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July 28, 2017

Fast Friday: The Last Word in Fasting for GAINZZZ

I wanted to give everyone an update on my own experimenting with short, medium, and medium-long fasts. (I haven't managed to get to day 4 yet -- just day 3 1/2.)

GAINZZZ have returned. I'm definitely losing weight again, and I've visibly lost fat. It's not "dropping" off me like some intermittent fasting or real fasting enthusiasts claim, but it's finally coming off again.

I thought I'd write a post that recapitulates most of what I've read (and written here) about fasting, explaining what it is, and also explaining how to do it in more systematic way than I've done before.

I intend this to be the one post I'll link in the future if I mention fasting, so 1, it's fairly complete, and 2, it's repetitive in some parts for those of you who've been reading the thread. But there's a "How to Fast Without Too Much Effort" part that's all new.

But before getting to this long post: Tell me about yo GAINZZZ, son. If you skip the rest of the post -- I still gots to know if you're making GAINNZZZ.

Why Fast?

First, the benefits of doing any kind of fasting:

1. Ketogenesis. When you don't have any food in your body to turn into energy, your body turns to burning the glucose it stores in the easily-burned form of glycogen. But you only have a limited amount of that -- 70 grams in your liver, and 200 grams scattered throughout all the muscles of your body.

When your body has also burned through all of that, it turns to the only stored energy it has left: Bodyfat. Note that the body doesn't particularly want to burn bodyfat -- we're built to accumulate fat whenever food is available (which, at least in the developed world, it almost always is) -- and only turns to burning bodyfat when food is scarce.

Fasting is imposing an artificial scarcity of food on yourself to make the body do what it's actually built to do (burn fat when there's no food) but rarely gets the chance to do (because there's always food).

So fasting for any period of time longer than 12-14 hours will start the body, towards the end (after burning through glycogen), burning energy stored in the form of body fat.

This is called "ketogenesis" because the energy molecules created are called "ketones." Ketogenesis is just "making ketones." It's usually shortened to "ketosis."

Any fat you burn off you body is obviously fat weight lost.

2. Reversing Insulin Resistance. The pancreas releases insulin whenever it detects there's too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. Insulin is a hormone that makes cells permeable to glucose. So when there's too much sugar in the blood, insulin is released, to cause muscle cells to allow more glucose inside of them -- and to tell fat cells to start taking glucose and making them into new fat molecules.

Any glucose that doesn't go into the muscles -- which is most of it, unless you're in the middle of a hard workout -- goes into fat.

Critically, insulin is an antagonist hormone that turns off all the fat-burning hormones. So when there's elevated insulin in your blood, you can't burn body fat. When there's elevated insulin, there's a one-way ratchet effect as to fat: Your body can make new fat molecules, but it can't break them down for energy.

People who eat a lot and eat frequently -- especially if they eat a lot of high-carb foods or sugars -- really spike their insulin levels very high. The cells of the body grow tolerant to insulin, as an alcoholic grows tolerant to alcohol, and begin ignoring "normal" levels of insulin. Normal levels of insulin don't cause cells to accept glucose. The pancreas detects that blood sugar has not decreased due to its release of insulin, and releases more insulin.

This is the start of a syndrome called "insulin resistance." Cells are exposed to higher-than-normal levels of insulin and won't take in glucose; the pancreas responds by spiking insulin even higher. But then, cells grow tolerant of that higher does of insulin as well, and the pancreas must now release even more insulin to get cells to respond. And then that continues until cells are resistant to even that higher does, and the pancreas must produce even more.

This chart shows the levels of insulin in the blood of an obese person compared to a normal-weight person. We can pretty much just say the first is insulin resistant and the other isn't, because insulin resistance is both a cause and effect of obesity:

InsulinResistance.jpg

Note that while both patients' insulin spikes after eating, the obese person's insulin spikes much higher -- and in fact the obese person's resting insulin level (that is, his insulin level before a meal) is usually as high or higher than the normal weight person's fed insulin level (that is, his insulin level in response to having just eaten).

