Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Experiment #1: Fat Fast

When books have been written about a subject, it's kind of hard to condense it into a blog post but I'll see if I can do it without writing my own novel and boring you to tears. Where to even start?!
Let me get one thing out of the way from the start.
Disclaimer: What works for me may not work for you. Not only are we all different but trying something like this can be downright dangerous if you are taking medicine especially diabetic or blood pressure medication. Your glucose levels will probably drop dramatically. So if this looks like something you want to do, check with your doctor FIRST. Please! I don't want you dead. Again, these are my own experiences and your mileage may vary.

Did you read it? I'm serious. Insulin and blood pressure and all of that stuff is nothing to play with. Work with your doctor. I'm giving that advice but I seem to work against my doctor. He tells me to take a pill and I say no. He tells me to eat a certain way and I say no (but I'm doing it now. Don't tell him he's right. He loves that.).

What is a Fat Fast?
A fat fast is a mini diet in which calories are severely restricted to 1000 calories and most of the calories, preferably 90% or very close to it, come from fat. It is not a long term way of eating. It's short term and used to break through a plateau or help those with metabolic resistance to weight loss. Dr. Robert Atkins recommended it to some of his patients and it is mentioned in his books.

What's the goal?
The goal is to quickly dive into a state called ketosis. Sounds scary, right? If you know about diabetes, you know ketoacidosis is dangerous. This is not ketoacidosis.

When you severely restrict carbohydrates (it varies from person to person but usually 50g or less per day), your body has to become fat adapted. In other words, if it's not running off glucose it has to run off fat. So all day long your burning fat! A by-product of fat burning is called ketone bodies. There is a transition time as the body learns to burn ketones as its primary fuel, including the brain.

A glucose dependant body has around 2000 calories in its fuel tank to burn before bonking but it will send a signal to you way earlier that you need more fuel. In other words, you're going to get hungry for more carbs.

A fat adapted body has over 40,000 calories in its fuel tank. And ketone bodies are profoundly appetite suppressing.

So the goal is ketosis, breaking through plateaus, and helping those with metabolic issues that prevent weight loss.

It takes 2-4 weeks to become fat adapted though. It's a process.

I think I was becoming fat adapted at the end of the Whole30 but I can't be sure as I did not test for it but had the symptoms. That's another post though.

Well, sure. Anyone will lose weight on a calorie restricted diet! What's the big deal?
A calorie is a calories is a calorie? Not exactly.In 1956, Dr. Gaston Pawan and Prof. Alan Kekwick published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet about a study they performed.

They put obese people on low calorie, balanced diets of 2000, 1500, 1000, or 500 calories per day. Each patient stayed on his version for 7-9 days. The person who ate the fewest calories lost the most weight. Surprise!

Next, they put obese subjects on one of four diets, all with the same calorie content but where they got their calories was different: 1000 calories on a balanced diet, 1000 calories with 90% from carbohydrate, 1000 calories with 90% from protein, and 1000 calories with 90% from fat. If a calorie is a calorie then they should have lost about the same amount of weight.

Well, they didn't! The high carb diet actually gained weight. Gained on 1000 calories per day. The ones on the balanced diet lost some weight. The ones on the protein diet lost a little more. But the ones on the fat diet lost the most weight.

Another study in the 1960s had Dr Frederick Benoit put seven obese men on a total fast for seven days. No food at all. Yikes! They lost about 21 pounds each but 14 of those pounds was lean mass. Not good.

Then Benoit put the same people on 1000 calories per day with 90% of that coming from fat. They lost a little less weight, about 14 pounds in 10 days, but only .5 pounds was from lean body mass. They lost nearly twice as much fat and were able to preserve their muscle. That's a big deal.

But isn't it dangerous? Won't fat kill me?
Nope and nope. Typically an American eats 45% of his calories in fat if you're having around 2000 calories per day. So you'd really just be cutting back on other things.

This is eating healthy fats. Avoid polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oil, soy oil, safflower oil, and all trans fats. Monounsaturated is cool. Think olive oil and avocados.

Saturated fats have gotten a bad rap too. The whole "saturated fats causes heart disease" hypothesis has been largely discredited. Even according to the World Health Organization, "SFA intake was not significantly associated with CHD (coronary heart disease) events. There have been other journal publications basically saying the same thing but I won't bore you with each and every one.

Can I do this until I've lost all of my extra weight?
Nope. Not a good idea. For one thing, who wants to live off 1000 calories per day? Second and most important, there just isn't enough protein for long term. It's a short term thing. A fast.

Isn't ketosis dangerous?
Yes and no. Yes, if you have Type 1 diabetes. You don't want ketoacidosis which is extreme and uncontrolled ketosis. In healthy people, this normally doesn't occur. This doesn't happen simply from carbohydrate restriction. If you have a functioning pancreas, you can't go into ketoacidosis. If you are making more ketones than your body likes, it will convert a little protein to glucose, release a little insulin, and bring ketone levels down.

If you are a diabetic, check with your doctor first. I'm not a doctor. I have passed out and hit my head on a sink when blood was drawn before. I have no desire to be a doctor. Just want to fix myself.

