Life in the Fast(ing) Lane image: image of a tractor trailer truck in the fast lane of a highway.

Life in the Fast(ing) Lane: How something very old has become the new way (of dieting)

Anyone want (or need) to lose a few pounds?

At the end of January, I asked Tony Bear to be my guinea pig for a weight-loss experiment.

See, as an ACC college football official, Tony frequently appears on national television, mostly during fall weekends. The rest of the year, he watches dozens of recorded games to analyze how to be a better official.

Over and over—slow-motion, rewind, slow-motion—Tony watches himself move through a play.

You don’t need to tell Tony twice—the camera adds 10 pounds. 

More than once I heard him murmur, “Ugh, I need to lose weight!”  I also noticed him just saying no to his beloved chips and salsa. Coming home from work with the lunch I packed, uneaten. Drinking one beer instead of two.

So when I told him one of my newspaper readers mentioned something intriguing, an extremely simple way to lose weight, he didn’t even ask for an explanation. “Yes! Pick me. Can we start tomorrow?”

And now, a little over two months into this secret program, Tony’s down 20 pounds. 

“Can I tell my readers you no longer look like a sausage, pinched in the middle?” I asked.

He answered my question with a look I believe could be best described as “stinkeye,” but I’m serious. He is looking super svelte these days.  Why, yesterday at 6 am, as I flipped my pillow to the cool side during a hot flash, I caught a glimpse of him before he left for work. He was cinching in his belt so his britches would stay up.

“Wow, honey,” I cooed, “you look really great.”

So, do you want to know how the pounds disappeared?

Right after New Years, Cindy McKee, one of my newspaper readers, left a comment on the blog, specifically on the Breaking (Up with) Bread post. She wanted to thank me for the post and let me know the book I recommended, Eat Bacon; Don’t Jog (EBDJ), now has a waiting list at the Kanawha County Library. I got a kick out of that.

Then she mentioned a term I’ve heard a few times in the past few years: Intermittent Fasting. Curious, I wrote her back asking for more information. She recommended I check out Dr. Jason Fung, a physician specializing in nephrology. “He’s the guru of intermittent fasting,” she said.

I watched some of Fung’s YouTube videos and instantly understood the premise. I showed Tony a couple of the videos. That’s when he said he wanted to try intermittent fasting. The next day.

“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” -Marie Antoinette

Fasting as a way of life has mostly been forgotten. These days, most people find the thought intimidating, horrifying. Surely it’s akin to starving. Actually, it’s not. Starvation is the involuntary absence of food. Fasting is voluntaryYou can end your fast any time you want. Just open your mouth and insert food.

The truth is, you have experience with fasting already. You fast every night while you’re sleeping. Sometimes you’re asked to fast for blood work or surgery. Maybe you slept late last week and had to skip breakfast as a result. Many people skip eating when they’re ill. Did the world end when you skipped a meal or two? I didn’t think so.

In addition, Fung reminds naysayers,

“Fasting for spiritual purposes is widely practiced, and remains part of virtually every major religion in the world.” 

Jesus fasted for 40 days. And in the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus says, “When you fast…” not if you fast.

And while you might try fasting for the sake of slimming down, weight loss is just one of the benefits of fasting. According to Fung:

Fasting is also practiced “… to improve concentration, extend life, prevent Alzheimers, prevent insulin resistance, and even reverse the entire aging process.”

Many people experience some of these benefits when they eat the EBDJ-way—low carbohydrate-high fat. I know I did. I wasn’t looking to lose weight, but pounds dropped off. I didn’t expect my concentration and energy levels to improve, but boy, did they.

As simple as I find eating the EBDJ-way, intermittent fasting is easier.

Most diets demand you pay attention to WHAT you eat. You have to count calories. Or points. You scan the nutritional info on food packages for fat grams and sugar. You measure your portions.

Eating the EBDJ-way is no exception. You become passionate about how many carbs this or that food contains. And many ketogenic eaters become downright obsessed with the ratio of fat to protein in their food.

With intermittent fasting, only one thing matters: When you eat.

Intermittent fasters have two settings: fasting and feeding. When you eat, you’re feeding. When you’re not consuming food, you’re fasting. It’s that simple.

The cool thing about fasting is you get to set the rules. Do you want your fast to be 12-hours, 16-hours, or way longer? Once you hit the 12 or 14-hour mark of fasting, your body begins to burn its own fat for fuel. This is my favorite part of fasting!!

On most days, Tony goes more than 12 or 16 hours without eating. This is because Tony chooses to be an OMAD-faster.

OMAD means one meal a day.

OMAD may sound really intense but Tony loves this way of life. He’s not hungry at breakfast or most of the morning. And since he owns and operates a small business, he often doesn’t have time to eat lunch. So his eating “window” begins when he sits down to supper. And usually ends an hour later. Because he’s full.

Since I am not so robust an individual,

I fast for 16 hours and eat for 8.

Like Tony I am not hungry for breakfast. Just give me coffee. Two cups with heavy whipping cream and xylitol please. Typically I get the tummy-rumbles around 11 am or noon. Ding! That’s when my eating “window” opens. And it closes, right after I finish dessert. Yep, we eat dessert.

As with LCHF, each day we aim to eat plenty of proteins and healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and a serving or two of nuts and seeds. We also do our best to drink a lot of water.

But wait, there’s more.

Our cholesterol levels are like the Wicked Witch of the West when she encountered water. They’re all, “I’m melting….”

Tony had blood work done three weeks after starting the intermittent fasting experiment. His HDL, the good cholesterol, dropped by one point to 77. But get this, his LDL decreased by 31 points. His trigycerides stayed the same at  49.

As for me, since starting to apply intermittent fasting, my LDL is down by 13 points and my HDL is up by 15. My triglycerides stayed about the same, too, hovering around 60.

Please know, this post barely skimmed the topic of intermittent fasting. You really should read how Fung is using intermittent fasting to help his patients decrease or eliminate their dependence on diabetes medications. Some even inside of a single month. His results are amazing. Click this link for a whole slew of Dr. Fung blogposts and videos.

Thanks, Cindy McKee, for introducing us to intermittent fasting. You singlehandedly changed our health for the better.


Now it’s your turn, friend. Are you ready to give intermittent fasting a try? A 12-hour fast, OMAD, or maybe even 48 hours? Fung says once you get to the 48th hour, you pretty much cease to be hungry. You should see if he’s right.

Update: Yikes, folks! I forgot to mention Dr. Fung’s book, The Complete Guide to Fasting. I read it at the beginning of our journey and highly recommend it. This is an affiliate link, by the way.

But wait, there’s more! To read “What to Expect IF you try Intermittent Fasting,” click here.

And if you want to read Cindy McKee’s personal account, you can find it here.

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