Friday, August 17, 2012

This fasting caper ...

I wonder how many who are reading this saw the fascinating programme about fasting and ageing on the telly? I recorded it - presumably during the Olympics - and got round to watching it last night. Beginning with the aged (as in 101 years old) Sikh gentleman who completed the London marathon, who ate only child-sized portions of food and was very thin,  we were gradually convinced that it we were to cut out food altogether for 80 hours or so, or perhaps have two days a week with only one 500 calorie meal in each day - eating what we liked the rest of the week - we would lose weight, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar: in short, we would become physically younger and fitter and less likely to fall ill.

Of course we know we in the West eat far too much. Apparently our bodies were built to expect lean times - perhaps we weren't fast enough to catch up with dinner for a couple of days - and malfunction if these days of forced fasting don't happen.  I was so convinced I was tempted to try the 500 calorie days idea - until I went through a day with it in mind.

Today I swam half a mile before breakfast, which I then felt hungry for and consequently enjoyed enormously. I worked with my brain through a three-hour meeting, ate some brown bread straight out of the machine along with 4 dates and a banana, then pounded up a steep forestry track for half an hour and down again, hurrying because I wanted to be at church in time. And then I cooked the above delicious dinner (salmon, spiced lentils, mint yogurt dressing, salad, glass of white wine) and wondered how I'd do this fasting caper.

I guess one has to find out if intense physical activity is possible while fasting, and to plan what mealtime you'd choose for your one meal of the day. I suspect mine would be the evening meal, simply because of the social conditioning that makes it a ritual pleasure.

How about you? Anyone?


  1. Couldn't one make fasting day a take it easy kind of day? Good book, afternoon nap, lots of iced drinks, gentle stroll....

  2. I suppose you could - but the suggestion was that we're meant to get to the stage where our body starts to consume fat; I wonder if you need to be more active to hasten the need ...

  3. Update almost a year later (August 8, 2013): I decided it wasn't going to work, but that I wanted there to be ... well, less of me. And I can report that there is - a whole 16lbs less. I even bought new bathroom scales to encourage me. I feel like a different person, and can skip up hills that left me panting when I was carrying the equivalent of 3 bags of potatoes with me.

    The secret? I ate less (fewer spuds, less bread, no second helpings) and was stricter about getting exercise daily. Here's to the next 12 months ...