If someone has low blood sugar from not eating, his body could do three things:

1. Start burning fat to replace the low blood glucose with ketone bodies.

2. Pump out the ghrelin hunger hormone, get the person to eat, and then restock the blood glucose with the food just eaten.

3. Reduce bodily energy so that the low energy expended doesn't tax the low energy in the blood.

Note #1 there -- a normal weight person, who isn't insulin resistance, can just make more energy from his own stores of bodyfat.

But an obese person doesn't have that option open -- his persistently-high resting insulin level precludes option one, and only leaves options 2 and 3.

The normal weight person makes fat when he eats, but burns a bit of it between meals; the fat person makes fat when he eats, but, due to his high resting insulin, can't burn it between meals. Fat is for him a one-way street. All production, no consumption.

Also, the endpoint of a persistently high resting insulin level is pre-diabetes and then full type 2 diabetes.

The idea that fasting can help restore cells' proper sensitivity to insulin (and thus the chronic overproduction/flooding of the blood with insulin) goes like this: Cells became resistant to insulin when they were bathed in too much insulin too frequently. Therefore, if someone were to deliberately push his body into a state of very low insulin production for long periods, cells would begin to regain their former sensitivity to the hormone, just as an alcoholic will begin to lose his tolerance to booze if he goes off it long enough.

Once your blood isn't full of insulin, the hormones that are supposed to tell fat cells to start converting fat into energy can actually do their magic.

3. Autophagy ("Self-eating"). Digestion takes a lot of metabolic energy. After you eat, most of your metabolism is diverted to digestion. That's why you're sluggish or even sleepy after a big meal. (Digestion mostly stops if you're active, by the way, as that energy is diverted to moving around. Digestion would re-start once you start relaxing again.)

Another process that takes a lot of metabolic energy is autophagy, which is the destroying of old, worn-down cells (which may have defects in their DNA and other operative machinery), eating them up and stripping them for spare parts like a burnt-out car, and making new cells (with correctly coded DNA) in their place.

When you digest, your body doesn't bother doing autophagy, as it's of lower priority. So going for long periods without any ingested food lets the body spend its metabolic energy on autophagy for a change.

4. Increased HGH. Human growth hormone can spike by 4-5 times after a two day fast, or by 1250% after a five day fast. HGH spurs the body to make new muscle. It's also generally anti-aging, and we make less HGH as we get older. Fasting is a legal (and safe, and cheap ) way to make your own HGH.

5. Higher Energy, and More Consistent Energy. Although most people will feel their energy falling the first few times they fast, that's because they're not yet producing enough ketones to compensate for the suddenly-absent glucose. Once they are producing ketones routinely, energy will actually increase (unless you have very low body fat), because your body can now burn its own stored fuel whenever it needs it.

Also, this energy doesn't require the metabolic drain of digestion, and there are no spikes and crashes, as there may be after eating a big meal (especially a big meal filled with starches). The body's production of energy becomes mostly "Always On," always breaking down fat for ketones as needed, instead of rising sharply after eating, then falling rapidly as unused glucose is turned into fat.

6. Clarity of Thought. As moods are primarily caused by energy swings and hormones, the fewer of those you have, the less moody you'll be.

By the way, I've found that when I say "I feel good" what I really mean -- if I think about it -- is "I feel like I've had enough sleep and have bodily energy."

When I say "I feel like shit," I usually mean (if I bother to think about it) "I didn't get enough sleep and I feel low-energy."

So just having a consistent level of energy, I've found, is pretty much the same as just feeling generally better.

Also, supposedly, if you fast for four or five days straight -- which I have not achieved yet -- you're supposed to feel a particularly powerful sort of mental clarity. This is the dragon I'm chasing; haven't caught it yet. But this is a very common claim among fasters.


Is Fasting a Diet?

Not really. Intermittent fasting (the first step in fasting) isn't really a diet at all; it doesn't tell you what to eat, but just restricts when you eat.

Longer fasts -- when you don't eat for a day or two at a time (or longer) -- obviously are diets of a kind. It's just a very simple diet: You eat nothing for a day or two.

