100 lb. Club - A question about fasting that's been bugging me for a while.




Dawn2Dusk
03-29-2007, 01:04 PM
Okay. I took an anatomy/physiology class a while back. One of the topics covered was how weight is lost.

Keep in mind that it's been a long while so my scientific terminology is way, way, WAY off. :P

Let's say you start a fast (I don't agree with fasting and I personally would never fast for long periods of time, but just for the sake of discussion). So you're fasting. I read that first, if there are any carbs lurking around in your system from the food you ate just before starting the fast, your body will use up those carbs first.

When all of that carb is used, your body will then take stored glucose from your liver. I think it was liver. Remember, it's been a while.

When THAT supply runs out, your body then takes in stored fat for energy. And I believe stored fat is actually all the glucose that we didn't burn off/use up and so it became stored fat, to be used when our body goes through fasting/famine, etc.

Finally, I read, the last thing to go was muscle tissue. When the stored carbs/fat is used up, protein is used up.

Now here's my question. In so many forums (not just this one), books, articles, etc, people say that if you fast or starve yourself, the first thing to go is muscle tissue, while your body holds on to the fat.

What's correct?

I hope my rambling made sense. :dizzy:


nineteen
03-29-2007, 02:41 PM
I would like clarification on this, too!

sweet_talker
03-29-2007, 03:35 PM
hmm I really don't know. I would like to know too though :p Sorry I'm no help.


srmb60
03-29-2007, 04:02 PM
I don't know much about the order of those things but I know a couple of interesting bits.
Muscle atrophies (shrinks) very quickly. Anyone who has ever been in a cast will tell ya. Your body is not eating it but it's shrinking and can't use calories.
And you do use blood sugars first .... after that I'm not sure. But I thought it always went after easy first ... so fat would be easiest????

nelie
03-29-2007, 04:09 PM
What I've heard is our body will only let so much of our fat go before it starts going for muscle, since muscle is metabolically active. I've heard that the reason you should aim for 2 lb/week loss (for those that aren't morbidly obese) is because after 2 lbs, your body will start tearing down muscle. It makes sense to me that your body would start burning both its stored fat but then also try to get rid of your muscle because muscle burns fat. If your body isn't getting any energy to keep your body running, why would it want to waste its time on trying to sustain muscle that it may not necessarily need?

So I'm wondering from your text, if it is has any reference to what happens over time or if it is looking at a small window of time and what happens during that small window.

GirlyGirlSebas
03-29-2007, 04:23 PM
You've asked the number one question in the weight loss world! There have been numerous studies on this subject and everyone has their own interpretation of the "facts." There are an equal amount of studies on each side of this subject. IMHO, I don't think anybody really knows for sure. I'd love to see somebody do a major study on weight loss that is not subsidized by some company or organization that will profit from 'favorable' results! I was taught the same thing as you were in my Anatomy and Physiology courses. And, if you research starvation and the effects on the human body, the sequence is the same as you describe....available carbs, then stored glucose, then ketones from fat...and finally, muscle mass and organs.

In the past, I've fasted many times for spiritual reasons...one fast lasted for 30 days. These were total fasts with water intake only. After the first 2-3 days, I felt absolutely fine. As a matter of fact, I often felt incredible! And, I did lose some weight, however, it was gained back rapidly once I started eating again.

On 3FC, you will find many friends who strongly believe that eating too few calories is detrimental to your health. You will find an equal amount of friends who can only lose the weight by lowering their calorie intake drastically. For me, I hate tracking calories. One day, my weight loss may stop and I may have to start tracking. For now, I prefer to follow my Southbeach program and eat protein with each meal and get aerobic exercise daily. So far, this works (When I stay on-plan!)

jillybean720
03-29-2007, 04:33 PM
I agree with nelie--I think the information you recall is correct in regard to a smaller window of time. Yes, your body will burn some fat before it resorts to burning muscle, and if you're not starving yourself, then it may not have to resort to burning much muscle at all (which is most of our goals here, I would hope). When you starve yourself for longer periods of time, though, not only is what nelie said correct (that your body would realize it couldn't sustain large amounts of muscle anymore, so start burning it), but also, burning muscle is a more efficient means of getting energy for your body. So, by starving over an extended period of time, your body become more efficient at staying alive by burning muscle rather than just burning the fat. When your body has a steady stream of nutrients and energy (calories), it does not have to resort to burning the muscle as much since you're constantly fueling it, so it doesn't have to be as efficient in order to survive.

