Sunday, December 10, 2017

Type 2 Nutrition #410: My 300kcal “Fasting” Diet

About 10 months ago (the day after the Super Bowl), I began a regimen of full-day “fasting.” I had tried Intermittent Fasting (IF), where I ate within a small window each day (“16-8 fasting”), or I ate just one meal a day (OMAD). I maintained my weight but I didn’t lose. I still wanted to lose a lot of weight, so I decided to just “jump in.” Full-day fasting was new and unfamiliar to me, so I decided to start with alternate day fasting.
It worked. I lost 62 pounds, going from 248 to 186, and my BMI went from 36 to 27. Altogether, since starting Very Low Carb in 2002 at 375 pounds, I’ve lost 189. I’m “not half the man I once was,” my wife quipped.
When people ask, “How’d you lose weight?” I tell them, “Fasting.” Then they ask, “How’s your energy?” They imagine that they would feel weak because their metabolism would slow down due to the loss of energy “in.” After all, we’ve all been told, “a calorie is a calorie” and “Energy in = Energy out,” meaning if we don’t eat, our body is going to defensively slow down until we eat again. And we believe it because, well…’cause it’s intuitive.
Well, it’s not true. It only applies if your diet is largely composed of and DEPENDENT ON carbohydrates for energy. It’s not true for people who eat a diet of mostly fat and protein, limiting carbs to small amounts, in my case just at supper. We are “fat-adapted.” We are “fat burners, not sugar burners.” For us, the “Energy in” is not measured by what we put in our mouth; it is measured at the cellular level – where all the nutrients that are circulating in the blood are taken up by the cells. Thus, you do not slow down because you’re being fed.
How is it that when you eat mostly fat and protein you get to where you can burn body fat? The mechanism is: when you have glucose (from carbs) in the blood, the hormone insulin drives everything you eat into stored body fat and blocks access to your stored fat for energy. But when the level of your blood glucose (from carbs) drops, the level of your blood insulin also drops. That signals the brain to switch from glucose for energy to fat for energy. And then, once the carbs stored as glycogen in the liver are used up, and for so long as you then continue to limit carb intake by mouth to a very low amount, your body will break down body fat for energy.
On a “fasting” day, I have a 12oz coffee with 1½oz of heavy cream (not Half & Half) and 1 gram of pure stevia powder for breakfast. I stay “fat-adapted” with stable blood sugar all morning.
Then, if I’ve been working in the garden and I’m dehydrated, I’ll take some stevia-sweetened iced tea and maybe a little pickle juice for salt. I don’t take anything else by mouth until “supper.” My “fasting” supper is just one 6oz glass of red wine with 8oz of seltzer (a “spritzer”), which I use to wash down pills/supplements.
300kcal Fasting Diet” Macronutrient Composition: Coffee w/cream: Fat: 16g (144kcal), Protein: 1.2g (5kcal), Carbs: 1.2g (5kcal); Total: 154kcal. Spritzer (6oz red wine): Carbs: 4.5g (18kcal), Ethyl alcohol: 18g (126kcal); Total: 144kcal. Fasting day totals: Calories: 298kcal; Protein: 1.2g; Fat: 16g; Carbs: 5.7g; ethyl alcohol: 18g.

If I sense an impulse to eat or drink something after “supper,” I’ll have an ACV (apple cider vinegar) cocktail: 1 Tbs of Bragg’s unfiltered ACV, a few dashes of bitters, and a few drops of liquid stevia, with ice and club soda. The secret for the success of this “300kcal Fasting Diet” is, since I always eat VLC, I am ALWAYS “fat-adapted.”
So, when I return to a “feasting” state, I continue to eat Very Low Carb: The same “breakfast” of coffee with cream and stevia, a small lunch from a can, either 1) Goya Premium squid in its own ink (240kcal) or 2) Brunswick kippered herring fillets in brine (160kcal). I drink the brine. It’s a small lunch; just enough.
Then, for a “feasting” supper, I have a serving of protein with fat and a portion of low-carb vegetable with fat. With this supper I drink 2 glasses of my evening spritzer with my pills. Since I’m not hungry, because I’m fat-adapted, this is plenty. Some days I skip “lunch” and some days both “lunch” and “supper” and fast another day, or two. If you have lots of energy and you’re not hungry (because you’re burning body fat), why not? ;-)


  1. It seems your energy intake barely reaches 1000 calories per day on average. If your weight is stable, that means you expenditure is also around 1000 calories per day on average.

    That's starvation mode to me.

    If you feel fine, good for you. But let's not pretend you are expanding the same amount of energy as you used to.

    1. You don't get it, Valerie. My "energy intake" by mouth is just 300kcal/day. Period. My energy intake at the cellular level, where the energy is taken up from the blood by the cells, is several thousand kcals, depending on what is called for by my activity level. If I am doing heavy yard work, it is even higher. The additional calories is provided by my body fat (triglycerides), that is broken down do fatty acids and ketone bodies. This is only possible because my energy intake by mouth of CARBHYDRATES is low enough (REALLY low) to allow my serum insulin level to drop, signalling the liver to break down fat for the needed energy. I'm not starving because my body is getting all the energy it needs from the "energy" that is stored in my body fat. And because I am leaner, and feel great, I think I am actually expending more energy the older I get and the harder I work!!!

  2. If your cells are taking up energy from your fat stores, then you are losing weight. If your weight is stable overall, it means you replenish those fat stores on your eating days.

    "Energy in / energy out" applies to everyone, you know.

    If your weight is stable, then your energy expenditure matches your energy intake. Reading your description of your diet, it looks like your average energy intake is very low. Then so must be your average energy expenditure.

    1. And when my energy intake by mouth IS very low, and VERY LOW CARB, I AM LOSING WEIGHT. I've lost 62 pounds in the last 10 months since I began eating this 300kcal/day diet 2 or 3 days a weeks about 10 months ago.

    2. And my energy expenditure remained high on my "fasting" days because, while eating VLC, I had access to and could burn body fat as needed.