But neither kind of fasting dictates what you eat when you do eat. You can be on whatever diet and also fast, or no diet at all.

That said, an important part of fasting is pushing your body to burn fat through ketosis and to reduce resting insulin levels; it is certainly helpful to that end to eat a diet which promotes that very thing. The Atkins and Paleo diets, for example, are both ketogenic. They will add to anything fasting does.

But you could actually eat whatever the hell you wanted on any kind of fasting plan. You'll just see more GAINZZZ if you combine fasting with another healthy form of eating, particularly one that promotes fat-burning in and of itself.

How to Fast With a Minimum of Effort

A lot of people shy away from the idea of fasting because it sounds impossible -- or, if not impossible, just miserable.

Actually, it's not, but just like with strength conditioning or jogging, you actually do have to build towards fasting and give your body the opportunity to adapt gracefully to increasing stresses.

So the idea is: Go slowly, and build to it.

Fasting Level Zero: Getting Ready

When you're fasting, you're not taking in glucose, and you'll soon run out of your stores of glucose stored as glycogen. This will cause stuff like headaches, a lack of energy, brain fog, and even Hating Life Itself.

You'll want to already have gotten your body used to burning fat before you really start fasting, so that when your glycogen runs out, your ketone production smoothly ramps up.

There's a few things you can do to get your ketone-burning machinery into gear:

1. Move to a Ketogenic Style Diet, At Least for a Time

If you are, like most people, glucose-dependent as far as the body's energy needs, and not fat-burning (or "keto-adapted"), you'll probably want to get yourself into a more keto-adapted state before trying any kind of fast. While it is true that once you've burned up your last meal plus the 270 or so grams of glycogen stored in your body, you will start burning fat for fuel, there might be a gap between when your glycogen energy runs out and your ketosis (when fat starts getting converted into energy-supplying ketone bodies) begins. In that case, you'll feel not just hungry, but sapped of energy, and maybe you'll have headaches and such, and maybe that'll make you tap out of the fast pretty early.

So it might be a good idea to cut down on carbs -- as low as you can go -- and start supplementing with a little medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. Like in your coffee. (This is the so-called "Bulletproof coffee" people talk about.) Healthy fats like that increase the feeling of satiety and also provide energy. Some claim (though I can't seem to find any real definitive word on this) that burning eaten fats like MCT oil may "prime" your body to start burning its own stored fats. I tend to think that's bullshit, but I do see it claimed sometimes.

Either way, shifting some of your diet from carbs to healthy oils (coconut oil, butter, avocado) will start getting your body ready to burn fat. The less glucose (sugar and starch) energy you're taking in, the more fat your body must burn.

I don't know if you have to go full Atkins or Paleo (almost no carbs, moderate protein, increased fat intake) to ease yourself into fasting, but it would help.

Anyway, maybe before fasting, start shifting to a very low carb/higher fat diet for two weeks just to start some fat burning.

2. No Snacks.

You're going to want to start controlling hunger and start breaking various habits, like boredom eating, or eating just because you have a twinge of hunger, or snacking before bedtime. (That last one was huge for me; I couldn't sleep without my late-night cheese fix.)

Start eating only at actual meals. If you get hungry between them -- great. Your feeling of hunger is probably a hormonal surge of grehlin telling you that your blood glucose level is a bit low. If you have a snack, you'll boost that glucose -- but when you do that, you turn off any possible fat-burning your body would turn to in absence of food. Take the temporary hit of hunger to force your body to eat its own fat for between-meal energy.

Go to bed hungry, if you can. (Hunger passes -- I'll talk about that in the "tips" section.)

Definitely cut out all sugar. Or as much as you can possibly do without. Sugar spikes insulin, and that's going to keep your body from burning fat.

3. Start delaying breakfast.

Sleeping counts as fasting -- so to get to a 12 hour fast (which isn't really a long enough fast to do much, but it's still better than nothing) you only need to add extra hours between your last meal and your first meal of the day.

Instead of eating breakfast before work, just have coffee. (Maybe Bulletproof coffee, if you need something in your system.) Push breakfast back to 10 am. Just bring a couple of hardboiled eggs or four strips of bacon to work or something.

