I have to admit for several years now, I have been resistant to personally doing intermittent fasting. I have a fairly stressful, fulfilled life as a nutritionist in practice and as a CEO of two companies. To be honest, I felt that intermittent fasting would be too hard on my cortisol and leptin control. But, I am also a body hacker and often use my body as the N=1 experiment so I decided to give intermittent fasting a trial run.
First, I dug into the research of Dr. Varaday and alternate day fasting. (Click here to read about the different types of fasts.) In her experiments, Varady’s subjects did alternate day fasting in which they ate a 500-calorie meal for lunch on one day — the fast day — and then the next day ate what they liked and continued on this one day fasting, one day feeding pattern. This pattern then was repeated.
Then I combed over the work of Valter Longo and his colleagues on intermittent fasting for periods of five days at 500 calories with several days of refeeds. In their research, the participants followed specific caloric and macronutrient restrictions for five days and then went back to normal eating for up to one month with positive after effects of weight loss, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammation, aging and cancer.
My First Intermittent Fasting Protocol: Week One Results
First Five Days: Each fasting day, I ate one 200-calorie meal at lunchtime and then one 300-calorie meal at dinner time. This was to allow for time at the table with my husband while he was eating. I did find myself hungry on days three to five after dinner. I think it would work better to do one meal at 500 calories one time in the day around lunch. The combine values of meals consisted of 70 percent of the calories from fat, 10 percent from carbs and 20 percent from protein. Example: Two ounces of chicken thigh, one small avocado, one cup of spinach — garnish with lemon and salt for the day with lots of water. I also allowed one cup of Organo Gold coffee with MCT oil in the morning.
After the five days, I found I had great energy and my clothes were loose. I had lost 5lbs in five days. After the first two weeks of refeeding, I kept the weight off and still felt good.
So looking at the work of Valter Longo, this result, albeit short, mimicked what they saw in their research — all inflammation markers improved.
Next I am trying alternating fasting days with refeed days. Below is my modified alternate fasting day plan. After this experiment, I will let you know how it goes. This time I am doing lab work before and after to track inflammatory marker changes.
• Each fasting day, eat one 500-calorie meal (women) or one 600-calorie meal (men) ideally at lunchtime. This meal should consist of 70 percent of the calories from fat, 10 percent from carbs and 20 percent from protein. Example: Two ounces of chicken thigh, one small avocado, one cup of spinach — garnish with lemon and salt. Have hot tea or one cup of coffee with one tbsp of MCT oil at breakfast to keep the catecolamines reduced.
• On fast days, exercise moderately in the morning with a brisk morning walk.
• Have hot beverages with no sugar in them between meals on fast days. Drinking a warm beverage tricks the body into thinking you have had a small, warm meal. I prefer bone broth during the day and a warm tea like chamomile tea at night.
• Eat enough protein on non-fast days.Adequate protein intake is associated with fullness and satiety. If you are maintaining a ketogenic diet, your ratio of 70 percent fat, 10 percent carbs and 20 percent protein would still be a goal without any calorie restriction. If you don’t want to stay ketogenic, you can eat a modified ketogenic diet at 60 percent fat, 20 percent carbs and 20 percent protein. I am going to stick to a 70/20/10 ketogenic diet for the refeeding days.
• Exercise in the evening on fast days, or you may want to eat more and you may have more insomnia.
• Keep your weight lifting and more intense workouts to your refeeding days. Refeeding days with more calories are the ideal days to work hard with more fuel available for HITT exercise and anaerobic exercise.
• Break up your meals on fast days. For most people, having a MCT oil laced breakfast beverage, plenty of water and a 500-calorie lunch on fasting days with bone broth and tea over the evening work better than having three 150 calorie meals.
Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP, CHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine, founder of the Dallas-based functional medicine clinic Living Well Dallas and Executive Director of the the Functional Medicine Association of North Texas. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutrition for autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, MTHFR and weight loss. You can find her book “Cleanse: Detox Your Body, Mind & Spirit” on Amazon here.
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