Friday, October 14, 2016

Weight Maintenance - Part 2

Two weeks into my post-potato hack weight maintenance phase, and I am still holding steady. My diet now is almost exactly like it was pre-hack only now I seem to be maintaining a much lower weight. I'd like to share a couple tricks I picked over the last couple years in this week's post.
Photo from: USC News


Fasting literally means, "eating nothing," but there are ways to fast while still eating. Sounds crazy, right? There's a body of research on a phenomenon known as "Fast Mimicking Diets." It turns out that you don't have to completely stop eating to get the benefits of fasting.

Fasting is an integral part of nearly every world religion, and also shown to have some incredible effects on human health in terms of cancer, mental health, immune system, weight loss, and diabetes.

Intermittent Fasting

Many people practice a form of fasting called "Intermittent Fasting" where you simply skip certain meals, most often breakfast, keeping your body in the non-fed state for approximately 16-20 hours daily. Many people respond very well to this type of fasting. Many diet plans are built around IF'ing:

The Warrior Diet (2009): "...robust health and a lean, strong body can best be achieved by mimicking the classical warrior mode of cycling—working and eating sparingly (undereating) during the day and filling up at night."

The Wild Diet (2015): "...I enjoy the practice of eating my “breakfast” later in the day. I often eat my first meal of the day around noon or even later (Abel James)." 

And most Paleo diets also take advantage of this style of eating, as explained by Mark Sisson of Marks Daily Apple:

Fasting is one way to have your cake and eat it too. Beyond the already proven benefits of a Primal Blueprint low-carb lifestyle, fasting once in a while seems to offer many of the same benefits of calorie restriction – you know, stuff like increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, some cool effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity, plus more – but without the active, agonizing restriction.

Fast-Mimicking Diets

Beyond fasting each day for a short period, there seems to be even more benefits to fasting for a longer duration, 3-5 days, periodically.

Bragg's Miracle of Fasting explains:

With a 24 hour complete water fast weekly – setting aside 52 days and four 7 to 10 day fasts a year for body purification –you can keep the toxins removed and flush the rust and crystals from your moveable joints and muscles.

A new line of fasting research shows that a "fast" does not just have to be water-only. Valter Longo uses combination of low-calorie, high-nutrient foods to simulate fasting for the relief of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and other autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Longo has even patented a special blend of plant-based foods that health care providers may use to feed their patients to simulate a fast. Dr. Longo's company, L-Nutra, sells a line of "FMD" food packets sold as ProLon® and Chemolieve®

These food packets appear to provide about 800 calories per day to patients following this regimen.

ProLon® is a plant-based 5-day meal program. ProLon® is the first Fasting Mimicking and Enhancing Diet (FMED) based on the scientific discoveries made at the University of Southern California on the positive effects of periodic extended periods of fasting on aging, organ function, and weight management. ProLon® is designed to achieve the beneficial effects of fasting while providing micronutrient nourishment (vitamins, minerals and others) from which the body is deprived during fasting and minimizing the psychological burden of pure fasting. It comprises proprietary plant-based soups, bars, drinks, snacks, herbal teas, vitamins, and supplements.

So, basically, they feed sick people soup, tea, and low-calorie snacks for 3-5 days, and see great results. This type of starvation is not cheap, either, I'll bet. You need an account to log-in to even see the prices, and it looks as you you may need to be a doctor to order the foods!

Prolon Ad

Want a cheaper alternative?

The Potato Hack, eating potatoes for 3-5 days at a time, costs next-to-nothing.  And you certainly do not need an account to buy the product!


Weight maintenance can be greatly enhanced by incorporating fasting into your life. Fasting has many proven benefits, and can be done in several ways. Some people really like straight-up water-only fasts. Others enjoy skipping meals for an intermittent type fast. As an alternative, the potato hack can be used as a type of fast-mimicking diet.

Anyone else into fasting?  Let's hear your thoughts.


  1. "Prolonr is designed to achieve the benefits of fasting while providing micronutrient nourishment (vitamins, minerals and others) from which the body is deprived during fasting..."

    Seems reasonable to imagine some of the beneficial effects might come from avoiding certain micronutrients altogether, for a time. Do we know which ones?

    1. Or macronutrients, like fat and protein. Or even carbs, lol. But getting away from red meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, etc., seems to be a big part of fasting "cleanses" and detox protocols.

      But sure, maybe even some micros we need to take a periodic rest from. Could be we get overloaded with iron or copper and a 3 day break allows the body to use up stores...just guessing on that one, but seems possible in some cases.

