French Women Don't Get Fat
It has always seemed like a magical trade secret that no one would ever share. How do Europeans stay so thin when they eat such rich indulgent foods?
Books have been written about this subject. But most have failed to use the correct vernacular that really speaks to the HOW. If you all have read my article Shop Like A European you will remember that Europeans do not participate in most traditional diets. There is no “low-fat” or “fat-free” products gracing the shelves. Brands like SlimFast and SnackWell simply do not exist. So if they butter their sandwiches, and consume ample amount of mayonnaise, cheese, bread, and wine HOW do they stay slender? Fasting. This topic is popping up all over the health community. It seems like the simplest and most natural concept, yet it terrifies most people. I have been doing some form of fasting or intermittent fasting, for years now. In the simplest terms it is not consuming any calories for a period of time. In fact, the word breakfast in English is a representation of this concept: you are breaking your fast.
In Europe after consuming an incredibly decadent meal they would naturally skip a few after. This isn’t even a conscious effort. This is synonymous with almost every other thing we do as humans. If we have an intense workout and are sore the next day we abstain from working out so our bodies can return to normal. For a less healthy example if you drink too much wine and wake up with a hangover making you miss your 20s you would naturally abstain from drinking until your body returned to a healthier feeling state. We understand this concept with everything else other than food.
Americans have been taught that they HAD to eat 3 meals a day. You are taught that you have to finish your food to leave the table. If you stop and think about how children eat it is an interesting compare. They literally only eat when they are hungry and it is usually the parents who try and force them to eat more often and more. Dr. Jason Fung, author of The Obesity Code, used a fantastic analogy to explain this concept in adults. Dr. Fung compared our bodies to an AC unit in the home. You have a set temperature on your unit. If you opened a window the AC would kick on to try and maintain that temperature. Your body similarly has a “set weight”. This is why it can be easy to maintain weight but difficult to lose. So next time you see a 125 Ibs supermodel on Instagram downing a huge ice cream and you feel like punching a wall think about this article and the solution. Do genetics play into this? I am sure they do. But an entire culture cannot have identical genetics. Plus a large portion of the United States is made up of European immigrants. So there has to be another link in cultural habits that is a contributing factor.
It seems like such a simple concept. According to many in the medical community the resistance has stemmed from the fact that it literally cost NOTHING to fast. In the Documentary The Science Of Fasting one of the Doctors quipped that if a pill did as much for you as fasting everyone would be taking it and remarking on the miracle drug...plus a few billionaires would have been made. The fact is no medicine is required. Your body was literally built to fast. If we could not fast our species would have become extinct many millennial ago. Almost every religion in the world integrates some sort of fasting. We know that our ancestors endured long periods of food shortages. The Europeans have been naturally participating in this concept for millennial not to mention Asian and African cultures. Somehow Americans didn’t get the memo.
So how does it work? Simple: You do not consume anything other than water (tea or black coffee too) for a period of time and sleeping counts. The most popular form of intermitted fasting is 18:6. You fast for 18 hours and consume your calories in a 6 hour window. Basically you skip breakfast and eat a late lunch and early dinner. There is also a growing trend of OMAD (one meal a day). Where you fast for 24 hours (usually dinner to dinner). If you are new to the concept try an app called Zero. It times your fast, maps your progress, and has links to some amazing content about fasting.
I feel obligated to say that I am not a medical professional. There are always medical conditions that seem to contradict any statement made. However, I felt compelled to share both my experience and my observations from living in Europe. To me this is logical. It makes sense. It balances the equation for me in a way no other “diet” has ever done. I will be discussing more about my personal experience on my Podcast Tea With Coco this week.
As always please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas. We love to hear from you!