"The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle" (2005) by Bert Herring M.D. is a weight-loss and weight-maintenance plan based on the concept of intermittent fasting. It consists of a single rule: limit calorie intake to no more than five consecutive hours in each day. The Fast-5 Lifestyle is an indefinite continuation of that diet for weight maintenance after the weight loss goal has been reached.
Dieters using the Fast-5 diet fast for nineteen hours total each day. This nineteen hours includes sleep. After the nineteen hours of fasting is complete, dieters then have five hours in which they can eat whatever they choose.
The suggested eating window is from 5pm - 10pm, but Dr. Herring indicates that the nineteen continuous hours of fasting time is the key to the diet's effect, and that the five-hour eating window may be set whenever it is most personally convenient.
The Fast-5 approach does not stipulate a calorie intake level. It relies on the eating schedule's effect of correcting appetite to determine proper intake, but doesn’t discourage the addition of a calorie counting approach. The Fast-5 Diet also does not specify food content or forbid any foods, allowing the approach to be used with any dietary preference.
The Fast-5 diet was developed based on the personal results Dr. Herring experienced while working at the National Institutes of Health and incorporates estimates of the eating schedule of ancient hunter-gatherer humans who ate without benefit of food storage or refrigeration.
Dr. Herring distinguishes Limbic hunger, which comes from that part of the brain that connects primitive drives, emotion, and memory, from Somatic hunger, which is the sensation of discomfort in the stomach area that is commonly known as hunger, or hunger pangs. Somatic hunger is the result of the interaction of many hormonal and nerve signals and incorporates more information than just whether the stomach is empty.
He says that Limbic hunger is the reason why it is hard to eat only one potato chip. Eating one chip triggers more appetite because primitive limbic signals tell the brain we should eat as much as we can while food is available. This leads to more eating, connecting in a vicious circle that doesn’t stop until the bag of chips is empty. The ancient instinct takes control of behavior, ignoring higher thinking and preferences. Limbic hunger in a land of plenty causes one to eat too often and too much.
Two ways in which the Fast-5 plan is helpful, according to Dr. Herring, is that:
I have had brief and limited experiments with the Fast-5 diet, usually in combination with alternate day eating. I am currently involved in another entirely different Fast-5 experiment.
My normal pattern is to wake up about 4am. and go to sleep about 8pm.
During my past experiments, I chose an eating window of 2pm until 7pm, which in my lifestyle is the equivalent of a 5pm to 10 pm window. This did not work well for me because during the entire Fast-5 dieting experiment I found myself simply killing time every day until 2pm, totally focused on wanting to eat, while I did everything possible to distract myself from food until the time finally came for me to eat.
I am a morning person, and normally prefer my breakfast and lunch over my dinner, so with a late-in-the-day window, my preferred mealtimes were not available to me.
I had difficulty in getting myself to set a morning 5 hour window because of the idea of how hard I might find it to go without food during the long afternoon and evening period.
Recently, I decided to try Fast-5 with a morning window from 9am to 2pm and found that this suits my body and personality a great deal better. A five hour window from 9am to 2pm allows me to eat at my preferred mealtimes. It also seems that so far…..I, personally, feel less physical hunger and less desire to eat after 2pm between lunch and bedtime, than I do in the mornings before 2pm. Whether this will continue to be the case over time, is something that I just don’t know.
My present Fast-5 experiment is in the early stages, and is combined with calorie counting and other dietary preferences. I haven’t set a time-period for how long I’ll continue on with it. Right now, it’s day-by-day, and I’m deciding each morning whether or not to go forward with it.
I know that there are times when I find eating zero food easier than eating a tiny amount of food, and other times when this isn’t true for me. I’m interested in learning more information about that difference. I’m also curious as to whether this way of eating will cause me to eat less overall, for more than just a few days, and if that behavior will provide me with any weight-loss results. I mention this just as another example of how I treat Dieting as a Hobby.
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