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Table of Contents

Research Summary

  • Fasting causes 37 points reduction in systolic blood pressure.
  • 9 out of 10 hypertensive people achieve blood pressure less than 140/90 mm Hg through fasting.
  • Fasting helps with weight loss, normalize blood pressure, and lower blood sugar.
  • Fasting is a natural way to treat many diseases (1,422 people study fasting for 4 to 22 days).
  • Fasting helps removes excess fat in a fatty liver.
  • Fasting results in better life habits.
  • Fasting improves emotional and physical well-being.
  • Fasting can be intermittent or periodic (done 1 to 2 days per week).
  • The greatest caloric restriction is no calories at all.
  • “He that eats till he is sick must fast till he is well.”- T. Fuller
  • Intermittent fasting has been branded as the biggest weight-loss fad.
  • Fasting was historically practiced by Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha.
  • 14% of adults in the United States have used fasting as a way to control body weight.
  • Starvation in a successive moderate period is a perfectly safe, harmless, and effective method for obese people to lose weight.
  • 27-year-old man fasted for 382 days straight and lost 276 lbs. No health issues.
  • 16 individuals in the US Air Force fasted for 84 days and lost between 40 to 100 pounds each.
  • Fasting results in weight loss through changing to better eating habits.
  • Fasting results in clarity of mind, letting go of the past and developing a positive attitude for the future.
  • Fasting with 2 to 3 days of vegetables and fruits then 10 to 11 days of water-only treats high blood pressure.
  • Fasting should not go beyond 2 days unsupervised.
  • Fasting helps people stick to healthier diets.
  • Fasting resensitize taste buds to make food palatable like eating corn without butter.
  • Switching from eating to fasting, there is a noticeable rise of ketone bodies in the urine.

What Does Fasting Do On Your Metabolism?

An overnight fast of 8–10 is normal for most people. Fasting is characterized by a coordinated set of metabolic changes designed to spare carbohydrates and increase reliance on fat as a substrate for energy supply. As well as sparing the limited endogenous carbohydrate, and increased rate of gluconeogenesis from amino acids, glycerol and ketone bodies help maintain the supply of carbohydrate.

Many individuals undergo periodic fasts for health, religious or cultural reasons. Ramadan fasting, involving 1 month of abstention from food and fluid intake during daylight hours, is practiced by a large part of the world population. This period involves a shift in the pattern of intake from daytime to the hours of darkness. There seems to be little effect on overall daily dietary intake and only small metabolic effects, but there may be implications for both physical and cognitive function.

The limited evidence suggests that the effects of Ramadan-style fasting on exercise performance are generally small. This needs to be balanced, however, against the observation that small differences in performance are critical in determining the outcomes of sporting events. Studies involving challenging sporting events (prolonged sustained or intermittent high-intensity events, hot and humid environments) are needed.

Increases in subjective sensations of fatigue may be the result of the loss of sleep or disruption of normal sleep patterns. Modifications to the competition timetable may minimize or even eliminate any effect on performance in sport, but there may be negative effects on performance in some events.

Fasting Treats Disease

Credits: In advising our members, we filter thousands of research and fads, relying only on the credible worldwide science available for better health and weight reduction. Here we chose the interesting research of Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi. Yet, no research replaces your own doctor's advice.
Thanks to Buchinger-Wilhelmi.com and Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi

Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo is the head of the research department of the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinics in Überlingen, southern Germany, and Marbella, southern Spain. The following content includes transcriptions of her relevant videos in this article. There are minor changes for grammatical structure and clarity.

In the first video, Dr. Wihelmi de Toledo explains the benefits of fasting and how her clinics tackle the matter.

“These clinics, which are specialized in periodic fasting, have existed for more than 70 years and have a huge clinical experience. Myself, I have followed thousands of patients fasting during periods going from 5 to 20 days or more.

Fasting is a natural way to treat disease

I have fasted since the age of 17. Some years ago, we decided to document what we were seeing clinically and tried to convince the people that fasting is a natural method to cure a lot of diseases. This started with a huge study in 2016 with 1,422 subjects who fasted between four and twenty days. And They were not all overweight. They were men and women; there was a very diverse community. And they fasted according to the program of the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic, which is a very traditional program with three dimensions: a medical dimension, a community dimension, and an emotional/spiritual dimension.

