Extended fasts are the only way I’ve ever lost weight. I find them easy to stick with, and in the past, the weight has melted off. My extended fasts do include 2-3x coffee with 3-4T of heavy cream of half and half (probably 400-600cals), which greatly helps me stay on track. So periodically, I’ll do an extended fast, measuring ketones and glucose. But the weight never stays off. Granted my in between eating is horrible, but I’m now the heaviest I’ve ever been and I can’t help but think the extended fasting has pushed up my set point. What is a healthy way to do extended fasts and maintain weight afterwards, or between fasts? I just heard Dr. Pompa in a video talk about women refeeding carbs the week before their periods, which balances the hormones making it easier to lose during the fast. Anyone try this?
So if you’re doing fasting for autophagy benefits you probably don’t want to be adding half and half or even HWC to your coffee. If you want to add fat I would recommend using MCT oil and/or Butter instead. You don’t want to be ingesting carbs or protein while fasting for autophagy.
To me this indicates a slow BMR. Instead of focusing on weight loss for the moment consider repairing your metabolism. You won’t get your metabolic rate up by fasting. You do that by eating but not eating horribly in between not eating at all. So why not focus on establishing a healthy eating pattern first. Get your metabolism rate up by not fasting and eating good healthy food to satiety. Try to be moderately active but don’t overdo it. Your metabolism will speed up with the good fuel you’re giving your body. Since extended fasting is easy for you why not do intermittent fasting with abundant food for a while. Try only eating in a 4-5 hour window with two meals. After 4-6 weeks try an extended fast again with the higher metabolic rate. Don’t overeat after just go back to normal eating with IF again.
As far as your monthly cycle there are a few women here who subscribe to the concept of extra carbs then. I haven’t seen anything convincing that women need more carbs than men. Then again I have never experienced a menstrual cycle. I’m sure some women will weigh in on this.
Out of curiosity, how long are your extended fasts? My own n=1 experience has been that my metabolism goes up for the first few days of a fast but then starts dropping. Once I start eating again, though, it comes back up to baseline again.
Thanks David, great info. Given what you’ve said, I would think my BMR at the moment should be ok. I just started fasting a few days ago. Before that I’d been eating somewhat normally for at least a few months. Plenty of calories, that’s for sure. Any idea how long it would take for a BMR to recover?
I said extended fasting is easy for me, not intermittent fasting But I’m willing to weave in some IF to preserve my BMR if necessary. Ideally, I’d like to do extended fasting, with my coffee+HC, for as long as possible to drop the weight. But I’m afraid it’s the long extended fasts that lowers my BMR. Any idea how to maintain my BMR on extended fasts? Perhaps 7 days of fasting, 1 day of feasting…something like that? Btw, the heavy cream and half and half have very little effect on my glucose and ketones. So I’m thinking it shouldn’t affect insulin either. I’ve been able to get my GKI super low multiple days in a row while still having coffee and cream. But I’ve often wondered how that really impacts autophagy.
That is probably what’s happening to me as well. In fact, I think there’s a study that supports that - BMR goes up for 3-4 days of a fast, then drops. My fasts go anywhere from a week to 3 weeks. It’s very hard for me to get started with it (lots of false starts over the years), but after the 3rd day or so, piece of cake. So I’d really like to figure out a plan where I can do my extended fasts, longer than 3 days, and go as long as possible before having to switch it up to save my BMR. I’d be thrilled if I could lose 25-30 lbs and actually lower my set point!
Oh wow, those are super long fasts! I’ve never gone longer than 11 days.
I’d love to read that study about BMR dropping after 3-4 days if you can find it again
Is 25-30 lbs how much you typically lose on your longer fasts? The number that gets thrown around is roughly 0.5 lb/day of actual fat loss, with the rest being transient changes due to water and food weight. 25-30 lb is a lot to lose!
I’ll look for the study…just came across it recently. Only one time did I lose 20-25 at one time, post pregnancy. So it really took me down to my “normal” weight, not my ideal weight. But I’ve lost 10-12 lbs pretty easily on different fasts, and yeah, it probably averages about half a pound a day after that initial water loss. Having just started a fast, I know if I stick with it, I can lose 10 lbs, which I really want to do given some events coming up. But then what do I do to not gain it back and to reset my BMR back to normal?
