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!
In fact, every day you indeed spend some time fasting (while sleeping at night + some time before and after). Assuming your regular dinner at 6-7pm and breakfast at 7-8am means that your regular ratio until now was 13:11 (13 hours of fasting and 11 as your "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 break was not sufficient to compensate the terrible damage to your body caused by eating many times a day (well, at least it 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 of fasting vs 8 hours of your "eating window"). It would be an exaggeration to say that this task is hard to accomplish.
Technically, only the first 4 paragraphs out of the whole list below define Intermittent Fasting. 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:
- Remove breakfasts. Um... come on, isn’t it your sacred right to take meal every morning? 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 and to break your fasting on the same day. Do not worry – in a few days the feeling of hunger because of the missed breakfast will go away since your body will enter deep ketosis.
- Your lunch and dinner should be in a 8-hours period. For example, your first and second meal should be eaten between noon and 8pm (or, if you prefer, between 11am and 7pm, or between 10am and 6pm):
Just want to quite a fragment of the main page: "The shorter the "eating window", the better. The logic is quite simple: since all the "work" is done by the fasting stage, the "eating window" is useless from the viewpoint of weight loss. So, it makes sense to make that window shorter. 8 hours is the maximum allowed, but if you decrease it to 6 hours (the "18:6" protocol), then your efforts will be much more effective, since more time will be dedicated to fat burning. Try the window from noon to 6PM (or from 11AM to 5PM). It's easy: you simply skip breakfast, and after the dinner, you don't have enough time to become hungry before going to sleep.
If in a few days, you can find out that you no longer want to take a second meal (just as was my case) – excellent, you don’t really need it: the second meal flies away to Joy Land just as your third meal did, and – hocus pocus! – you are switched to OMAD (one meal a day), the most efficient type of IF!
The first paragraph of the instruction recommends to remove breakfasts. However, is it possible to remove suppers instead of breakfasts, while still maintaining the same duration for the eating window (for example: 7 AM to 3 PM, or 9 AM to 5 PM)? The answer is yes, if that is more comfortable for you. There is one subtlety you should keep in mind: skipping breakfast prolongs the effect of growth hormone which plays an important role in weight loss. The hormone is produced nightly, and its effect continues for some time after you have awaken. But the insulin spike from eating suppresses that effect. For most people, it's easier to skip breakfast. For me, it was not so much because of a physiological aspect as a psychological one: 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. The foregoing about growth hormone is much less important than the overall comfort on which the continuation of your IF depends.
You may be curious: if the "eating window" is the time lost in the sense of reducing the overweight, can we take a snack between our lunch and dinner? Or can we perhaps have 3 full-scale meals (as we will formally observe the rule that all the calories should be consumed within the "eating window")?
However, the very "eating window" (the time when you do not lose your weight) is just a component of the whole picture; there are other important factors of repairing your hormonal functions. In principle, you eat when you are hungry. The proper hormonal balance implies that your body signals when it needs something to eat (by producing ghrelin) and when to stop eating (by producing pepsin). Stuffing your body with food when it does not expressly require it (it’s your eyes that "crave": wow, nuts!) means shaking the balance, provoking your hormones to produce whenever you like and not when your body needs. We want our body to let us know what it needs, and not to impose our whims on our body – doing the latter ended up with obesity, diabetes and other joys.
In the light of the above, one can ask: why should one harm one’s own body deliberately? If you eat twice within this 8-hour period – do you critically need snacks in between? If you do vitally need them, you feel terrible hunger without them, which puts in danger your transition to IF, then OK – better not to keep breaking what you have not yet repaired, it’s better to train your body gradually, step by step. However, if you can survive without extra snacks, why should you harm the process of getting healthy, which started so wonderfully with the beginning of IF?
- During the fasting phase, any snacks are absolutely prohibited. Even a smallest piece of most healthy food is essentially just another meal that makes the whole fasting process stop and resets the timer for the fat burning cycle ("opens the eating window"). Instead of consuming the previously accumulated fat (thus reducing its quantity), your body consumes the meal you just ate.
- During the fasting phase, any drinks with calories and sweeteners are absolutely prohibited. 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.
Drink water (carbonated/sparkling is fine!), as well as non-sweetened coffee and various teas. Very tasty, without any sweeteners, are the leaf green tea, puer and oolong; I especially liked "milk oolong" (Jin Xuan)! You may as well try herbal/wellness teas (double check they don't contain fruits/berries), rooibos, tulsi, chicory (the last one is prohibited if you have varicose veins!).
