I got great news for you: the system is easy to use, you just need to start, and then your body will appreciate it a lot!
First of all, familiarize yourself with two basic terms:
In fact, every day you indeed spend some time fasting (while sleeping at night + some time before and after). Assuming your regular dinner at 6-7 PM and breakfast at 7-8 AM means that your regular ratio is 13:11 (13 hours fasting and 11 hours eating window). The fasting, which that you used to have up until now, was doing an important job to increase your health, but unfortunately not long enough, as it was interrupted by breakfasts. This fasting was not sufficient to compensate the terrible damage to your body caused by eating many times a day (well, at least that damage was partly compensated somehow; otherwise you would weigh a ton within a few week).
In other words, you need to increase the period of fasting. First, increase its duration by 3 hours to change the ratio to 16:8 (16 hours fasting and 8 hours eating window). It would be an exaggeration to say that this task is hard to accomplish.
Strictly speaking, only the rules 1, 5 and 6 define Intermittent Fasting itself. If you will observe ONLY them, that will already be a revolutionary turn for the better, so your body will thank you. However, careful observance of other rules as well will make your transition to IF much easier, and the process of losing weight will develop fast and efficiently.
Effective tomorrow, here is what you do:
- Eat twice a day. Your first and second meal should be eaten in a 8-hours period. For example, between noon and 8 PM (or, if you prefer, between 11 AM and 7 PM, or between 10 AM and 6 PM, or between 1 PM and 9 PM):
8 hours is the maximum allowed length of the eating window. In general, it is better to make it shorter (for example, 6 or 5 hours instead of 8) - then during the day more hours will be devoted to fat burning (18 and 19 instead of 16, respectively). For example, when I eat twice a day (in weekends), my protocol is usually not 16:8, but 18:6 or 19:5. Some experts say that the 20:4 regimen has almost the same effect as OMAD (one meal a day). Of course, in such a short time you won't get hungry, so the second meal will probably be a snack rather than a full meal. If in a few days, you will find out that you no longer want to take the second meal – excellent, you don't really need it: hocus pocus! – you are switched to OMAD (one meal a day), the most efficient type of IF! That happened to me on my 6th day of IF (now I am on OMAD in the days when I work). That is very likely to happen if you will remove fast carbohydrates (that will be discussed later), but don't set such a goal if you are just starting IF. If eating once a day shocked you now, it means that you have not read the main page of the site, which is never too late to do
Remove breakfasts. Lunch will be your first meal.
Um... come on, isn’t it your sacred right to take meal every morning? Isn't breakfast the most important meal, which charges you with energy for whole day? Not at all. It’s an old prejudice; it is based on speculations and cannot be corroborated by facts. Missing your morning meals provides your body more time to burn fat in order to produce energy. Since hunger feels least in the morning, it is often quite simple to miss a breakfast. Doing so every day will help to build a habit. For the first few days, yes, your body will just expect to eat when you wake-up but you will be surprised how quickly things will change after the new lifestyle becomes your new norm! After a few days the feeling of hunger because of the missed breakfast will go away since your body will enter deep ketosis.
Can I remove supper instead of breakfast?
Yes, if that is more comfortable for you. It's possible while still maintaining the same duration for the eating window (for example: 7 AM to 3 PM, or 9 AM to 5 PM). There is one subtlety you should keep in mind: skipping breakfast prolongs the effect of growth hormone, produced nightly, which plays an important role in weight loss - it "opens the fat depot" i.e. enables the use of fat deposits as a source of energy. This hormone "acts" not only in the second half of the night (when it is being produced), but also for several hours (up to 7-8!) after you have awaken. But only until the moment you eat! The insulin spike from eating suppresses its effect. That is why the first meal during the day should be as late as possible - ideally not earlier than 8 hours after waking up (but at least not before noon!).
Lengthening the period of natural fasting that occurs during a night's sleep will utilize also cortisol. We consider it hormone of stress. However, cortisol is also the hormone of awakening. The peak of its activity occurs 30-45 minutes after waking up. Cortisol provides us with the mobilization of fatty acids, glucose and proteins for use as fuel in the morning. When cortisol and insulin peak at the same time during breakfast (especially a high-carb breakfast), the fat-burning effect of cortisol is neutralized. Due to the catabolic effect of cortisol in the morning, skipping breakfast will provide additional benefits compared to skipping dinner as a tactic for intermittent fasting.
