If you’ve thought about fasting intermittently, experiencing uncontrollable hunger might be your number one fear. However, those who have been fasting for a while can tell you the opposite is true. “Hunger is a habit… If you don’t eat when you become hungry, eventually the hunger will pass,” says New York Times best-selling author Eve Mayer in her latest book, “Life In The Fasting Lane: How to Make Intermittent Fasting a Lifestyle—and Reap the Benefits of Weight Loss and Better Health.” Dr. Jason Fung and Megan Ramos, co-founders of The Fasting Method, are co-authors.

Hunger was a constant in Eve’s life before she started fasting. She was convinced that hunger was a bully she needed to please by eating all the time, which led her to more hunger and weight gain. Like many people struggling with obesity, Eve had deep, emotional connections to food, which she learned to associate with family gatherings and her loved ones’ companionship.  Fasting helped her understand food as “energy and nothing more”. Once she learned how to eat to show her brain she was full (Hint: she greatly decreased her sugar and carb intake and ate more protein and fat), the hunger bully went away and the pounds began to drop.

“I think this [book] is for anyone who wants to understand the possibilities of fasting, whether they want to lose 5 lbs or 300,” Eve told us in a recent interview. “If you’re ready to have information that might change your life and that costs $0 to implement, I think this book is for you.”

We spoke to Eve about how fasting made all the difference in her weight loss journey and why she would recommend fasting over anything else she tried for losing weight.

Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

One of the things stressed in the book is that the ‘eating less and moving more’ approach to weight loss is deeply flawed. In your experience, why was fasting the thing that finally worked for you after trying every kind of diet?

It was a 24 year journey for me to get back to a healthy weight. On all the diets I did, there was an element of eating less. At first, I would stick to it and lose some weight. And then I would get really hungry and really angry. Eventually, I would overeat or binge and gain back weight plus put more back. I can’t say that on any diet [that involved] calorie restriction was I ever feeling good. I always felt terrible and pissed off because I [was] always hungry.

What was different for me about fasting and combining fasting with [high-fat], low-carb eating was the fact that, for the first time in my life, I was not constantly hungry. It was an amazing experience to achieve something that I couldn’t achieve through calorie restriction, or bariatric surgeries, or therapy. I achieved it through eating foods that made me feel full and not limiting myself on how much I ate. Once I combined that with intermittent fasting, getting hungry happened less and less. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to a healthy weight [and kept it off] for 2 years. I don’t think I’d ever maintained a weight [loss] for more than a week.

In the book, you say it’s OK to question the advice that doctors give you regarding weight loss. Do you have examples of advice you received from doctors that you thought was particularly bad?

I went to doctors who told me the only answer for me after two decades of struggling with morbid obesity was bariatric surgery. And after all the diets and exercise, that made sense to me. I took that advice and I had those surgeries (I had a lap band twice and I had a gastric sleeve) and they did not solve my hunger the way that fasting and a [high-fat], low-carb diet did. I lost some weight from bariatric surgery, but I never got the mental freedom or the lessening of hunger. Had I known about fasting at the time, I would have made that choice instead. But doctors told me to eat [less] more often and to work out more, and working out made me very hungry.

In the book, you say that when you started fasting, you did everything wrong. What’s the wrong way to fast?

I like to get really angry and jump into situations. I did one 36-hour fast and then I did an 11-day fast, which was really stupid. It’s like going to a gym and lifting 5 lbs and then bench pressing 300. I still had a lot of Stevia sweeteners, which made me hungrier during fasting in the beginning.

In the book, you talk about achieving mental clarity through fasting. Can you describe that feeling?

I’m just smarter when I fast. And I don’t need to do a long fast to get there. I’m a professional speaker and an entrepreneur. I used to have a meal before a pitch meeting or before going up on stage. I noticed that I was relaxed, but I would be sluggish and not as quick on my feet. Now, if I’m going to speak, I will not eat before and I tend to be better and clear-minded on stage. And if I’m going to write something really important, I try to do that in the morning before I eat.

How did you overcome setbacks in your weight loss journey?

I’m having one right now that I’m trying to figure out how to overcome. My family and I have been mostly home for three months. Everybody right now is going through heightened levels of stress because of the pandemic, job loss, or social unrest. Because of that, I’m really struggling with fasting. When I talk to people, I hear them feeling so bad about themselves because they’ve gained 5-15 lbs. And I think that just gaining a little bit of weight or staying the same weight right now is a tremendous accomplishment, because I think that our stress is at a level that we hadn’t experienced before. The way I’m trying to deal with this is to meditate more and stick to my fasting schedule, which is typically just eat lunch and dinner. I think the way to get over setbacks is to not be so mean to ourselves or beat ourselves up for the two pounds we gained, or the fact that we didn’t do our 24 hour fast yesterday. We should talk to ourselves the way we would expect ourselves to talk to other humans.

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Luisa Torres, PhD

I'm the science communication/social media specialist at LifeOmic. I am also the Editor in chief and manager of the LIFE Apps blogging community. I am a neuroscientist by training who has written for NPR's blogs 'Shots', 'Goats and Soda', and 'The Salt'. Check out my instagram page (@nailsciart) for stories about science using nail art.

LifeOmic® is the software company that leverages the cloud, machine learning and mobile devices to improve healthspans – from prevention and wellness to disease management and treatment.

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