10 Tips to Optimize Ketosis #9
My ninth tip for getting into and maintaining ketosis is:
Incorporate Intermittent Fasting
What is Fasting? Essentially, it's not eating. When you're asleep, for example, you're fasting. That's why the first meal of the day is called breakfast! It's the meal whereby you literally break your overnight fast. Fasting has no standard duration. A fast can range from 12 hours to 12 days or more.*
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)? Intermittent Fasting is a timed eating pattern; you cycle between times wherein you are not eating (fasting) for short periods- albeit longer than we typical fast on the Standard Western way of eating- followed by periods of where you are eating (feasting). Generally, this means that you consume all of your food for the day during a specific window of time, and choose not to eat food for a larger period once your eating window has closed. Please note, it is important that you eat very well during your feasting windows; at bare minimum, you must eat to meet basal metabolic rate (BMR) on a regular basis to avoid metabolic slowdown.
Keep in mind, IF is NOT about calorie restriction! Your body operates very differently, hormonally, when it's operating on a fasting metabolism versus normal, eating metabolism. When you are eating, for example, your pancreas manages your glucose levels by releasing insulin or glucagon to lower or raise sugars in the blood, depending on what the body needs. However, when you're fasting, blood glucose levels are managed by the liver, which is an entirely different process via a different organ. There are many other metabolic and hormonal differences between the two different types of metabolism, which is why a true fasting regimen does not damage the body or metabolic processes like a low calorie regimen will.
There are many different ways of incorporating fasting into your lifestyle, but I will detail the most common methods here:
(1) 16:8: This amounts to fasting for 16 hours, and having an 8-hour eating window. For example, if you ate your last meal of the day at 6 p.m., you would not eat again until 10 a.m. the next day, resulting in 16 hours of fasting time. Your eating window would then be between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. (8 hours feasting).
(2) 18:6: This is where you would fast for 18 hours, and have a 6-hour eating window. For example, if you ate your last meal of the day at 6 p.m., you would simply extend your fasting time a little further, until 12 p.m. the next day, totaling 18 hours. Your eating window would then be between the hours of 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. (6 hours feasting).
(3) 24-hour protocol: This one differs in that you are fasting for 24 hours total, but you will actually eat a meal every day. For example, if you ate your last meal at 8 p.m., you would not eat again until after 8 p.m. the next evening. It is very important that those choosing to practice a 24-hour protocol intersperse their longer fasting days with at least one full feasting day in between. While it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy one meal a day (OMAD) a few times a week, it's crucial that you do not fall into the "low calorie trap," wherein you eat only one meal every, single day, and deprive your body of the energy it needs to thrive. Chronic low caloric intake may result in a damaged or greatly slowed metabolism, which is why even experts like Dr. Fung advocate "feasting" (i.e., eating very well) during your eating window.
(4) Extended, multi-day fasting: This type of fasting means no eating for more than 24-hours at a time. Many people may be in ketosis, and even doing some regular IF, but simply do not fast long enough to tap into stored body fat. Those managing or recovering from insulin resistance or severe metabolic damage may simply need to fast for longer periods (36 hours or more) to really see and utilize fasting benefits. Further, doing more longer-term fasting many times eliminates the danger of chronic low caloric intake we see so very often amongst those who do shorter-term IF. By the time one breaks a 36+ hour fast, one is usually fairly hungry, and the feasting part comes very naturally.
None of these time-frames is set in stone, so feel free to play around with the structure of your day to find the fasting schedule that works for you. Many people do well skipping breakfast and pushing their eating window into the afternoon and evening. Others thrive on "flipping the script" by eating breakfast and lunch, and then stopping their feasting much earlier in the day. Finding the fasting schedule that best works for you, mentally and physically, is the key.
Pro tip: Don't feel like you must force fasting. In my opinion, a well-formulated ketogenic diet, with the almost built-in hunger control, will spontaneously produce periods of Intermittent Fasting for most people. If this is not happening for you, give it some time and follow your body's signals. It will happen when your body is ready!
Intermittent Fasting is a very powerful tool for healing, and when combined with a ketogenic diet it becomes a powerhouse for physical and internal transformation! Aside from helping you get into and maintain ketosis, Intermittent Fasting promotes stronger insulin sensitivity, increases growth hormone secretion, and helps to balance hormone levels, all of which are important keys for both weight loss and muscle gain.
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