Thursday, January 2, 2020

Retrospective #320: How Fasting Reduces or Eliminates Hunger

As related in #319 (the 2016 original), to jump start weight loss again (LOL), on New Year’s Day 2016, I began a renewed effort to lose some weight that I had regained. I continued this new routine and achieved my weight-loss goal, and then reassessed. I decided then NOT to transition at that point to “maintenance;” rather, I set a new goal and continued the weight loss. I reasoned, after all, why mess with success? I still had a lot of weight to lose.
Basically, the plan I followed incorporated a daily fast (7 days/week) from supper to lunch. It entails skipping my (our) traditional breakfast of just eggs or eggs and bacon.  I decided to skip breakfast because I observed that after a Very Low Carb supper and an overnight fast, I was never hungry at breakfast. So, with the goal of my new “plan” (see #319) to incorporate a longer fast and eat only when hungry, skipping breakfast made sense. But because I’m married and try to maintain an eating pattern compatible with a “family” lifestyle, I make a cup of coffee every day to take my pills with my wife. The coffee contains a little heavy whipping cream and powdered stevia, but not enough to break a fast.
The plan in #319 also requires that I eat only when hungry, and only until I am sated. So, to work these parameters into my plan, I always have a prepared lunch. I keep a container of hardboiled eggs in the refrigerator. That provides portion control and allows me to eat just enough to “satisfy.” As an alternate, I sometimes have a tin of kippered herring or a can of Brisling sardines in EVOO, other portion-controlled meals. If I’m not hungry, I skip lunch completely. My wife told me long ago (right after we retired in 2003) that she “married me for better or worse, but not for lunch.” So, not eating lunch with her was not a problem. And skipping lunch altogether was not a problem for me either.
Why am I still not hungry even at lunchtime? Because I have become keto or fat adapted. So, 1 or 2 eggs, or a tin of herring or sardines, is an entirely protein and fat offering to my body, and a token to culture, habit, I think.
Now, you might be thinking, you’re getting a little concerned about my total calorie intake. No conventional Registered Dietician (RD) or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), or clinician (MD), would counsel someone of my gender, age, weight and activity level to eat as little as 1,200kcal/day (which is how I achieved most of my 170 pound weight loss), much less as little as 800kcal/day. But that’s where it looks like I’m going. My “3-small-meals-a-day” plan had been 375 + 375 + 450 = 1,200kcal. This was a bit of a conundrum for me too, until I understood the total “energy-in” part of the equation:  When I am keto, or fat adapted, my body is happily feeding on its own fat reserves, AND THOSE CALORIES COUNT AS PART OF THE ENERGY-IN EQUATION AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL. That is where the energy, having entered the bloodstream, is delivered to the cells for uptake. THAT IS WHY I AM NOT HUNGRY!
Total “energy in,” at the cellular level, is what your body is using to supply all your body’s energy needs. If you are eating a balanced diet that includes beaucoup carbs, your body will burn the carb you eat and then tell you that you are hungry for more. It assumes you have access to more carbs. Therefore, it does not allow, i.e. cannot, burn fat that it has saved on your body for this very purpose! Access to your body fat is blocked by an elevated insulin level, the hormone that accompanies glucose in the blood and “opens the door for glucose uptake. You are, therefore, quite literally starving when you have an elevated glucose and an elevated insulin. Insulin is the fat burning switch .
But when you become keto adapted, by abstaining from eating carbs for 1-3 days, your blood insulin level drops, opening the switch to your body’s fat reserves. From this point on, so long as you abstain from eating more than incidental carbs, your body burns whatever you eat first and then effortlessly – WITHOUT HUNGER – switches over to burning fat, your body fat. Body fat breaks down into free fatty acids (FFAs) and ketone bodies, both excellent sources of fuel for both brain and heart. You are in a blissful, hunger-less state called “ketosis.”
As the NIH’s Richard L. Veech once told Gary Taubes, “Doctors are scared of ketosis. They're always worried about diabetic ketoacidosis. But ketosis is a normal physiologic state. I would argue it is the normal state of man.” Normal, that is, until we were sold a bill of goods (processed high-carb foods) by a cabal of Agribusiness and Big Government. That is what has produced the scourge of obesity and type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

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