Milk, cream, kefir, sour milk, yoghurt and broths are not allowed between your meals (in the fasting phase) 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.
- Avoid "fast" carbohydrates. These are mostly contained in bread, pasta, perogies, dumplings, potatoes, beets, carrots, rice, corn, beans, and naturally the enemy number one, sugar in all its incarnations (including sweets, fruits, juices and honey). Check nutrition facts of everything you buy; sugar can be added where you least expect to see it, e.g. in pickled dills, sausages and dressings including ketchup and mayonnaise (sometimes, sugar appears under different names like juice, syrup or honey). It is also very desirable to exclude (or at least not to eat too much) tomatoes and red bell pepper (other vegetables are ok).
Starches are one of the three main types of carbohydrates, so starchy food should be avoided as well. Since starch is usually added to minced meat products, such as sausages, those should be removed from your menu. Instead of them buy meat delicacies from the whole (not minced!) piece of meat (see the section JUST A FEW EXAMPLES OF WHAT I EAT on the main page, the 2nd bullet). Starch can be added to whatever, even to sour cream and yogurt - always check labels!
Carbs are prohibited for two reasons:
- Even a low quantity of them will kick you out of deep ketosis. Getting back will take up to a few days.
- Fast carbs (sugar, bread, potatoes etc.) greatly increase appetite. Soon after a meal, you are starving again. So, removing them will make your transition to IF much easier. Well, they should have been removed even without the first reason.
But... the body does need certain amount of carbohydrates...
That's what many people will probably say. Firstly, the amount of carbohydrates remaining in your food (for example in vegetables, nuts and seeds) even after excluding the fast carbs will more than meet this need. Secondly, it's a great question whether that need exists at all. Let's read the article Low-Carb, High-Fat Is What We Physicians Eat. You Should, Too:
"The human body mainly draws its energy from ingested carbohydrates, protein and lipids. However, carbohydrates are not essential for providing fuel. Lipids can play this role in the human body, often more efficiently. There are essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. But there are no essential carbohydrates. According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (U.S.), "The lower limit of carbohydrates compatible with life is apparently zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed."
One of the most common myths is that carbohydrates are essential to brain function. This is false. Certain parts of the brain need glucose, possibly around 130 grams per day, but that glucose does not need to come from ingested carbohydrates. The liver can effortlessly produce the required glucose from protein and fat: it is called gluconeogenesis. However, reducing carbohydrate intake to 130 gram per day would already be a step in the right direction over what many patients are currently eating, and would correspond to a liberal form of low-carb/LCHF, resulting in real health benefits for the majority of patients."
- 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, sunflower, olive, coconut, avocado, but NOT soy, corn or canola)! 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 idea of LCHF: Low-Carb, High-Fat Is What We Physicians Eat. You Should, Too.
- When you could not help eating a carbohydrate, eat something fat as part of the same meal. A simple piece of bread will damage the process of fasting dramatically – 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 put a good slice of lard or bacon on this piece of bread, it can somehow compensate the damage. The mechanism is simple: the insulin level is increased mostly by carbohydrates and at the least by fats (see this picture as an illustration). And if you ate mixed food, the insulin surge depends on the total eaten (i.e. the average value of macronutrient components).
- 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, google "fletcherism". 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 include diet drinks, stuff like "Splenda" and "Tween" added to tea/coffee, sugar-free chocolates, candies, chewing gum and ice-cream. Sweeteners, indeed, contain zero calories, but they are strictly prohibited because they make you fat and sick not through calories. Sweetness is the signal to our brain that you have consumed sugar. The sweeteners were invented only in 1879, in a pretty late stage of the evolution (and 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 - a strange coincidence, isn't it?). That means, the body doesn't know that sweet things other than sugar exist. For it, sweet = sugar. So, how will the body react to a sweetener? Yes, you are right - by insulin spike... The fasting stage will be interrupted, but it's only the small problem. The huge problem is causing insulin-resistance. Insulin, produced as response to sweetness, comes to battlefield to fight with sugar, and finds... no enemy! When this scenario is repeated many times over and over again, the body learns, that the alarms are false, and stops responding to the sweet taste. Now imagine that one day sugar really comes in! This is type 2 diabetes. If you already have it, then you have a good chance to get rid of it by using IF.
Sweeteners avoidance is directly relevant to the insulin curve and this to the Intermittent Fasting. You do not want to ruin your efforts!
