Little did I realise, I had sort of been intermittent fasting anyway, by finishing my last mouthful usually by 6 pm and not eating breakfast until about 7 am. So that meant I was fasting for 13 hours already.
When I decided to go further with it, I checked my appetite in the morning and realised that I wasn’t hungry. I was in fact eating breakfast out of habit. So I thought I’d go without breakfast, just have my usual Green tea and see how long I would last before I felt hunger pangs. I was surprised that I went quite comfortably without food, just drinking tea and coffee until about 11ish, which made it a good time to have brunch, which at that time was not a low-carb meal. However, it did help me lose a little weight as I progressed with just 2 meals a day and cutting out chocolate.
I continued this for the next 6 months or so, eating 2 meals a day usually within a 6-hour window, which meant I was doing a 18/6 intermittent fasting program. Unfortunately, I was not losing any more weight.
In mid-September, I came across the Ketogenic way, which follows the Low-Carb Healthy Fat way of eating. I began to experiment and because I was not a big carb consumer, it was easy to do the switch from high-carb to low-carb. Introducing more fats into the diet was a little more challenging as I was already used to low-fat diets based on the standard government guidelines. However, I decided to embrace this and trust the various professionals on YouTube and went ahead with this way of eating.
I found that eating more healthy and natural fat helped keep me full and I could go longer without eating. I was able to extend my fasting window and reduce the eating window. I have managed 2 long fasts of 40 hours and 50 hours. Now I just eat once a day within a 1-hour window. My weight has been stable at 52.7 kgs for the past month (I weighed 61 kg in January 2019).
For anyone who would like to start intermittent fasting, I would recommend reducing carbohydrate intake gradually, ie wheat, rice, potatoes, grains, pulses, sugar cereals. Perhaps not having them at breakfast time. Try bacon and fried eggs for breakfast instead. Or delay breakfast to brunchtime or lunchtime and have the bacon and fried eggs then.
I would also recommend not snacking in between meals. The standard guidelines recommend 3 meals a day and a snack in between. The danger of doing this is that it causes insulin to be produced and one eventually becomes insulin resistant. When insulin is produced, the body uses the energy in the form of glucose first before the fat stores. By allowing a gap of at least 5 hours, it enables the body to use up excess glucose first. It makes sense therefore to allow a longer gap between meals so that insulin is not produced, and the body can find the fat stores to use as fuel. And the way to do this is to keep the body satiated by increasing fat consumption and reducing carbohydrate consumption. Energy from carbohydrates is short-term, like kindling. It ignites quickly and burns out fast. So you feel hungry after a few hours and have to eat again. Fat on the other hand is like coal, which takes longer to ignite but lasts a longer time and keeps you satiated, meaning you can go longer without having to eat.
In a nutshell, here’s how to go about starting intermittent fasting:
- If you’re a normal/heavy carbohydrate consumer, begin by dropping the carbs in 1 of your meals and increase the healthy, natural fats.
- Then extend the fasting time window/reduce the eating time window gradually, ie from 12/12 to 13/11 to 14/10, etc.
- Continue to reduce the carb consumption until you are able to manage it at between 20-50 g daily, your weight in grams of protein and 70-80% of healthy fats.
- If possible, use an app to track your food intake. This will help you to choose the right foods to eat. I use CarbManager, but there are lots of other apps online.
- You might also want to get Keto urine test strips, blood glucose monitor, blood ketone monitor if you want to check whether you're fat adapted, ie burning fat for fuel.