Asperfemme

Fasting in Grad School

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I have gained some weight due to stress eating/not exercising as much as I would like and I am thinking of going on a water/juice fast, hopefully to break my emotional dependence on it.

Do you think it is a good idea to go on a fast while in grad school? I am trying to figure out whether it would have any effect on my academic performance. 

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I would personally advise against doing that during the semester. If you're able to clear time during spring break or the summer you could possibly do it then, but as someone who had major issues in undergrad for not eating enough one semester, I definitely caution against doing anything that could cause issues. Instead, if you drive to campus, park further away. If you eat out a lot, be more mindful of portions and what you order.

I also have problems with over-eating (though mine is a lifelong issue, not just from grad school) and I've been working on being better lately. I got a fitbit a while back and my parking pass has me park further away from campus than I used to so I'm walking more. I try to eat out with friends if I need to eat out because the friends I eat with are mindful of healthy eating so I know we'll go to a better place than fast food. If my school let me, I'd enroll in a PE for the semester so I'd be forced to exercise. Since they won't let me, I'm looking for non-academic fitness classes held at the school that work with my schedule. 

Basically, there are other ways than doing a juice cleanse to get healthy and I would definitely try those before doing something that could potentially harm you and your academic progress.

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I have a snacking problem, especially while studying. Have you tried getting low carb, high protein snacks? Less fatty nuts, hummus (with cucumbers, carrots and celery rather than pita), and fruit have helped me. Also tea. Tea was a lifesaver when caffeine was starting to wreck my whole system in ways that legitimately interfered with my work, plus it was a much healthier addiction than ginger ale/sugar-loaded lattes/juice/hard cider.

My primary concern with a juice fast would be its impact on stress and energy levels, which could make it more difficult to think critically, articulate ideas, complete tasks, or not snap at colleagues. Don't make school any more miserable than it has to be with extreme dieting.

Edited by Charlsa

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Thank you for your input on this! I was thinking along similar lines. I also have an impulse to nibble/do something biting-like with my mouth constantly, hence the snacking addiction.

It is definitely an emotional outlet/escape mechanism, as I often do it before assignment deadlines/when something planned gets messed up. At this point, I am not sure how else to get rid of this issue except to remove myself from food for a long period of time and then to gradually re-introduce it. 

I do not eat "junk". I just find that once I start eating, I cannot stop. It is like re-uniting with a loved one after a long detachment. I have a lot of trouble waiting until my next meal, but yet I end up gaining weight and bulging in my midsection during school semesters... constantly. I do not eat out, but I do have food made for the whole week, which means it is up for grabs in the fridge when I am at home. I even have issues with fatty foods like hummus, where I might get a huge portion made for the whole week, start with a little bit, but then compulsively eat the entire thing out of the container when under lots of stress.

I walk quite a bit but, as a low-intensity activity, it does not burn quite as much as I overeat.

Edited by Asperfemme

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Have you tried creating daily portions of snacks in individual containers? I had a friend that raved about chain-eating celery for your exactly reason. I can't imagine ever eating celery straight, but there may be another low-calorie vegetable that you could eat as much as you want. Or you could try replacing the standard three large meals per day with more nutritious snacks.

If you have issues with eating out of the fridge at home, you could also try spending more time studying/working in public places, although I understand that there's a fine line between "the library is my second home" and "the library is a silent hell built only for me." Also at my old school, the library installed a treadmill with a desk, which was useful for staying awake as well as in shape.

I don't know, man. My home life and experience probably differs from yours and I don't have all the details, but at least you're not alone. I think diets and exercise in grad school are fairly common problems. Have you tried talking to fellow students in your program about their solutions, or organizing a work-out group to help motivate each other?

Edited by Charlsa

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Yeah, it's tricky. I have zero problems motivating myself to exercise, usually, but it can really get in the way of my currently huge grad workload. I also get in a hyper-focused "funk" sometimes because of my studies, where it becomes difficult to even think of exercises and get my body to move properly - mostly when I try to work out in the evening after 12 hours of sitting down and skipping out the morning.

I asked my classmates and they are in the same situation... even those who used to be athletic are no longer working out even as much as I do (which is 3 times/week at best). I also see people snack constantly and drink sugary drinks in class. I do feel a lot of people start stress eating when they need to sit and pay attention for so long at a time! I doubt I can motivate anyone, though, because I'm one of those super nerdy people who doesn't make/keep friends and socially bond with people easily, if at all :P I really cannot imagine studying on a treadmill at the gym and don't even have a desk at home. It would be nice to have a standing desk or sit on a fitness ball! Unfortunately, my cats broke the one I had before. 

I go to the library sometimes but the thought "I will be without food for hours" kicks in and then I procrastinate on going out until I eat quite a bit. It's also not that easy to motivate yourself to leave the apartment when it's cold outside.

I can try eating celery straight and see how long that keeps me full! I've eaten huge bunches of lettuce in one sitting. It's really expensive to do, though... which is another concern I have regarding my food addiction.

