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Introducing intermittent fasting

(371 Posts)
StuntNun Mon 05-Jun-17 07:03:17

This thread is for Bootcampers that are interested in introducing intermittent fasting. There are a myriad of health benefits from fasting and it is particularly useful for anyone who is likely to be insulin resistant (diabetes, prediabetes, PCOS). It can also be useful for reducing overall calorie intake if you are hoping to lose weight more quickly, you are in an extended stall, or are close to your goal weight and weight loss has slowed.

If you're like me and you've never skipped a meal in your life then fasting may sound daunting but it really isn't difficult. It only takes a matter of days to get used to the feeling of hunger rising and then passing again. If you already miss meals or find yourself not feeling hungry at breakfast time then it will be even easier to introduce intermittent fasting, you're just formalising something that is already happening.

You should wait until you are at least two weeks into Bootcamp to start fasting and some people may need to wait for longer. Once you are fully adapted to burning fat your hunger levels rise more slowly and you have access to your fat reserves to get you through a longer fasting period without much hunger.

The method that combines best with low carb is intermittent fasting 16:8 where you have a minimum of three 16-hour fasts per week. This is usually by missing breakfast so if you have finish dinner at 7 p.m. then you don't eat again until at least 11 a.m. the next day. You can also miss dinner and fast from lunch to breakfast instead but most people find that less convenient; it depends on your lifestyle.

The easiest way to introduce fasting is to give it a try. Make a note of what time you finish eating and see when you get hungry the next day. If you're naturally getting hungry after 12 hours then aim for 12.5 or 13 hours for your first fast and build up to 16 hours gradually. It's fine to have a cup of tea or coffee (with milk not cream) during your fast period. At your usual breakfast time you will probably feel hungry. Have a hot drink and/or a big glass of water and usually the hunger will subside and then rise again later in the day. You don't need to fast every day to get the health benefits so if you're particularly hungry one day then just have breakfast and aim to fast the next day instead.

Veryflummoxed Mon 05-Jun-17 07:12:51

Thanks for this stuntnun. Having low carbed for a while now I was struggling some days with eating breakfast but stuck to it as I'd had a lot carb sllippage and wanted to be right back in the zone. Away this weekend I've had a huge cooked breakfast and gone out all day without even thinking about lunch so I think 'm ready for some fasting.

ilovecherries Mon 05-Jun-17 07:18:57

I am definitely going to give this a go. I'm two weeks into bootcamp and over the second week I've found breakfast less and less appealing. This from someone who often had two breakfasts. Tea and toast at in bed at 6am when DH got up for work, and then a second 'breakfast' at 830 before I started work, followed by elevenses. You get the idea...I like the flexibility of being able to have dinne late, especially in the summer, so I think I'd choose 1pm-9pm as the eating period I'd be aiming for.

OldBooks Mon 05-Jun-17 07:31:20

I am very interested in doing this as I have PCOS, although I usually find I am ravenous in the morning (ok since bootcamp this has decreased but still hungry) and increasingly have lost interest in tea. A snack around 4 or 5 seems to be enough. Thinking of maybe doing a 9-5 or 10-6 eating window then just drinking tea all evening.

glenthebattleostrich Mon 05-Jun-17 07:36:04

Thanks for this.

I think I'm going to give this a go.

Do drinks count? I'm just making my 'breakfast' of a chai tea with cream and coconut oil so I think this will, but what about green tea and herbal tea?

Yddraigoldragon Mon 05-Jun-17 07:51:15

I am on my third day of this, not sure how I will be in work without breakfast though.
DH was working over the weekend and I didn't feel like doing breakfast early, was able to extend to 12 on Sat and 2 on Sun without feeling too bad.
Plan today is just black coffee and water, and see how far I can get without dipping into my lunchbox, will also take a few portions of cheese in case I struggle too much. I am low carbing but not on bootcamp.
Worth noting that as well as coffee and tea, I think an oxo cube in hot water would be permitted? I have found on 5:2 that it is sometimes enough to make the brain think it has been fed, satisfies the cravings.

