Hands up who put weight on during lockdown?
Being a couch potato meant the weight slowly crept on without me even really noticing.
But it’s not lockdown anymore and we can’t hide away in sweatpants forever.
Could intermittent fasting be the solution to these waistline woes?
Mindvalley’s latest program Beyond Fasting promises you “the easiest, most effective way to level up your health or get in better shape”.
Sounds great, but does it work?
I just completed the Beyond Fasting course on Mindvalley and this is my honest review of it.
- My verdict in a nutshell
- Why you can trust this review
- What is Beyond Fasting?
- Why I decided to do Beyond Fasting
- What is Mindvalley?
- Who teaches Beyond Fasting?
- How much does Beyond Fasting cost?
- What does the course involve?
- A typical lesson from Beyond Fasting
- My results from taking Beyond Fasting
- Who is it for and not for?
- The pros and cons of Beyond Fasting
- The science of intermittent fasting
- Other Mindvalley classes you may like
- My Beyond Fasting review verdict: Is it worth it?
My verdict in a nutshell
There are way too many diet programs out there that seem to be based more on BS than real science.
Let’s face it, fad (and potentially harmful) diets are rife. But in case you were worried, Beyond Fasting is not one of them.
After taking this 28-day program I discovered it’s not only effective but uses scientifically proven methods to achieve results.
Overall, it’s a thumbs up from me.
Why you can trust this review
Whilst I wouldn’t say I’m a difficult person (maybe friends and family would disagree), I never take everything I’m told as gospel.
I like to draw my own conclusions based on my research and personal experiences. I worked in news for many years and this attitude always served me well.
This is the approach I’ve brought to this Beyond Fasting review.
I won’t sugar coat what I found, and I’ll dig into some of the big scientific claims around intermittent fasting which are made in this program.
What you read will be my honest opinion of Beyond Fasting after actually having taken the course.
What is Beyond Fasting?
Beyond Fasting is a 28-day Mindvalley program (totaling 8 hours of training) which is based on the global phenomenon of intermittent fasting.
Here’s the good news, fasting isn’t about starving yourself… phew!
If intermittent fasting (IF) is new to you, the idea is to schedule eating patterns which cycle between periods of fasting and eating.
In this way, many people don’t really view this method as a “diet” because the focus is on when you eat rather than what you eat.
Maybe that explains why it’s one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends right now.
But according to this program, if you’re fasting the way most people do (simply changing when you eat) then you’re barely scraping the surface of what it can really do for you.
Not only that but, do fasting the wrong way, and you’re also setting yourself up for inconsistency, hunger, and poorer results.
That’s where Beyond Fasting comes in.
It says it delivers a “science-based” protocol to get the maximum benefits from IF, without the struggle or going hungry.
I’ll dive into more of the specifics of how later on in the review.
It promises breakthroughs in your health and body weight. And it says you’ll also undergo a “deep reprogramming of how you perceive and manage hunger, cravings, and your food choices in relation to your personal wellness goals.”
Why I decided to do Beyond Fasting
I’d never properly done intermittent fasting before taking this program. I’d never followed any specific plan or particular rules around it.
Yet in many ways, the concept (in some form at least) was something I’ve always intuitively done.
It’s been a struggle my whole life to try and force myself to have breakfast, with it constantly shoved down our throats (in the metaphorical sense of course) that it’s the “most important meal of the day”.
But I’ve always resisted the whole three square meals a day notion, preferring to eat whenever I’m hungry. That sometimes means I scoff most of my calories within a really small window of time during the day.
Unbeknown to me, a habit I’d had for years has quickly become a global health craze.
I’ve never had a big problem with my weight, although probably like most of us, it fluctuates up and down.
But during the recent lockdowns that fluctuation was on an upward trend.
When I finally stepped on the scales for the first time in ages I was left open-mouthed to discover I’d gained 13lbs.
Ultimately the two main reasons why trying out Beyond Fasting appealed to me were:
1) I was really curious to learn more about intermittent fasting, the science of it, and why it supposedly works.
2) I wanted to find techniques I could easily fit into my life to manage my and maintain my weight, without having to go all hardcore with a super strict diet and exercise plan.
What is Mindvalley?
Founded by Malaysian entrepreneur, Vishen Lakhiani, Mindvalley is an online learning platform with a difference.
Rather than traditional school-like learning, it teaches us how to lead healthier and happier lives.
There are over 50 programs on the platform, under a wide range of topics that cover most areas of life — including mind, soul, body, relationships, entrepreneurship, parenting, and more.
Who teaches Beyond Fasting?
Ronan Oliveira is your trainer for Beyond Fasting.