I hope that all makes sense--and I am also NOT a scientist or any such thing, so this is just what I have gathered based on my reading, researching, and understanding, so if it's wrong, I take no responsibility, but it's what I've come to understand based on many different sources.

SexyRevealed
03-29-2007, 04:44 PM
Interesting article:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7119891&dopt=Abstract

GirlyGirlSebas
03-29-2007, 05:33 PM
Interesting article:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7119891&dopt=Abstract

Very interesting.

One other thing I was thinking about....if losing too fast means you're losing muscle and not fat...then how come some of our friends are still standing after losing so quickly? And, looking fit, toned and feeling so good? Shouldnt they be flabby and too weak to lift themselves out of bed each day? Hmmm.....definitely something to think about.

nelie
03-29-2007, 05:49 PM
Very interesting.

One other thing I was thinking about....if losing too fast means you're losing muscle and not fat...then how come some of our friends are still standing after losing so quickly? And, looking fit, toned and feeling so good? Shouldnt they be flabby and too weak to lift themselves out of bed each day? Hmmm.....definitely something to think about.

Losing quickly and fasting aren't really the same thing. If you are fueling your body, then you will lose less muscle than if you are fasting. Although, when you lose weight you are usually losing a mix of fat and muscle, hopefully more fat than muscle. When I was near my heighest weight, I did a variety of body fat tests which said my lean mass was at about 178 lbs. Lean mass being everything but fat so it is your organs, muscle, bone and water. More recent tests have put me at 160 lbs of lean mass. So in losing 100 lbs, I have supposedly lost 82 lbs of fat and 18 lbs of "other". How much is water? How much is muscle? I really don't know but I really consider that a good ratio.

One thing I believe strongly in doing is lifting weights because that helps retain your muscle mass.

So you can lose fairly quickly, especially when you start from a high weight but you can minimize your muscle loss. When you are fasting though, your body is really in a survival "where is the food?" mode.

Meg
03-29-2007, 06:21 PM
I agree with Nelie. :)

Our bodies need protein every day to survive. It's what builds and repairs our bodies. If we don't feed it adequate protein, a body is forced to get protein from itself. Where is protein stored in our bodies? In our muscles and organs.

So in the absence of adequate dietary protein, our bodies cannabalize themselves. They burn precious muscle and even will start to digest organs such as the heart (this happens to anorexia sufferers). This is bad news because muscle is what burns fat in our bodies. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is - a good thing!

So maintaining my muscle mass was my highest priority as I lost fat.

After a year of weight loss, I actually gained seven pounds of muscle and lost 129 pounds of fat, for a net loss of 122 pounds. I did it by lifting weights (as heavy as possbile :D ) five days a week and by eating high protein (between 120 - 150 grams a day, or about 45% of my calories). Eating high protein spared the protein stored in my muscles and organs from being used as fuel. And lifting weights built new muscle to replace any that was lost through dieting.

I guess that's why I'm still standing, even after losing fairly quickly. :D I deliberately worked hard on maintaining my muscle mass. It was very, very different from fasting.

rockinrobin
03-29-2007, 08:03 PM
Yup, I'm still standing as well. In fact I'm not only standing, I'm MOVING. Way better then I ever have in my entire life. I have more energy then I did when I was a teenager, at least from what I remember. I was 135 lbs. then, but didn't exercise or eat properly. Now my diet is completely nutritious and full of protein and I exercise 7 days a week. Like Meg, I have also gained a fair amount of muscle in the process. At 177 lbs my body fat % is 27%. Meaning I am 129 lbs of lean mass. It really, really angers me when people say that losing more then 2 lbs a week is too quickly. If done wrong then yes, it is too quickly. But when done properly, well it can't be quick enough. IMO.

nelie
03-29-2007, 09:32 PM
Yup, I'm still standing as well. In fact I'm not only standing, I'm MOVING. Way better then I ever have in my entire life. I have more energy then I did when I was a teenager, at least from what I remember. I was 135 lbs. then, but didn't exercise or eat properly. Now my diet is completely nutritious and full of protein and I exercise 7 days a week. Like Meg, I have also gained a fair amount of muscle in the process. At 177 lbs my body fat % is 27%. Meaning I am 129 lbs of lean mass. It really, really angers me when people say that losing more then 2 lbs a week is too quickly. If done wrong then yes, it is too quickly. But when done properly, well it can't be quick enough. IMO.

