Fasting for Weight Loss
I think we over-complicate things a bit. Intermittent fasting is simple.
-One meal a day (OMAD)
-Time restrictive feeding
Fasting is just not eating or drinking anything with calories for irregular intervals. Eating or drinking anything with a caloric content will break your fast. Fasting lowers blood sugar and insulin and extending the fast long enough to go into ketosis has therapeutic effects on the body.
Also known as time restricted feeding. OMAD stands for one meal a day. OMAD is an extremely successful keto diet technique. A typical OMAD fasting plan is to skip breakfast and lunch and only eat dinner. During OMAD fasting you eat only one meal a day in a narrow feeding window.
The most common OMAD plan is a 20 hour fast with a 4 hour feeding window. The daily 20 hour fast drastically reduces your glucose and insulin and stimulates fat burning. The idea is to eat your one meal fairly quickly and then get back to fasting again.
This article is going to focus on the fat burning and the insulin lowering benefits of intermittent fasting. However, longer term fasting (72-96 hours) has amazing potential in increasing longevity and helping you live longer.
It’s liberating not to have to worry about your next meal.
That’s it, it doesn’t cost anything, Just to state the obvious. Intermittent Fasting is beneficial in numerous ways, it’s not a new concept, it’s been done since biblical times and as Dr. Jason Fung likes to say, Fasting is the one thing that Jesus, Allah and Buddha all agreed upon.
The most important thing to understand is that fasting is really not that hard. I honestly didn’t think I could do it until I did it. The more I did it and the longer I did it, the easier it got. Our bodies are remarkable in their ability to adapt and adjust.
Here is a Case Report of a 27-year-old male that Fasted for 382 days!
During an extended fast, metabolic markers, including butyrates, carnitines, branched-chain amino acids and stored lipids (fat) are upregulated for energy substitution.
Your liver can actually make glucose (gluconeogenesis) on its own without any carbohydrates, it produces just enough glucose to maintain optimum health while you are fasting. That’s why your blood sugar doesn’t crash when you fast.
What breaks a fast?
This is a controversial question because it depends on why you are fasting. Here are the three primary reasons people fast:
- Burn fat and lose weight
- Become fat or keto-adapted
- For longevity and health purposes.
Technically anything you consume with calories breaks a fast. So if you are are fasting to lose weight you should not consume anything except water, plain coffee or tea.
Also called a fat-fast, if your goal is to train your body to become fat adapted then you need to only eat foods that are as close to 100% fat as possible.
Fasting for longevity and life extension purposes is commonly called an extended fat. You need to fast at minimum 72 hours and consume nothing but pure filtered water.
Hunger is your friend, not your enemy.
Understanding hunger is also key. Hunger is controlled by the hormone Ghrelin and it doesn’t really signal your body needs anything. It certainly doesn’t mean you need to eat.
Ghrelin works with our circadian rhythms, in other words, it kicks in based on when you’ve eaten in the past. So if you’ve always eaten breakfast at 7:00 AM, then right around 7:00 AM each day you will get hungry. Grehlin and leptin are the hormones that signals hunger and satiety, respectively.
Do you ever get that “hangry” feeling in between meals. Fasting can prevent it. This article explains the science of what causes that hangry feeling.
So, if you just fight through the time that you get hungry, then the hunger will go away. Hunger doesn’t go up in a straight line and get worse and worse the longer you Fast, it goes up and down based off when you’ve eaten in the past. So after a time, it goes away altogether.
Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day unless it’s your one meal (OMAD).
That was a myth that got started in the late 1960s by the food industry to sell breakfast cereal to kids. Remember the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes “Tony the Tiger” commercials during Saturday morning cartoons?
A breakfast with 3/4 cup of Frosted Fakes has 26 grams of simple carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein and zero fats. Now throw in 1 cup of skim milk and you add another 12 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar and still zero fat.
That’s 38 grams of carbohydrates and 23 grams of sugar in one sitting! Now put this in perspective, carbohydrates are not a necessary macronutrient and fat is.
In other words, you can live without carbohydrates, but cannot live without ingesting fats. To think this is a healthy breakfast for anyone, especially growing children is utterly absurd.
If you simply skip breakfast altogether, you are extending your Fast and allowing your body to begin burning fat as energy.
What is the advantage of fasting and why do it?
The main benefit of fasting is the power it has to drastically lower insulin in your body. Insulin is the master “storage hormone.” When you eat carbohydrates, your body converts the carbohydrates to glucose.
We can only handle about a teaspoon of glucose in the blood at one time, so the pancreas comes to the rescue and produces Insulin. I’ve read that insulin is like a key that opens up your cells to allow glucose to go inside.
So insulin allows glucose to enter your cells to be used as energy. But, here’s the problem, our body has limitations and our cells can only handle so much glucose, so after our cells get full of glucose, they start rejecting it.
Then insulin comes in again and puts some of the glucose into our fat cells to store as fat and that’s how we get fat.
Hyperinsulinemia (insulin toxicity) leads to insulin resistance.
Over time, in a high glucose/insulin environment, our insulin receptors get resistant to insulin and we become type 2 diabetic. Type 2 diabetes is caused by exposure to excess insulin (hyperinsulinemia) over time.
After being bombarded with constant, repeated amounts of insulin over the years, the insulin receptors in the cells start refusing to open up to allow the glucose to enter. Most of the excess glucose is then stored as fat, but over time the fat cells even become insulin resistant.
