So.. you want to go full retard on weight loss? if you’ve heard of intermittent fasting and the ketogenic/low carb/atkins diet, read on.. this article was written with you in mind.
Rule #1: Track your calories, or else you may lose muscle.
If you are a natural overeater like i am, an overactive appetite has been haunting you all your life. Intermittent fasting will flip that on it’s head.
Your appetite will drop to nearly zero the second that your body adapts to using your body fat as a fuel source, so the reason for tracking your calories is basically to prevent you relying too deeply on body fat. Body fat is a very slow burning fuel – it burns slower than dietary fat and can only supply a small percentage of the energy your body needs. If you run on it for too long, your body will start looking for other forms of stored energy. You don’t want that.
How much of a caloric deficit you run is up to you. I would start with 10%, and see what you could tolerate from there. Much lower than 20%… and you are going to start having issues anorexic people do, such as hair loss, lack of hormone production, etc. Intermittent fasting is very powerful and there is no need to run a huge caloric deficit.. don’t go crazy.. there is no need!
If you do not know how many calories you should be eating a day, google ‘basal metabolic rate calculator’ and you will find many links that can help you out.
Rule #2: Eat only during a certain window of time and DO NOT SNACK BETWEEN MEALS.
I do an 8-10 hour eating window with 2 ~1000 calorie, high fat meals at the edges of that window. This means that i am not eating 3-4 hours before bed, and 3-4 hours after waking up.
Most of the body fat you are going to burn burns while you are sleeping, and when you wake up, you are still going to be in a deeply ketogenic fat burning state, so not eating for a few hours after waking is a way to keep that fat burning going for a while before meal #1.
It can be difficult to hold off until meal #2. So.. why not snack? Well, there are a few hours between your first meal and your last meal where your body will start burning body fat calories again. Snacking interrupts this and will slow your weight loss. It’s time to drink some tea, coffee, electrolyte water, or something that is not caloric to take your mind off it. Sometimes i’ll eat a large pickle ( 5 calories ) 1 hour before meal #2 if i really can’t handle the wait, but that’s it.
At night, you are stopping eating early in order to facilitate the transition to using body fat as a fuel as soon as possible during the sleep cycle. The longer you are in a state of heavy ketosis, the more of your body fat is going to be burned per day, after all. If you eat your big meal right before bed, you might not even enter the fat burning state while you sleep.
The real magic of intermittent fasting is all the body fat you burn while you sleep. But in my plan, the fat burning period during the middle of the day is an additional bonus.
Rule #3: Watch out for non-caloric things that may trick your body into thinking it’s being fed.
One good example would be artificially sweetened drinks. This will very possibly screw up what you are trying to do.
Remember that your body will still want to use carbohydrates rapidly if it thinks it’s getting them. It could likely decide that the sweet thing you are drinking is a cue to produce insulin and go into carb burning mode, which deactivates the hormones that say ‘burn fat for energy.’. and as a result, your blood sugar will dive and you WILL feel like shit and possibly have a raging appetite that derails this whole affair. This is not pleasant at all.
Some people get derailed by artificial sweeteners, some don’t. But if you want to be safe.. only consume these things during your meals, or shortly before or after.
Suggestion #1: It is strongly recommended that you follow a ketogenic ( low carb ) diet while intermittent fasting.
Low carb is by far the easiest and most effective way to eat during intermittent fasting, by far.
A high carb approach will be difficult because the metabolic hormone shifts are even greater when you go from running on carbs, to body fat, to carbs, to body fat throughout the day. Your blood sugar will spike and plummet dramatically multiple times; your body will fight it and start shooting hunger signals your way and will make your life difficult. But this depends on how insulin resistant you are. Some people can do it… i can’t.
Transitioning from running on dietary fat to body fat is a very easy hormonal shift though, and blood sugar levels will remain pretty flat throughout the day. The average person will not even be able to sense the shift. The low carbohydrate approach is the path of least resistance.
Suggestion #2: Be wary of fake sugar products if you are intermittent fasting on low carb.