I’m actually familiar with him already because earlier this year I took another of his very popular Mindvalley fitness programs, 10x fitness. You can read my review here.
He’s an international trainer in personal performance, leadership, and design thinking and a frequent TEDx Speaker.
He’s also Mindvalley’s in-house health and fitness expert and a big personal fan of IF.
He admits that when he first fell into fasting himself, he was doing it all wrong. This ultimately inspired him to explore the science of fasting.
What he learned he teamed with years of study in fields like nutrition, biology, psychology, and habit formation to come up with Beyond Fasting.
How much does Beyond Fasting cost?
Mindvalley normally offers two ways to access their programs. Usually, you can choose to buy an individual course or sign up for the yearly membership.
But Beyond Fasting is currently only available through the yearly Mindvalley Membership. This costs $499.
So what does that mean?
It’s maybe less of a problem than it might at first sound. The reality is that when bought individually, programs usually cost $300 to $400 anyway.
So I always recommend that people check out the Mindvalley Membership first anyway, as in most cases it works out at way better value.
That’s because you get unlimited access to pretty much the entire Mindvalley online catalog of programs (with just a few exceptions) for one year.
What does the course involve?
Beyond Fasting has a total of 8 hours worth of training which is spread out over 28 days (4 weeks).
Each day you’ll watch a training video which lasts anywhere from 10-20 minutes.
Then you’ll be asked to complete a few actions for the day, a bit like homework.
This microlearning style is characteristic of Mindvalley programs and it’s purposely done this way as that’s proven to be the best way for us to learn without giving up.
Each week is roughly broken down into certain aims:
Week 1: Is your introduction to fasting where you learn all the basics along with how to do it optimally. Whilst you learn new info you’re eased into the fasting side of things gradually. But straight away you start to explore the mindset side of your eating habits and goals.
Week 2: Is when you really start to dig much deeper into your eating habits. The idea is to feel more mindful and in control of the food, you choose to eat. You’ll tackle getting rid of food cravings and look at why you eat (*hint* hunger is not usually the biggest reason).
Week 3: Once you’ve done the behind-the-scenes work on your food habits, week 3 is when you’ll put them into practice. Now is when you make changes to food choices based on new goals that you’ve set. A lot of it’s really practical like guidelines to create easy, healthy, and tasty meals. Or optimizing your living space to help your eating habits.
Week 4: Is where you make everything you’ve learned and committed to so far in the program sustainable. When you consider that 80% of diets fail, it makes sense that a full week of the course is dedicated to keeping you on track. You’ll hear about things like how to travel and how to socialize whilst you’re fasting.
A typical lesson from Beyond Fasting
To give you a better idea of what to expect, it could be useful to take a closer look at one lesson from Beyond Fasting.
I’m going to choose the beginning of week two, lesson 8, because I think it’s a nice example of how holistic the program is, rather than just teaching you how to fast.
This lesson was titled ‘How to eat like a Tibetan monk’. I’d sum it up as being more mindful about your eating.
First, you watch a video explaining that changing how you eat will not only bring your fasting to a deeper level but also help address other eating habits.
Being more mindful can help deal with cravings and stop bingeing during your feeding window.
The really simple action for that day (other days involved more complicated tasks) was to:
- Give priority to taking the time to eat.
- Eat slowly and deliberately. Enjoy your food.
- Eat undistracted unless it’s in a social setting (no TV, podcasts, etc.)
Ok, it doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but some of the most powerful shifts are often the simple ones.
I’m really guilty of being a “multi-task” eater, whilst I’m working or watching TV, etc.
It definitely means my attention isn’t on the food, it’s elsewhere. And I’m convinced this has led to mindless eating when I’m not even hungry.
So I really enjoyed these types of insightful lessons that focused more on the psychology of our eating habits.
My results from taking Beyond Fasting
Sorry if you were hoping for one of those “I dropped 9 million dress sizes” type of results.
But the honest truth is that by the time I started this program I’d already lost the weight I gained during lockdown with old-fashioned healthy eating combined with increased exercise.
It took a couple of months and it was neither easy nor fun, that’s for sure. So I’m understandably keen not to put on weight again.
That’s why weight maintenance was always my goal when coming into this program.
For the record though there are countless testimonials on the Mindvalley website of people losing considerable amounts of weight. (Including a 51-year-old guy who’s already 50lbs down).
And weight loss is also one of the widely reported proven benefits of intermittent fasting.
For me, the results may seem more humble, but I’d still say they’re significant.
Firstly, I genuinely enjoyed taking this program.
Although I’d heard about intermittent fasting before but during Beyond Fasting I feel like I truly understand it now.