You're looking to get to 16 hours a day fasting, with just an 8 hour window of eating, but you don't have to do it all at once. Extending your fasted state from 10 hours, to 11, to 12, to 13, to 14, and then finally to 16 is relatively painless if done over two weeks or so.

Fasting Level One: Intermittent Fasting.

This probably shouldn't even be called "fasting" because fasting is a little scary sounding. But all intermittent fasting is is restricting the window in which you're eating to a period of time -- 12-14 hours for beginners, 16 hours when you're on the popular 16:8 regime (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating), or even longer daily fasts of 18 or 20 hours (with 6 hour and 4 hour feeding windows respectively).

You're still eating 3 meals every damn day. It's not really "fasting" in the way people think about fasting. You're just prolonging each day's already-existing non-feeding period.

I've mentioned the benefits of this, but I'll recap them quickly:

At around 11-12 hours without, your body runs out of energy from your last feeding and is now running out of all the glycogen (stored glucose; 70 grams in your liver, 200 grams scattered about in your muscles). So at around this point ketogenesis -- making energetic "ketone bodies" from stored fat -- begins.

But it begins pretty weakly at first. At 14 hours, it starts to increase quite a bit. That's why the 16:8 regimen is popular -- it's not that difficult to "only" eat in an 8 hour window, and it gives you two hours in the high-fat-burning range you hit after hour 14 without food.

Obviously the longer you stay in this Bonus Round of increased fat-burning, the better, and that's why people start pushing the daily fast to 18, 20, or even 24 hours, but it's not necessary to do that to get the benefit of burning fat every single day.

And it shouldn't be done for a while. Like an exercise regime, if you try to do too much too soon, you'll feel like crap, you'll give up, and you'll just never try it again. If your goal is to start running 3 miles three times a week, for the love of your joints, don't start running 3 miles. Start running a quarter mile or a half a mile. Give your body time to adjust to the changes. Otherwise it will kick up an awful fuss.

So feel free to move slowly from the 12 hour fast, the better 14 hour fast, and then the even 16 hour fast. And when you get to 16 hours -- hang out there a while. Do it for several weeks.

Don't keep trying to push for longer periods of fasting.

This is going to come up with every more intense fasting step: The time you should consider going for the more intense fasting regime is when you find yourself slipping into the more intense fasting regime without even trying to do so.

For example: once you're doing 16 hour fasts as a matter of habit, you're going to find that sometimes you just forget to eat your first meal. You either get busy, or you're just not very hungry, or just flat-out forget. (Like I said: Hunger diminishes.)

You will find yourself naturally, without any plan, going into 18 or even 24 hour fasts just out of convenience.

When that happens a fair amount, your body is now adapted to the 16:8 regime and you can, if you want, pretty easily start extending it to 18 or 20 hours.

Fasting Level Two: 18 and 20 Hour Fasts.

If you want to lose more weight, and you're comfortable with the 16:8 plan, you can shift to doing 18 or 20 hour fasts daily.

You don't even have to do them daily. You can stick in your 16:8 fat most of the time, but then choose days to extend the fast to 18 or 20 hours. Occasionally extending a fast will get you ready, little by little, to make that your regular daily fast schedule -- again, not forcing changes on your body and metabolism that they're not ready for, but adopting them when you feel okay doing them.

Little by little, you'll find your fasts are extending, and at some point you can decide that officially -- as a goal -- you're now shifting your eating window to just six hours, or just four.


In the six hour eating schedule, you could get in three meals, I guess, but there's nothing sacrosanct about three meals. Eating two slightly-larger meals will work just fine.

In a four hour window, there's not enough time for three meals, and so you'll almost certainly be just eating twice on these days.

Once you're mostly eating this way -- 6 or 4 hour eating windows -- you'll once again that naturally, without planning it, you've forgotten to eat all day, and then you'll eat just one meal.

This is the One Meal a Day Plan -- basically extending your fast to 23 hours. 23 hours fasting, one hour (less, really) of eating.