For most people, it's easier to skip breakfast. For me, it was the case also because of a physiological aspect: the thought that after a few hours I would eat, was warming my soul (in contrast to the thought that today there will be no more food). When you fully enter the IF and go into deep ketosis, at which point the feeling of hunger is very rare, this aspect will disappear, but at the initial stage it may be important for someone. However, I repeat that if you prefer to skip suppers - go ahead, this is not a problem. What I said above about hormones is important, but much less important than the overall comfort on which the continuation of your IF depends.
Any meal must take no longer than 30 minutes (in the worst case - 40). If this is a celebration with guests, gala event or visiting a restaurant with friends, then as a very rare exception your meal can last 1 hour (in this case, try not to eat non stop). But an ordinary everyday dinner should never-ever last more than 40 (preferably 30!!!) minutes.
In no case do not watch TV and do not surf the Internet while eating!
Your thoughts should be focused on the pleasure of eating, and not be distracted by what is happening on the screen - do you want to deprive yourself of pleasure? Absolutely forget about watching films hours to the accompaniment of nuts and seeds (saying it's still technically one meal, even though long)! I discussed that with a naturopathic doctor, working with Dr. Fung. She said, that we can eat nuts and seeds (as a dessert immediately after meal) for no longer than 15 minutes (which are included in the 40 minutes, of course). In addition to very healthy fats, they unfortunately contain carbs which cause hunger and make stopping eating them almost impossible (it's not because they are tasty and we want to extend the enjoyment of this taste - for example, a high-quality steak is much tastier, but nothing like this happens). Nuts and seeds are a rare example of a natural product in which carbohydrates and fats are combined in large quantities, which causes gaining weight even more than carbohydrates alone. This is a typical "autumn" food. The combination is for gaining fat to survive the winter. Eating it all year round is the same as arranging for yourself an autumn fat depositing all year long. If you are nuts/seeds-addicted, switch to cheeses as the after-meal dessert. I always have a few kinds in my fridge (including soft and gentle onse, which make me feel too full in a couple of minutes), and I stop eating them very quickly with no effort (so, my meals rarely exceed 25-30 minutes).
If you cannot stop eating, use two magic life hacks:
1. Put a timer (there are a lot of free apps). You just can't believe how disciplining it is! Even does the impossible - you stop eating nuts and seeds without any effort! Once I took two halves of pecan. After I have eaten one, the timer showed 30:00, and without further hesitation I put the second half back in the box - this is already at the level of religious fanaticism, nothing in the world will make me break the dogma!
2. Brush your teeth immediately after meal (preferably with a menthol toothpaste). You will enjoy cool freshness in your mouth, which cannot be mentally connected with food, so your mind will easily get, that food doesn't even appear on the agenda!
If you eat twice a day (rather than once), then keep a minimum 3 hours gap between the meals (4 or even 5 hours are even better). The goal is to give the previous meal the opportunity to be properly digested - both in the stomach and in the intestines. This process takes several hours, and is usually longer for those who eat a lot of meat and fat. The waiting time also depends on the characteristics and state of health, which affects the speed of the contractile wave of the intestine, which moves the digested food. 3 hours are enough for someone, and 5-6 are necessary for someone. And if you eat before the end of the cycle, the wave breaks down, and this badly affects all digestion. BTW, this is another reason for the harmfulness of eating many times per day frequently - in addition to constantly high insulin.
This rule leads to a lengthening of the eating window (and, accordingly, shortening of the fasting phase). This seems to contradict the idea of intermittent fasting ("the shorter the eating window, the better since the period of time during which insulin is low lengthens"), but the body's functioning is much more complicated - much more factors are involved. We should not interfere with proper digestion of food by the body all along - our health is too much dependent on the proper absorption of food.
After completing the last meal and before going to sleep, a minimum of 3 hours (or even better 4) should elapse. If it doesn't work out one day, then wait at least 2 hours before you go to bed. But the daily routine should be an at least 3-hour meal break before bedtime. And the point here is not even in the IF (or rather, not only in it).From the book "Fat For Fuel" by Joseph Mercola (PDF):
THE BENEFITS OF AVOIDING EATING HOURS BEFORE YOU GO TO BED
No matter which fasting program you choose, or even if you choose not to adopt any formal type of fasting, you'll want to stop eating at least three hours before you go to bed. I have recently become much more aware of how important this simple change is in helping to optimize your mitochondrial function and prevent cellular damage. Many factors influence why you will reap health benefits if you develop the habit of not eating within three hours of bedtime:
• When you are sleeping, your energy needs are at their lowest, and providing excess fuel at this time will result in the production of excessive amounts of damaging free radicals.
