Decided to use some quarantine time to deep dive into the latest and greatest healthy ways of eating. For the first time, I’ve come across some real science-based techniques that everyone should probably be adding to their regimen. That said, I’m putting the science to work and will have a developed opinion in a couple months. Here’s what I’ve learned:
What doesn’t work
Reduce calories & exercise
- Lowering calories will work to lose weight, generally about 10 lbs before metabolism will lower to compensate and end weight reduction (Dr. Jason Fung has a research report showing this to be true from 1920, along with two others, and which demonstrates this technique to lose weight is expected to fail.)
- Increasing exercise will burn more calories, and will develop muscle which will burn more calories while idle, however, the body will crave more calories to compensate and by not eating more calories a calorie deficiency will be created with the same result as the first bullet point.
- Eating to get a sugar boost after a sugar crash, with multiple little meals/snacks a day, keeps insulin in the body and prevents the body from ever using fat stores for energy.
- Eat the same amount of calories as you normally do, but within a window such as 8/16, (eat for 8 hours of the day, fasting for 16).
- After around 12 or 14 hours of fasting the body will begin to use stored fat as energy.
- Over time, as is comfortable, shorten the eating window to allow for more time in the fasted state.
- Benefits practitioners claim:
- Pretty much never hungry except around eating window
- Steady energy, no crash every 4 hours
- Weight & body fat loss
- Improved mental clarity
- Increased energy
- Lots more …
- For the motivation: Tedx Talk by Cynthia Thurlow
- For the science: Dr. Jason Fung
- For the technique: Use that free audio book Audible offers to buy for $0: Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens
- There is a facebook group based on Delay, Don’t Deny (it’s mentioned in the book), join the group for constant examples of success and motivation.
- Allow 4-6 weeks to see changes before considering giving up
- The body seems to need more water when using fat as energy, you’ll be super thirsty that first month.
- It’s common to see weight fluctuate up and down, while over-all trending down, according to the intermittent fasting community. Also it is common to see body shape changes though the scale is staying the same.
- There is an adjustment the body goes through when adjusting an eating window, water helps, with a little added Himalayan salt.
- Takes about 3 months to become fat adapted, where this way of eating is just normal and the body switches to burning fat easily.
- A state of ketosis requires supplemental Sodium, Potassium & Magnesium (provided via the added Himalayan salt, just a pinch (teaspoon per 50 oz of water).
- There is a type of headache that resolves with a pinch of Himalayan salt.
- The first month generally has tons of extra energy and insomnia, just do something to be productive, though it kind of sucks, it goes away.
- Exercising, while in the fasted state, even just walking will burn that much more additional fat. After the third month, now that your energy is steady rather than crashing every 4 hours, you may feel more like exercising.
- Once to one meal a day, it’s ok if your one meal spreads out over a couple hours, this is common and is still considered OMAD (one meal a day). There is a book which speaks about this being a normal way of eating in the past, The Warrior Diet.
- As you adjust to IF you’ll find some food makes you sleepy, to the point you might stop and take a nap. Eating more healthy, more keto-like, will avoid this sleepiness. After three months though this effect kind of goes away and you can eat more crappy food, though you won’t want to.
- Part of the reason you will have more energy is that it takes energy to digest food, and since you are only doing that part of your day, that’s energy you used to use that you are not using anymore. After a three months or so that raises your base level of energy up. On the same note, some feel a little cooler temperature-wise, this is because the body produces heat when it is digesting food, something you are no longer doing all day.
- Dr. Jason Fung has many examples helping very obese patients with type 2 diabetes to lose weight, and cure the diabetes. These patients, though a great deal of weight is lost, do not have the extra skin issues commonly associated with a great deal of weight loss. With diabetes, a Dr. should be consulted regarding IF. Along that same line, teenagers, and those pregnant should not practice IF.
- If weight loss slows after the third month you can start skipping a day or two during the week such as Monday & Thursday, which is common, or only eat 500 calories on those days. Eating normal calories the other days prevents your metabolism from slowing down.
- It’s a lifestyle, not a temporary diet. You’ll have two more hours in your day (which is like a miracle), cause you’ll eventually skip breakfast and lunch. It’s fun when you do eat cause you get all your calories at once, so a nice large satisfying meal. Your energy will be steady all day (which is like a miracle). Many report increased mental clarity. For these reasons alone IF is worth it, even if it didn’t have the awesome common side effect of weight loss.