Robin,
That 2 lb/week number is really not based on those that are morbidly obese. I think the studies done were on those that had well under 100 lbs to lose. So I've always heard that 2 lb/week is "safe" but if you are morbidly obese, then the number is a bit more flexible. How flexible? Who knows.

rockinrobin
03-29-2007, 09:56 PM
I agree with you 150%. That's why when people say that, about losing more then 2 lbs per week, it's really a very general thing. For the morbidly obese, all bets are off. It's a whole other matter. My goals were NEVER to lose a certain number of pounds per week. I never even considered that. My main goals were to eat highly nutritous foods and to add exercise and movement to my life and to add muscle to my body. I knew if I did those things the weight would come off in as safe a manner as humanly possible.

Meg
03-30-2007, 04:58 AM
I don't think many studies have ever been done on those of us losing more than 100 pounds without surgery. We're the orphans of the medical and research communities. So we're doing the research here ourselves ... and if the researchers are smart, someday they'll come to US for answers! :)

becoming wisdom
03-30-2007, 05:56 AM
I'm actually following a ketogenic diet right now - also called a medically-supplemented fast. This has to be done under a specialist doctor's supervision (look for Bariatric Physician in your yellow pages, and cross your fingers). Yes, so I've been told, after the first few days, fasting takes out as much muscle as fat, and a person on water-only fast is in danger of generalized organ failure after 40 to 50 days. The medical supplements that keep it safe include double (or more) of the usual vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids daily, potassium salts to the tune of 1 1/2 to 2 grams (not milligrams) per day, roughage to keep your system moving, and enough protein to maintain muscle and organs for your ideal weight, based on height, bone structure, age, and gender. You also need to drink 2 to 3 litres of non-diuretic liquids daily, because while your liver is producing glucagon instead of insulin, the kidneys work overtime dealing with the biproducts of fat and muscle tissue breakdown. Certain medical conditions preclude this kind of diet, and you need a full electrolyte work-up to start, and also after every 40-ish lbs lost. If you lose too many electrolytes, you are at risk for heart attack, among other things. This is why you don't get any encouragement for doing this on your own, without a metabolic-specialist doctor's supervision!

So, why am I doing this? I've had a number of very frustrating tries at weight loss, with very limited success. The usual "calories in minus calories expended" model for weight change does not fit me very well, my body has broken the rules at both ends of the spectrum. I can't exercise like I did in my 20's, too much joint damage, exercise-induced asthma that won't respond well, and I've been a borderline diabetic for a long while. Doing rather strict forms of low-carb dieting, weight and aerobic training, timed mini-meals, stress management, proper rest, etc. allow me to maintain my weight, but not to lose any fat. To lose all the weight I really needed to, after trying my regular doctor's references for several "normal" medically-supervised programs which didn't work the way they were supposed to, I finally got the Bariatric specialist referral. That was 3 years ago, and at that time I lost 87 lbs in 26 weeks. However, I went on the "maintenance" program religiously, and gained a pound a week for a whole year, until finding a book on prediabetic insulin management, and discovered a real maintenance plan.
For 2 years I've held my own, but that's all. It's taken me this long to resolve to go through with the ketogenic diet again; I've lost net 10 lbs since last Christmas in a 2 week "test" stint, and in the last 18 days, another 15 lbs so far. This time I'll go for the full 100+ lbs, as we're going backpacking around Europe, end of August. (I expect to gain 5 lbs back when I finish fasting and return to maintenance.) I am still quite obese, but probably not for much longer!
Hopefully all these personal details might help you understand if such an approach might be relevant, or not, to your situations. Again, fasting is very dangerous! But - if you're morbidly obese, can't lose weight, and CAN find someone local who really knows their stuff and can reliably tailor a diet for your particular body, a proper ketogenic diet may unlock the weight loss necessary for your future health.