• Sleep is your body's time for detox and repair, and needing to digest a meal during sleep will impair these important processes.
• Nighttime is a common time for your body to use ketones for energy, since glycogen stores are typically depleted within 18 hours (13 hours if you are eating low carb), and eating too close to bedtime can replenish glycogen stores and prevent the body from burning fat for overnight fuel.
• Not eating for at least three hours before bed enables you to extend that period of time without eating food on a daily basis, making Peak Fasting an easy and rewarding way of life.
A review paper published in 2011 provides much of the experimental work supporting the advice to refrain from eating too close to bedtime. The take-home message is clear: since your body uses the least amount of calories when sleeping, you'll want to avoid eating close to bedtime because adding excess fuel at this time will generate excessive free radicals that will damage your tissues, accelerate aging, and contribute to chronic disease.
For this reason, I believe one of the best strategies for reducing mitochondrial free radical production is to limit the amount of fuel you feed your body when it requires the least amount, which is when you are sleeping. That's why I stop eating four to six hours before I go to bed, although a three-hour window is also beneficial and probably more doable for most people.
Please note that this is not the famous meme "you can't eat after six" (some idiot launched this nonsense, and many people repeat it like parrots) - except if you always go to bed at 9 PM. For example, if you go to bed at 1 AM, then you can finish your dinner at 10 PM.
The next timeline summarizes all of the aforesaid:
Any snacks are absolutely prohibited in the fasting phase (and in the gap between the 1st and the 2nd meal when you eat twice a day). Even a smallest piece of most healthy food is essentially just another meal that resets the timer for the food digestion / fat burning cycle. In the fasting phase, this will simply stop it. In between the 1st and 2nd meals, the consequences of a snack will be much less catastrophic, but they will still exist (although they will appear later, when you stop losing weight after the initial weight loss). Explanation without going into details: the biochemical and hormonal picture, say, 2 hours after eating, is very different from that during eating (and immediately after). With a snack, you forcibly replace the second (which should be at this stage of the previous meal's digestion) with the first.
Any drinks with calories and sweeteners are absolutely prohibited in the fasting phase (and in the gap between the 1st and the 2nd meal when you eat twice a day). These may include, but not limited to, coffee/tea with sugar/milk/cream, juices, any sweet drinks. No lemon juice/slice with water or other allowed drinks. Teas from hibiscus, dog rose and any fruits and berries are forbidden even unsweetened: even though they contain a minimum of sugar, these calories may be enough to raise insulin. It’s not that calories may contribute to fat accumulation (although it does matter), but it will stop the period of fasting since your organism will perceive it as another meal. Technically, even unsweetened tea and coffee contain a small number of calories (1-5), but do not be afraid to drink them - in order to break the fast, several dozens calories are needed. Sweeteners are also banned - despite the lack of calories (shocking details coming soon, keep reading!).
Drink water (unflavoured carbonated/sparkling is fine!), as well as unsweetened coffee and various plain teas. Very tasty, without any sweeteners, are the leaf oolong, green tea and puer.
However, you should not drink too much tea and coffee with caffeine because it increases the level of cortisol, which in turn increases the level of insulin, which can prevent weight loss even if you have cut back on carbohydrates and perfectly maintain intermittent fasting. Try to remove caffeine at all, or consume it only 1-2 times a day.You may as well try herbal/wellness teas (double check they don't contain fruits/berries), rooibos, ivan-tea, chicory (the last one is prohibited if you have varicose veins!). Try teas from rhodiola, ashwagandha and tulsi (holy basil). They have many beneficial effects, including soothing, reducing stress and lowering cortisol levels. They can be bought at health food stores, as well as on the Internet, including on Amazon.
Milk, cream, kefir, sour milk, yogurt and broths are not allowed between your meals because of calories, but can be consumed as part of your meals (during the "eating windows").
If your stomach starts churning while you fast, just drink. You will find more details the first bullet of the TIPS AND TRICKS FOR EASY HUNGER MANAGEMENT section in the page KETOSIS AND HUNGER.
Absolutely remove easily digestible ("fast") carbohydrates, and minimize "slow" ones. This is the most important rule of all the rules listed (if I would be forced to obey only one rule, I would select this). To explain the topic properly, I provided a lot of details, so this paragraph had grown to large size and, one day, was extracted to a dedicated page that needs to be carefully studied!
