The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle, by Bert Herring

I didn’t want to do a write-up on this book until I’d tested it myself for 30 days. It seems like a fairly extreme step to take, but it turns out to be easier than I thought. I’ve personally added the plan to a (mostly) ketogenic approach to eating and it seems to be working well. “Fast-5” is basically a program where you restrict your eating time to five hours per day and fast for the remaining 19. It’s an intermittent fasting program similar in concept to 5:2 (which comes up quite a bit when you search for Fast-5) where you restrict your calorie intake for two days and eat normally the rest of the week.

I first ran across the concept in a TED Talk available on YouTube in which Herring lays out the general principles of the Fast-5 diet. Herring isn’t the most dynamic speaker in the world but he does lay out the principles of the program. Having read The Obesity Code around the same time, Herring’s approach seemed to fit with the notion that calorie restriction and exercise aren’t as important as eating in a way that will restrict spikes in insulin.

The intention of the eating plan is to allow your body the 12 hours it takes to clear glucose from the blood supply so that your liver will begin tapping the fat stores in your body to create ketones for energy.

The five-hour eating period can be set at any time of day. The book focuses on eating between 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm, which probably works well for anyone on a typical job schedule. I chose 10:00 am to 3:00 pm for myself, in part because I don’t like going to sleep full and partly because I live a weird lifestyle by myself.

The first three days were the most challenging. It seemed like I thought about nothing but food from about 7:00 pm. Based on information in The Obesity Code, I also cut myself off of my favorite “zero carb” energy drink and from using sucralose, aspartame, and stevia after learning that they will also spike one’s insulin count. As a result I started drinking things like club soda and mineral water (I’m a San Pellegrino fan) as well as coffee and tea. I’ll also drink ice water with a touch of lemon or lime juice. I found these eased the hunger pangs really well. The two weeks following were easier but for most of the evening my stomach sounded like cats fighting. A month later and sometimes I have to remind myself to eat at 10:00 am.

Herring’s book offers the basic plan and rationale. It also offers tips like the increased fluid intake and how to deal with things like business lunches. The book is only around 60 pages, so the $3.99 for Kindle edition seems a bit higher than it needs to be. There’s a paperback version as well, which might be preferable as something to highlight and add personal notes to. You can do that in Kindle, but it’s still a pain to dig them back out when you want them.

So far since January, and between Ketogenics and this Fast-5 plan, I’ve dropped 35 pounds. My last doctor visit indicated my A1c was down and, despite all my fat intake from Ketogenics, by HDL levels were up. (That’s the “good” cholesterol.)

It may not be for everyone but for me it’s convenient and a cost savings. I’m also starting to feel lighter when I walk, which was a major goal.