That’s great concerning ketosis abut I saw you have another thread about autophagy. Autophagy is driven by the absence of carbs and protein. This triggers something called mTOR that drives the recycling of damaged cells and unnecessary protein structures like loose skin and deflated fat cells and their protein matrix. So half and half and maybe to a lesser extent cream will interfere with that process.
I think your problem is that this isn’t a real extended fast any more than someone doing an egg fast is really fasting. This is just extended periods of extreme caloric restriction and the data is in that this leads to metabolic slowdown. On top of this after you do these periods of caloric restriction you are starting periods of poor eating. It’s a recipe for weight gain. Worse yet, it is probably making future weight loss harder and harder with every go around.
You’d be far better off with much shorter water fasts interrupted by frequent healthy refeeds, preferably ketogenic. One of the most popular fasting protocols at the IDM clinic is three 42 hour water fasts a week interrupted by 3 days of half day eating ( two meals) and a Sunday full eating day. People lose weight really fast on this diet.
Can you go 42 hrs without cream? My guess is that you could easily if you can do three weeks with nothing but cream.
@David_Stilley’s idea might also be a very good one as something to start with. Eat ketogenically for a few weeks at higher calories without fasting to get your body used the fact that there is no food scarcity.
This brings up another question I’ve always had. If the only thing I’m eating is fat (the heavy cream), then why would my body think I’m in starvation mode? And if I’m in full ketosis, then why would my body detect a difference of 500 calories of ketosis eating vs 1500 calories of ketosis eating? Ketones were 2.1 last night. Fwiw, heavy cream has 0 protein, and half and half has less than 1g per serving.
Thank you for sharing that IDM plan Illana, very gtk. Are people tracking calories on their eating days? If yes, how are they calculating how many they should be eating?
First, it’s not true. Heavy cream has a small amount of both protein and carbs. And at the quantities you say you are consuming these amounts are no longer trivial. The reason you think they have none is because the nutritional label can mark them as “0” if they are less than 1 gram per serving. But the serving size on cream is only one tablespoon.
Second what makes you think that three weeks of severe caloric restriction shouldn’t result in a metabolic slowdown as long as all those calories come from fat? What’s the rationale?
The same question applies. Why do you think being in ketosis is a preventative of metabolic slowdown from severe caloric restriction? Your body isn’t stupid. It knows how much food energy is coming in. All sorts of hormones are digestion related including insulin. If you are drinking very creamy coffee throughout the day then you are constantly at an insulin level that is elevated above a fasting level.
Here are the correct nutritional information for heavy cream and half and half to better allow you to see how many carbs and protein grams you are getting.
Heavy whipping cream:
Half and half:
No. They are supposed to eat two full satiating meals in the three six-hour feeding windows that occur between Monday and Saturday and eat up to three full meals on Sunday. The eating until fully satisfied is important. This is what prevents metabolic slowdown.
The reason I thought being in ketosis is preventative of a metabolic slow down is because the body is still getting plenty of energy from either stored fat, or eaten fat. If I eat little to no fat, then it still has ample supply. I remember reading there’s some cap on how much stored fat can be used as energy per day, but I think it was a rather high number. If I’m maxing out my stored fat energy expenditure, and I’m not eating enough, I can see how that would lower BMR. Now I’m wondering what that cap is for me, and if having a little more heavy cream or butter or MCT oil would help maintain my BMR. Probably it’s more complicated than that, but I really don’t understand what the difference is between eating 0g of fat, or 37g of fat for BMR. Fat is fat.
As far as the protein and carbs in heavy cream, 2.1g and 2.8g per day - isn’t that trivial? This amount does not knock me out of ketosis. I don’t think it affects my insulin because I do lose weight on my extended fasts. The question is how do maintain my BMR, or rather get it recovered after the fast as to avoid gaining back.
If this gets figured out, how to fast, maintain BMR, and keep the coffee, I’m writing an e-book
Except that there is loads of evidence that extended periods of extreme caloric restriction causes metabolic slowdown and none that this is ameliorated by either ketosis or getting most of those calories from fat. This is just guesswork that you are hanging you weight loss hopes on. There are dozens of people on this forum who have tried ketogenic extreme caloric restriction and found that their weight loss suffered as a result.
