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Fasting is not just for religious occasions anymore. Periodic fasting or "intermittent fasting" is becoming a popular way to lose weight. Why is it so popular? Unlike most diets, fasting doesn't require following rules for weeks on end. Personally, I get exhausted by calorie counting and a lack of sugary treats. However, with fasting, I can focus on "being good," and calorie restricted for one day. Then I eat a donut on a non-fasting day and not feel bad about it. Yes, there is a formula that includes both eating donuts and weight loss!
When I was experimenting with fasting, I read a bunch of books on the topic. Some of them were intended for fitness crazies; others were geared toward people with health issues like diabetes or obesity. Check out my guide here to see which one will work best for you:
As a student of nutrition, I'm always trying to find out more about what experts in the field are advising when it comes to fasting. The following books are ones that I felt presented a complete scope of the discussion.
Intermittent Fasting: Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Lose Weight and Live Longer
This 42-page guide by Michael Wease is an easy read and will also enable you to discuss the "biochemicals" of fasting with your scholarly friends. Plus, you can read all of it in about an hour. Since it's such a short book, it touches lightly on biology and outlines fasting. Don't expect to be a weight loss expert after reading it.
Intermittent Fasting: The Easiest Way to Eat Whatever You Want, Burn Fat and Build Muscle
I was drawn to this book by the "free bonus" included at the end. While the bonus was nice, it didn't do much to spice up Brian James' writing style. The 54-page book did have some useful points, like how to slowly break into fasting. It would be a better reference than a book to read all the way through. Another benefit of this book is that put me right to sleep two nights in a row!
Intermittent Fasting: The Secret Weapon to Burning Fat and Building Muscle With Ease
Written by a personal trainer, this 50-page fasting book focuses on exercise as much as fasting. I thought it was fascinating, but more, uh, sedentary, people may find it annoyingly dedicated to exercise. If you are an exercise nut like me, you may appreciate Thomas Rohmer's tips on making fasts successful and incorporating exercise. He also has some practical tips, like using a smaller plate for smaller portions, which I appreciated.
Intermittent Fasting: Feel, Look and BE Healthier
Michael Green spends 62-pages helping you evaluate whether you should fast or not. Unlike some authors, he does mention that fasting is not for everyone. It's a good overview for newbies who are looking into fasting. However, don't expect any deep dives into science or health issues, like diabetes, in such a short book.
The Scientific Approach to Intermittent Fasting
This 282-page book is almost as long as its author's name (VanDerschelden). With such an authoritative name, I expected the book to be written by an MD, but the author is a chiropractor. He still provides a good overview of fasting for a variety of conditions. Different health issues are chapter headings. Translation - you don't have to read this behemoth all the way through! Just flip to the section that concerns you.
Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle
Any memoir lovers out there? This may be the book for you. Gin Stephens provides a 162-page introduction to fasting that is part science and part narrative. She describes her experiences with fasting, weight loss, and what worked for her in the past. Her approachable style even includes some science, including the role of insulin in fasting. However, she is pretty focused on what worked for her and doesn't cover all the different types of fasting.
Intermittent Fasting: Lose Weight, Burn Fat, Heal Your Body:
Nicholas Ty's 100-page introduction to fasting is more fleshed out than the shorter 50-page guides. It talks about some specific health issues, like obesity and diabetes. He also covers different fasting time frames and how to calculate your caloric intake. However, it is a short book. There are limited recipes and only a few different methods for fasting.
The FastDiet - Revised & Updated: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting
In a nutshell, Dr. Michale Mosley and Mimi Spencer spend 256 pages addressing your concerns about fasting. If you aren't sure if fasting is right for you, this book may convince you. Dr. Mosley shares his personal experience about how a specific type of fasting helped him avoid diabetes. One nice thing about this book is that you can supplement it by watching his documentary about fasting.
The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting
With more qualified information, this book was cowritten by Toronto-based nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung. It's the fattest book of the bunch, weighing in at 304 pages. Therefore, you'd expect it to be the most complete. It does cover the biology of fasting in detail (as you'd expect a book written by a medical doctor to do). Obese and diabetic readers will find a lot of specific information for their health issues from Jason Fung. Free of outrageous claims, this a more cautious introduction to fasting. I just expected 304 pages to cover more types of fasting (like really long ones).
There is a lot of information out there about intermittent fasting, but the right book depends on your unique health needs. An obese person and a fitness nut should probably not be reading the same book. Women also have different needs than men. For the best intermittent fasting experience, pair the right book with a good doctor and an openness to experimentation. There is no one-size-fits-all way to fast.