New Diet Trend Activates Ancient Biological Circuits in the Human Body
The latest new diet trend is actually quite ancient. I'm talking about Intermittent Fasting used alongside a Ketogenic Diet. These new diet trends take advantage of processes in the body that have allowed humans to survive cyclical feast and famine conditions. These processes are underused in people living in developed countries because we generally have a steady supply of food and usually eat three square meals a day. When you understand the principles behind these processes we can consciously activate these ancient circuits to reach our body recomposition goals (especially fat loss goals), to enhance our cognitive functioning and to treat or prevent certain diseases. The following video is a discussion on the core ideas behind the Ketogenic Diet with Intermittent Fasting:
Progression of Intermittent Fasting
It's important to ease your way into this eating pattern in order to give yourself time to adapt to running on keytone bodies instead of glucose. Trying to power through to the next stage too quickly can result in uncomfortable side effects, including headaches. These can be unpleasant enough to cause people to give up and return to their previous ways of eating. The following are the major phases you can strive to progress through:
3 Meals, No Snacks - You may already be doing this, but if not then definitely start here. This is simple. Just have your regular three meals per day, but cut out any snacks. If you're having trouble going without snacks, try increasing the fat content of your three main meals. Also, unsweetened tea or coffee can help because caffeine reduces the appetite a little.
16:8 - That's 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours during which you can eat. Once you're comfortable with the previous stage, try fitting your three meals within an 8 hour period. You will abstain from food during the other 16 hours.
18:6 - At this point you're going to want to keep your eating within a 6 hour time frame. You will also start to transition from eating three regular sized meals to eating two larger ones. When you begin this, you can do two meals plus one snack during your 6 hour eating block and omit the snack when you can.
20:4 - This is an advanced stage of Intermittent Fasting with great benefits. Most people will not find any need to go beyond 20 hours of daily fasting. At this point you should be down to just two meals per day. Some people have decided to push it further by just eating one large meal per day and fasting the rest of the time, but you may hit the point of diminishing returns before that point. In fact, you may find that the 18:6 pattern works best for you. This is something you will have to figure out for yourself through experimentation.
Just for Fun: Check out this news piece about a guy who eats ridiculous 4000 calorie meals, once per day. Keep in mind that while he is doing Intermittent Fasting, his meals are not Ketogenic. This will severely limit the benefits he will be getting from his Intermittent Fasting. I find it a little funny how often the article mentions that he can't have sex after eating his massive daily meal: Fitness fanatic eats one meal a day which leaves him so full he can't have sex!
To obtain the maximum benefits from Intermittent Fasting, you will need to make sure your meals conform to the principles of the Ketogenic Diet. Other diets that are almost as good include a modified Atkins diet or the Slow Carb diet. The primary consideration is to minimize the amount of insulin that gets triggered when you eat. On the Keto diet you will eat very low carbohydrates (around 5-10%), moderate protein (around 20-25%) and high fats (around 65-75%).
You need to eat a lot of vegetables on this diet to maintain proper nutrition and dietary fiber. Cruciferous vegetables are particularly valuable on this diet. These include kale, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, collard greens, and cauliflower. Please be aware that dietary fiber does not count towards net carbohydrates. To calculate the net carbs in your meal, take the total carbs and subtract the grams of fiber. Also take into consideration the Glycemic Load of your foods. Most berries, for example, are generally considered fine to eat in moderation whereas some other fruits are best avoided.
People generally lose more electrolytes than usual while doing intermittent fasting and ketogenic diet. You will need to make up the difference some way. Potassium, Magnesium and Sodium are probably the three most important electrolytes for you to replenish. In fact, potassium in particular is notoriously difficult to get enough of on the best of days. Most people tend to be chronically deficient in magnesium as well. Ideally you will supply your body with these electrolytes through the real food you eat during your meals, but you might want to add supplementation to help you get there. My personal favorite is Vega Sport Lemon-Lime Electrolyte Hydrator.
Please consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet, especially if you are on any kind of medication. In particular, if you are taking insulin you will need to adjust your levels as your need for insulin decreases on this diet. Please take all of this as advice from a friend. I am not a doctor. I am not even a nutritionist. I'm just a guy who has done some research and experimented with his own eating choices. I am not trying to diagnose or treat any diseases. I am simply sharing information that I have gathered on the subject.