At that point, the glucose starts to build up and become toxic to the body. Glucose toxicity can damage nearly every cell in the body including heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and gums, and teeth. Glucose toxicity and insulin resistance have even been linked to dementia, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fasting Breaks The Chains
Without food, the blood sugar stays low and the pancreas doesn’t need to produce insulin. Like I said earlier, Insulin is the storage hormone. With insulin present in the body, the cells are in a storing mode and will not release fatty acids into the blood to be used as energy.
In the absence of insulin though, the cells readily release fatty acids into the blood which your liver converts to ketones.
During fasting, Ketones are used by the body for energy.
That’s when you are to be considered to be in ketosis. When you enter into a state of ketosis, your hunger lowers substantially and you actually feel energized. You start burning your stored fat and let’s face it, that’s what most people want.
Fasting is also one of the Speed Keto diet techniques used to turbocharge your keto diet.
Get keto-adapted to make intermittent fasting easy
The secret to successful fasting is becoming fat or keto-adapted. It makes it easy to Fast because your body can efficiently use your own stored fat as energy. You have to “train” your body to use fat as fuel. Here are instructions on how to get keto-adapted.
Intermittent Fasting Myths
A huge false keto diet myth out there is that fasting slows down your metabolism. It doesn’t, in fact, after approximately 12 hours of fasting we see about a 20 ng/ml increase in growth hormone and after 24 hours we are seeing a 70ng/ml increase in growth hormone.
Growth hormone preserves muscle mass and increases fat mobilization. As we get older our growth hormone output slows down significantly. Fasting has also shown to strengthen our immune system and detoxify the liver.
OK, I’m convinced, how do I get started intermittent fasting?
The easiest way to begin fasting is to do a modified “Fat-Fast” before you start. This will speed up the fat-adaptation process and will make your body efficient at burning fat. What is a fat fast? If you’ve already read this far, you’ve probably heard of bulletproof or keto coffee.
Basically, it’s coffee mixed with healthy, grass-fed butter, coconut oil and/or MCT oil, a little heavy whipping cream and maybe cocoa powder or a little vanilla extract. Really you can put whatever you like in it to suit your taste.
I add a scoop of collagen peptides also to give me a little protein. Mix it up in a blender or froth it with an inversion mixer. I know it sounds weird, but it’s really quite delicious. That’s your entire breakfast and it will give you plenty of energy to hold you over until lunch.
Drink a bulletproof (keto) coffee in place of breakfast and don’t eat or drink anything else. If you don’t like coffee then it becomes more difficult, but you could mix it in hot tea or just take a spoonful of MCT oil, coconut oil or avocado oil. The idea is pure healthy fat and no carbohydrates.
Keto Coffee is not a true fast because it does contain calories.
Black coffee, however, is acceptable to drink when you are fasting.
You can also start out by doing a keto egg fast or an avocado fast before you try a true fast. That will help you get fat keto-adapted prior to your fast.
Eating nothing but eggs or the keto-friendly avocado a day before your true fast will help you get keto-adapted and make your true fast more tolerable.
Time to start a true water-only fast:
Once you become fat-adapted then you can start doing a true fast. When eating to get fat adapted try to eat clean and focus on eating healthy fats. Cooking with and ingesting bad fats like refined seed oils from corn, peanut, soy, safflower, and cottonseed oils is what is called Dirty or Lazy Keto.
Lazy Keto raises inflammation in the body.
The easiest way to get started is simply by skipping breakfast. When you sleep you don’t eat, so let’s say for example, that you eat dinner at 6:00 PM the night before and skip breakfast and you don’t eat lunch until noon, then that’s an 18 hour fast.
That’s a pretty good start and the low insulin will really jump start the fat burning process. It’s really much easier than you think. You can still have black coffee or green tea in the morning but nothing with calories.
If it has calories it will break your fast. You do that for a few weeks and you’ll totally forget about breakfast. It’s nice to have one less thing to worry about before work.
OMAD is the secret to success on the keto diet.
Time restricted feeding is also referred to as one meal a day (OMAD) fasting. Now you can build off of that foundation of skipping breakfast. You can skip breakfast and then start also skipping lunch. Do that once or twice a week at first and then when that gets easy you can just eat one meal a day (OMAD).
If you eat dinner that evening between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM (hypothetically), you will have completed a 22 hour fast. So that would be considered OMAD with a 22:2 ratio. A 22 hour intermittent fast with a 2 hour eating window.
OMAD is flexible and you can tweak it to work for you
There is no right, wrong or best way to time your one meal (OMAD), you have to find a system you can live with. However, in saying that it makes a lot of sense to eat your one meal around noon with 18:6 ratio. That will give you an 18-hour fast with 6 hour eating window. That would give you plenty of time to eat but still allow you to go to bed with an empty stomach.
Research shows most growth hormone (GH) is excreted at night when you sleep and having low blood sugar can increase GH secretion. GH helps you burn fat and sustain muscle and bone mass.
Autophagy is amazing
If you really want to get the full benefits of autophagy, you could even extend your fast to 48 or 72 hours. The amount of time you need to fast to induce autophagy isn’t clear at this point, but it is usually referenced in the 48-96 hour time frame.
Autophagy stands for “self-eating.”
Autophagy is a detox process your body uses to clean out damaged cells and corrupted DNA. It also has the power to regenerate cells and mitochondria.
It recycles the waste inside the cells and creates new “building materials” that aid in repair and regeneration.
For those suffering from loose skin after weight loss, autophagy will help “eat” the loose skin and regenerate new skin cells. It has also shown to greatly strengthen the immune system.
Fasting can also help you break through a keto plateau.
*This information is not meant as medical advice. Most doctors are open to “Fasting” but if you are on any medication I recommend doing your fast under medical supervision.