, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and onions, you increase your phytonutrient ratio per calorie dramatically. So the more you eat of low-calorie whole foods, the more weight you will lose without slowing down your metabolism with caloric restriction.
One of the biggest problems with the usual fad-diets is that you are cutting out so many nutrients and so many calories your body begins to fight back by hoarding fat. And what’s worse is that you start to get crazy uncontrollable cravings for high-calorie junk foods.
You can learn more about eating nutrient-dense foods at Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s site. He has written some incredible books on staying thin and healthy for life and reversing chronic lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression, and more.
Dr. Gregor’s book, How Not to Die, is an excellent resource as well.
With this heightened nutrient level, you feel more satiated, so you don’t eat as many calories as you used to, and you feel full on the high fiber veggies. It is incredibly easy to lose weight…
When to Adjust Your Diet
If you find that after a month or two of rapid weight loss you are stuck at the same weight for more than a few weeks, it might be time to make some adjustments to get to your goal weight. Or you might want to lose more slowly from now on.
Take a body positive moment…
But first, make sure you bask in the enjoyment of eating a healthy diet. Then decide if you want or need to lose more weight right this minute.
It’s different for everyone. Maybe your original goal weight is unrealistic. That is for you to decide.
Even a weight loss of a few pounds is beneficial to your health. If you are stressing yourself out over losing more weight, this could be more stressful than the weight itself — something to think about.
With any diet, the closer you get to the goal, the less food you need. When you were bigger, you needed much more food to maintain all that body mass. Cutting back by a few hundred calories per day made a dramatic difference at first.
Now that you are smaller, the weight loss can slow down or even stop because you are currently eating just the right amount to maintain that first level weight loss. That is why that last few pounds are always hardest to lose.
Your Microbiome is the key to successful long term weight loss
But this is good news because this is something we can correct through proper diet over time.
Be patient and keep going. It can take a couple of years to correct your microbiome, depending on how much damage you have done.
By eating a diet rich in high fiber plants and making sure you get a variety of nutrients every day, you are building a better microbiome.
It takes time to rebuild a healthy microbiome. It is essential to stay away from food that damages your friendly bacteria. So be patient with your body while it heals.
Our modern diet high in processed foods and animal products is precisely the opposite of what our microbiome likes and is suited for. Even vegan junk foods full of sugar and white flour and oil can destroy good bacteria.
Try to eat whole, unprocessed organic foods when you can, to avoid glyphosate, a toxic substance used in GMO foods that are proliferating all over the planet.
If you have been on antibiotics or were delivered by C section, your microbiome may have been compromised from an early age.
How to build healthy gut bacteria
The best way to build a healthy microbiome is to eat whole plants, Legumes, greens, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Add some fermented kimchee to your diet. Kimchee has the most different strains of healthy bacteria of any fermented food.
Try to experiment with different kinds of fermented foods each week. You can even make it yourself. If you are vegan read the ingredients to make sure you get a brand that doesn’t include fish paste
Over-Exercising Won’t Magically Make You Thin
Our bodies were built to hold on to fat just in case there is a famine. Getting your body to feel safe enough to let go of that last bit can be a challenge. If you over exercise, you wear yourself out and make yourself hungrier, so you end up eating more in the long run.
Moderate exercise is excellent but overdoing it won’t help you lose weight. There are diminishing returns with training. If you push too hard, you feel rundown, and your body begins to rebel by hoarding more fats in case you decide to do that again. Adding strength training can help, and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time.
What you eat is the primary regulator of body fat. Even elite athletes who exercise at the highest levels on earth can remain fat. A great example is Monica Seles, the tennis star who wrote a book about her struggle with binge eating while she was training for many hours every day.
Intermittent fasting for long term weight loss
Intermittent fasting as a weekly lifetime practice has health benefits for some people. But the diet industry has given fasting a bad name because it works, and if you knew about it, they would be out of business.
With eating less food, you are buying fewer diet products and special diet foods.
Fasting is inexpensive, and that is bad for the bottom line of the food and diet industries.
You won’t be buying any special powders, meals, or pills with this technique. The only one who benefits is you!
The benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Allows the stomach to empty before you eat again which is restful for your digestion
- Allows the body to begin repairing chronic disease and discomfort without being overburdened by constant food processing.