The fat that you eat causes an insulin response as do the protein and carbohydrates, the fat on your body does not. You’re not even close to in a fasted state at 500 calories from cream per day. This is just an extreme form of dieting.
Even if it was you said you were having more than that. At 475 calories, assuming half heavy cream and half half-and-half you are getting:
49 grams of fat
7.1 grams of carbs
5.1 grams of protein
This is food, it’s just very little food.
I can stay in ketosis and lose weight if I only eat a 500 calorie hamburger every day, I can even do it only eating a 250 calorie Mars bar every day. Being in ketosis and losing weight are not evidence that you are not slowing your metabolism through extended severe caloric restriction.
Thanks for sharing the article! Note that this also echoes the observation about calorie restriction dropping BMR:
“…they took a bunch of middle aged, totally healthy guys and over the course of 6 months studied how they responded to a diet that was 50% of their daily intake needs. […] Their metabolism decreased by 40% – something that stayed that way for about 8 weeks after normalizing the diet.”
Just in the middle of reading this one - “Resting metabolic rate of obese patients under very low calorie ketogenic diet”
@Brenda posted this new fasting protocol on the October Zornfast thread, I couldn’t figure out how to link directly to her post over there so I have copied it for posting here.
Hey guys, I want to share a new fasting protocol with you. Named after one of my IDM clients with his permission. It’s called, The Clark Protocol. It goes like this:
Feast 2 days
Fast 2 days
Feast two days
Fast 3 days
Feast 2 days
Fast 4 days
Feast 2 days
Fast 5 days.
On the feast days you eat two meals each day.
This is an excellent protocol to strengthen your fasting muscle and does not seem so ominous to newer fasters wanting to do more extended fasts. This entire protocol last 22 days, over three weeks!
It sound like a great fasting routine for any one who fasts, not just beginners and it should not slow your BMR down. Maybe Brenda will see this and comment further on it?
Also try doing just the heavy cream in your coffee, half and half adds more carbs than necessary to coffee.
And sorry I don’t by into the more carbs theory at all. It just makes most of us want to eat more carbs or makes us fall off the wagon totally. I personally think our cortisol levels are best controlled by stress management techniques.
All the best sorting out your issue.
Thanks for sharing the Clark Protocol. Cute how they named it after a client I’m with you on the carb thing…it’s a slippery slope for me once I start eating carbs. I learned recently on a podcast that they might play an important role in BMR though. No carbs, low insulin, low T3, lower BMR. I’m going to have to research this more because at one point in my life, I was borderline Hypothyroid. I just want to stick with my long fasts, which I know work, but I gotta figure out this BMR thing. I’m trying to figure out where I can get my RMR tested.
@hellokoko I would suggest re-examining why you are clinging to extended fasts as being a panacea for weight loss. I personally don’t feel like this is a wise strategy if your goal is long term improvements in metabolic health, with a downstream effect of fat loss. I personally cannot fast for longer than 24 hours, but have been keto/LCHF for almost 6 years and have seen a lot of varied results amongst people in this community doing extended fasting. Psychologically, longer fasts, especially when done repeatedly, can really mess with your relationship with eating. My guess is the reason you’re “eating terribly” between them is because your mind and body do not like the sensation that they are being deprived in some way. This is not something we can necessarily control. If you have a history of crash diets or restrictive diets, your body will be more sensitive to the perception that it’s being starved. Having gone through recovery from an eating disorder, i am very familiar with this feeling. I am lean and active yes, but after having dealt with anorexia, i will never force my body to do extended fasts. My suggestion would be to maybe try single day fasts a few days a week, and eating plenty of keto foods in between- maybe have one meal a day or two meals a day in a short eating window. I noticed you didn’t say anything about your activity levels. Adding in some strength training in the form of body weight exercises, or walking, swimming, or whatever mode of movement you enjoy will ensure you are building lean muscle tissue. This is very advantageous for your overall health but also for improving insulin sensitivity and keeping your BMR up. Even though you may be able to do extended fasts, it doesn’t mean you should. Longevity is key here- you want to find something you can sustain long term. And extended fasting is not going to possible forever. So maybe consider trying a different approach entirely. Because my guess is your body is fighting your attempts to do longer fasts!
My client Clark developed it, and then asked me if it was a healthy protocol. I assured him it is. I will be doing the Clark protocol after my conference in Houston. I will start on October 28.