RedBeanie Mon 05-Jun-17 08:22:33

Thanks stunt, this is interesting. I think I'm going to stick with BC strictly with breakfast for the moment (still in Week 1) but I think it's worth considering later on for me. Presumably something like 16:8 is better than 5:2 because you're not then counting calories (which I hate)?

Also interested to know if tea is allowed, I rely on that to get me going first thing confused I guess I could give it a go and see!

CaptainBraandPants Mon 05-Jun-17 08:38:40

Thanks Stunt I've been LCing since the January and I don't have breakfast, BUT I do have creamy coffee in the morning, usually two. In fact, I'm drinking one right now. grin
I might give it a go in the week, then still have my creamy coffee at the weekend. That means I can also have my weekend treat of a square of 90% chocolate, but will encourage me not to have it in the week.
I would be doing 20.00 - 12.00 or 19.30 -11.30, so I could have one black coffee before then and a creamy coffee to break by fast.
You may think that I am obsessed with coffee I am, but I have reduced the amount I drink from 5-6 a day to 2-3 in the last few years.

Veryflummoxed Mon 05-Jun-17 08:39:46

Tea and coffee is fine but no cream. When iIve done this before I eat in a ten to six window as we eat early with school children. Also I find I sleep better if I don't eat too late. Plus some days i then find I can extend the fast through till dinner. I assume this is ok Stunt

MOIST Mon 05-Jun-17 08:48:49

Interesting. I have pcos. I've only done the 2 week boot camp and this is a complete change in eating for me but I'm rather enjoying it so far. I do naturally not eat breakfast and get peckish around 11. I'll keep an eye on what my natural timings are if I stop picking in the evenings (not hungry - just habit).

StuntNun Mon 05-Jun-17 09:38:21

Very and Cherries it sounds like you're ready to get started. Very it sounds like you need to be guided by your hunger as to whether to fast each day or not as there's no point fasting in the morning then struggling to resist carbs. Cherries the fact that you used to have two breakfast points towards insulin resistance as it often results in blood glucose levels dropping too low and leaving you starving hungry between meals.

OldBooks it is the length of the fasting window that is important so you don't have to have the same eating window every day - unless that works out easier for you.

Glen as a rule of thumb you can have less than 50 calories during your fast window so you can have a couple of cups of tea or coffee (no cream or coconut oil) and as much herbal tea as you like. Alternatively you can use the principle of Bulletproof Fasting which allows as much fat as you want during your fast period. This loses some of the benefits of fasting and my concern with bulletproof coffee is that it doesn't have much in the way of nutrients so it's empty calories. In my opinion bulletproof coffees are more suited for people that are very close to, or at their ideal weight and need to increase their fat macro because they are no longer getting as much energy from their fat stores.

Yddraig it's a great idea to just see how far you can get. There's no absolute rule that you have to fast exactly 16 hours, a 14 hour fast is still beneficial so it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Even if you only make it for 12 hours you are still training your brain and body to go for longer without food. I honestly was amazed the first time I let myself get hungry and I didn't die! Before I went low carb I was so scared of getting hungry that I would eat extra food to make sure I didn't get hungry before I would next be able to eat. Now I know I was desperately insulin resistant and my blood glucose levels were going haywire. An oxo cube in hot water is 32 calories so that would be a good option.

kermitrulesok Mon 05-Jun-17 09:41:36

I'm going to start 16:8 as I was only eating breakfast for the purposes of BC. I drink a lot of herbal tea so suits me just fine to not eat until lunch. My appetite is next to nothing at the moment and I'm having to force feed calories so skipping a meal might kick start appetite a bit.