- can lead to a decrease in body fat and body weight over time
- Increased cellular cleansing
There are a couple of different ways to do intermittent fasting.
One way to do it is to keep your meals within a window of 4 to 6 hours per day eating two meals so you would end up eating twice a day instead of 3 times a day.
For instance, you could eat at 11 and 4 pm or 1 and 6.
The Eat Stop Eat Method
The way Brad Pilon explains it in his book, Eat Stop Eat, you eat normally except for one or two days a week where you take a break for 23 out of 24 hours. So you would eat dinner only one or two days a week, for instance.
Skipping breakfast has become controversial since the invention of breakfast cereals back in the 40s and 50s. Before then, unless people worked on farms or did heavy physical labor, people didn’t usually eat breakfast or snack all day long the way we do these days.
We have the idea that our metabolism will drop if we don’t eat every three hours, but this is not true. Short fasts do not lower the metabolism or make us “burn muscle.”
To learn more get Brad Pilon’s book: Eat Stop Eat. I first read his book back when it came out in 2009, but he has expanded it with a lot more research to dispel any fears you might have about short fasts once or twice a week. and it comes with a quick start guide.
Myths about fasting abound because of snack foods
Snack foods are a new invention. In the past 30 years, large food companies have used advertising to get us to eat more frequently and eat more food in general, and it has been working.
Levels of obesity have risen steadily in adults and even children in the last 30 years.
When I began doing intermittent fasting, my weight loss started again, and I was over the plateau. I had been eating regular meals three times a day for six months and was well nourished. I no longer had as many problems with binging on processed foods.
I lost ten more pounds in a month just by giving my digestion the rest it needed and by being more conscious of how much I was eating. I started to notice when I was in “fed mode,” and when I began to be in “fasting mode.”
Often my fed state lasted way into the period when I usually would have had another meal, and I realized I had been eating when I wasn’t really hungry or in need of fuel in the past.
What’s the difference between intermittent fasting and water fasting?
Intermittent fasting has some of the benefits of longer fasts without the stress or difficulty of adjustments the body has to make during longer fasts to recover and adjust to eating again.
Long fasts of 7 days or more are good for healing chronic conditions with medical supervision. To learn more about longer healing fasts check out True North Health Center and Joel Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating For Health
Caution with fasting if you have had eating disorders in the past
If you are prone to anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders, please eat regular meals at regular mealtimes every day until you are genuinely nourished and save fasting for when you are stable and healthy and have supervision from a trusted health professional. Intermittent fasting necessarily isn’t for everyone.
If you high-quality whole plant foods, high in phytonutrients and fiber, it can work just as well as fasting, for many people. It all depends on your personality and personal style of eating and interacting with food.
In her book, Thin for Life, Anne Fletcher found that most people who kept 30 pounds or more off for more than five years in her study ate three meals a day and some also snacked. Most of them ate a plant-strong, low-fat diet.
Reducing Stress Can Help Weight Loss
Meditation is excellent for helping to reduce stress. Just ten minutes per day upon waking can help.
Another hunger stressor is sleep deprivation
Make sleeping 7 or more hours a night a priority. Sleep deprivation can cause weight gain by skewing levels of the hormones, leptin, and Ghrelin in the brain and body. This can skew appetite regulation leading to more natural weight gain.
Massage, self-massage yoga, and other soothing focused forms of exercise can be better than adding heavy workouts sometimes. Fluid types of resistance training like Barre class or Pilates can also help.
Ways to relax for better digestion:
- Close your eyes and take a mini 4-breath meditation before you start with long deep breaths to relax the nervous system
- Savoring your food, by smelling it before your start
- Let each bite reach the stomach before taking another bite.
- Turning off the TV and phone while eating
The Psychology of Eating Institute has a lot of information on being present when you are eating.
Eat the Right Fats
Take a look at your fat consumption. How much and what types of fats are you eating? If you are sticking with starches, beans, veggies, and fruits, you are probably eating low enough calorically that you can eat a high volume of food.
But be careful about higher fat items like tofu and soybeans because they are about 50% fat as opposed to other beans that are a lot lower in fat.
Dairy is great for growing baby calves into 800-pound cows!
If you are still consuming dairy, this could be the culprit. Some studies suggest that the protein fragments called casomorphins in dairy can interfere with your hormones.
