Personalised Fasting

It’s day 3 and 4 of my monthly fast and this time I’ve found I’m not losing any weight, which has happened before. However, I have lost some circumference around my stomach and I am now 65 cm which is positive. As you know I have been cheating with a few berries, some seaweed tossed into my soup or an occasional oatcake, but in reality I don’t think that’s why I am not losing weight. I think it might be the bodies response to holding on to what it’s got, which maybe a survival adaptation or may still reflect insulin resistance. I am not too worried as this prolonged fast is more than weight loss – for me it is more about other benefits like training my body to deal with hunger.
Yesterday at work, I found hard as I was finding it difficult to think clearly, but it eased up as the day went on and I felt good in the evening at my book group avoiding my favourite sauvignon and having a glass of water instead. Luckily the conversation about the book was stimulating and enjoyable and I didn’t notice not having a glass of wine.
I have also been listening to Dr Mindy Pelz whilst cycling to work and she has so much to share about finding the fast that is right for you. So for a number of reasons I have decided to make this a 4 day rather than 5 day fast. Each time I have done it Day 5 has been very tough and it might be that for me 4 days is still hard but better for my body.
Mindy talks about the spiritual element of fasting, that stretch point where we have to dig deep and this helped me when she described that often during a fast the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for survival) will fire off urging us to eat and how she said a gentle push back can help during this difficult point.
I have also been thinking about how next time I might design my own 4 day low calorie, low carbohydrate, low protein diet in collaboration with the NCIM nutrition team. I still believe the 5 day fast boxes have their place, particularly with the research I have been sharing, but I would still really like to explore a whole food fast. People often say are you not eating anything, but a fast is defined as a period of caloric restriction so it’s more about limiting and eating the right balance of foods for a short period of time.
I will be asking my family doctor to repeat my HBA1C and my lipid profile and because they’ve been found I am low in vitamin B12 rechecking that also. So it will be interesting to see whether there have been improvements since beginning my fasting.
We are also starting to design retreats that we can now run from our new home in Ham Green to support people in improving their metabolic health. Learning how to cook and buy a vibrant and enjoyable low carb diet could be a way of avoiding having to use an expensive product but as a tool to kickstart metabolic flexibility I haven’t found anything else as useful and more importantly if we want food to be part of mainstream medicine this product has been designed with all nutrients visible and reproducible.
For those of you afraid of hunger I too was someone who couldn’t go for more than a couple of hours without feeling jangly, irritable and needing to eat. Something I’ve learnt in my recent study is that genetics are determining around 20% of what we might develop in our lives but those epigenetics – how the genes are switched on –  can be influenced by lifestyle. When we fast we activate Sirtuins, a type of protein involved in regulating cellular processes. If you remember we also mentioned the colourful polyphenols found in berries, so although I’m not encouraging you to cheat on your five day fast, if you’re struggling during fasting a few raspberries or blueberries might not only help you psychologically but encouraged those healthy pathways to activate.


Dr Elizabeth Thompson