There are many ‘sugar free’ products which claim zero or very low carbohydrates. It is still legal to advertise products towards low carbers and diabetics in this manner, so many companies do it.
I would not believe the labels. Quest bars, for example, advertise approx 4 grams of carbs per bar, yet a diabetes group tested them and saw their blood glucose skyrocket..
Sugar alcohols are another major problem for low carbers. Sometimes they are counted as net carbs, sometimes they are not. Most sugar alcohols will raise blood sugar around 50% of what we expect sugar will, per gram. If in doubt, start reading up about sugar alcohols before you consume them.. they may interfere with your ability to stay in a fat burning state.. whether it is dietary fat, or bodily fat.
And now, for the hitches and gotchas..
Warning #1: When you start this, it may feel like you are ‘on something’.
When you first enter deep ketosis, your body is essentially on a huge sugar rush as it is scavenging and using every last drop of stored glucose it can find. Eventually it gives up, and starts making it’s own glucose and ketones. Your brain begins to partially run on ketones instead of glucose. A variety of other changes in brain chemistry occur. Personally, I get a massive buzz off of this.
A few studies have found that GABA and other neurotransmitter levels go wild during this time. Here is some information on that:
If you get this effect… just enjoy it!
Warning #2: Your electrolyte requirements massively increase when you are in ketosis!
Some people report feeling very sick during this ketogenic adaptation phase. The keto community calles this ‘keto flu’ and it has not extensively been studied medically. However, it is known that you are pissing out your electrolytes and become severely deficient in them during the beginning of adaptation. You need much higher amounts of potassium, magnesium, and sodium in your diet now, and the sick feeling is theorized to be a result of that electrolyte deficiency. This usually passes within a few days.
After over 4 years of reading reddit’s keto subreddit, i’ve noticed that potassium deficiency is the most common during intermittent fasting or ketogenic dieting. Symptoms are typically an abnormally fast heart rate, constipation, and muscle cramping. I recommend immediately purchasing some ‘lite salt’ or ‘nu salt’, or supplementing with potassium citrate on a daily basis. A low carb diet just doesn’t include much in the way of potassium.
Do not be afraid of sodium either. Your sodium requirements will easily double. If you like salty food, this is a huge bonus.
For more information on electrolyte issues, see /r/keto’s FAQ: https://www.reddit.com/r/keto/wiki/faq
Warning #3: Be wary of things that can drop your blood glucose rapidly.
Cannabis use and cardio exercise are 2 things that can drop your blood glucose levels quickly and without much warning. Either of these can drop blood glucose quicker than the liver can produce it. The higher the caloric deficit you are in, or the closer to needing a meal you are in the cycle.. the more vulnerable you are to this. Your liver can make glucose from dietary fat much quicker than it can from bodily fat.
If you are going to use cannabis or do cardio, keep a very small piece of candy on you at all times. Even a sugar free candy will work. If you feel like you are about to pass out, eat it. It will raise your blood sugar within seconds and save your ass. The blood sugar spike might derail what you are doing temporarily, but it beats having your brain run out of juice and you injuring yourself. You can either learn the candy trick the hard way or the easy way.. i learned it the hard way, and hope you don’t.
You will have to learn how to sense what low blood sugar feels like. Normally, the hormones that control your appetite scream so loudly at you to eat that you never encounter this problem, but remember that those hormones have gone silent, so your indicator is either the feeling in your head, a blood glucose meter, or your memory of what you’ve eaten for the day.
Intermittent fasting is the most effective tool in the shed for weight loss, and also one of the safest.
It has been practiced for a long time by bodybuilders, hollywood actors, and certain religions ( Islam’s Ramadan comes to mind ).
Adding a ketogenic element to intermittent fasting just sweetens the deal and makes the process much easier due to the stabilization of blood sugar, and thus appetite.
If you are doing a regular ketogenic diet and are having problems with your weight loss stalling etc, give intermittent fasting a try.
You won’t regret it, and the realization that you have this kind of control over your metabolism will be incredibly empowering.
Keep calm and keto on!