As a follow up to my last post, I wanted to go into a bit more detail about the steps that I am taking specifically to improve my health. If you google “keto”, “ketogenic diet”, or “intermittent fasting”, the internet will throw up on you. There is soooo much information out there. That is both a good and bad thing. It makes it challenging to weed through it to figure out the good eggs from the bad ones. I’ve been doing that for the past month and wanted to consolidate the specifics of my current approach.
I should probably start with a little history. I’ve done low carb, higher protein diets like Atkins, Whole30, and Protein Power off and on over the past 20 years. In fact, here’s a whole rundown.
For me, they’ve all progressed and ended the same way. I begin with hope and some initial quick weight loss. I continue to follow it closely and over some months lose between 15 and 50 lbs. It eventually becomes unsustainably difficult. I go back to eating they way I did before and regain whatever weight was lost over the next few months. Ugh. Yo-yo dieting sucks.
Previously, I did these diets to lose weight and mainly, if I’m honest, to look better. My health was never the primary motivation. That’s changing now that I’m facing Type 2 Diabetes and all the complications that it brings. My health is now the primary motion in my journey toward healing and a better life.
I started the ketogenic diet, or “keto” in January of 2019. How is it different from everything I’ve done? It’s very similar. The main difference is that it has more fat. The goal is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. I don’t really measure anything. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I try to to keep it simple.
It’s probably better to start with what I don’t do. I don’t count calories. I don’t measure macros (protein, fat, and carbohydrates). I begin by having a very clear boundary with the things that I don’t want in my body. Those include sugar, bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. Those are all non-starters. Some people like to make “bread” out of non-wheat flour and grain but I prefer to just stay away from it.
Having very clear boundaries of what I choose to eat and what I don’t is very important in my success or failure on this journey. For me, moderation is a very slippery slope that is best avoided so … no bread for me.
I then make sure that I have a good protein source like beef, chicken, or fish. Lastly, I make sure to add some good fats like butter, avocado, olive oil, etc. Sometimes I don’t need to add fat if the protein source is fatty like a rib-eye steak or salmon.
There are a ton of great receipes on Diet Doctor (on their iOS app as well).
Here’s the thing… I’ve discovered that what you eat is important, but it’s the smallest part of getting healthy, lowering insulin levels, and reverseing diabetes.
I don’t think I had ever intentionally missed a meal before January. I’ve read about fasting but it always seemed extreme. Intermittent fasting is undoubtedly the single most tranformative thing I’ve done for my health. Ever. Period.
It’s a pretty simple concept. Don’t eat for a specified period of time. Then eat a meal. Then wait again until the next meal. That’s it.
The structure I started with is called 16/8. You have a 16 hour fast (8pm - 12pm the next day) and an 8-hour eating window (12pm -8pm). During the eating window, I would eat 2 keto meals with no snacking. This basically amounts to skipping breakfast.
When I realized I wouldn’t die after missing a meal, I realized I could try longer periods. Over the past month I’ve added 20, 24, 36, and 48 hour fasts. I even did one 120 hour water fast (5 days). Here’s what I realized:
- Because of the higher fat keto diet, I’m not hungry when I fast.
- My mind functions much better when a fasted state.
- I feel better during a fast than during my eating window.
- My body wasn’t meant to eat every few hours. I’ve been putting way too much food in it for many years.
My metabolism switches (after an initial adjustment period) to burning stored fat rather than the glycogen stores from my food.
- I have so much more time in my week to focus on other things
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the benefits I’ve found as I fast. Structuring how you eat, by definition, changes your relationship with food for the better. It also frees you up from not having to figure out what to eat all the time. It’s really amazing.
As a note, the 2nd day of my 5 day fast, I started getting a cold. I was worried that I’d need to quit and try to get better. I did a little research and everything I saw said that fasting helps rid the body of toxins including sickness so I stuck it out. By day 5, my cold was gone! Crazy.
I’m still experimenting with it but see this as a long term solution to improving my health. As of today, I’m down 30 lbs in the first month, my blood pressure is normalizing, my lower legs no longer swell by the end of the day, and I have more energy than I’ve had in years.
The innerplay between keto and intermittent fasting is amazing. The goal of both is keeping insulin low so your body burns fat vs glycogen. I was fascinated to learn about Autophagy, a process that happens in longer fasts where your body cleans out damaged cells and toxins. This has been linked to healing dementia and Alzheimers. There are still so many questions I have but as I fast, I’m experiencing answers. I’m excited about what the future holds.
Hope you enjoyed this post.