[Show quotes regarding the harm, caused by sweeteners][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.
- 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, 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.
Getting rid of "sugar narcomania"
Since removal of fast carbohydrates is critically important, sometimes it happens that adaptation (transition to the new mode of functioning of the body) is accompanied by unpleasant sensations, fatigue and even headache. The main reason for this is not even the IF itself, but the fact that you were sugar addict before that, helped by the food industry, which adds sugar to everything you see around - so that a couple of hours after eating you are hungry again and your hand automatically takes out your purse from your pocket. When the usual time of eating comes but you don't eat, you may be very hungry (I repeat: in this case, drink unsweetened hot green tea / oolong / puer / coffee or ice cold carbonated water). These troubles can take place during a few first days of IF and your new life without fast carbs, but they will disappear soon. Do not be afraid of this - everything is going fine! And, of course, you do not have to abandon the idea of Intermittent Fasting because of this. Moreover: perhaps this indicates that your health is very neglected, you are sugar addict in heavy form, and urgent measures must be taken. Fast carbs (sugar - number one in the list) are a terrible thing (including oncology), and carbohydrate / sugar addiction is often found among the lean people as well (it's regarding the question that IF is a fantastic tool for improving health in general, not for losing excess weight only). You may feel badly in the first few days, but then a new life will come, and the body will be grateful to you. So instead of being upset because of poor feelings in the first days, rejoice that you have found a way to easily and quickly fix the terrible (possibly deadly) existing situation!
Please read a fragment from the very interesting article How Giving Up Refined Sugar Changed My Brain:
The first day I eliminated refined sugars from my diet, I thought it was going to be a cakewalk. I ate plenty of fruits, had fish for lunch, and a steak with a side of vegetables for dinner. I missed the sugar and milk in my coffee and I did miss my daily sugary treat–but it wasn’t such a challenge giving them up.
Things changed radically on the second day. Even though I had had a filling breakfast and lunch (two oranges, eggs, and whole-grain rice with vegetables), around 2 p.m. I suddenly felt like I had been hit by a truck. I felt foggy and had a headache, which never happens on my normal diet. This fogginess and the headaches continued intermittently for the next two to three days. During that time, I had intense cravings for both soda and sugary treats. On the third day, I actually got the shakes for a period of time. It was very, very hard not to have something sweet.
“As you were not feeding your addiction, your brain was shouting out to have sugar to satisfy its cravings,” says Rebecca Boulton, a nutritional therapist who specializes in hormonal health and sugar cravings, whom I contacted to help me make sense of what was happening in my body. “This is a period of adjustment, and starts with the cravings being more intense before they start to get better.”
Intense? By the end of Day 4, I would have sold my dog for a brownie. The fogginess and lack of focus at one point got so bad, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the stories I needed to file that week. I seriously considered having an energy drink “for the good of my health” (I resisted). Needless to say, the continuing brain fog and resulting lack of focus made me very irritable and even depressed. I became cranky and impatient, and was unable to concentrate on things for significant lengths of time.
“Your body was still having a hard time adjusting to the new foods and reduction in sugar,” explains Boulton. “It is programmed to get energy from sugar, and it takes time to get used to getting it from a different source. It almost feels like a hangover as your body is getting used to the withdrawal of sugar.”
But then on Day 6, something happened. The fogginess began to disappear along with the lingering headaches. The fruits I were now eating on a daily basis began tasting sweeter. By Day 8 or 9, I felt more focused and clear-headed than I had at any time in recent memory. This translated into greater productivity–for example, I was more engaged when interviewing sources for stories. I was better able to focus on what they were saying and could rapidly respond to their answers with new queries and reformulated ideas with a speed and clarity I’ve never possessed before. While reading a book or article, I felt like I absorbed more detail and information. In short, I felt smarter.
Boulton says that the increased sweetness I began to taste in fruits was a sign my body was adjusting to being freed from nonstop refined-sugar intake. My tastebuds were adjusting to the newly recognizable natural sweetness of fruits. In turn, my headaches stopped because my body was no longer fighting the sugar cravings. “Your blood sugars are balanced without the constant roller coaster of sugar highs and lows,” says Boulton, “which reduces your brain fog and increases mental clarity.”
And talk about clarity: By the final days of my diet journey, I felt so focused, it was as if I were a different person. This translated to a change in mood that not only I noticed, but my friends as well. As dumb as this sounds, I just felt happier than I had been two weeks earlier.