Otherwise known as Intermittent Keto. My term.

So, I’ve been intermittent fasting on a 16:8 schedule for a long while and the other day I had a look at my ketones and blood glucose out of curiosity because nothing great in terms of weight loss or body recomposition seemed to be happening. And a lost my mind.

I wish this whole adventure wasn’t so much choose your own. I wish there was a clearer answer from the problems that plague me. I don’t believe I wasted an entire bunch of time doing a fasting protocol that seemed to make literally no difference. But when the blood glucose is 98 (fasted) and the ketones are .1 (fasted) then…we need a new answer. And as it happens, I had one in my pocket.

For better or worse, I’ve been following Dr. Mindy Pelz for a bit–she seems to be in all the circles around fasting (I think I found her via Peter Attia, who I very much trust; my view was affirmed by Thomas DeLauer who also errs on the side of science and not art, which I appreciate). To be clear, she’s as annoying as a human can possibly be but, over time, her approach and advice on fasting for women seem very reasonable. I have followed some of her ideas and they pan out as she says (things like, testing which drinks might be pulling you out of ketosis or what artificial sweeteners might be surprisingly raising your insulin). So, I testing a bit, and she generally pans out. I don’t love that she’s another chiropractor doubling down on nutrition advice but…her advice is solid. Coupled with the fact that I find dieticians and nutritionists who don’t talk about insulin levels in chronically obese people but instead suggest adding grains and carbs to the diet (which seems completely, completely ABSURD), Dr. Mindy it is.

She also never even utters the word “parasite,” so automatic win in my book.

Before I got too overly caught up in 16:8 not “working,” I had already been mulling over a fasting technique that many who have really problematic metabolic “issues”–regular 36-hour fasts. My plan: to hyper-charge it and see what happens.

Intermittent Fasting: Not the Answer…Yet.

Of all the fasts I’ve done (and in the last 12 months I’ve played around with 16-, 18-, and 20-hour fasts in addition to my regular 12-hour circadian one that I literally do every day without thinking too much about it.

TBH, I haven’t been in love. All of them are doable. What I haven’t loved is the cadence. I have no ideal how people who do OMAD survive. The problem for me is not the fasting window–that’s strictly a mind-over-matter exercise (and knowing how to get your electrolytes because that makes all the difference). I do have a convenient switch that I can turn on that says “no food” and I just stop thinking about food. It’s incredibly freeing, actually.

No, the problem is the eating window: Because (for a reason I don’t quite know…yet) it seems to take me a LOOOONG time to even get close to ketosis, 20 hours is not enough time, even daily, in between eating to accomplish that. Also, because I end up feeling very acutely hungry after about 3 days trying this style, what I do eat in that 4 hours ends up getting more and more carby, even if it doesn’t include sugar straight up…which then almost starts to ensure I never even get close to ketosis.

Essentially, I get all of the trials of fasting with none of the awesome rewards (I mean, that I can see…am I maybe slowing healing some of the cellular metabolic processes…I mean maybe…who knows). And I’m clearly in a do-or-die (I mean, kinda…I don’t want diabetes) in terms of needing to lose weight–that’s the only goal right now, although I’ll take whatever I can get otherwise.

So, with OMAD and some of the more rigorous daily styles of fasting, they just don’t seem to be the answer now. For now, I have to figure out how to get my blood glucose down to a much lower level for a more extended time period while also protecting the calories I do burn at all costs.

Sounds like a job for an extended, regular fast.

36-hour Fasting: Efficient But Not Soul-Crushing

Also enter Dr. Mindy who has just put out a book (so she says) about the glories of the 36-hour fast, especially for women (because hormones? IDK, I didn’t read the book but that’s usually what the ‘for women’ tag means). Intuitively, it seems to make sense. 36 hours isn’t a huge jump from some of those other intermittent fasting time frames so it doesn’t require the mind-trickery of say a 72-hour fast, during which you have to convince yourself that it’s totally worth it. For me, though, I also know it’s 1) doable and 2) probably effective.

it’s long enough to accomplish what I need it to, which is to lower my blood glucose (and I think, ergo my insulin) to the point that I can switch over to the fat-burning system I desperately need to kick in (to use up the extra stored calories on my bod) while also not storing any more calories as fat. Insulin, it’s time for you to take a powder, my not-friend. At the same time, it’s also short enough to not make me crazy, crave sweets, or even have to count calories.

At this point, I’m at a pretty steady intake of 2000 calories a day and my weight holds steady. By whatever stupid logic dietitians who advise a calories in/ calories out model of the universe, this means that I typically consume 14,000 calories in a week, pretty much always(7×2000). Even if I did only 4 36-hour fasts this month (1/week), that would mean I’d be consuming 12,000 calories per week (2000 less per week) and we “know” by their same stupid logic that 3500 calories less is equivalent to 1lb of weight loss. Following this through to it’s bitter end, we conclude that with 4 36-hour fasts this month (equlivalent to -8000 calories total), I stand to lose roughly about 3 lbs (or just less than 1 pound per week).

But I say, why stop at 4?

36-hour Fast: Supersize Me

To return to Dr. Mindy for just a second, she cited a research study that had participants do every-other-day 36-hour fasts and, surprising to no one, the weight loss was significant. Even when I first heard it, it sounded strident.

But when I took a minute to think about what that meant, it actually seemed less daunting that I previously considered. Sure, it’s fasting for 36-hours every other day. That seems crazy if you think about how long 36 hours is. BUT, if you think about our lives practically, it means two 8-hour periods of sleep (16 hours) plus 1 regular day. That’s FANTASTIC, actually. Because then, every other day, you can eat ad libitum (but not like an asshole) and chill. I don’t know why but my brain said, “Done.” I said, “Ok…let’s do it…with some modifications.

For practicality sake, for this month only and to supercharge the effects I think it’ll have on my blood sugar, I’m going to do three 36-hour fasts each week, roughly.

Here’s my schedule

*Monday: eat until no later than 9pm

*Tuesday: Fast

*Wednesday: break fast around 9am (match the fast starting time) then eat normally until 9pm

*Thursday: Fast

*Friday: break fast around 9am, then eat normally until 9pm

*Saturday: Fast

*Sunday: break fast around 9am, then eat normally

I’ve already done a trial week and, with some key learnings which I’ll share at another point, this will be challenging but doable. More importantly, it’s already been way more effective than anything else I’ve tried.

I have high hopes. But I need some electrolytes, like, yesterday.

One thought on “Fast November

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