Fasting while riding a motorcycle

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Skagit Powersports


Riding & FastingThe Fast Diet book cover for the US version

I've always believed taking a multi-day trip on a motorcycle is a good way to diet. You can eat light meals along the way and reduce your calorie intake as you go.

But... as everyone knows, this sort of dieting doesn't work for the typical Westerner and if we're successful losing any weight, it usually makes its way back after a few weeks off the bike.

Over the last few years a lot of research has been happening in the area of fasting. Fasting is what our ancestors did in between kills when food was otherwise scarce. So it makes sense that our bodies were designed to do it.

But fasting for multiple days on end can be a tricky thing to do and something no one would want to attempt while navigating a motorcycle at the same time.

Enter Dr. Michael Mosely and Mimi Spencer. The two have been tinkering around with the idea of fasting several non-consecutive days a week. Specifically two. The results being seen are participants who indeed drop a pound a week on average without otherwise changing their eating habits. In their program, the participant can actually consume 500-600 calories during the day, rather than switch the intake off entirely. Some will do this with a few snacks thoughout the day, while others may embibe in a light meal at the end of the day. The choice is entirely up to the individual.

I was tipped off to this concept by two close friends who have both dropped a significant amount of weight over the course of six months and are now on their way to  regulating their target weight by fasting a day a week, rather than two.

I don't know about you, but I want my hips back. Now in my early 50s, I'd like to not have to wear suspenders with my riding pants, I'd like to get into a hot tub and not have a six year old tell me I have the biggest belly they've ever seen. So I wanted to give it a go. But with a full schedule of riding to do this past summer, we thought maybe it wasn't a good idea to mix riding and fasting.

Fasting for a whole day is a little tough on the body the first few times you do it. But it gets a lot easier once you've done it a few times. Hunger pangs are less and staving them off with water and other non-calorie fluids like coffee, seltzer water and flavored water make it pretty easy to get around them. During the first part of riding season I did fast at home, but not on the road.

In September I embarked on a nine day solo trip and decided to give fasting a go for a day and see what happened. If it got unbearable, I promised myself I'd break the fast. It never did.

One secret to staving off hunger pangs is keeping busy. At home you can do this with simple exercise like cleaning around the house, wrenching your bike, or gardening. Riding a motorcycle is also a way of keeping busy and it worked well. Of the nine days on the road, I fasted three and never felt hungry, tired, faint or otherwise. In fact you actually don't get as tired during a single day fast because your stomach isn't incinerating three meals a day, so you maintain a more constant flow of available energy throughout the day.

On the road it truly simplified things by not having to make breakfast and lunch  meal plans on my fasting days. It also gave me an extra 1-2 hours a day that I could use to ride, tour, take photos or relax.

Other benefits of fasting are coming to the surface including improvement in blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and lower cholesteral. For the latter, you're cutting four meals a week out of your diet so it makes sense.

Mosley & Spencer have released a book that serves as a knowledgable guide if you're interested in persuing this. Called The Fast Diet, it also comes with a few dozen simple recipes to use anytime which will guide you to better eating habits, which most of us can benefit from.

As it's noted in the book, if you have certain health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, it's a good idea to discuss non-consecutive single day fasting with your doctor before heading into it.

And once you get the hang of it, give it a go on your next riding trip. It's working for me and I'm actually enjoying it.

TM/Fall 13

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