Observed Results:

1. Weight Reduction

2. Normalization of Blood Pressure

3. Normalization of Glycemia

4. Increase of Ketone Bodies

5. Modulation of Blood Parameters

6. Reduction of Inflammation Parameters

Fasting promotes weight loss, normal blood pressure, and lowers blood sugar

What we found first was that all the metabolic parameters improved, were modulated, and were normalized tendentially.

First, the weight diminished, and especially the abdominal circumference diminished. So you lose weight and at the right place. Then the blood pressure diminished (systolic and diastolic) in people who have a normal blood pressure as the ones who had medication. We had to take off the medication or to reduce the medication so that the people don’t have problems.

The glycemia went down and normalized at the lower level of the norm, and the ketone bodies in the urine were going up.

So this was documenting the fasting metabolic switch to go from the mode of eating to the mode of fasting.

So what did we observe more? The blood parameters changed a lot, so we had, for instance, a diminution of the lipids in the blood, triglycerides, but also LDL cholesterol.

Fasting removes excess fats in fatty liver

This, of course, was a modulation. So the normal people stayed normal and the ones who have elevated values—they correct them very quickly. We controlled the kidneys and liver values, which were normal. We have, in another study, also documented the fatty liver, which was able to recover and to get rid of the excess fat. And maybe a specialist’s observation in this huge group of humans is that the sedimentation rate and other inflammatory parameters were diminished. and this documents what many other studies in animals had already shown: that inflammation tends to decrease during fasting.

Another interesting confirmation of what I’ve seen in shorter periods of fasting, like intermittent fasting or every other day fasting, and also in animal models is that the blood cells are reduced probably due to the autophagy and the apoptosis. This is a phenomenon that leads during the fasting to an elimination of old structures or old cells that are senescent or damaged. Damaged structures can be self-digested and are partially recycled.

And then after the fasting, we always have asked the people to stay at least four to five days in the setting referred to get through the period after the fasting where you slowly reintroduce food to the body. This is a wonderful period anyway, because your taste buds are renewed, and you enjoy the food. Even the simplest food is a real feast. But at the same time, we know that cells and that tissues regenerate and rejuvenate, because there has been an activation of stem cells during the fast, and now they are coming out and renewing the pool of cells of tissues, organs, and, especially, the immune cells in the blood.

Fasting leads to better life habits

We also had subjects with special conditions in this group; some were healthy and went for preventive reasons, but about 500 had a special condition. These conditions are in three groups, more or less. 1. The ones who have metabolic problems, high blood pressure, diabetes (type 2), hyperlipidemia, hyperuricemia all risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. 2. Another group is the chronic inflammatory diseases: people coming for arthritis, for polyarthritis, for gastritis, for other conditions of the digestive system, skin problems, neurodermatitis, for fibromyalgia . 3. Then, the third group would be the pre-burnout, depressive mood, people having a state of exhaustion (psychologically or physically). And 85% documented a subjective, huge improvement. Some had more or less the same result.

This is the first study with a very large cohort using a traditional method that has been used for seventy years under medical supervision with very beautiful contexts: a nature program, an activity program, a teaching program. Also, after fasting, people can go to better life habits. We brought attention to the accompaniment of the people and provided a synergistic program.

So this is a study published in PLOS ONE in January 2019, and of course, we would be happy if this study is giving you the taste of fasting. And because you know you have it in your genes, the program is in yourself. You just have to have the right setting and good guidance. If you have an illness, you have to be under medical supervision.

Fasting promotes well-being

You can really discover one thing: fasting is enjoyable. Yes, you heard right. We have documented the people’s well-being, and from the first day to the last day, you can see an improvement of the emotional as well as the physical well-being. So it’s exactly to the contrary what people would think. They would think that maybe you would feel tired or that you feel bad or that you are hungry. And we also noticed that 93 percent of the people didn’t feel hungry after some hours and this is exactly what we would expect for you.

Two ways to do fasting: Intermittent and periodic

I’m sure when you have rediscovered this program and this ability in yourself then you will use it regularly. We recommend fasting periodically every year and then maybe one or two days per week if it’s necessary, and some hours during the day. So to have a long pause in eating would be intermittent fasting, for instance. But you can use other nutritional strategies, and if you are healthy and have a normal weight, then you can just do periodic fasting. The very nice thing about it is that it’s the only possibility as an adult to regenerate yourselves and your tissues, to rejuvenate them.


