Fasting Basics: How to get started fasting?

 

“Megan, come into the living room now,” my mother-in-law screamed on New Year’s Day 2018.  She was ecstatic because every morning talk show was predicting intermittent fasting would be the hottest dietary trend of 2018.  They were right.

Everyone used to think Dr. Jason Fung and I were insane when started fasting patients back in 2012.  Fasting was so controversial doctors would come into the clinic yelling at me for giving fasting advice to our mutual patients.

I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry when my mother-in-law called me to her TV that morning.  I was completely overwhelmed to see how far society has come with welcoming fasting as an acceptable and even healthy lifestyle choice in such a short period of time.

Last June I had the privilege of speaking at an event called “Diabetes Reversal” hosted by the British Medical Journal and reinsurer Swiss Re in Zürich, Switzerland. This historic event was attended by the best minds in medicine and the biggest names behind the creation of nutrition policy in the world.

I was terrified leading up to the event!  Fasting is controversial enough amongst doctors in Toronto.  What the heck kind of attacks were going to be thrown my way!  I’m just this sweet, ultra stereotypical Canadian woman.

My husband was my rock that trip.  He kept reminding me that no one in the world has clinically fasted more patients than Jason and I have.  I would be able to use my experience helping thousands of patients reverse their type 2 diabetes and lose weight for good with the help of fasting.  Not to mention the many other benefits our patients have experienced while fasting.

I remember closing my eyes and taking three deep breaths before walking into the conference room bracing myself for four days of anti-fasting assault from some of the most important people in the world.

As each day of the conference passed by more and more of these world-renowned experts talked more and more about the benefits of time restricted eating and fasting.  Every day I witnessed them being bolder in their defence of intermittent fasting.  It was incredible!

It was my job to present on the third day of the conference.  As the presenter was introducing me to the group, he asked the crowd “how many of you practice some sort of fasting on a routine basis?”

Everyone but two individuals put up their hands.

I almost fell out of my chair by the overwhelming support, but that would have meant crushing into my hero, Gary Taubes, who was sitting next to me.  I took another deep breath and I jumped into my talk about fasting and diabetes reversal.

Gary remained unharmed during my presentation.

In recent years, many people across the world have drastically reduced their sugar intake.  Many have begun following a low carb or ketogenic diet to help reverse their type 2 diabetes and lose weight.  These people have seen incredible improvements, but many still haven’t been able to reach their weight loss goals or completely reverse their type 2 diabetes.  This is when they come to the IDM Program.

The IDM Program believes that both what you eat and when you eat are critical to achieve optimal health.  Most of our clients come into the program having followed a very low carb or ketogenic diet for quite some time, but they’re still struggling.  In almost every instance, this plateau is because the client is just eating too often.

We know that insulin toxicity and insulin resistance are the root causes of obesity and diabetes.  Restricting foods that cause your insulin levels to surge is important for preventing weight gain and reducing the amount of damage occurring within the body.  But, if we have insulin resistance, our insulin resistance itself drives our insulin levels back up regardless!

Therefore, people who follow low carb and ketogenic diets often plateau and don’t hit their goals with nutrition changes alone.  Yes, we need to stop adding extra insulin to the body, especially when we already have toxic levels, but we need to break the cycle of insulin resistance.

Fasting is a great tool we can use to keep our insulin levels low for a sustained period, which will result in breaking that cycle.  Within a matter of days after a person implements some sort of time restricted eating protocol into their routine, they start to see their blood sugar levels improve and the number on the scale go down.

Nowadays people are starting to become more and more aware about the importance of meal timing.  I’ve noticed most of the people who interview me in recent weeks are starting to ask me for “get started” protocols for people who are new to fasting.  Below is my advice on the best strategies to get yourself into doing therapeutic intermittent fasting.

 

The Five-Step Fasting Protocol

  1. Start eating real food and healthy fats with each meal

Your diet doesn’t have to radically change over night.  It takes time for people to make significant changes to their diet in the long-term.  Start by reducing your intake of refined and processed sugar.  Try to stick with real, whole foods and increase your intake of healthy fats at each meal.  Examples of health fats are avocados, olive oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil, eggs, nuts, and good quality animal fats.

  1. Stop snacking!

I can’t say this enough – don’t eat between your meals!  Just stick to your three main meals of the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If you’re hungry between meals, think about why?  Maybe you’re just thirsty. Often, we mistake thirst for hunger.

Perhaps your work day is just stressful and it’s not that you’re hungry, but the stress is driving you to feel hungry.  Or maybe you’re just hungry.  If that’s the case, then increase your intake of healthy fats at your meals.

  1. Skip one meal a day

 

Try skipping breakfast or dinner and see how you feel.  Pick whichever meal you feel is the most difficult to consume because of your schedule and your appetite.

When I first started fasting, I chose to skip breakfast.  I wasn’t hungry in the mornings, and I was always in a rush to get out the door.  I had more time to prepare and enjoy a healthy dinner in the evenings.

  1. Implement the “one hour” rule

If you’re someone who is eating dinner, then try to eat your dinner an hour earlier than you previously have.  Now, I understand we can’t all do this.  If you must eat breakfast later, try having a very light meal that is very low in carbohydrates.  Save the bulk of your meal and carbs for lunch.

If you prefer to eat breakfast, then try to wait an hour later to eat your breakfast in the morning.  I do eat breakfast on the weekends, but I make sure I’m up and moving first.  I let the dogs out and give them their breakfast.  I will do a light workout, check my email, take a shower and get ready for the day all before I eat my breakfast.  This way I’m up and moving for a few hours before I eat.