But you don't have to make it plan, and you shouldn't. You should just begin accidentally slipping into this. When your body is accidentally slipping into it -- and doing so without protesting too much about it -- you can think about going to the One Meal a Day plan.

Fasting Level Three: One Meal a Day.

Once again, as with the other levels of intensity, you don't have to commit to only eating One Meal a Day all the time. If you're doing, say, 18:6 without problem, you can either just have one meal a day when you've forgotten to have your earlier day meal, or you can decide to sprinkle in one or two One Meal a Day fasts during the week, while remaining, mostly, on your 18:6 plan. Or 20:4 plan, whatever.

This "feathering in" a day or two of higher intensity fasting into a week of lower-intensity fasting is, as usual, the easiest way -- without causing any strain on your body or your willpower -- to start escalating into a higher level of fasting.

By the way, for any kind of weight-reduction and health improvement, once you're on like 20:4 with a couple of One Meal a Day days sprinkled in, you kind of really don't have to escalate any further, at least not for weight loss. You'll lose weight over time. You can stay in a sort of 5 days 18/6 and 2 days One Meal a Day forever without much difficulty, and you'll lose weight consistently.

Fasting Level Four: One Full Day (and Night) Without Any Food.

Once you're doing One Meal a Day a lot -- say, three or four times a week -- it's probably going to start occurring to you that you're already doing a nearly 24 hour fast, and if you just don't bother eating at all, and just go to bed hungry, you'll have gone a full day (and then night) without eating.

Basically you just have to go another four hours without eating today, then go to bed, and you'll have gone at least around 36 hours without any food at all.

And once again, it's best to not try this until you're already pretty comfortable with going One Meal a Day a fair amount. Once that's no big deal for you, riding out the hunger (and now there's gonna be hunger, son!) for another four hours is... well, doable.

At 24 hours, if you're like me, you start to get hungry, even if you're used to being hungry. So making the decision to Ride It Out with an empty stomach is a bit tough.

The other escalations kind of just happen naturally over time; this one takes a bit of effort.

Still, a lot of this is psychological. And just ghrelin telling you YOU MUST EAT OR YOU WILL DIE, SON!!!, and then your brain perseverate about that until your hormones convince your brain -- which is supposed to be smart, but is actually pretty dumb -- that you've gotta eat.

If you're overweight, you don't have to eat (well, at least you can go a couple of days without eating).

Even a fit man has something like 70,000 stored calories in his belly. A fat person might have 100-300,000. An obese person might have 600,000 or more.

You've got the food -- your body just would rather not tap it. It's built to accumulate fat, if possible, and sends hormonal signals to prod you into doing this.

Anyway, this is a big step, and so shouldn't be tried until you can do One Meal a Day several days in a row without much strain.

When you do go to bed, you'll wake up on a 36 our so hour fast. If you want to have breakfast now, go ahead. On the other hand, you can wait until your normal later-in-the-day breaking-fast time, in which case you'll be doing a 42 hour fast.

If you wait until dinner time-- well, now you've done a 48 hour fast.

Note that once you get past the 24 hour hump, the difficulty of doing a 42 hour fast isn't much greater than a 36 hour one, and a 48 hour one is barely more difficult than a 42 hour fast.


Fasting Level Five: 48 Hours Without Food.

This is just stopping eating on Monday night and not eating again until Wednesday night, or however it works out for you. Note you've only gone one actual solar day without eating -- you ate Monday night, and you're eating again on the day after the full day of fasting -- but this is still 48 hours, and still an escalation.

This sort of fasting is something you could do, if you wanted, once a week. You could do 16:8 or 18:6 or 20:4 for five days of the week, then eat a big dinner, then go the next day without eating, then eat at dinner the following day.

But you don't have to, again. All these different escalations can be dropped in when you feel up to it. You could try a 48 hour fast once every two weeks, or once a month, or once a season.

All of these additional escalations are things you drop into your normal IF schedule.

I should say something here: Obviously, you can't drop in these longer fasts too frequently. You do need to eat sometimes!