Thanks for this thread Stunt

StuntNun Mon 05-Jun-17 09:46:37

RedBeanie there isn't any need to introduce IF unless you want to or feel that it would help with your health or weight loss. I feel that 16:8 is a better fit for low carb than 5:2. To combine 5:2 with low carb you would need to eat low carb low fat on your fast days. It can be done though if anyone is interested then there are plenty of recipes for 5:2 that can be easily adapted to low carb.

Very it is okay to fast through breakfast and lunch on occasion but do be aware that you need to make sure you're getting the vitamins and micronutrients that you need. If you're eating a good variety of vegetables when you aren't fasting then you should be fine. If you have any history of e.g. low iron, or you're worried that your diet might not be adequate then stick to at least two meals a day or take a supplement.

There are lots of different types of intermittent fasting. Some people have periodic 24-hour fasts where you eat dinner one day then don't eat again until the next day. Most of the animal research on fasting uses alternate day fasting where you only eat during alternate 24 hour periods.

ilovecherries Mon 05-Jun-17 10:42:44

Stunt I'm beginning to suspect that my blood glucose has been going haywire for quite a while, although any time it was checked at the GP it was fine - but thinking back, that could easily have been because I was in the middle of a crash, rather than it being a healthy low. I mentioned way back on the very first thread that my GP wouldn't approve of LCHF and is empathic that HCLF and a calorie deficit is the only way to go. As we live in a small village there isn't really a choice of GP, and apart from the diet blinkeredness of both GPs, which also extends to the practice nurses, they are otherwise basically ok. But it means if I were to ask them any questions about IR they would just attack the diet, and I'm not up to that yet. In the absence of clinical measures of an improvement in metabolic profile, is it your opinion that I can accept from the empirical evidence (feeling better, no more pre-food trembling or sweating, no need for snacking, no cravings, no more hangry feeling every two hours, satiety lasting for 4-5 hours rather than 90 minutes etc) that metabolically things are improving? Also, (I suspect this is a piece of string question), do you know of any evidence that indicates an average timeline for people being able to achieve a normal metabolic profile on LCFH? Sorry, loads of questions but Im clearly not using the right search terms in google to get the answers.

ilovecherries Mon 05-Jun-17 10:55:38

One thing that's always bothered me has become clearer the last two weeks though. That whole 'don't eat if you aren't hungry' massage that you get from the 'move more, eat less' camp always confused me. I never wasn't hungry, so I assumed everyone was going around starving, but that other people were in some way 'better' and must have more willpower to be able to tolerate it better. Which made me feel that I wasn't only fat, but I was in some way lacking.

StuntNun Mon 05-Jun-17 11:29:40

Hi Cherries, given your history it's reasonably likely that you have a particularly low carb tolerance and the standard UK diet just wasn't appropriate for you. As a rough guess I would expect it to take around six months for you to regain insulin sensitivity and metabolic flexibility (the ability to easily switch between using carbs for energy and using fat for energy). When you reach a weight that you're happy with then you would be able to re-introduce more healthy carbs (fruit, vegetables, potatoes, small portions of rice) but you probably won't be able to start eating bread, pasta, cereals and sugar on a regular basis without regaining weight. The good news is that it isn't actually that difficult to make this a way of eating for life. The longer you do it the more effortless it becomes. I mentioned last week that I could happily sit next to a plate of cakes and I wouldn't be in the least bit tempted. Not because I don't like sugar, or because I have good willpower, or I don't feel hungry... I just don't eat them any more. But if you put a plate of roast pork next to me I would be drooling at the sight!

StuntNun Mon 05-Jun-17 11:33:33

In terms of blood glucose, it's the sudden drop in blood glucose that causes the hunger/hangry feeling, not that it went particularly high or low. If you ate a good size breakfast then two hours later you felt hungry again then to me that suggests a metabolic problem. If you're metabolically healthy then you don't get that hungry again two hours later, it's not just that everyone else has amazing willpower and puts up with being hungry.