Edited by Asperfemme

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I have done several juice fasts while in grad school and the trick is preparation.  I always aim for a 3 day weekend and juice no more than 2 days.  Anything more I think is excessive and I find 1-2 days is more than enough to curb sugar and carb cravings.

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On 1/20/2017 at 4:06 PM, Asperfemme said:

I have gained some weight due to stress eating/not exercising as much as I would like and I am thinking of going on a water/juice fast, hopefully to break my emotional dependence on it.

Do you think it is a good idea to go on a fast while in grad school? I am trying to figure out whether it would have any effect on my academic performance. 

 
 

I did one my first year of grad school and only lasted 12 hours.  I was SO CRANKY that during a theory class I almost made a fellow student cry...after that I obviously had to apologize but then added an hour to my campus time for a 45 minute workout at the gym and started parking at the back of the parking lot.  

Edited by montanem

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On 1/20/2017 at 7:06 PM, Asperfemme said:

I am thinking of going on a water/juice fast, hopefully to break my emotional dependence on it.

I would first seek evidence that such an action would be in any way beneficial. I suspect not.

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you don't need to fast to have a healthy diet.

avoid processed foods, replace potato chips with real potatoes (I like to microwave an entire sweet potato and eat it with a fork. it's delish and healthy), follow the food pyramid, and buy fresh food (lot of carbs; carbs=energy. lots of vegetables=micronutrients, vitamins etc. fruits have high sugar content, which is good for energy, less meat - protein/fat make you gain weight)

get your diet balanced. It's a lifestyle. I don't agree with fasting or purging because that's kind of like ordering a 3000 cal entree and justifying it with a diet coke. 

 

I know we're all poor and frugal with our money, but food is probably the one thing that I will not skimp on. What you put into your body and how you treat it will affect you years later.

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Although I don't think a cleanse is necessary, I'd be more cautious about suggesting the food pyramid @spectastic. Different people need different things and that isn't represented in the pyramid. For instance, I have multiple conditions that mean I need to be careful about what I eat. If I followed an ideal diet based on all these conditions, I'd be on an extremely low carb diet, low meat, low dairy, no citrus fruit, etc.

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39 minutes ago, spectastic said:

less meat - protein/fat make you gain weight)

Dude. No. If you are exercising, and the OP said she is, you HAVE to eat protein. Lean protein (chicken, fish) or protein shakes, but if you're not eating protein, you're just going to burn off all your muscle. 

Also as @GreenEyedTrombonist said, everyone has different needs. What works for you may not work for other people. Fasts make me end up eating more but they do work for some people if done right. 

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I exercise plenty. your body doesn't need more than 130 g of protein/day, even for muscle building. anything in excess of that is weight gain, which is what the OP is trying to avoid. and with the exercise industry being so hung up on protein, most people are over compensating their macro nutrients and not focusing enough on plants/vegetables. 9 out of 10 people in this country right now can improve their diet by consuming less processed food, and eating more fruits/vegetables.

I didn't say stop eating protein. I just said eat less, because you're probably eating too much of it.

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I wasn't talking about your exercise habits, I was talking about the OP's. Further, beyond damaging effects of ketosis diets, I have seen no scientific evidence that eating more than 130g of protein a day makes you gain fat (it may make you gain weight if you are building muscle, however). 

My biggest problem with your responses, though, is that you are still preaching one size fits all nutrition which does not work. 

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Go to a nutritionist on campus. They know the nutrients you need and they know the stress of school. They are the professionals that can help. They helped me a lot. 

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  • eat less processed foods (sugar from orange flavored fig newtons isn't the same sugar from oranges)
  • eat a balanced diet
    • high carbs (your fuel for the day, especially for cardio, which the OP needs)
    • vegetables/fruits (your micronutrients/vitamins etc.)
    • some proteins (most people don't have to worry about this)

am I crazy?

 

What irritates me is that people always advocate protein, as if people aren't eating enough of it already. and the reason for this protein obsession entirely stems from the fitness industry, trying to market a waste product to ignorant people who want to get swole. protein/fat is calorie dense, and has the tendency to rob our body of other nutrients that cold be deficient. for most people with weight problems, if you can substitute some of those dense meat calories with the same amount of vegetable or carb calories, then the results will most likely be favorable.

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7 hours ago, spectastic said:
  • eat less processed foods (sugar from orange flavored fig newtons isn't the same sugar from oranges)
  • eat a balanced diet
    • high carbs (your fuel for the day, especially for cardio, which the OP needs)
    • vegetables/fruits (your micronutrients/vitamins etc.)
    • some proteins (most people don't have to worry about this)

 

I think if you stopped at the first two main bullet points, @stereopticons and @GreenEyedTrombonist probably wouldn't have made those comments. For some people (even if they're exercising) carbs can be an issue - and since none of us have conducted a physical for @Asperfemme, we shouldn't go into details. 