I've found that doing a 48 hour fast once a week is doable, but I will admit, I have started to feel a bit low energy, and low-metabolism, after doing it regularly for like a month or so.

This week I think I'm skipping the 48 hour fast and just trying to eat more (One Meal a Day), to eat more regularly for a time, before trying a longer fast.

Fasting Level Six: Two Days and Two Nights Without Food.

The escalation here is that you don't eat dinner on the day after a full fast. In the last level, you ate Monday night, fasted all day Tuesday, then ate Wednesday night, for a 48 hour fast, but only not eating all of one single day (Tuesday).

At this level, you just skip eating all that Wednesday as well, and break your fast the next day, Thursday.

You'll go to bed hungry two nights in a row.

This is another tough escalation and another place you might wind up failing. My first attempt at a longer fast ended here.

Once you do go that second night without eating, congrats, you're in an at least 56-58 hour fast, depending on when you break it. If you break it around breakfast time, you've gone 56-58 hours, if at lunch, 62 or 64 hours, or at dinner, something like 70 hours.

This one's tough. They say that fasting gets really difficult on day two and day three, then gets easier.

Again, you would not do this very often. Probably not once a week (or, if once a week, only for a limited number of weeks). You might try this every two weeks or once a month.

One more thing: You may see reference to the 5:2 fast. The 5:2 fast is based on the number of days in the week, unlike the 16:8, which is based on the number of hours in the day.

The 5:2 fast is just skipping eating entirely two days a week. You can do these separately or in a row. I think maybe doing them in a row might actually be easier, but I guess that depends on the user.

You can also do the 5:2 while also doing the 16:8 -- fast sixteen hours of five days, then skipping eating entirely for two days of the week, either spread apart or done consecutively.

Of course, once you're at 72 hours or nearly so of fasting, it might occur to you: If I don't eat for another night, I'm now into a full three day plus fast.

This is another tough escalation, and you should only do it if you're pretty comfortable with two day fasts.

Fasting Level Seven: The Three Day Plus Fast.

This is where I've checked out twice. I had a plan to do 4 or 5 days, and got through 3 days (plus -- three days, four nights, so like at least 80 or 84 hours).

This day is bad for me. My hormones begin making up phantasmal ailments that can only be remedied by eating.

My brain eventually believes this shit and it's time for Taco Bell.

Personally, this is where I get that feeling of ravening hunger where I can scarcely think about anything else but food.

I think I'm just not ready for it. I just have to do more 2 1/2 day fasts and get comfortable with those before pushing through to a 3-4 day one again.

I was just talking to John Ekdahl about this -- he's now on IF too, and losing weight -- and he mentioned that an expert said NEVER quit on day three -- day four becomes so much easier, and you get that feeling of wellness and mental clarity that fasting enthusiasts write about as if it's really good peyote at Burning Man.

But so far, I've checked out at 80+ hours, even knowing that Day Four was supposedly the Promised Land.

I guess that's Fasting Level Eight -- the Four or Five Day fast -- but I haven't gotten there yet, so I'll stop on this topic now.

That's a big reason I'm trying not to do any long-ish fasts for a while, so I can build up and finally plow through Day Three and Day Four.

Let me just repeat, again: The key to any escalation is kind of just falling into that escalation naturally. When you're handling 16 hour fasts easily enough, you'll just blunder into the occasional 20 hour fast or One Meal a Day. When you're doing One Meal a Day regularly, you'll find it pretty doable (not easy per se, but doable) to just go to bed hungry and do a complete day without food.

Adding full days gets tougher. Intermittent fasting windows can be shrunk without too much difficulty, but for me at least, adding full days and multiple days of fasting gets pretty tough.

Don't push it on any of these. Your body will let you know when it's ready to ratchet things up, if only by not protesting too much about whatever level you're currently at.

Tips and Observations:

1. Hunger comes in waves and diminishes in about an hour. When you first get really hungry, you may think, incorrectly, that this feeling will continue getting worse and more urgent until you can take no more and must eat.