Milk has built-in opioids to make the baby animal sleepy and docile after feeding. Do you want that drowsy drug-like effect?
Cheese is a tough one to give up because of the drug-like effect. Cheese has higher concentrations of casomorphins than other types of dairy products.
Our culture is big on the calcium propaganda churned out by the dairy council about milk. But it doesn’t add up. We have higher levels of osteoporosis in the US than countries that do not use any dairy products.
I had the hardest time of all giving up cheese.
For most would be vegans and healthy paleo folks this is the hardest thing to let go of. But if you are having trouble losing weight, you will be happy once you say good-bye to cheese.
Cheese is 70 percent fat and predominantly saturated fats. Cheese and has more sodium than potato chips. The proteins in dairy can cause autoimmune symptoms of inflammation, joint pain, and arthritis.
weight gain is easier with high-fat foods like cheese and oil because there is little energy used up to convert the fat into, well, fat. With carbs, the extra step burns a few calories.
Vegetable Oil Can be a Problem
Try switching out oil for whole foods containing healthy fats to down on calories. Oil can also aggravate inflammation by the irritating the endothelial lining of blood vessels.
What about olive oil and coconut oil?
Olive oil and coconut oil have been touted as wonder foods. Their full fiber origins; coconut and olives are much better for us than the extracted oil which are 100 percent refined and stripped of their phytonutrients.
You get the whole host of phytonutrients from the complete versions. Cooking oils are stripped of all the fiber and most of the nutrients leaving only the fat and minor amounts of beneficial elements if any.
Vegetable oil of any kind packs so many calories, at 120 per tablespoon, that it just isn’t healthy food.
Processed oil is found in almost every prepared food, even the so-called healthy ones. You have to check labels carefully and prep more at home.
Sometimes the only way to avoid oily foods is to bring your own home-made oil-free dressing with you when eating out, bringing a food cooler in the car at all times and pre-eat before a meal out in case there isn’t much that is edible when you get there.
Essential Fatty Acids
We need healthy essential fats, but they should come from whole foods like avocados, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raw soaked nuts, and seeds of all kinds in small amounts. Include flax seeds or chia seeds raw freshly ground.
Oily fruits and even sweet potatoes, greens, and other veggies have small amounts of healthy fats in them. As long as you are eating a whole-plant-based-foods every day in a wide variety, you should be getting plenty of fats and essential oils.
The great thing about eating a predominantly plant-based diet and cutting out the oil is that your omega 3, 6 and nine ratios become ideal because plants are much higher in omega 3, the good fats while omega 6 is lower.
This is the opposite in a standard American diet filled with meat, dairy, and oil which makes it almost impossible to get healthy ratios of your EFA’s for heart health no matter how much omega three supplementations you take. It is proposed that inflammation is caused by the high ratio of omega 6 in proportion to omega 3.
An algae-based supplement for EFA and DHA can also be helpful for vegans and non-vegans alike. DHA is essential to absorb vitamin D from sunlight and very important for brain health and overall energy levels.
I can’t recommend eating seafood because of the high levels of heavy metals in seafood and because it isn’t going to be sustainable for much longer for our oceans. The EFA and DHA in fish come from the algae they consume. So if you go directly to that algae is safer than mercury exposure from fish.
If you do want to eat some seafood, keep to the lower end of the food chain with sardines or anchovies. Avoid larger fish like Tuna and Sea Bass because the larger fish have eaten everyone else and everyone else’s toxin load.
The right carbs for plant-based weight loss
You may need to cut back on flour products like pasta and bread. Even the whole grain forms can slow down weight loss and cause cravings for some people, so you end up eating more, or cheating more often.
Eating higher fiber whole grains like quinoa, brown rice whole steel cut oats instead of their flour-based counterparts can help speed up your weight loss because you feel satiated faster.
When steel blades grind the fiber of any plant into a fine powder, it destroys that fiber matrix that slows down the absorption of starches into the bloodstream.
Insulin spikes can cause fat storage and weight gain or at least slow down your weight loss.
Check your dried fruit consumption
If you are eating a lot of dates and other dried fruits in your recipes these can be very concentrated. It is easy to overeat dried fruits quickly.
Typically fruit is very low in calories at around 300 calories per pound, but apples or bananas become extremely high calorie when dehydrated.