For the most part, @Asperfemme the thing that worked most for me was to make time to walk half an hour a day - which seems like a lot during grad school sometimes, but out of 24 hours, that's really not that much. Also, personally, I didn't fast or cut down on food intake significantly since based on my personality, I'd go CRAZY while I starve then probably over-eat to compensate. Instead, I made minor changes - baby carrots instead of chips etc. and I tried to eat slightly less. But yeah, grad school is stupid stressful and adding the stress of going on a Spartan diet regime (even for a short time) probably would have been counter productive for me - obviously this will depend on your personality, schedule, metabolism and more. For the 30+ minutes of walking a day, I tried to force myself to go somewhere to eat and then walk at least 10 minutes after I ate which helped keep food coma to a minimal as well. 

Good luck!

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again, and hopefully for the last time.. carbs is energy for your body (and brain). if you're not on carbs, you're running on fat and/or protein, which is is bad, because fat makes you fat... again, not all carbs are the same. you can get it from candy, fruits, bread, even vegetables. just because you're not eating bread doesn't mean you're not eating carbs. just because potato chips make you fat doesn't mean carbs is bad for you. if you can't eat bread or pasta, try rice, or something that doesn't upset the stomach..

your body get its energy on carbs. to say that carbs is bad for you only means that you're not eating the right carbs. substituting protein for carbs (as previously suggested) is wrong and stupid.. I don't know any simpler way of saying this.. 

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18 minutes ago, spectastic said:

 substituting protein for carbs (as previously suggested) is wrong and stupid.. I don't know any simpler way of saying this.. 

Yeah no one actually suggested that. Maybe if you didn't spend so much time talking down to us, people might listen to you. 

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I don't know the exact nutritional needs of anyone here so I won't make generalities. I can tell you that, for my body, eating more than 50-100 grams of carbs a day is unhealthy and causes unpleasant side effects. Usually, nutritionists suggest I eat 50 or less grams of carbs a day because of my body's needs. This means I can eat low-carb and trace-carb veggies, but I shouldn't eat any breads, pastas, rices, processed foods, baked goods, etc. That's the way my body works. It sucks and I often miss a step (right now I don't buy the groceries so regulating my diet isn't working that great), but I feel much better when I cut all big carb items from my life. 

Because my body's needs are unique to me, I get extremely annoyed by others trying to tell me what I should do to maintain a healthy diet and, therefore, won't tell others what they should or shouldn't put in their bodies.

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3 hours ago, stereopticons said:

Yeah no one actually suggested that. Maybe if you didn't spend so much time talking down to us, people might listen to you. 

talk down to you? I'm trying to pass on information I received from people who make a living taking care of their bodies and controlling their weight, so that they can perform at a high level, and steer people away from statements like this

Dude. No. If you are exercising, and the OP said she is, you HAVE to eat protein. Lean protein (chicken, fish) or protein shakes, but if you're not eating protein, you're just going to burn off all your muscle. 

beyond which you have offered no constructive advice other than disagree with everything else I've written.

 

carb sensitivity, caused by insulin resistance means the body can't process the sugar when it reach the blood stream, leading to low muscle glycogen retention, and having to eat more frequently. This is caused by underlying factors that can be addressed with exercise, good eating habits, being well rested, etc. your lifestyle blends into your diet. you can change your metabolism by changing your lifestyle.

you can take that at face value or agree to disagree, idc. I stand by my advice to the OP. If you have a better one, we're all ears.

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@spectastic my advice to the OP is, as others have said, seek advice from a professional such as a nutritionist. You're interpreting my statement about needing to eat protein as "you must eat excessive amounts of protein and/or eat protein exclusively". All I said was that you need to eat protein, which is accurate, and then you proceeded to talk down to me by explaining that "sugar in fig newtons is different from oranges" and then calling your incorrect interpretation of my statement "stupid and wrong". You should go back and read @GreenEyedTrombonist'S last paragraph again before offering your supposed "best advice". Here, I'll even put it here for you again:

4 hours ago, GreenEyedTrombonist said:

Because my body's needs are unique to me, I get extremely annoyed by others trying to tell me what I should do to maintain a healthy diet and, therefore, won't tell others what they should or shouldn't put in their bodies.

 

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1 hour ago, spectastic said:

carb sensitivity, caused by insulin resistance means the body can't process the sugar when it reach the blood stream, leading to low muscle glycogen retention, and having to eat more frequently. This is caused by underlying factors that can be addressed with exercise, good eating habits, being well rested, etc. your lifestyle blends into your diet. you can change your metabolism by changing your lifestyle.

If this is directed at me, I'd like to point out that you are assuming a lot about my eating and exercise habits. I've never stated here what my medical conditions are, so you have no knowledge if my conditions are caused by my "lifestyle", genetics, or a mix of the two. Whether you meant it as such or not, this comment comes off as highly condescending, dismissive, and judgmental as a result. 

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this thread is not about you. my advice has always been directed to help the op address the weight gain problem, not this back and forth BS that helps no one. 

you got our opinion out. we're all unique. that's great. stereopticons clearly has nothing else to add beyond that. can we respect each other's opinions now?

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