      If you click the link to the Longo patent for FMD diets, it looks like they just threw everything in the pot and gave a good stir. It really just looks like a very low calorie diet without much real thought to the exact composition, but with enough voodoo looking things to make it seem all science-based. When you see the term "proprietary blend" it usually means they are just making a blend difficult to replicate.

    2. You don't have to worry about nutrients if you're doing intermittent fasting say between 16 to 24 hours.

    3. "fasting "cleanses" and detox protocols."... laf!
      Just fast for 24 hours once a week. The human body is self cleaning.

    4. "with enough voodoo"... yep. That's 90% of the "diet" industry. A good high intensity exercise regimen combined with eating to satiety, a natural/clean (non man-made) diet with near zero amounts of sugar and white flour products is better than 99% of diet programs out there. The problem is the vast majority of people just cannot deal with the "intense exercise" part. Humans are no different than any other animal. You either have to perform low-intensity movement almost constantly, or small amounts of very high intensity movements. Sure, you can avoid both but then you're gonna have to make up for that with 10X the effort with your diet which is also not easy for many people.

    5. Thanks for all that, Brad. Lean Gains probably is the best IF protocol, especially for someone wanting to get super lean and muscular.

      Sugar, white flour, and also foods fried in oils are definitely the worst offenders, and avoiding these while getting a good exercise regimen will undoubtedly get most people out of a bad health rut.

      I'm not sure how intense one has to exercise. 20-60 minutes of walking a day and some bodyweight exercises are enough for me, and it does not require going to a gym. If I wanted to go that extra mile and get killer abs, I know that it would take considerably more effort than I'm putting in now.

      Thanks for the comments, haven't seen you in a while! Glad to see you are still grinding away at it.

    6. I agree with Brad: detox is bullshit.

      A lot of guys who frequent some blogs are into body building. And a lot of people are the 'worried well'. Both provide lots of $$ to various industries marketing products that supposedly produce the desired results. Isn't the internet wonderful? There's something for everyone.

    7. "Sugar, white flour, and also foods fried in oils are definitely the worst offenders,"

      Where does wheat stand? Yay or nay?

    8. I think a lot of people around here are still on the fence about wheat, me included. Some people have a definite problem with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but I think the problem is more with unfermented, refined wheat.

      Properly fermented, whole-gran wheat seems to be a much different food item than Wonder Bread.

  2. I enjoy (mostly!) a bit of fasting. In a previous life going above 3 hours without food made me really miserable. Now I train fasted 3 times a week (around 18 hours).

    I did a 3 day fast a couple of months back. 1st day no problem, 2nd day really quite tough, then 3rd day not too bad.

    I do like training fasted and plan on keeping it going. Even on none fasting days I rarely eat before 10.30 as I'm just not hungry!

  3. One of, if not THE first blogger who brought IF'ing to the masses was and it's fantastic. I've done the 16/8 form of IF'ing for an extended period - perhaps as much as 2 years and I was in the most lean of my life. First time I ever had visible "ab's" in_my_life and this was at age 50! The Ketogenic state, or something close to it like that provided by the higher keto levels of doing IF is the very best way to liberate body fat and get or stay leaner. I consider IF'ing to be intermittent-keto due to the extra body fat burned. It's the only way that works (for me) to stay lean without calorie counting or doing lots of compensatory "cardio" exercising. I don't do cardio. I only lift. That's the LeanGains way. FYI.

  4. Once per year I do a strict water fast for 6-10 days. I've been doing this for the last 7 years (wow, didn't realize it was so long!). Here are some random notes.

    If you do any kind of IF, then the usual (strong) hunger pangs on days 2 and 3 are muted. Days 4 - X are when the body goes into deep ketosis and you get the feeling of calm, better visual clarity, etc.

    Usually by Day 5 or so I have my final poop and the decks are cleared. You know that your digestion has slowed immensely when the mucus layer lining your intestines is ejected. Yes, it sounds gross but nothing coming out of that end is non-gross even on the best of days.

    Anyway, I also noticed body temp falls a bit. It's only half a degree F or so, but it's enough that I would only recommend doing a longer water fast during the summer. Fasting during winter is kind of miserable because you just can't get warm.

    As for energy levels, for me they have always remained fine. I wouldn't try to do an intense 60m workout, but my usual 20m workout is within reach. (I work out about 20m a day 4 days a week; it's 100% body weight exercise.)

    I have terrible vision (around 20/400). My vision improves quite a bit on the latter days of the fast. It still requires significant correction, but everything is sharper and colors are bolder. It's a strange side effect but I love it.

