Jason and his crash diet, the end of the road
A while back I was documenting the process of a friend of mine that decided to get involved in a crash or fad diet called intermittent fasting. This appealed to him and does to tons of other people because in this system for several hours a day you get to "eat whatever you want" even if that means that you are going to consume 12,000 calories of pizza, beer, donuts, Pepsi, or hell, let's just go all in and drink pancake syrup. I thought it was an absurd notion because your body doesn't have any idea what time of day it is and this is not how metabolism works according to almost anyone in the medical profession that isn't trying to sell you something.
I was actually kind of proud of Jason at first because he was seriously overweight to the tune of probably 100 pounds or so. There was no doubt that he needed to do something, anything really, to reverse this path of self-destruction and almost guaranteed serious health problems in the future.
He would eat nothing other than coffee or water all day every day but between 4-7 PM (I think that was the time) he could eat anything he wanted according to the plan he was on. While I supported him in this effort and it was good to see him make a choice to change his life for the better, I secretly thought that there was no way that this was going to lead to success for him.
I didn't do the math or anything on his caloric intake but based solely on what he told me it sounded as though he was getting the same amount of calories that he normally would, but just getting them all in that 3 hour period. This was the main reason why I thought that there would be zero chance of this diet working. Also, while he did stick with this plan for the most part, he would occasionally slip up and cheat on certain days where 7 would roll around and he didn't want to go home when we were at the pub. You could see him looking at his watch and notice a bit of signs of guilt as the hours went by and he was violating his own system.
After nearly a couple of months we did actually notice that Jason had lost a bit of weight but when I say a bit I mean very little. He may have lost 10 pounds or so and actually this is fine. A problem that he was facing was that he didn't introduce any exercise into his life and was just depending on the new diet to be some sort of magic thing that was going to lose all the weight for him. I applaud him for doing SOMETHING but because of the restrictive nature of a diet like this, most of the people that engage in it end up quitting and returning to their bad habits because intermittent fasting is not conducive to normal life. People get together for various things at various times of day and unless you have a serious level of dedication, cheating is going to be a regular part of one's life.
This ended up being the case with Jason and after about 2 and a half months we noticed that he was no longer talking about it. It was amusing and also a bit sad how he would go hide away somewhere in order to get some food. It was almost like he was ashamed about the fact that he was doing something totally normal like having a sandwich at 1 in the afternoon.
About 4 months after he started the program it was pretty evident that he had given up entirely. I asked him about it and one day and he confirmed this. He has returned to eating like a normal human and he has put all the weight that he lost back on.
Look, I'm not trying to tell anyone out there how to live their lives but for most people, a massive change to something they have been doing their entire lives isn't going to work because most people are not going to stick to it. I have always been a big believer that the path the health and fitness is making small and manageable changes to your overall lifestyle. Don't try to enter a marathon in week number one of starting fitness but instead just go for regular walks. Don't try to bench 100kg on the first day, just work your way up from 20 and see the benefit over time. Don't reduce your caloric intake by half in the first week but maybe just eliminate something small like sodas and work from there. Maybe just eliminate candy bars instead of going vegan in week one.
I'm not going to lecture Jason about this but I have told him without being condescending that I felt that he was going to fail with this diet from the very start. I have been encouraging him to take the "baby step" method of weight loss that worked for me and well, basically anyone else that has ever tried to do it. I don't actually think that losing weight is very difficult at all if someone gets in the right mindset and realizes that there are no magic shortcuts in health and fitness. You need to change your overall behavior gradually and with permanent changes. Influencers and snake-oil peddlers will constantly harp on about this magic new way to lose belly fat or other such nonsense but it is all a lie or even if it isn't a lie it is something that a vast majority of people are not going to stick to. Of course starving yourself is going to make you lose weight but this is a completely unreasonable expectation to ask of anyone.
I am hopeful that Jason will take my advice and try what I, and so many other people have achieved success with. At the moment it is a pretty tragic situation because just like I predicted at the start of this crash fad diet of his, he is putting all the weight back on and now he has depression added to the weight in his life.
If you are contemplating a fad diet I strongly encourage you to not do it. Very few people have ever achieved success with this sort of plan and of the people I know that have attempted them, they all have quit after a relatively short amount of time. In the worst cases the people ended up in a worse state than when they began.
Fitness is a lifelong marathon, not a sprint and anyone that indicates otherwise is probably lying to you or has god-mode levels of dedication. Unfortunately for normie people like me and most other people, this is simply unsustainable. Making gradual changes to one's lifestyle to the point where it just becomes the way that you are is the path to success. Sure it takes longer, but it lasts forever.
from "fighting weight" athlete in my 20's, to fat ass in my 30's, to the strongest I have ever been in my life in my 40's. You can do it too but there are no shortcuts, you have to put in the work and stay focused