Are there any benefits to nutritional ketosis?
See what I did there? I called it nutritional ketosis to differentiate it from ketoacidosis.

There have been several benefits discovered.
  • protects muscle mass during weight loss
  • provides an almost unlimited source of energy to muscles so there have been some ultra marathoners and triathletes who have switched to a ketogenic diet so they don't bonk.
  • appetite suppressing
  • has long been used to treat epilepsy
  • showing promise for treating cancer since cancer is glucose dependant
  • showing promise in treating Alzheimer's
  • despite years of warning of kidney damage, recent studies are showing a ketogenic diet reversing diabetic kidney damage.
  • increased energy and mental clarity. Some people report a euphoric feeling
  • consistent weight loss because the body is burning fat all day
What do you do on this fat fast?
Here's the nitty gritty: I eat 1000 calories per day, give or take. I try to get 90% of my calories from fat which isn't as easy as you'd think unless you want to go Paula Deen and belly up to a stick of butter. I eat 5 small meals per day at around 200-250 calories each. I supplement with magnesium because a lot of sodium is lost during the adaptation period which means electrolytes can get out of whack. That can cause some nasty headaches. Some people add extra salt to their food or drink a couple of cups of broth. I just take some Endurolytes capsules, which can be found at running stores, and be done with it.

That's about it.

What can I expect? How will I feel?
Day 1 isn't the most pleasant thing but it's not the end of the world. I felt a bit hungry and very sleepy. Mentally I wasn't quite there. No headache though.

Day 2 I still had the mental fog, still a little sleepy. Hunger wasn't too bad but I sure was ready for dinner!

Day 3 I was happy go lucky! Bouncing off the walls. It was such a dramatic shift. Mental clarity was better but I wouldn't say I'm 100% yet. Was so happy too. Hunger wasn't a problem.

Today is day 4.

Weight loss:
Ah, the good stuff!
In 3 days I've lost 3.8 pounds. Poof! Like that. I'm only doing this for 5 days though.

What do you eat?
I downloaded a little ebook called Fat Fast Cookbook. It's only $4.99. It outlines everything you need to know and has several recipes and tips.
Here are my meals for the past 3 days with all recipes available in the cookbook:

A camera shy iced vanilla coffee

"Yogurt" parfait
 Shirataki noodle mac n cheese (yum!)
 Romaine salad with a boiled egg
 1 oz macadamia nuts
 1 oz of sausage and egg
 Spinach salad with bacon
 Pepperoni chips with whipped cream cheese
 Curried Cream of Chicken soup
 1 oz macadamia nuts
 Sweet and tangy macaroni salad (yum!)
 1 oz macadamia nuts
 fettuccine with pesto (yum!!)
 Hmmm.....I seem to have lost a couple of pictures. But you get the idea.

It really hasn't been difficult. I still make dinner for my family and I eat my stuff with them at the table. That being said, I can't wait to break into this bad boy! Jalapenos and bacon? Yes, please!!
Fasting Glucose:
Sunday 105 (the day after having some beers and boudin and crawfish with Chuck.)

Monday: 93

Tuesday: 77

Wednesday: 80

I would measure my blood ketone levels but the strips are crazy expensive for the meter ($4-6 each in the US) but I found a place in Canada called Universal Drugstore where I can get them for $2 each. I have an order in for 20 but just waiting for them to arrive. I'll report back on that when I can actually do a test.

This experiment has been interesting and like all of the other experiments, I learn a lot. Experiment #2 begins on Friday.

I just want to say again, every body is different. I'm doing this to see how my body does. You have to find out what works for you. I am in no way saying that what I do is right or wrong. Just what happens to my body when I do these things. You shouldn't expect the very same thing to happen to you.

There are many highways to Washington DC. I may need to take a different route than you to get there. We don't all use the same road. Likewise, we don't all use the same path towards health and weight loss. Many time I was heading south when I should have been heading north. I'm closer to getting on the right path than I was years ago but I certainly don't have it all figured out. Yet. ;)

Have a wonderful Wednesday and happy travels on your path to health.


  1. I'm proud of you.
    The research and development that you are willing to do in order to find what is right is incredible. And to make it even better, you share your results in a no nonsense format.

    Well done.

    1. Thank you!! And I appreciate your support in all of my little tangents. Lol Lets face it, my little experiments are not always cheap. So thanks for not giving me hell about it. :)

      And you are doing well in it too! Losing weight and doing great.

  2. Interesting post Kelly! I do like your disclaimer though - I can't tell you how many emails I get from readers telling me I eat too many carbs for an insulin dependent diabetic, that I shouldn't eat this, or that.

    It took me probably a YEAR to figure out the insulin to carb ratio, and even then its complicated when you throw in exercise.

    Hope this works for you! :D

    1. I used to think there was a unified theory if weight loss that was right for everyone. But it's just not true. Glad you have found what works for you too!

      I drool over your food. Cheeses and hot stuff. I still think we're related somehow. Lol

  3. Although I don't know if it is gonna work...but I do appreciate you are so open-minded to try a new diet plan! I like your blog :)


I love comments. Tell me what's on your mind. :)