It's not true. Ghrelin comes in waves, and, like most hormones, eventually just turns off. Your body doesn't want you to get tolerant of the ghrelin hunger hormone -- it does have an important function, after all -- so it turns off the spigots after a while, lest the ghrelin response simply burn out from overuse.

It'll take another run at you in a couple of hours, to be sure. But your fear that the hunger will just keep increasing is incorrect. It will increase for a time, then diminish.

2. You can trick your stomach into thinking you've eaten by drinking a big glass of cold water, or hot cup of tea.

I think your stomach just thinks it's "fed" if it feels weight in it. Water and tea will put weight in the stomach, and temporarily make hunger diminish.

Yes, it will come back. But the key to all of this is beating the waves of hunger until they go away.

Also, you should be drinking a lot of water during a fast anyway; all the fat-burning takes water as a key chemical moderator. If you don't have sufficient water to burn fat, your body will just lower your metabolism. If it can't burn fat, it will make you just move less and less, and lower your body's temperature, to make up for the shortfall in energy.

Also, apparently the body stores toxins it doesn't feel like dealing with in your fat. When you burn fat, you liberate those long-stored toxins, and you need, once again, water to finally process them and eliminate them from the body.

So drinking water when hungry has a couple of benefits, and tricking yourself into feeling full is only the minor one.

3. On Bulletproof Coffee. For a long time I believed that Bulletproof Coffee -- coffee with some MCT (or coconut) oil in it, and/or some butter -- would not break the fast.

Dave Asprey claimed that.

Jason Fung says it does in fact break the fast, at least to a partial extent, and so should be avoided in your fasting window.

He does, however, say go ahead and have some if needed for compliance. That is, if your choice is between breaking the fast and just bending the fast a little with Bulletproof Coffee, take the latter.

But do try to skip the Bulletproof Coffee in your fasting window when you can. You can drink it instead during your eating window -- it is healthy, after all. You want to increase your health fat intake. Just best not to do it during your fasting window.

4. Another compliance-helper is homemade bone broth. Bone broth does in fact have some protein and some carbs, but it's mostly non-caloric collagen. Fung says you can drink a fair amount of this and it won't break the fast. (I do think it bends the fast, though, once again.)

But it is actually pretty satisfying and really helps diminish hunger. That collagen might not be burnable for energy, but your stomach doesn't know that.

5. Another tip I got from Ekdahl is drinking water with some lime squeezed in it, plus some real cinnamon (most stuff marked as "cinnamon" isn't; look it up) to boost energy and reduce appetite, plus some cayenne pepper powder (apparently boosts metabolism and increases fat burning), plus apple cider vinegar (reduces insulin, reduces appetite), plus maybe some stevia to sweeten it a bit.

It's not bad. Not great, but not bad.

I feel like I'm drinking a Magical Potion. Even if this is all Placebo Effect, a placebo effect is still an effect. And plus, another way to make sure you're getting enough water.

Again, there might be a tiny amount of carbs in this from the lime juice, but it's a sort of fun thing. It makes you think you're having a cocktail, so you satisfy the psychological need for novelty and interest in stuff you put in your mouth.

Lime juice apparently helps detoxify the liver, too.

6. You can definitely work out fasted, and many bodybuilders say they only work out fasted, when their HGH is spiking. I avoided this for a long time -- I thought I would gas out and collapse if I didn't have a meal in me -- but it turns out to have not been true. I've started working out only fasted and I've had no noticeable lack of energy -- some of my workouts have been really good.

Now I usually work out at night, then give myself an hour to burn fat when my metabolism is still high, then eat a lot of protein and fat.

Note that Intermittent Fasting (or "fasting") shouldn't interfere with muscle growth at all, because you're still getting all the calories and macros your diet calls for, every day. You're just shifting them into a more compact feeding window.

Observations:

Like I said, I'm losing weight -- visibly and by the scale and even more important visibly (I said visibly twice because it's important) -- and I generally feel pretty energetic.

It's not true that you'll feel tired all the time if you fast. You'll feel tired until your body starts burning fat and turning them into ketones, but after that, you'll have all the energy you want (assuming you're not dangerously underweight or at like 5% body fat (for men) or 8% (for women)).