And speaking of metal blades mechanically grinding things into powder…
Too much protein can be stressful to the body. if you are taking in extra protein powders, you could be throwing off your diet by storing excess protein that gets converted to fats.
Smoothies can lead to weight gain for some people
This was a big disappointment for me! I used to pound down a smoothie every morning.
We are taught that it is incredibly healthy to have a green smoothie every day. And this is true in a way because a green smoothie is a lot healthier than eating a muffin or many traditional breakfast foods.
But because mechanical blades destroy the fiber this makes the sugars in plants go into your bloodstream too quickly causing blood sugar issues over time. Susan Peirce Thompson explains why smoothies, dried fruit, and artificial sweeteners can kill weight loss progress.
Eating more salads and whole foods can help with weight loss because you feel full longer.
Smoothies are almost predigested and can leave you hungry or lead to overeating because you have not experienced the chewing sensation. It is a lot easier to overeat on blended foods than whole plants that have to be chewed.
If you cut back on blended meals, like smoothies and protein drinks, you might speed up your weight loss.
Any highly processed foods will have the effect of being higher in concentration and easier to overeat on.
Flour, sugar, protein powders are all designed to fatten us up. Keep your food as close to its natural form as you can for improved insulin sensitivity.
Add more raw, low-fat plants to lose weight faster
This is something we all intuitively know. Raw foodists lose weight fast. I went on a raw food diet for four months and lost a lot of weight very quickly. But raw food diets are hard to sustain because there is a lot of prep involved to get enough calories. There are many phytonutrients you miss by leaving out whole grains, legumes, and other cooked veggies.
Most people end up compensating for the lack of cooked starches with nuts seeds and dried fruit. Ultimately this turned out to be an unbalancing, frustrating experience.
It just wasn’t sustainable long term for me. It was expensive and unsatisfying without starches like sweet potatoes and beans in my diet.
However, adding raw foods at the beginning of every meal can help fill you up. For instance, you could add some carrots, salad greens, jicama, cut up apples, etc. to your meal.
Raw foods are less absorbable for the body and take more energy to digest. The minute you cook foods, you make them more available to the body to use as fuel and stored as fat because there is less energy spent on digestion.
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham goes into all the details of why humans eat cooked food and why it is so hard to subsist on a completely raw foods diet for humans.
The Right Amount and Kind Right of Protein
Contrary to popular belief, it may not be a good thing to eat a high protein diet to lose weight.
Animal protein, even grass-fed, still tends to be higher in fat per pound and has more toxins in it than plants. So, in reality, you are eating not a high protein diet but a high fat and toxin diet when you ingest too much animal protein. You may lose weight faster for a little while, but the point is to have healthy lasting weight loss without increasing your risk of disease.
Protein isolates and powders are too easy to digest and speed through your system without needing to be worked on. You may want to try cutting back on animal protein and try more beans and plant proteins.
The World Health Organization has been recommending that 10 to 15 percent of your diet should come from protein.
But in the US, we have to deal with the meat and dairy industry funding the FDA and distorting our data to sell their products. The China Study and Whole by T Collin Campbell explain why we are encouraged to eat animal products.
These foods have been proven to lead to disease in humans in many studies done inside and outside of the US. Dean Ornish has also done some in-depth studies.
The US has become one of the unhealthiest countries in the world with the some of the highest rates in the world for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental health issues, etc., because of the farming policies in this country.
Detoxification for weight loss
Another reason your weight loss may have stalled is that toxins stored in the fatty tissues are not being released.
The body is intelligent and is continually detoxifying up to a point. But if you have heavy metals stored the body, this stuff can be tricky to get out of your body safely, and the body knows this.
When you first switch to a healthier diet, it is natural to dump many minor toxins.
But after you have let go of some of the safer toxins; chemicals, molds and infections, your body may be unwilling to release heavy metals into your tissues and liver.
Parasites and weight loss
Parasites are not something we want to think about. Americans have a lot more parasites than we would think because of travel and they are just very easy to pass back and forth from pets and other people.
But there are effective methods for freeing yourself from parasites, and it can make a huge difference in your health and can help you stop craving processed food, which helps with weight loss indirectly.
Fungi, yeasts, molds, and parasites can make your cravings so strong it is hard to stay on a healthy diet. The can make your metabolism weaker by outputting waste product that makes weight loss inefficient too.