becoming wisdom
03-30-2007, 06:16 AM
Sorry, I'm new to this forum, and I still don't know how to change the weightloss scale at the bottom of my posts. It should read, 39 lb. lost. 69 lb to go.

rockinrobin
03-30-2007, 09:02 AM
I don't think many studies have ever been done on those of us losing more than 100 pounds without surgery. We're the orphans of the medical and research communities. So we're doing the research here ourselves ... and if the researchers are smart, someday they'll come to US for answers! :)

I can't imagine why. Are we that small a population? There are so many people here at 3FC who have done and are doing it. Obviously there are tons more elsewhere. I would love to get a hold of the "researchers" and show them a thing or 2. Research THIS baby. ;)

Meg
03-30-2007, 09:14 AM
Robin, I think the number of people who have lost over 100 pounds and kept it off for any length of time is - sadly - small. Maintaining the loss is the hard part. Most of us are very good at losing weight but struggle with keeping it off.

The National Weight Control Registry is a study group of people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year. You don't have to be at goal to join and I urge anyone who qualifies to join. I'm a member and so are lots of others here. In the NWCR, we're actually the ones making the news -- there have been at least 11 papers published about the results of the annual NWCR surveys. Have you read articles about how successful losers eat breakfast and weigh themselves regularly? Those both come from the NWCR. :)

For more info on the NWCR: National Weight Control Registry (http://www.nwcr.ws/) and a thread discussing it: Thin For Life/The National Weight Control Registry (http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=34678)

nelie
03-30-2007, 09:59 AM
I also think part of the problem is that we aren't medically supervised. Is there any doctor program where you go in and say "Hey I'm going to lose 100 lbs this year" and then they tell you "great, lets take your measurements, body fat composition and weight on a weekly/biweekly/monthly basis and I'll be able to submit it into our huge scientific database for people like you". Unfortunately, weight loss isn't in the hands of doctors any more, its in our own hands. For those that have WLS, their data is able to be collected and calculated but then they are a different bunch because of the nature of WLS.

Sandi
03-30-2007, 10:13 AM
I recently heard that when you are morbidly obese, it doesn't really matter how fast you lose it, as long as you lose it. The health benefits are so great at that point.

rockinrobin
03-30-2007, 10:18 AM
Meg, I understand that it is a miniscule portion of the population that actually succeeds at first losing and then keeping it off. But it's got to be a bigger portion that NEEDS to lose it and keep it off. For me it really is irrelevant, I was never one who listened to "studies" much pertaining to weightloss, at least most of them. But I know there are many that do. I can't help but think if it were out there more, that people can and ARE succeeding, that it would at least spur on a few people to actually tackle it and do it and of course succeed themselves.

Yes, you've mentioned the NCWR to me before. I have looked into it and rest assured I WILL be part of it. I think you know me well enough by now, (haha, how funny is that?), to know that I WON'T EVER be regaining my pounds. I know it sounds a little, all right a lot cocky, but I have never, ever been surer of anything else in my whole 43 years on this earth.

Nelie, I certainly agree. Weightloss is not in the doctor's hands. It is most definitely in ours and ours alone. But that's okay, I trust myself more then any doctor I've bumped into in my life (unfortunately). I wish I'd bump into Dr. Oz one day. Hmmm, he's one doctor I would trust.

rockinrobin
03-30-2007, 10:25 AM
We posted at the same time Sandi. It's not only that, it's that since we have soooo much to lose and we were OVEREATING so much in the first place, that naturally when you start eating a healthy/normal amount of calories and adding exercise, of course it's going to come off quicker. When I cut back to 1600 calories and say 150 pound person cut down to the same 1600 calories, I was eliminating much more calories then them, so naturally my deficit will be greater, hence I will lose quicker. Who knows how many calories I was eating, 3000? 3500? more? The 150 lb person, maybe they were eating 2000 calories a day? Like I said, it's a whole other matter for the morbidly obese. The 1 -2 lb per week ratio is for overweight/obese people, not MORBIDLY obese people.

nelie
03-30-2007, 10:37 AM
I also agree that you shouldn't aim to lose 2 lbs per week, but if that is what you are losing that is good. If you eat a healthy diet (1200+ calories), exercise and lose more than 2 lbs per week, then you are doing good. If you are starving yourself in hopes of losing more than 2 lbs per week, then I'd be worried.