When I first read about IF (intermittent fasting), I was repelled and horrified. It made me question the very sanity of the #LCHF protocol. We’ve all had that feeling that you were so hungry, you could eat your own arm. Why would anyone voluntarily choose to suffer like that? It didn’t seem safe or healthy. Also – couldn’t that really mess up my metabolism? Then a few things changed for me:
- I watched the series of videos by Dr. Jason Fung on dietdoctor.com. The series is very informative and walks you through what fasting is, common misconceptions, how to start. Most religions in the world incorporate some kind of fasting. The videos peaked my curiosity. I was intrigued. Sort of.
- I noticed how I feel. It is very easy now for me to eat only two meals a day (as long as, of course, those meals are LCHF). The fat promotes satiety, and I am just not hungry. This from a person who used to pack two snacks and a lunch for work, and would still hit up the vending machine around 4:05pm! I don’t even need a snack. So I am already ‘fasting’ to some extent. Interesting.
- I had a week where I didn’t lose anything. It was also a week that I ramped up my exercise, so not losing was pretty frustrating. I was motivated to try fasting to see if it could shake things up.
- I read, a lot. This was probably the most important – I have totally geeked out on nutrition information. Understanding how insulin affects the body, and how it literally prevents you from accessing your body’s fat storage, has been eye-opening. Here’s a great quote from Mark’s Daily Apple that summarizies it quite nicely:
The presence of insulin inhibits lipolysis, the release of stored triglycerides (body fat). Without lipolysis actually releasing stored body fat, it’s rather difficult to, well, burn that body fat for energy. During a fast, fasting insulin decreases and lipolysis increases. This insulin-blunting aspect of fasting quite literally allows the fast to be successful, because without the ability to access stored body fat for energy, making it through a period of zero caloric intake will be nigh impossible.
Also, on the question of whether fasting will affect metabolism, I really enjoyed this write-up by Dr. Fung, which explains why metabolism goes DOWN for Biggest Loser contestants (who invariably gain the weight back) and up on IF.
So how is my first 24-hr fast going? Today is Sunday, and I haven’t eaten since my (large) breakfast yesterday at 10:30am. How do I feel? Honestly? I feel amazing! I had one bout of hunger last night, and in the time it took me to make a cup of tea, the hunger had passed. I thought I would feel ravenous when I woke up, and I just don’t. I am actually fighting back tears as I type this. For years, decades even, I have felt like I was working against by body. Years of skinless chicken breasts, egg whites and steamed vegetables, years of caloric restriction, with painfully slow results and so much suffering. In January of this year, I felt hopeless. I just couldn’t bring myself to jump on another cycle of calorie- and macro-counting. Now, today, I simply can’t ignore how GOOD I feel. My head is clear, I am not hungry. I am not fighting against my body. And yes, I am losing weight again, but it feels almost beside the point. My body and mind are in harmony and it’s really quite beautiful.
If you are remotely intrigued by this idea, I have one word of advice. DO NOT try this until your body is fully keto-adapted and you are a fat-burning machine. This typically takes 3-4 weeks. If you are still a sugar-burner, and you try IF, you will be miserable. It just doesn’t work.