Yep – today we are going to talk about Intermittent Fasting, also known as IF or IMF. The concept is easy to explain: eat a little, fast a little, eat a little, fast a lot; eat, fast, eat fast. Easy peasy.
My favorite one is quite popular and is easy because you are sleeping through a lot of the fast, is to eat your meals in a six hour window, and then don’t eat, or fast for 18 hours. So you could skip breakfast (yes, it’s okay to do this); just eat lunch and then dinner in a six-hour window; and then don’t eat for 18. Or, just eat breakfast and lunch, skip dinner and then fast for 18 hours.
Other popular versions are 16:8, or 24 hours of fasting every other day; or 5 days eating, 2 days fasting.
Note – during your eating times, often called feeding or feasting times by fasters, you do NOT eat for the entire 6 hours or whatever your eating hours are. You are not supposed to act like you are at an all-you-can-eat buffet! You are doing this fasting protocol presumably for health reasons, so stick to your healthy meal choices as much as possible.
Now that being said – if you tumble into the carb barrel and have to eat your way out, Intermittent Fasting is a good way to start repairing the cellular and hormonal damage you have done to your body.
Before I get into the benefits of IF, let me share with you the main reasons I love to practice this form of fasting.
First, it is really pretty easy. Like I said, you are asleep for a lot of the hours. Also, since I am on the Ketogenic food plan, the fat content of my foods is satiating, so I’m not as hungry as when I was burning glucose for fuel. With high carbs, my hunger pangs were dramatic and hysterical, “Feed me now or we will die!!!!” As a fat burner, they are mostly nudges.
Second, and most important. I am learning a great deal about my relationship with food and my body during these intermittent fasts. I have learned that much of my desire for food is out of either boredom or habit. Either it’s “time” to eat, or I’m just looking for a distraction and for years, food has always been a great one.
Third, I have learned that often during these shorter fasts– from 16 to 24 hours, a drink of water, electrolytes or a pinch of Himalayan sea salt is all I need. I wasn’t hungry – just dehydrated.
Lastly, it helps me get acquainted with what hunger feels like and to know that it is not scary, but rather, it is a rest break for my digestive tract and a chance, if long enough, for my body to do repair work. When I was overeating I rarely experienced true hunger. During these fasting periods, what I feel is a lightness. I’ve come to learn and enjoy the empty feeling in my stomach. And I’ll tell you what -- It sure feels a heck of a lot better than the turkey torpor, junkyard dog, stuffed feeling we have all experienced a few times on our lives.
Now for the universal benefits of Intermittent Fasting:
Reduction in inflammation (all mine is gone!)
Weight loss (so far 30 pounds in 3 months)
Reduction in T2 Diabetes (no longer have T2 diabetes)
Reduction in blood pressure and resting heart rate
What we are doing during these fasting times is shifting our body’s cellular and metabolic processes. One result of this shifting is a positive stressing that can result in autophagy, which is our body’s way of housekeeping or removing undesirable cells from our body.
Challenge – whatever diet or eating lifestyle you are on, take a break from eating for 12 hours, 18 hours or even a day. Get in touch with your hunger and your feelings about food.
One caveat – it is easier to do any of the above once you’ve been on the Ketogenic lifestyle for at least a week or two. Why? Because you have already converted from using glucose as a fuel to being a fat burner which is like going from gasoline to rocket fuel.
If you are currently eating high carbs and sugar you certainly can and should give this a go, but your first day will be detoxing from the carb and sugar mess in your cells so it will be a bit rocky – worthwhile – but rocky.
And I know, I know – repeat after me: “I should get my doctor’s approval for any drastic change in my diet. “ (I’m supposed to say that.)
Research nerd that I am, I would like to recommend two books by Dr. Jason Fung that were informative and show that the medical community is just now beginning to see that we’ve been approaching health, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses from a “Magic Pill” viewpoint rather than from a cure. The books are listed below.
Here’s to our health!
2 CommentsMy First Fast - 48 Hours10/26/2018
The Last Supper.
Well, if you're going to do it, might as well do it big! I decided to start a fast, as an experiment (always using my body as a guinea pig) because I had Friday and Saturday off and a conference on Sunday. I forgot that I had plans on Thursday - so rare that I do. But fortunately, my friend, Anna Hawe, an artist and culinary wizard, prepared a Keto supper for us before we, along with our pal, Mo, who orchestrated the gathering, left for the Wailin' Jennys concert.
Just take a look at this feast and try to tell me that eating Keto is boring! Wowza - everything was fantabulously scrumptious.
So the fast begins.
Obviously, the first 13 hours of the fast were easy. I was sleeping. I woke up and got on the scale to get a starting weight. I'd gained a pound (1.7 to be exact) after last night's feast, but it was worth every delicious bite. So I started this fast at 187.7.
I am now at 16 hours. Some books I have read say one can put butter and/or heavy whipping cream in one's coffee on a fast (ie, Bulletproof coffee), but this doesn't make sense to me. So on my fast - however long it may be - I am having my coffee black, water, electrolytes, and maybe bone broth. So far I feel fine. Energy is normal. Mild hunger pangs that can be easily ignored. And since it is pre "lunch time" the only thing I've missed is my Bulletproof coffee, but without regret.
