Originally Posted by freelancemomma
In my opinion (and experience), that's not why fasting doesn't work. If you fasted, say, two days per week and DIDN'T EAT OFF PLAN the rest of the week, you would lose weight quickly. What tends to happen in many people (including myself) is that the sense of hunger and deprivation induced by fasting results in a loosening of restraint once you start eating again.
I agree. In my teens and 20's I fasted for weight loss quite successfully, if by successfully you mean, got a little bit of the weight off in a short period. In the long-run though it failed miserably and SPECTACULARLY.
I learned to associate "not eating" with "being good," and "eating" with "being bad." That was an association would come to bite me in the butt in so many ways, including encouraging me to feel worthless because I couldn't "not eat" forever.
It also introduced me to binge eating "eating everything I could get my hands on, because I was never going to get to eat it again as I also vowed to be 'good' and never eat x, y, z (good tasting stuff) EVER again, because I was going to be good."
I learned the binge lesson so well that I could fast for 5 days out of 7 and still not lose weight (because when I ate on weekends I made up for the calories lost during the fast).
I also became LESS physically active (losing muscle) because long-term fasting erodes muscle (thankfully my heart appears to be undamaged, which isn't the case for everyone using fasting and vlcd's to lose weight).
Not only does the fasting itself erode muscle, the habits that fasting encouraged did so as well. Firstly, fasting made me feel so crappy, that all my cravings were for carbs (carbs raise mood because of their role in serotonin production, which is why virtually all "comfort foods" are high glycemic carbs). So not only did I not take in sufficient protein during the fasts and modified fasts, I didn't take in sufficient protein during my eating phases either.
Also, while I felt great while fasting for the first few days, I felt like something you'd scrape off your shoe in the long-term. Even when I fasted only a couple days a week, I would have absolutely no energy for the most basic of tasks, let alone for exercise. Losing more muscle and more metabolism.
I strongly suspect that the frequent use of fasting and vlcd's in my youth, contributed greatly to the pitiful metabolism I have now, as well as my incessant hunger. My brain and biochemistry is prepared for the next famine, and even though I haven't used fasting and vlcd's regularly in decades, my metabolism and health haven't magically rebounded.
Sadly, I don't get two lives so I can't prove that my life would be any different without the vlcd's and the fasting. And the research on the subject is often very flawed. In my experience, the researchers tend to look for immediate effects to metabolsim, and they tend to look in very young, healthy individuals. In my experience the damage is much more gradual, occurs over decades, and includes health problems that the researchers often use as exclusionary criteria (so they exclude anyone with these health problems from their studies...).
By only studying the healthiest people, of course they're not going to find the health problems associated with vlcd's and fasting (they would argue that they're not looking for health problems caused by vlcd's and fasting, they're looking for metabolism changes, but what if the metabolism changes also cause health problems. Or even if the metabolism is only affected by fasting in people predisposed to health problems or people with existing health issues...). Either way, a lot of very important data is lost.
I'm not saying that occasional fasting is harmful, or that even regular fasting is harmful for everyone. I don't know enough to say that with any certaintly. I just do know that it's done nothing positive for me, and I wish I had never done it, not even once (because worst of all, in my opinion, fasting is addictive because it SEEMS effective in the short-run, at least in the early days of it's use. You see a big drop on the scale and you want more and more and more... even AFTER you become convinced it contributes more to weight gain than weight loss you STILL want to see those rapid weight-loss numbers so you convince yourself, even when you know better, that "just this once, and then I'll switch over to sensible weight loss."
Only you never make the switch, or if you do, you get tempted back into it in the hopes of seeing those rapid losses.
On a personal note, I have had limited success with IF. Limited because of blood sugar issues (I can't postpone eating too long, or my blood sugar goes wonky), though I can't CALL it IF, even to myself, because it gets me back in the whole mindset of not eating is good and eating is bad and I end up waiting TOO LONG to eat until I'm so incredibly hungry that I panic and reach for the foods that will fix the unpleasant sensation (of low blood sugar) quickest.... which is high glycemic carbs which triggers more intense hunger/cravings in the long run.
Because of blood sugar issues, I wouldn't recommend that anyone try fasting without discussing it with their doctor and having been screened for metabolic/blood sugar issues such as hypoglycemia, reactive hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes.
I think it's probably safe if done in the right circumstances and with the right mindset. Unfortunately I do not believe that most people go into it (or escape from it) with the right mindset or circumstances.