My tumblr dash has been blowing up about this latest fad diet over the weekend. On the plus side, it is blowing up with people talking about how dangerous and irresponsible it is, so thank goodness there are people out there with the good sense not to get suckered into these things.
I actually saw this one on the evening news earlier last week and just about lost my shit over it. I mean… a couple of weeks back I lost it big time over the “calorie confusion” load of nonsense Dr Oz was pushing… I mean, I have a client come to me worried about her partner who is a grown man over 6 foot tall with a busy and active lifestyle, trying to survive on 1200 calories every other day thanks to Dr Oz. Of course I’m going to lose it over that. What could possibly be worse advice than that?
Well, I’ll tell you what’s worse. THIS. Seriously… it’s basically the same concept except you’re supposed to be able to live on 500 calories if you’re a woman, or 600 if you’re a man a couple of days a week. So… that’s roughly equivalent to what I might have for breakfast, and that’s all you’re getting twice a week. Absolute fucking madness.
First off, stop calling this “intermittent fasting”.
Intermittent fasting is a technique some bodybuilders and other athletes use, that they believe gives them better results than just using IIFYM alone. It is still based on getting the appropriate amount of calories and ratio of macronutrients to suit their needs, but they’ll get all of their meals inside a window of say 8 hours in the day, leaving a 16 hour fast period each day. Personally I think if you’re an intermediate or advanced level athlete and you have the discipline to stick to this and feel like you’re getting some extra results from it, all the more power to you. For your average weight loss client though it isn’t necessary.
Regardless of your or my opinion on the benefits of intermittent fasting, let’s have no confusion that this “fast diet” is a calorie restriction diet… no, it’s a STARVATION diet, not an intermittent fasting strategy. It’s starvation twice a week, anyway.
Come to think of it I remember reading a comment a few months back (can’t remember who from, sorry!) dreading the day that the mainstream caught on to the concept of Intermittent Fasting and turned it into a dangerous fad diet. Well, we should have known it wouldn’t take too long, unfortunately.
Why this is so horribly damaging and irresponsible.
As a little disclaimer first, I have not actually read the book and have no intention of doing so. I don’t think that matters though. For all I know the book could lay it down with some strict rules that people need to follow that makes this work in a healthy way… I’d be surprised but I’ll accept that is a possibility. It changes nothing, because I’m more concerned with the people who don’t actually read the book, but hear about it on the news or from a friend “you just don’t eat 2 days a week!” and so that’s what they do.
As I’ve talked about a lot here already, most people trying to lose weight are already over restricting their intake of calories. Maybe they’re on those stupid VLCD meal replacement programs, or whatever other starvation fad diet. Maybe they’re counting calories and limiting to 1200 per day as per urban myth on how to lose weight. Also they’re smashing hours of cardio on the treadmill or dance based fatigue chasing exercise programs as well. But they’re not getting results, so they think “great, I’ll do this as well. A couple of days a week at 500 calories… actually, I’ll do it every second day instead. Actually, I’ll make it 200 calories instead of 500 since I find it so hard to lose weight”.
Honestly, think of the people you know who go on and off these sort of fad diets and tell me that’s NOT what most of them are likely to do? If you’re an apologist you might argue “but that’s not what it says in the book, you can’t blame them if people take the idea to extremes beyond what they recommend” but actually I don’t give a FUCK about that and I DO blame them. You’re putting out a message “to lose weight, don’t eat” which apart from not even being correct is entirely dangerous and irresponsible.
If you guys even knew how many first aid incidents I was called to in my corporate security days that turned out to be a woman passing out from low blood sugar due to not eating all day. It was A LOT. What happens when that happens to someone on this stupid diet while driving their kids to school or something?
Here’s why none of this crap is even necessary.
So, I’m not entirely certain if this is supposed to be like “starve 2 days a week, do whatever you want the other 5” or if it is “starve 2 days a week, consume a sensible and appropriate diet the other 5″… so I’ll cover both possible interpretations.
Let’s take my stats… male human being, desperately late 30s, 13kg overweight (cos I got muscles, y0). Let’s say for some reason I decide I want to be a normal weight instead of the super-human force of nature you see before you today. To maintain my current weight I require 3000 calories per day…. to get back down to a normal BMI I would dial in a meal plan of about 2300 calories per day. Total calorie deficit for the week would be around 5000.
Now if I was to continue eating 3000 calories a day 5 days a week, and 600 twice a week? Calorie deficit for the week is still about 5000.
Which plan seems easier and more sensible? Those two days of 600 calories would be hell, I’d be hungry, miserable, bad tempered and in no state to operate a vehicle or heavy machinery. And forget about training, someone would have to call an ambulance.
I don’t get it man.
Why do people think they need to do anything other than just adopt sensible eating habits appropriate to maintaining their goal weight?