It is true that I felt tired when I kept doing both One Meal a Day then sprinkled with one or two day fasts once (or twice) a week. That was overdoing it -- for me. Maybe other people can do that, and maybe i can do that once I'm actually comfortable doing it, and not straining to do it.

You do gotta eat, after all.

You might have noticed my lack of energy on the blog last week. I did start to notice brain fog. There was one two week period where I only ate food for like 8 of the 14 days. That's too much fasting, I think. At least for me, and at least for now.

But generally, so long as I'm not pushing it with too many full-day fasts spaced too closely together, I feel pretty energetic.

The problems people encounter in the beginning of any fast -- low energy, brain fog -- are due to having run out of glucose and not having ketone production ramped up to meet demand yet. If you feel these things, you can either just bite the bullet and wait for ketosis to kick in.

Or, if needed, just have a Bulletproof Tea or Coffee. The fats in MCT oil are very quickly digested and turned into ketones, so you'll get a fairly fast burst of energy from the Bulletproof potion, and that might be enough to get you out of your low-energy funk.

I really want to emphasize that your hormones are like random neuron firings while you sleep. The conscious part of your brain takes these random neuron firings and tries to make a coherent narrative out of them (and fails, by and large -- but it tries to make it coherent).

Hormones are like that, but they just have one message. Ghrelin, for example, tells your brain: Eat. And it says this with a lot of urgency. Your brain will take these impulses and begin spinning a narrative -- you'll go looking for brain fog when none is really present, for example. You'll start wondering if you've gone into the worst possible state of all -- CATABOLISIS with your muscles now being ravaged for energy, losing all your sweet GAINZZZ.

Your brain will take these hormonal urges and try to craft a compelling, logical case as to why you must eat now or risk serious ill effects or just drops in work performance.

Most of this stuff is just bullshit, and the result of your brain trying to get your and your ghrelin to agree that you should go to Popeye's Chicken now please.

As long as this stuff is just ghrelin -- just that hormonal demand for food, pestering your brain -- you can ignore it.

If you feel real bad health effects -- like lightheadness or dizziness -- then you must end the fast.

But simple hunger-- and the complaints your brain makes up in response to ghrelin's input -- can be safely dismissed.

(This is another big reason why it's important to build slowly to a fast, up from less serious fasts -- you have to learn when it's just ghrelin whining at you to eat, and when it's something that should actually spur you to break fast. It takes some experience in knowing when to listen to your body and when it's just being a baby.)

I should note that after every two or three day fast I've done, I've eaten like a pig. This is probably a bad idea. It's probably best to have a ketogenic meal, just a big one, when breaking fast, rather than using it as an excuse to eat a lot of carbs.

I imagine it's just that two or three day fasts are new experiences for me, so when I break fast, I think I really deserve to not just break the fast, but obliterate the fast from orbit.

I think this will pass in time as I stop thinking of fasting as some gigantic accomplishment that deserves to be rewarded with mac and cheese.

I used to also have a big meal when I started One Meal a Day, but I do that so routinely now that I don't have the Hero's Feast after every damn 23 hour fast.

But if you're starting, you'll probably do this too, and you'll probably not lose as much weight as you were hoping due to that Hero's Feat meal you have to celebrate. Again, this should pass in time as this becomes more habitual.

I listed these all as "levels" because you should know in advance that each "level" will in fact be hard. At first. Eventually it becomes routine -- sometimes even easy. But you shouldn't expect any level of fasting to be easy the first time you try it.

It will get easy, but it won't start there. (I don't think two or three day fasts ever get easy -- even people who fast for 7 or 12 days say that those days remain the bitch of the bunch. One day fasts, though, get fairly easy, with a little bit of choppy air here and there.)

Anyway, I'm going to have my One Meal a Day now (ending a 20 hour fast). I think I'm going to eat most days this upcoming week before going for a four day fast at some point.

I really want to see what Day Four is. I kind of don't believe them that it's actually this day of great mental clarity, but I am curious to see if it's all bullshit or what.

digg this
posted by Ace at 07:08 PM

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