A few years ago, Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, founder of dietdoctor.com, the world’s most widely viewed source of information on the health benefits of a low-carb lifestyle, produced a New Year’s video with these 5 guidelines:
1) FOLLOW STRICTLY A LOW CARB DIET, 2) EAT ONLY WHEN HUNGRY, 3) SLEEP 7-8 HOURS A NIGHT, 4) WEIGH YOURSELF DAILY, AND 5) PRACTICE INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF).
This prescription works. I lost altogether 180+ pounds, put my Type 2 diabetes in remission (in the first week!), and dramatically reversed “high cholesterol” (stopped taking a statin) and lowered my “chronic inflammation level.”
How you transition from “here” (where YOU are NOW) to “there” (how you WANT to be) is what this post is about.
To strictly follow a low carb diet, you need to know what a carb is. No joke! Most people don’t know. There is not room here to describe a carb in detail, so suffice it to say: IF IT IS NOT PROTEIN OR FAT, IT IS A CARB. Think about that. Then make the time to learn about carbs, because to be successful in this Way of Eating, you need to know.
Then, when you strictly follow a low-carb diet, you will soon discover that you eat a lot less because you are never hungry. That’s because when you eat low-carb, your blood insulin level is low and your body can access stored fat whenever it needs it for energy balance. Your body is adapted to burn its own fat for energy, so you don’t need to eat.
When I first thought about the Diet Doctor guidelines, I wanted to reverse the order of guidelines 1 and 2 above. Then, I realized it’s nonsensical to follow the “eat only when you’re hungry” guideline if you’re always hungry! And if you eat a “balanced” diet (typically 55% to 60% carbs), you WILL always be hungry, or at least every 2 or 3 hours. So, that’s why you have to “strictly follow a low-carb diet” before you can, “then, eat only when hungry.” Got it?
Then came along Jason Fung, MD, the Toronto nephrologist whose book, “The Obesity Code” was a blockbuster. Fung has a way with words, and his writing style is very “accessible.” You will see that, when you’re not hungry, fasting becomes much easier. So, Fung and Andreas Eenfeldt are kindred spirits and now frequently collaborators in fasting.
The two IF methods Eenfeldt described a few years ago were 5:2 and 16:8. I suggest you use them both to transition to a low-carb, fat-adapted Way of Eating. Once you start strictly eating low-carb, and you start skipping breakfast (except for coffee with heavy cream), because you’re not hungry at breakfast, you’ll already be fasting 16:8.
Then, you might also sometimes transition to skipping lunch, or to eating a very light one (one or two hard boiled eggs). And voilà, you’ll be in a mildly ketotic state – a mild form of nutritional ketosis – for most of the day.
The other form of IF that Eenfeldt describes is 5:2. I have instead adopted, from time to time, as needed for weight loss, intermittent 42-hour fasts 2 or sometimes 3 times a week. Instead of eating 5 days and fasting 2, I eat 4 days (Tue-Thu-Sat-Sun) and fast the 3 alternate days, M-W-F, fasting from supper one night to lunch the second day after.
Guidelines 4, to get a good night’s sleep, they say is important. Just make sure your bladder is empty before retiring, and if you have trouble falling off, take a magnesium pill or even a glass of wine. Guideline 5, weighing yourself daily, is a good idea for motivational reasons. I keep a written record and set a weekly weight loss goal.
The essential thing is, when you eat, eat Very Low Carb. In 2002, I started “cold turkey” on 20 grams of carbs a day. I saw immediate results. Within the 1st week, my doctor took me off virtually all the oral antidiabetic medication I was on to avoid hypos (hypoglycemia or low blood sugar); I had three hypos the 1st week, but not one since (in 18 years).The other two macronutrients (protein and fat), besides carbohydrates, are important to understand, but are secondary in importance to weight loss. Protein is important to eat, every day when you’re not fasting, but if you’re fat-adapted (from strictly eating very low carb), and you want to lose body fat, you don’t have to eat extra fat beyond that which comes with the protein. Give your body a chance to burn body fat, not food, to make up the energy deficit, whether you’re fasting, or eating less because you’re not hungry, even of “feasting” days. Your body likes to burn fat.