I didn’t write about day 1, yesterday. But if you read me, you’ll know I’ve been doing a bit of intermittent fasting lately. About three days a week I don’t eat after dinner around 8 PM until lunch the next day at around 1 PM. I remarkably don’t find it hard to do, which I thought for sure I would. I thought I’d be ravenous skipping a late night snack, and since I like breakfast and wake up hungry, I thought no brekkie would be horrible.
Yet, here’s the truth. When you know there’s a rule to follow it’s much easier: I set my mind to the rule – no late night snacking and no food until lunch. I have a cup of coffee for breakfast either with a tbs of coconut oil or a bit of half & half. Amazingly, my morning craving for breakfast basically subsided. I did miss though the foods I had had for breakfast – Brown Cow whole milk plain yogurt, some berries and tahini or almond butter so some days I get it in during my eating window (lunch through 8 PM) for a snack. This is so much easier than a diet where you have to count calories, where you’re hungry all the time and mucking up your metabolism.
I have come to realize a few things, for me, as it may be different for you. Much of eating is a habit. Automatic, thoughtless. Since we eat every few hours our bodies are primed for the next meal. When you break the habit, your body sort of resets. And without blood sugar going up and down, your appetite falls away.
My intermittent fasting, about 3 days in a row out of a week, was going really good, so I decided to do a 3-day fast. Why? Two reasons: 1) as an experiment to see if I could do it, how I would feel, what I would notice? 2) buying into the idea that something called autophagy is happening, – your body switches over from burning glucose to burning fat, drawing energy from your stored fat as ketones, gobbling up damaged, junky cells and replenishing with healthier cells – I expect there are real health benefits.
I imagine I can’t really know if autophagy is happening without testing my ketone level, but from all I’ve read, I trust that it is. If you are concerned about ketones as in type 1 diabetic ketoacidosis, while they are the same ketones, you are not in danger of ketoacidosis. Your body is burning the ketones differently.
If you are thinking of doing this, many experts say work your way up to a 3-day fast. I have been on a low carb, high healthy fat diet for probably a decade. I was doing intermittent fasting for about two months, so I consider I had my warm up period. I’d also say do it with someone. The husband decided to do it with me which makes it sooo much easier. We know what the other is going through, and there’s almost no cooking or eating going on in this house to make the fasting person crazy. Even though I’m not hungry, I think the smells of food would start hunger hormones to activate and could be nearly impossible to resist.
I am also doing this fast with two type 1 friends, Karen and Denise, and I cannot tell you how much fun that is. We are emailing every few hours to check in, share feelings, what we’re doing, and I notice how we have all had lows fasting. We are all checking our continuous glucose monitors, which I would consider almost a necessity to do this, and we are smart cookies (sorry, guess my mind is food-rummaging) so we are being cautious.
We are all following the same basic eating plan. Bone broth at meals, Karen Rose Tank of course made her own from scratch. I bought the Culinary Treasures brand from Costco which Ginger Vieira, who was my first mate on this fasting adventure, recommended. At my house we grind up leafy greens like kale, arugula, spinach in a tiny food processor and put that in our soup. We add some of our ayurveda spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, masala, tumeric. I add salt and pepper and a drop of apple cider vinegar. Sometimes a dash of lemon or lime.
When we finish our “meal” we look at each other, “Delicious!” Either we’ve gone mad and haven’t noticed, or this brew we’ve concocted is really pretty good. Other than bone broth for lunch and dinner, we are drinking plenty of water. I have my morning coffee and either late afternoon or evening I’ll have a cup of tea with half & half or decaf coffee with half & half. The husband has even relinquished his Starbuck’s cappuccino for plain coffee with a dash of half & half.
All that we’re eating is on the plan outlined by fasting doctor advocate, Dr. Jason Fung. Fung is a kidney specialist with a majority of patients with type 2 diabetes. In his practice he wondered why the typical diabetic meal plan had so many carbs on it and in return led patients to go on insulin and keep upping it. So he started putting his patients on intermittent fasting and longer supervised fasting protocols and saw that his patients were losing weight they hadn’t been able to lose before, reducing their insulin and getting off some of their meds. His two well-known books are The Obesity Code and The Complete Guide to Fasting.
So, what have I noticed? Again, even day 2 of this 3 day fast has not been hard. I’m now 41 hours in. My stomach has rumbled once this morning but that’s about it. I’m not hungry, although today I do notice I feel empty. I miss the ritual of food more than eating it: thinking about what I’ll eat, preparing a meal, sitting down to it with the husband for nourishment and conversation. I am not having food dreams, either waking or sleeping. I even realized this morning I haven’t thought of a glass of wine, it’s completely disappeared from my radar. My energy seems pretty similar to any other day. I haven’t experienced any of the symptoms of “keto flu” – lightheaded, headachy, nausea, cranky…I feel closer to my bones, have shed 4 pounds, and am at a weight I haven’t seen since I was probably 14. I’m also surprisingly clear and sharp on business calls.
As for titrating my meds being on MDI, I reduced my long-acting Tresiba by 1 unit two days before the fast, and today dropped it 1 more unit. So from 7 originally to 5 today. I take 2/3rds or 1 unit in the morning of my short-acting Humalog just for the Dawn Effect rise of my blood sugar. I don’t take any more short acting than that for the day. I am staying consistently level, trending toward low and here and there I have to raise my blood sugar which I’m doing with a teaspoon of honey. Am I breaking the fast? Maybe, but we’ve all had to treat lows and in my book, diabetes comes before fasting and it is what it is.
What else? 1) You can exercise while doing this. I’ve kept up my walking. 2) Don’t tell your friends who don’t understand. They’ll bring you down. 3) Schedule it for when you have no big plans, work or social. And 4) It helps to keep yourself busy and distracted. Beside working, I’ve been watching a slew of fountain pen videos and plan to watch clips from last night’s Emmy Award show tonight.
My parting words: do a lot of reading before you jump in. Start with a short fast, 8, 16 or 24 hours, to have a try. If you decide to do a few days fast, talk to your doctor if you’re on meds and/or friends who’ve done it. It’s getting so popular, I wouldn’t be surprised if one person within your spitting distance has done a fast. But not a juice fast where you’re taking in lots of sugar from juices, but a water and bone broth fast.
Funny, I’m much more a ‘classics’ girl than ‘trendy’ but I think this fasting is the real deal. This morning the husband said, “Let’s do this more often than we have.” I said, “Since we’ve never done it before that won’t be hard.” I imagine once or twice a year might just make it onto the calendar now. The fact that I’m ending my fast tomorrow night when everyone observing Yom Kippur will be ending their 24 hour fast is kinda funny and pure coincidence.