Effects of Fasting on Weight Loss

Thanks to NutritionFacts.org and Dr. Michael Greger

In a prior video, Dr. Greger talked about the benefits of calorie restriction. Well, the greatest caloric restriction is no calories at all. Fasting has been branded the ‘next big weight-loss fad’ but has a long history throughout various spiritual traditions, practiced by Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, and Buddha. In 1732, a noted physician wrote, ‘He that eats till he is sick must fast till he is well.’ Today, about 1 in 7 American adults report taking that advice, using some sort of fasting as a means to control body weight.

Fasting is safe, harmless, and effective

Case reports of the treatment of obesity through fasting date back more than a century in the medical literature. In 1915, two Harvard doctors indelicately described ‘two extraordinarily fat women,’ one of whom was a ‘veritable pork barrel.’ Their success with fasting led them to conclude that ‘moderate periods of starvation constitute a perfectly safe, harmless, and effective method for reducing the weight of those suffering from obesity.’ 

The longest recorded fast made it into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1973. To reach his ideal body weight, a 27-year-old man fasted for 382 days straight, losing 276 pounds, and he managed to keep nearly all of it off. He was given vitamin and mineral supplements, so he wouldn’t die, but no calories for more than a year. In their acknowledgements, the researchers thanked him for his cheerful cooperation and steadfast application to the task of achieving a normal physique.’

A U.S. Air Force study of 25 individuals at least 100 pounds overweight, most unable to lose weight on previous diets, were fasted for as long as 84 days. Nine dropped out of the study, but the 16 who remained were unequivocally successful at losing between 40 and 100 pounds. In the first few days, subjects were noted to lose as much as four pounds a day. This was mostly water weight as the body started to adapt, but after a few weeks, they were steadily losing about a pound of mostly straight fat a day. The investigator described their starvation program as a ‘dramatic and exciting treatment for obesity.

Weight loss is only achieved with permanent lifestyle changes

Of course, the single most successful diet for weight loss—namely, no diet at all—is also the single least sustainable. What other diets can cure morbid obesity in a matter of months but practically be guaranteed to kill you within a year if you stick with it? The reason diets don’t work, almost by definition, is that people go on them, and then they go off of them. Permanent weight loss is only achieved through permanent lifestyle changes.

Fasting is paired with better in eating habits

So, what’s the point of fasting if you’re just going to go back to your regular diet and gain it all right back? Fasting proponents cite the psychological benefit of realigning people’s perceptions and motivation. Some individuals have resigned themselves to the belief that weight loss for them is somehow impossible. They may think they’re just ‘made differently’ in some way, and no matter what they do, the pounds don’t come off. But the rapid unequivocal weight loss during fasting demonstrates to them that with a large enough change in eating habits, it’s not just possible but inevitable. This morale boost may then embolden them to make better food choices once they resume eating. The break from food may allow some an opportunity to pause and reflect on the role food is playing in their lives—not only the power it has over them but also the power they have over it.

In a fasting study entitled ‘Correction and Control of Intractable Obesity,’ a person’s personality was described as changing ‘from one of desperation, with the abandonment of hope, to that of an eager [extrovert] full of plans for a promising future.’ She realized that her weight was within her own power to control. They concluded, ‘This highly intellectual social worker has been returned to a full degree of exceptional usefulness.’

After a fast, newfound commitments to more healthful eating may be facilitated by a reduction in overall appetite reported post-fast, compared to pre-fast, at least temporarily.

Even during a fast, hunger may start to dissipate within 36 hours. So challenging people’s delusions about their exceptionality to the laws of physics with a period of total fasting may seem barbaric, but in reality, this method of weight reduction is remarkably well tolerated by obese patients. That seems to be a recurring theme in these published series of cases.