    Lots of fasting books talk about your breath getting bad (really just ketosis breath) and a white film forming on your tongue. I have had that but I can't really correlate the tongue film to any particular "detox." Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. The bad breath doesn't last long... maybe a day or two. Just floss & and brush at the end and all is well.

    I highly recommend stocking up on some "smart" water for the cleanse or making your own slightly salty water. Whenever I have felt strong lethargy during a water fast, it's always been solved by drinking 10-20 ounces of SmartWater or Pelligrino. I know there are other "salt fortified" waters available on the market so probably any of them would work.

    Blood pressure has a tendency to fall in the latter days of the fast. Getting up from a prone position might cause some light headed feelings or some dizziness. My BP would be 125/80 before the fast would start; mid-fast it would be 100/70 or so. As I get older (I'm in my mid 40s now) I do not notice my BP improving as much on a water fast. Don't know why. Maybe I need to go longer.

    Before starting a water fast, I usually ease off on the harder to digest proteins and carbs (meat, brocolli, other hard-walled veggies). I'll do that for 3 days in advance. I imagine the potato hack would be a perfect primer. When breaking the fast 6-10 days later I used to do it with fruit juice. You actually have to "chew it" to get the glands in your mouth to start producing sufficient saliva again. I think breaking the fast with plain boiled, steamed, or baked potatoes would work just fine too. I will do that next time.

    If anyone has questions, feel free to post them.

    1. Thanks! That's a great explanation of an extended fast. I know that people who practice this all seem to like the benefits, and it appears to be quite healthy, once a year or so.

  5. So Tim... how are you using fasting as part of your maintenence? Hopefully you didn't mention it in the article and I just missed it.

    1. I try to stop eating by 7pm and do not eat again until noon, creating a daily 17 hour fast an a 7 hour feeding window.

      I'm also going to start a monthly, very strict 3-day potato hack the first week of each month.

  6. I used do to “dry” fasts when I was younger. In the early 2000s I started reading about a group of Russian folks who were into this, along with cold water dousing…which is simply dumping an ice cold bucket of water on your head (and it is about as fun as it sounds). Their theory was that the removing all food and water would cause your cells to be starved of water and therefore do a deeper cleanse/detox. The cold water, which when done as a big splash would shock your body and trigger a huge increase in blood flow which would then raise your body temp very high for a few minutes, once more doing more cleansing. It sounded pretty wild, but I wanted to figure out if there was anything to it.

    I had blood sugar issues back then so I just started doing 4, 6 and 8 hour fasts and eventually worked up to 24 hour fasts with no food or water. The Russian folks recommended up to 42 hours if you were sick…the most I ever did was 30 hours when I was sick as a dog with a horrible flu. Did the ice cold water shock therapy ever two hours…and in two days I had purged the flu. I remember everyone at work had caught and spread the same “death flu” which was taking people and leaving them bed ridden and unable to work for 1-2 weeks. I came back 2 days later, not quite 100% but able to work. When my colleagues asked me what I did to cure the flu I told them plainly in a meeting: “Well I didn’t eat or drink for 30 hours and dumped about 20 buckets of freezing ice water on my head”. I don’t think I will ever forget the blank stares and looks of confusion on their faces. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but it certainly seemed to work. And the cold dousing really makes your feel hot after the initial shock…the blood rush feels great but that initial shock of freezing water is anything but pleasant.

    Every now and then I do a 16, 20 or even 24 hour fast, but I use water these days and I stopped the ice cold water therapy as well. I got into fasting well before IF was well known or a thing…I’ve tried that as well with mixed results. Skipping breakfast makes me feel like a zombie. For me personally, portion control and having healthy home cooked meals with high quality food and moderate exercise seems to work the best. I’ve never been one to follow a strict plan for very long…I like to learn from them all and then do my own thing. A little fasting, a little paleo, a little potato hacking…it’s all good. :)

  7. I think it is important to have times where nothing is coming in to process. Digestion is actually pretty taxing on an organism.

  8. I think Joel Fuhrman has a book where he talks about healing his body with a 40 day fast. About 12 to 15 years ago, I tried to go 2 weeks with water only but only lasted to the 7-10 day mark and at that point my body may have experienced a "healing crisis" or something because I was in so much pain that I couldn't continue. Since then, I have had an aversion to fasting and don't get much more than maybe a 12 to 15 hour one in from time to time. It's not that I don't think it is good for me - I do. I just have a harder time trying to talk myself into actually doing it again!