- Eat more proteins, as they prolong the feeling of satiety and suppress the feeling of hunger. Due to proteins, you can keep your fasting periods longer even in the beginning of your IF. Meat, fish, eggs, cheese and greek yogurt are your best friends! However, you should not eat proteins alone for a protracted period - it's unhealthy and even dangerous. Eat vegetables too (raw, in salads and baked ones), as well as fats (see the next paragraph).
- Include fatty food into your ration. It's extremely important!!! Eat pork lard, bacon, fatty meat (pork, lamb - for example, smoked pork ribs are very tasty, as well as lamb stewed in a brazier), fatty fish (smoked or baked in foil), avocado, nuts (especially pecans and walnuts), sunflower/pumpkins seeds, butter, oil (MCT, olive, coconut, avocado, but NOT soy, corn, canola or sunflower, even though sunflower seeds are OK)! I paid attention, that my daily weight loss were more significant if I ate fatty food the day before. Sometimes, even a slice of bacon or an avocado was enough! All this corresponds to the easily googleable idea of LCHF (Low-Carb High-Fat lifestyle).
"But... the official guidelines instruct us to eat as little fatty foods as possible, otherwise we will get fat..."
Have you been following nutrition guidelines and advice for years and STILL gaining weight and becoming unhealthy?!? It’s time for new guidelines. It’s time for us to take back our own health. Huge quantities of grains are urged by the official guidelines, and tiny amounts of fats are encouraged! The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (cnpp.usda.gov) were first released in 1980. I would like to comment the following graph, but what can I add???
Government dietary guidelines are plain wrong: Avoid carbs, not fat
Fortunately, there has been a change for the better in recent years: Low-Carb, High-Fat Is What We Physicians Eat. You Should, Too.
- When you could not help eating a carbohydrate, eat a lot of proteins as part of the same meal. A simple piece of bread will damage the process – you will be thrown out from ketosis, your weight will stop decreasing or will even increase temporarily, and the body will need a few days to resume the state of deep ketosis. But if you eat that bread with a good amount of proteins (eggs, a big piece of meat or fish), it can somehow compensate the damage. Pay attention that we are talking about protein, not fat. The combination of fast carbohydrates and fatty food is almost worse than carbohydrates alone. This combination will cause great damage to the weight loss process.
- Put your meal into your mouth by tiny pieces, and chew each of them carefully – until it vanishes. Why? The mechanism is explained in these very short, but very important videos: 1, 2, 3, 4. For more details, read the book Fletcherism: What It Is; Or, How I Became Young at Sixty, written in 1913 by Horace Fletcher. I started to chew each piece until it totally disappears in the mouth 7 month prior to starting IF and had lost 22 lbs (10 kg) only on that method. So, that has nothing to do with Intermittent Fasting – I just give this advice to everybody, now and again. I rigorously observe this rule, and it is highly probable that my transition to IF was so easy and smooth due to this in particular. Another reason for me to love this method is that it allows me enjoying my meal for a protracted period. I eat only once per day, after all, and chewing long is a good alternative to devouring it all in a few minutes – crunch-munch! (especially because my current portions are small). Therefore, I make the enjoyment longer, as the next time will come only in 24 hours or so!
- Get completely rid of sweeteners - in both the fasting phase and the "eating window". That includes:
- Diet drinks (named "light" in some countries).
- "Splenda", "Equal", "Tween", "Sweet'n Low" etc.
- Whatever (chocolates, candies, ice-cream, chewing gum etc.) with the words "Sugar-free" on the package. "Sugar-free" means "Full of a sweetener" in the same way as "Fat-free" means "Full of carbohydrates"!
>> Click here to read quotes regarding the the harm, caused by sweeteners<< Click here to hide quotes regarding the harm, caused by sweeteners
From Liquids on the Omad Diet - What can you drink? (it's about diet soda, but that's how everything with sweeteners works):
DIET SODA – NO
IT CAUSES CRAVINGS
Diet Soda tricks your metabolism so that it thinks it’s getting sugar. In turn, this causes your body to pump insulin. This will make you hungrier. You will crave starchy carbs including pasta and bread and even more sugar.
IT WILL CONFUSE YOUR BODY
Even though artificial sweeteners in diet soda have no calories, it will trick the body so it thinks it’s getting sugar. In preparation for this, your body releases insulin for the increased blood sugar. When your bloodstream contains increased amounts of insulin, your more likely to store fat. This also leads to a slow down in metabolism which leads to burning fewer calories.