Medically - here's what's happening:
While I was sleeping, my blood sugars fell and I finished digesting that fabulous feast. My body was no longer producing insulin. About 12 hours into this journey - about the time I was waking up, my digestive system began to rest and my body could begin a healing process. My Human Growth Hormones began to increase and glycogen is released to balance my blood sugar.
As I am writing this at 16 hours - my body is easily burning fat (more so because I began this fast already in a ketogenic state). My human growth hormones are ramping up even higher. All is good. My goal is to get into a state of autophagy.
I'm 18 hours into this fast.
Mildly hungry. It's about my typical lunch time. It's a chilly day and warm food would feel nice. But I turned up the heat and put on a sweater. Not in the mood for a warm cuppa. Just water. Might also be bored and use lunch as a distraction. So I'm moving over to my bead table for a few hours to create jewelry.
Medically - here's what's happening:
Regarding the chill, it's part of our body's adaptation process. When fasting, the core of the body temperature drops. It's a deeper chill than fingers and toes. It is truly core.
This is the time where the HGH really kick into high gear. So here's hoping mine will!
24 hours - 7 pm
Feeling fine. Had a few mild beginnings of headaches today so each time I ate a pinch of Himalayan sea salt and was fine. Had one brief, non-urgent hunger pang dance through. Easily ignored.
I decided to have some bone broth. I have been hesitant to try it because it sounded gross to me (as did Bulletproof coffee the first time I heard about it and now I LOVE it). I purchased Epic Artisanal Bone Broth - both the Beef and Jalapeno Sea Salt, and the Chicken. Very tasty. I'm on board with this. The Beef and Jalapeno Sea Salt was my favorite.
Since it was chilly in the house, and my dogs were needy, and I had a good book, I retired to my nest and read, all snug and warm for a few hours. I had a wonderful sleep but for the gazillion times I had to get up and pee.
Medically - here's what's happening:
Autophagy begins about now. This is the purpose of the drill - to eliminate weak or dead cells. All glycogen stores are drained and ketosis is king!
36 hours into fast - 7 am
Happy day! Up and at 'em. Feeling normal - haha, whatever that is. Weighed in at 186 --- after peeing so many times during the night, the loss is water weight. Ready to start a new day - I purchased some cold brew coffee since now that I've been doing Bulletproof coffee, I no longer grind my own beans and hence, my homemade black coffee is disgusting. So I'm enjoying a morning of jazz, cold brew black coffee and lots of water.
Medically - here's what's happening.
Autophagy increases 300%. This is the bonus. And probably why I am urinating so much. The human body is amazing and has its own ways of regenerating, rejuvenating and healing itself, if we only let it.
44 Hours into the Fast - 3 pm
I was surprised that I found this day a bit more challenging than yesterday. Not bad, but the hunger pangs or the emptiness of my stomach seemed to nag all day. Not frantic or starving, but I was aware of it most of the day. I think it was because I spent the day working on beading jewelry and this allows my mind to wander and it wandered to thoughts about food. My guess is that if I were at work or busy with something that occupied my mind, I wouldn't notice it. For example, now as I type this entry, I am fine and feel no hunger. So I will plan my next foray into fasting on days I work or have mentally demanding projects or physically active ones.
Had a cup of the beef bone broth earlier and it was warm and yummy. I still have a chilled core and it doesn't help that it is a cold and damp day weather wise.
Medically - here's what's happening
As I approach the 48 hour mark, autophagy increases about 30% more. My immune system resets and regeneration has begun to occur. And medically, there should be an increased reduction in my inflammatory responses. By the way, at 72 hours of fasting, autophagy maxes out.
Hunger -- not bad. I had one spell around lunch time the first full day that was noticable and lasted almost an hour. And one short one around dinner time that same day. On the second day - between 36 and 48 hours, I had a gentle hunger feeling most of the day. I could ignore it but it was always there. How much was the habit of "meal times" or boredom, I don't know. I know I eat at scheduled times rather than when I am truly hungry so fasting helps me to learn about and undo this habit.
Energy -- for me, for this 48 hour fast, my energy remained the same as usual - no highs or lows. I'm a sedentary person anyway - chores, beading, reading, writing. All was the same during the fast.
My research indicates that there is a euphoic and high energy time after the 3rd day. Since I had a conference to attend on what would be my 3rd day, I decided to break my fast after two days. But will "guinea pig" myself with longer fasts to check out this euphoric, high energy feeling that fasters discuss.
Fasting - Very doable. My research indicated that hunger would happen on Day 2 - and the way I started my fast the night before - mine was pretty much on schedule. The hunger I felt today was just nagging - not terrible, just there. I notice too, that besides "meal times," I also eat out of boredom so it was important that I kept busy during the fasts. And lesson learned -- during non-fast times, to ask myself: Are you really hungry or just bored? And if bored - go do something else!!!!
Lastly, I will continue trying different fasting protocols. I enjoyed stretching myself and learning about what happens in my body when I do. I will soon blog about two much easier fasting protocols that I really enjoy.
And oh yeah, remember, I'm not a doctor, nor pretend to be. Just a research nerd and a person always testing, experimenting and asking "Why?" and of course, "How?" Always get medical advice before you do things like this. Even I did. Sort of.