StuntNun Mon 05-Jun-17 11:38:46

In terms of a timescale there are huge changes going in the background at the moment for you Cherries. We talk about switching to fat burning but it is a gradual process. During the first couple of weeks your muscles will be using ketones and fat for energy, leaving all the glucose for your brain and other glucose-dependent tissues. But later on in the adaption process your muscles will start to run almost entirely on free fatty acids from your diet and body fat and ketone production will decrease. Your muscles actually become more insulin resistant and much less able to take up glucose from your bloodstream. This is to ensure that all the glucose in your system (from your diet and produced in the liver by gluconeogenesis) is reserved for the brain. Once you reach this stage you may well find that sugary foods start to make you feel queasy, like a kid on halloween. This is because your body can't deal with a sudden intake of sugar any more since your muscles won't take it up.

GoodBadOrIndifferent Mon 05-Jun-17 11:42:35

I'm going to watch this with interest. I'm going to try creamy coffee for breakfast this week and then try and ease into fasting. I've been such a dreadful food addict for so long I'm taking it slow.

ilovecherries Mon 05-Jun-17 12:29:12

That's incredibly helpful, Stunt, thank you are taking the time to explain it. I feel quite angry/upset at the moment, thinking about the lost years of struggling on variations of the same public health message - and I DID try, really hard, to make them work. I've got notebooks full of food diaries and looking at them, I think what a bloody miserable existence, watching everything that went into my mouth, feeling constant guilt that no matter how I tried, I couldn't make it work, desperately trying to prove to health professionals that I was doing all the right things, and it wasn't working, getting told to keep cutting calories, to 'fill up on whole grain carbs', longing for my 'old' body that had left the building and I couldn't get it back. The last 8 years have been so hard. I put on 4.5 stone on their bloody healthy eating regimes. It was pretty much iron self control that managed to keep it that the level. I feel so hopeful for the first time in ages that change is possible now, and that hopefully there isn't irrecoverable long term consequences.

Flibbertyjibbit Mon 05-Jun-17 12:34:42

I've already had a few 16:8 days, I'm on the bootcamp thread but actually following the blood sugar diet by Michael Moseley who endorses 16:8 alongside the blood sugar diet rules. I have PCOS and know my symptoms improve when I stick to low carb way of eating.

I'm finding breakfast very easy to skip, some mornings I have a cup of tea and had worried that wasn't true IF so this thread has been good to stop me worrying about this.

Thank you Stuntnun for starting an IF thread flowers

TheWayOfTheWorld Mon 05-Jun-17 14:06:25

Thank you for this - I am on week 4 of LCHF and going to see how this goes.

I woke up this morning feeling peckish but felt better after a large glass of water. During the week I don't get breakfast until 9.30/10 once I'm in the office, so today I thought I would see how far I could extend it (aiming for 1pm as I ate dinner at 9pm).

Just finished lunch and it hasn't been too bad at all!

I generally have a late dinner so will trying a 1pm-9pm window.

Veryflummoxed Mon 05-Jun-17 19:21:10

Thanks Stuntnun. All of this is really interesting.

Yddraigoldragon Mon 05-Jun-17 19:31:40

Made it to half twelve, then could feel my ability to think decreasing. Might have had something to do with the foodie smells all around.

Lunch was low carb, I ate my emergency cheese about 4 and just finished tea (low carb sausages asparagus and leeks n cheese).

2.5l water so far and have had my apple cider vinegar in that.

It feels like a good day.

HemanOrSheRa Mon 05-Jun-17 19:50:19

ilove so much of what you say resonants with me. I have felt ravenously hungry pretty much all of the time for years. I would also eat more at mealtimes so I wouldn't feel hungry later StuntNun. Obviously it didn't work! I could easily eat a three course lunch, for example, and I'd be starving by late afternoon.

I've also been finding on BC that if I get slightly hungry between meals (I can honestly say if haven't been ravenous during these 2 weeks) that a good guzzle of water takes that feeling away.

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