Thinking Twice: Feast and Famine

Why Feast And Famine Might Not Be Working

****definition of a diet “working:” ability to lose weight and then maintain that weight loss. So in this instance will people be able to lose weight using this theory AND then maintain it.

The quick and dirty if you don’t have time:

To quote Dr. Jason Fung’s website, “Eating is a celebration of life. Any diet that does not acknowledge this fact is doomed to failure.” 

These two sentence he argues support his theory, I would actually argue are the downfall of his theory.

My rebuttal would be any diet that does not acknowledge the potential for food addiction, binge eating disorder, and or hedonic obesity is "doomed for failure” to use the above quote.

A.) Food “Addiction”

The thing is for people who been exposed to “adiposity” maintaining the sense of food as a reward is quite often dangerous. This sort of mentality can maladaptively accidentally place food up on some pedestal, when really food should “just be food.” Especially with those out there who know, but may not want to admit that food, and more likely carbs, are addictive.

Currently, we have not technically “proven” food is addictive in humans, but we are finding it more and more true in mice. Unfortunately we may never be able to actually prove it in humans, as the dirty truth is we can’t do trials on humans as we can on tiny little animals, who take up a small amount of space, eat a relatively small amount of food, who then can be sacrificed to an autopsy at the end of the the study. So we likely are going to more just go on, and lean towards an educated guess that food, especially hyper caloric carbohydrate food is addictive. And if you still can’t get yourself to say it, if you are a, “but how can food be addictive, we need it to live,” at the very minimum you could maybe admit that some food has addictive qualities.

The question is will you really be able to fast the next day, I mean really? With food still be around everywhere, will you be able to? It may not just be in your house, but it still is likely within about 5 mixtures of your house. Will you be able to just cold turkey say no to food, especially after you just showered you brain with all kinds of “feel” good hormones released from being exposed to those “celebration foods” you just feasted on?  Some might say yes, I can totally do it. Others, I am betting if you think about it, really sit and be honest with yourself, the answer is likely going to be “no.” One thing I love to point out is to think to yourself, “will one night’s sleep change me as a person.” Will sleeping with this belly full of food really stop me from eating tomorrow?” Haven’t I gone to bed with a full belly in the past? Did I wake up the next morning not hungry? Or have I ever noticed the more I eat the more I become hungry?

Interesting studies I will interject here:

Basically, in this study obese and non obese participants where allowed to eat at a buffet, no meal before. Then they came back to the same buffet, on another day, but this time they were all given a chocolate shake to drink before the buffet. The non obese people ate less, the obese people ate more!

[Finding study link…my bookmarks where erased!!!! 🙁 ]


Brain Cogn. 2016 Dec;110:53-63. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.08.006. Epub 2015 Oct 1.

Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation. Spence C1, Okajima K2, Cheok AD3, Petit O4, Michel C5.

“In the fasting state, obese individuals demonstrated increased neural activation in those areas that are known to be associated with the anticipation of reward.”


Effects of binge eating on satiation, satiety, and energy intake of overweight children

“Results: After the overnight fast, children in the binge-eating group consumed more energy [x (±SD): 1748 ± 581 compared with 1309 ± 595 kcal; P = 0.04] and exhibited a shorter satiety duration (194 ± 84 compared with 262 ± 89 min; P = 0.03) than did children in the non-binge-eating group. After the standardized breakfast, binge-eating children reported a shorter satiety duration (75 ± 62 compared with 132 ± 62 min; P = 0.01) and consumed more energy at the postbreakfast meal (1874 ± 560 compared with 1275 ± 566 kcal; P = 0.004).”

B. )Hedonic Obesity:

“In hedonic obesity, the obese body weight is maintained by consistent overeating due to impairments in the reward system, although the set point is not elevated.”


This one shocks me too, as from what I have seen/read of the material Fung puts out there, he really pushes this theory of “set point.” But never, at least I have I seen, has he ever mentioned that obesity isn’t all about set point. For me it is these people, who have a component of “hedonic obesity,” that in particular could actually be making themselves off worse if they grab hold of the idea that they should be able to freely accept food as a reward, accept food as a celebration in itself.

For these people, I would more push them to seeing life as the reward, that for them not eating food for a celebration is the true accomplishment. Example….we can eat good food while on vacation, but we do not go on vacation to eat good food.

The Power of Food Scale:

The PFS assesses the psychological impact of living in food-abundant environments.

Blaming the brain for obesity: Integration of hedonic and homeostatic mechanisms. Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, et. al. Gastroenterology. 2017 May; 152(7): 1728–1738.

C.) Undiagnosed Binge Eating

Some out there might initially say, “wait, but in some binge eating treatment circle, they tell binge eaters to feast? So Would this throes help them?” What I would point out is that yes, in actual binge eating (definition below) there is a therapy plan that has binge eaters, binge, freely. It is more of a desensitization technique. This more help them stop seeing as a reward, to just see food as food. To take away the feeling of restriction. As in many the feeling of restriction actually pushed them to eat more and more. So telling a person with binge eating to go fast and then purposefully restrict yourself so you can use food as a reward seems like you are setting them up for failure. And replacing one problem (not coping with restriction, with using food as a reward).

Link describing diagnosis criteria of binge eating: LINK HERE

Fung’s website:

My conclusion:

Could feast and famine work? yeah sure, but just because it can work for some, does not mean it can work for all people. I would think more as a tool for those who have never had issues strugglingly with being overweight or obese. For those who have struggled with their weight, struggle with saying “no” to food, those who easily turn to food to combat stress…I would say this lifestyle food intake theory is risky. I do worry that trying to stick to this plan may only be reinforcing food reward pathways, and will only make the future a bit more difficult.

****definition of a diet “working:” ability to lose weight and then maintain that weight loss. So in this instance will people be able to lose weight using this theory AND then maintain it.