Detoxing must be done diligently using the right order and the right herbs to truly get free from parasites.
A weekend juice cleanse won’t get rid of parasites molds and viruses that are lodged deep in organs and brain tissue.
First, you must loosen all the elimination channels. The bowel, kidneys, liver, and pancreas need to be open and ready to roll.
Second, you must make sure biofilm is melted to get parasites off intestinal walls.
Third, you must make sure you bind the toxins and parasites correctly so that they are eliminated.
A superficial cleanse, or one that is not done systematically or long enough will only move toxins and bugs around to different parts of the body.
Two doctors created microbe Formulas. They have a 3-month protocol. It’s pricy at around $400 per month, but if you have been struggling with your health for a long time or plateaued on weight loss, it may be worth it to go through the whole thing or just buy a few of their formulas to get started.
I started with their organic Mimosa Pudica Seed and have found that to be helpful even without doing the full protocol right away.
Heavy metals and weight loss resistance
Some symptoms of chronic toxin and heavy metal exposure from fillings and other sources are:
- Weight loss resistance
- Anxiety, irritability, depression and other mood disorders
- Noise sensitivity
- Chronic fatigue and weakness
Fibromyalgia, diabetes, and many other diseases can be helped by detoxification.
Mercury from fillings can off-gas as our fillings get older and begin to wear out, in our 30s and beyond especially. If you decide to have fillings replaced with porcelain or non-toxic metal alternatives, make sure you go to a dentist who knows the protocols for safely removing old fillings.
Some dentists do not know how to remove mercury fillings safely, and you end up sicker than before with more of the toxic vapor released into your system as they lift and grind out the fillings.
It is also useful if you can find a dentist who tests the different metals in your mouth to see what is toxic and what you might be allergic to. Be sure you know the proper chelation protocols for getting the metals out of the brain and body once the fillings are gone.
Blood tests for heavy metals can be inconclusive because standard blood tests show only acute heavy metal exposure. For long-term chronic heavy metal exposure, you need to make sure you are tested for metal absorption into bodily tissues.
Flu shots and vaccines making you fat?
Flu shots and other vaccines are controversial. Big pharma says there are no risks, but there have been some instances where people who have had flu shots have shown unusually high symptoms of heavy metal exposure afterward. Here is an interview with Del Bigtree, who created the documentary Vaxxed about regulating vaccines.
Don’t detox until you research
There are techniques for safely releasing heavy metals, but they have to be utilized with caution and in the correct sequence.
Natural herbs like Cilantro are helpful, but the problem with herbs is that they are not very solid binders. They often will bind to the toxin for long enough to move the metal to a different location in the body but not get it out altogether.
So you end up with autointoxication as toxins are reabsorbed through the intestines back into the liver and other tissues. Colonics and coffee enemas and some of the herbal remedies can miss the worst toxins like mercury or leave them hanging around in new locations. This autointoxication can lead to more problems. They need to be used with the right binders for getting deeper detoxification to happen.
Often people reach and an impasse on a healthy diet where they stop feeling much better and get discouraged. Some nutrition enthusiasts will insist that what you are feeling is “just detox symptoms” when actually you need the correct binders to remove heavy metals that have moved from the brain to other tissues and been reabsorbed.
To find out the best protocols for testing for and removing heavy metals, check out Dr. Pompa’s site.
- Eat whole foods and avoid processed food as much as possible.
- Improve your microbiome
- Do exercise you enjoy but try not to overdo it.
- Eating more raw foods can aid in speeding up weight loss.
- Check your dried fruit and other hidden processed sugar consumption.
- Consider cutting out oil and checking your consumption of nuts.
- Cut down on dairy products which can be high in fat and mess with hormones.
- Keep your carbohydrates whole, try cutting back on flour, dried fruits, and smoothies.
- Intermittent fasting can help control the amount you are eating
- Try to diminish stress levels with adequate sleep, meditation, and self-massage.
- Find a suitable detox protocol to get rid of fungi, molds, yeast, and parasites.
- If all of that doesn’t work, look into heavy metal detoxification and amalgam filling removal and get tested.
Webber J, Macdonald, IA. The cardiovascular, metabolic, and hormonal changes accompanying acute starvation in men and women. British Journal of Nutrition.
Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.