A revolutionary new diet that’s a big hit in the U.K. is now coming to America. The plan? Eating normally five days a week (whatever you want!) and fasting for two nonconsecutive days (500-600 calories per day) is said to help you lose weight quickly and easily. Here’s how to get started on The FastDiet by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer.
The first thing you can expect from adopting the FastDiet, of course, is to lose weight—some weeks more, some weeks less; some weeks finding yourself stuck at a disappointing plateau, other weeks making swifter progress. As a basic guide, you might anticipate a loss of around a pound with each fast day. This will not, of course, be all fat. Some will be water, and some the digested food in your system. You should, however, lose around ten pounds of fat over a ten-week period, which beats a typical low-calorie diet. Crucially, you can expect to maintain your weight loss over time. More important than what you’ll lose, though, is what you’re set to gain.
How Your Anatomy Will Change
Over a period of weeks, you can expect your BMI, body fat percentage, and waist measurement to drop and your lean muscle mass to increase. Your cholesterol count, blood glucose, and IGF-1 levels will improve. This is the path to greater health and extended life. You are already dodging your unwritten future. Right now, though, the palpable changes will start to show up in the mirror as your body becomes leaner and lighter.
As the weeks progress, you’ll find that intermittent fasting has potent secondary effects, too. Alongside the obvious weight loss and health benefits stored up for the future, there are more subtle consequences, perks, and bonuses that can come into play.
How Your Appetite Will Change
Expect your food preferences to adapt; pretty soon, you’ll start to choose healthy foods by default, not by design. You will begin to understand hunger, to negotiate and manage it, knowing how it feels to be properly hungry. You’ll also recognize the sensation of being pleasantly full, not groaning like an immovable sofa. Satiated, not stuffed. The upshot? No more “food hangovers,” improved digestion, more bounce.
After six months of intermittent fasting, interesting things should happen to your eating habits. You may find that you eat half the meat you once did—not as a conscious move, but a natural one born of what you desire rather than what you decide or believe. You’re likely to consume more vegetables. Many intermittent fasters instinctively retreat from bread (and, by association, butter), while stodgy “comfort” foods seem less appealing and refined sugars aren’t nearly as tempting as they once were. The bag of candy in the glove compartment of the car? Take it or leave it.
Of course, you don’t need to dwell actively on any of this. If you are like me, then one day soon, you’ll arrive at a place where you say no to the cheesecake because you don’t want it, not because you are denying yourself a treat. This is the baseline power of intermittent fasting: it encourages you to recheck your diet. And that’s your long-haul ticket to health.
How Your Attitude Will Change
So yes, you’ll start to lose bad habits around food. But if you continue to fast—and feast—with awareness, all kinds of other changes should occur, some of them unlikely and unexpected. You may, for instance, discover that you’ve been suffering from “portion distortion” for years, thinking that the food piled on your plate is the quantity you really need and want. With time, you’ll probably discover that you’ve been overdoing it. Muffins will start to look vast as they sit, fat and moist, under glass domes in the coffee shops. A large bag of chips becomes a monstrous prospect. You may go from venti to grande to only wanting half a cup, no sugar, no cream.
Soon you’ll come to recognize the truth about how you’ve been eating and the wordless fibs you’ve told yourself for years. This is as much a part of the recalibrating process as anything else; you’ve changed your mind. Occasional fasting will train you in the art of “restrained eating”; at the end of the day, this is the goal. It’s all part of the long game of behavioral change that means that the FastDiet will ultimately become neither a fast nor a diet, but a way of life. After a while, you’ll have cultivated a new approach to eating—thoughtful, rational, responsible—without even knowing you’re doing it.
Intermittent fasters also report a boost to their energy, together with an amplified sense of emotional well-being. Some talk of a “glow”—the result, perhaps, of winning the battle for self-control, or from the smaller clothes and the compliments, or from something going on at a metabolic level that governs our moods. We may not yet know precisely why, but whatever it is, it feels good. Far better than cake. As one online devotee says, “Overall, fasting just seems right. It’s like a reset button for your entire body.” More subtly still, many fasters acknowledge a sense of relief as their fast days no longer revolve around food. Embrace it. There’s a certain liberty here, if you allow it to materialize. You may find, as we have, that you start to look forward to your fasts: a time to regroup and give feeding a rest.
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