  1. Skip two consecutive meals two-three times per week

Once the above steps feel easy, then it’s time to take it up a notch!  Try skipping two consecutive meals per day on alternate days of the week.  We also call this a 24 hour fast.

I always tell patients to pick the days of the week where it is difficult to find time to eat.  Personally, I always fast during my clinic days because it’s just too inconvenient to find time to eat and really enjoy my meal and feel satiated.

A lot of fasting is mind over matter.  If you’re busy, then it’s easy to fast.  You’ll also experience a greater sense of satiation of you take your time to properly chew and enjoy your meal.  I always recommend to patients that they are strategic with their fasting schedule.  If you don’t have activities, plan some.  If you have a busy day and don’t have time to eat, fast.  Schedule in your meals when you have time to sit down and enjoy.

 

Happy fasting, everyone!

  Megan Ramos, IDM Program Director

2019-02-28T10:59:07-04:0019 Comments

About the Author:

19
Leave a Reply

avatar
14 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
ScottRicco L. SantosCarol BShelley DiAngeloJane Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Jane Lovering
Guest
Jane Lovering

Is there any specific advice for postmenopausal women? I find it so hard to shift the fat despite studying and applying various IF approaches over 6 years. Since neutered pets and livestock have such a tendency to increase body fat, I wonder whether there is a link between reproductive hormones and insulin production, or perhaps another mechanism altogether that makes fat loss so difficult for older women?

Jane
Guest
Jane

I hope to hear a response to this question as I’m 60, had a total hysterectomy 10 years ago and continually meet frustration with weight loss/gain even with IF.

Carol B
Guest
Carol B

Jane, I can only give you my own history. I am currently 71 yrs old. When I started a Ketogenic Diet in October, 2017 I weighed over 200lbs. I had also had a total hysterectomy in my late 50s. I had been exercising for a couple years prior without much success. Following the KetoDiet I was able to lose weight but not the way others had with dramatic results in a very short time. I have done intermittent fasting for over a year and just did my first 24 hr. fast last week. I am now down 40lbs total. Yes… Read more »

Judi Campion
Guest
Judi Campion

Excellent simple steps.

Anoo Shaker
Guest
Anoo Shaker

Concise and clear. Thanks for your excellent suggestions, Megan!

bookworm13
Guest
bookworm13

Since you mentioned eating real, whole food, what do you think about Dr. Steven R. Gundry hypothesis that lectins cause many of our health issues. I haven’t had time to read all of his book, but it sounds like he advocates avoiding whole nuts, soy, beans, nightshade vegetables, and whole grains because they contain lectins.

Yollande Geitz
Guest
Yollande Geitz

Thank you Megan. Short and simple…and it works!

Donna
Guest
Donna

Thank you for your detailed information. I have been trying to fast but I often feel light headed and dizzy. Do you have any advice?

Alice
Guest
Alice

Megan, I’ve seen you on different interviews and really enjoy the information you provide. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been in the Pique tea Facebook group where they are promoting the 16:8 fasting regimen. In one of the recent support emails, they say that it’s not a good idea for females to fast for more than 24 hours because it will cause a hormonal imbalance. That differs from what you and Dr. Fung say. Since Dr. Fung’s name is widespread throughout this challenge, and he in fact did a live in the group a couple of days ago,… Read more »

Shelley DiAngelo
Guest
Shelley DiAngelo

Hi Alice, I just visited with Dr. Fung at the Low Carb Denver 2019 this past weekend and asked him some “hormonal” questions. This is the jist: Though there are many microbiological reactions that occur due to many types of hormones, those reactions regulated by gut hormones for digestion and nutrient absorption are not the one-and-the-same women see in menopause. So, get your fast on!…

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

I have diabetes type 2 for 3 years and since then I eat low carb diet and also tried intermittent fasting but my question is Why my fasting blood pressure is so high,?The rest of day is ok

Jo Ann Herbert
Guest
Jo Ann Herbert

Megan, I want to thank both you and Jason for your work and most especially that you offer so much helpful information for free. I’m on a fixed low income and this really makes a difference. It’s a real gift and guess what? 16 hr fasting the month of Feb., no grains of any kind, vegan, minimal dark chocolate (compared to what I WAS eating! and no other sugars) and I lost 10 lbs ! I wish strength to everyone to believe they can do it and GO FOR IT ! ~Wonderful.

Marilee Lampman
Guest
Marilee Lampman

I know intermittent fasting can help me. What do you do if you are on Diabetes meds like Metformin & Victoza? .Do I hold them?

John
Guest
John

I have type 2 and am also on meds. My doctor is very supportive and told me to check my sugers while fasting and after lunch or dinner alternating which one daily. In 5 weeks she took me off of glibiride but is keeping me on metformin and victoza for now but she and I are very excited to see how things look in a couple more months. Hope that helps.

Adejumoke Makanju
Guest
Adejumoke Makanju

Good revision for me.Thanks

Susan
Guest

I am diabetic. Since Great Lent started this Sunday evening, I am skipping breakfast. If I have to skip two consecutive meals, Can I drink anything other than plain water during the fasting period?

I reduced carbs and mostly stopped refined carbs and sugar. I am now 50 kg. and five foot 2 inches tall. I do not want to lose any weight. I lost 5 kg and my tummy. I am 64 years old, female, Kerala India

Tom Rowan
Guest

Why do you enable comments on your blog if you are not going to answer any of the questions?

Ricco L. Santos
Guest
Ricco L. Santos

Because most the comments are asking for medical advice.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Quick question on the duration of intermittent fasting for weight loss. Say you have 75lbs to lose, and work your way correctly into a 42 hr intermittent fasting regimen. Can you continue this until the entire 75lbs comes off? Or should you take breaks during this weight loss period? Wondering what best practice is or what IDM programs do or recommend.