IT CAUSES OBESITY
Artificial Sweeteners and obesity are tied together. There are studies that show an increase of two-hundred percent in people who regularly drink diet sodas. This is due to chemicals called obesogens. Obesogens affect the body’s endocrine system. They cause an estrogen-like compound to be produced. It causes the natural estrogen in your body to be inhibited. In turn, this causes a severe imbalance in the body. Hormonal imbalances can cause thyroid dysfunction, increased fat cell production, and insulin resistance. These are all the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish with your omad diet.
From How Artificial Sweeteners Confuse Your Body into Storing Fat and Inducing Diabetes:
Artificial Sweeteners Cause Metabolic Confusion
One of the reasons why artificial sweeteners do not help you lose weight relates to the fact that your body is not fooled by sweet taste without accompanying calories. When you eat something sweet, your brain releases dopamine, which activates your brain's reward center. The appetite-regulating hormone leptin is also released, which eventually informs your brain that you are "full" once a certain amount of calories have been ingested. However, when you consume something that tastes sweet but doesn't contain any calories, your brain's pleasure pathway still gets activated by the sweet taste, but there's nothing to deactivate it, since the calories never arrive. Artificial sweeteners basically trick your body into thinking that it's going to receive sugar (calories), but when the sugar doesn't come, your body continues to signal that it needs more, which results in carb cravings.
From Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism:
The negative impact of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages on weight and other health outcomes has been increasingly recognized; therefore, many people have turned to high-intensity sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin as a way to reduce the risk of these consequences. However, accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes may also be at increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
From Science Daily:
Why artificial sweeteners can increase appetite
Researchers have revealed, for the first time, how artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite in the brain. Billions of people worldwide consume artificial sweeteners and they are prescribed as a tool to treat obesity, despite little being known until now about their full impact on the brain and in regulating hunger. Studies in both animals and humans have suggested that consuming artificial sweeteners can make you feel hungry and actually eat more.
Artificial Sweeteners Are Linked to Weight Gain — Not Weight Loss
Artificial sweeteners did not appear to help people lose weight. Instead, observational studies that looked at consumption over time suggested that people who regularly consumed them — by drinking one or more artificially-sweetened beverages a day — had a higher risk for health issues like weight gain, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. "I think there’s an assumption that when there are zero calories, there is zero harm," says study author Meghan Azad, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba in Canada. "This research has made me appreciate that there’s more to it than calories alone."
Sweeteners gained widespread use in the past few decades - and it is just in these decades that obesity became a pandemia, i.e. a global epidemic. No doubt, replacers of sugar helped the official guidelines to do their harmful work, so it's not a surprise that the following timeline is similar to the graph in the section "Include fatty food into your ration":
- Remove alcohol. It causes insulin resistance, as well as decreases level of the growth hormone (the latter is critical for fat burning). Apart from that, many alcohol drinks contain sugar and other carbohydrates. Even those that do not (pure vodka, whisky, rum, tequila) will make the process of reducing your weight a bit slower, and the calories contained in them are way nastier than the equal amount of them contained in other food. Why calories in alcohol are extra-fattening – see here. And this video explains in detail how exactly alcohol affects ketosis.
- Chewing gum is out of question. Each of them contains either sugar or a sweetener (otherwise it would taste like eraser for pencil), so you cannot chew it even in the "eating window". In addition, chewing in the fasting period may be misunderstood by your body as a signal that you are eating. Chewing and secreting saliva gives the body the impression that food is about to arrive, so the normal hormonal cycle starts: insulin begins to enter the blood in anticipation of a rise in sugar, counter-hormones (leptins, etc.) begin to secrete slowly preparing to suppress hunger when enough food eaten. All this will end faster than in the case of real food, but a spike of insulin has already occurred, suppressed fat burning and stopped the fasting phase.
- Do a sleep study to define if you have the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome; if it is detected, immediately start CPAP therapy. If you are overweight, then it is likely that you also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Please get familiar with the statistics of OSA prevalence in groups of people with different body mass index (source):
- BMI 35-39.9 - 71%
- BMI 40-49.9 - 74%
- BMI 50-59.9 - 77%
- BMI 60 or more - 95%
- Reduce stress. Cortisol interferes with losing weight. That topic is so important that I dedicated a whole page to it.
We have discussed WHEN to eat and not to eat. Now, let's discuss WHAT to eat and not to eat.
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