Fasting results in clarity of mind, and a positive attitude for the future

In the influential paper ‘Treatment of Obesity by Total Fasting for Up to 249 Days,’ the researchers remarked that the most surprising aspect of the study was the ease with which the prolonged fast was tolerated.’ All their patients evidently ‘spontaneously commented on their increased sense of well-being’ throughout the process and even, in some cases, reported ‘frank euphoria.’ Though it’s essential that ‘fasting should only be prescribed under close medical supervision,’ they concluded that they were ‘convinced that it is the treatment of choice, certainly in cases of gross obesity.’ 

Fasting for a day can make people irritable, moody, and distracted, but a few days in, many reports feeling clear, elated, and alert—even euphoric. This may be in part due to the significant rise in endorphins that accompanies fasting. Mood enhancement during fasting is thought to perhaps represent an adaptive survival mechanism to motivate the search for food. This positive outlook towards the future may then facilitate the behavioral changes necessary to lock in some of the weight-loss benefits.


Fasting Normalize High Blood Pressure

Thanks to NutritionFacts.org and Dr. Michael Greger

Medically supervised water-only fasting in the treatment of high blood pressure. A hundred seventy-four consecutive patients were treated in an inpatient setting. First, a few days of fruits and vegetables. This is to kind of clear out the gut so they don’t become constipated, followed by 10 or 11 days of water-only fasting, before transitioning them back to a whole food plant-based diet: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, which are beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils, and nuts and seeds, with no animal products, processed foods or added salt, oil, or sugar. 

Fasting lowers systolic blood pressure

They all came in hypertensive, over 140/90, but 9 out of 10, 89%, walked out with pressures under 140/90. The average reduction in systolic blood pressure was 37 points, which is remarkable compared to other interventions, including drugs. And that was just the average drop. Those that came in with really high pressures, like over 180, experienced a 60-point drop. This is arguably the largest effect ever published in the scientific literature. And that was after they had all stopped all their blood pressure medications. 

Water-only fasting is safe and effective

They conclude that medically supervised water-only fasting appears to be a safe and effective means of normalizing blood pressure. I explored the safety in a previous video, and yes, extraordinarily effective, but for how long? I mean, fasting is the least sustainable diet out there. Interestingly, when they resumed feeding them, their blood pressures dropped even further, suggesting fasting could be used to kickstart the normalization of blood pressure and then you could keep it down from then on with a healthy enough diet. 

Fasting should be supervised

They were able to track down a few dozen patients much later, and on average their pressures remained down. We don’t know what happened to the rest, but it shows that at least it can provide more lasting benefits for some. A subsequent smaller study followed up people up to a year later, and the blood pressure reduction seemed to hold, along with the weight loss, so presumably, they stuck with the healthier diet. Now, no one should be fasting for more than a day or two unsupervised, so this treatment certainly carries a cost, but the entire cost appears to have just been recouped within the first year just from decreased medical care costs alone. 

Add 300 calories of fruit juice and vegetable broth a day with water-only fasting

An alternative is the Buchinger method of fasting, popular in Europe, where instead of water only, people get like 300 calories a day of fruit juice and vegetable broth. It still needs to be done under professional supervision, but at least people don’t have to take time off work. People are randomized to seven days of that and then followed up four months later. 

After four months you’d think any benefit from the one week quasi-fast would have disappeared, but their blood pressures ended up fifteen points lower than the control group. Although long-term follow-up of these subjects has been sporadic, the available data suggest that these large reductions in blood pressure can be conserved in patients who remain compliant with the follow-up diet. 

Fasting resensitize taste buds for healthier eating habits

In other words, a ‘cure’ for hypertension may be feasible though, of course, if they resumed the original diet that had made them hypertensive in the first place that would presumably lead to a resurgence of their blood pressures. And the fast may actually help with that. The preliminary fast may help people stick to healthier diets that would ordinarily have little appeal to people accustomed to meretriciously salty and greasy meals— that is an SAT word if I ever saw one. I had to Google that one: Apparently attractive but having in reality no value. Sounds about right. 

The secret to long-term benefits may be in helping kickstart the healthier diet by cleansing our palate, which has been so deadened by hyper sweet, hyper salty, hyper fatty foods. After not eating for a week, your regular, normal, healthy real food tastes good again. Like the ripest peach in the world would taste sour after a bowl of Fruit Loops, but fasting may re-sensitize our taste buds such that you can enjoy something like corn on the cob without the added butter and salt, so you get the best of both worlds: tastes great and less killing.


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