That includes all the do’s and don’ts of IF but also, and importantly, how to pair it with better eating habits so make a bigger impact on my health.
And that was definitely my biggest result and personal takeaway from the program.
I learned to question some unhelpful eating habits I’d formed and replace them. I took the time to really consider my health and wellness goals and look at strategies to make it happen.
Who is it for and not for?
Not every program is going to suit everyone. But I wouldn’t say there are certain types of people who will benefit from Beyond Fasting and those who won’t.
The science points to the fact that anyone can lose weight and enjoy health benefits from adopting intermittent fasting.
So in that sense, this program is for everyone.
But what I would say is that if you are literally only interested in fasting, you probably don’t need this program.
You can simply start fasting for 16 hours a day if you want to only change when you eat, and not also what you eat.
This course is perfect for people who really want to maximize their results and want to create a better relationship to eating in order to really improve their health.
Because for me, that was what made this program stand out.
The pros and cons of Beyond Fasting
Here is what I liked most about Beyond Fasting, as well as the things I didn’t like as much.
- The program is more holistic than simply focusing on intermittent fasting. You will dive deep into your mindset around diet too. As well as external factors you’ll look at the all-important internal factors (such as beliefs and goals) that steer your behavior and shape your results.
- Ronan Oliveira comes across as knowledgeable and enthusiastic so he’s a good presenter of the video content and engaging to watch.
- The daily lessons and work you have to do for this program are very easy to fit around other commitments and don’t take more than 30 minutes of your time.
- If you’re looking to lose weight, this is a great way to do it without grueling exercise regimes or punishing calorie counting.
- Scheduling my fasting windows was easy as I’m single, have no kids, and am self-employed. That means I have a lot of freedom. If you have a stricter schedule though, I can imagine you might struggle. For example, you can only take your lunch break when your employer tells you, or you always sit down for a family dinner at 7 pm. Working out the practicalities of fasting will undoubtedly be more challenging for some people.
- Whilst I didn’t mind cutting out food, I found cutting out certain drinks during the fasting window more of a challenge. What can I say, I like a morning milky coffee and evening wine. Try to take them from me at your peril.
The science of intermittent fasting
You’ll see and hear the words “scientifically backed” a lot during this program.
As a journalist, it’s hard-wired into me to never take any claims at face value, so I decided to do some independent digging on the science behind intermittent fasting.
It didn’t take more than a quick internet search to find some very credible sources for the benefits of intermittent fasting. Like this from the Harvard Medical School
“There’s a ton of incredibly promising intermittent fasting (IF) research done on fat rats. They lose weight, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improve. Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and incredibly effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast. But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.”
Whilst another article said that despite there being a risk that “promoters of intermittent fasting will, perhaps unintentionally, encourage extreme behavior, such as bingeing” there is “indeed a large body of research to support the health benefits of fasting”.
Meanwhile, Medical News Study cites several research studies that point to intermittent fasting helping with weight loss, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, and better brain and heart health.
But is fasting bad for women?
But apparently, this originated from a small study which found that after 36 hours of fasting in men blood sugar levels improved but were worse for women.
Ronan Oliveira addressed this by pointing out that physically there’s a huge difference between 16 and 36 hours.
He also clarified that after that amount of time we’d expect to see worse levels of blood sugar metabolism.
Whilst I was left convinced of the scientifically backed credentials of IF, if you have doubts it’s always best to do your own research.
Other Mindvalley classes you may like
If you do end up signing up for the Mindvalley Membership, you’ll also have access to some other great health and wellness courses.
These are my 3 favorite ones:
10x Fitness is the other Mindvalley program from the same trainer as Beyond Fasting. It’s Mindvalley’s most popular fitness program and focuses on getting your “dream body” with just two 15-minute weekly workouts.
The Longevity Blueprint
The Longevity Blueprint is a 7-week course all about up-leveling your health and longevity. Rather than doing this with grueling workouts, it promotes 5-20 minutes a day to recondition the body and improve your overall wellness.
Wildfit is a 3-month long health program created by Eric Edmeades. Rather than being exercise focused it’s all about diet. It’s built around the principle that a natural diet does exist and we all have certain nutritional requirements that need to be met.
My Beyond Fasting review verdict: Is it worth it?
I’m naturally sceptical of “diets‘ ‘ because they often fail to account for eating as a lifelong habit rather than a short-term fix to lose weight.
So that’s maybe why I liked Beyond Fasting so much and why I would happily recommend it.
It takes the genuine science around intermittent fasting and combines it with better eating and a better mindset around food.
If you decide to give Beyond Fasting a go, I think it’s this powerful combination that will help you see better results.