Why you’re always hungry – Fasting 28

posted in: Fasting, Health and Nutrition | 74

How do you reign in hunger? We all think that eating more will prevent hunger, but is this really true? This is what is behind the advice to eat 6 or 7 times a day. If you can prevent hunger, then you may be able to make better food choices, or eat less. On the surface, it seems pretty reasonable. However, on the surface, the calories in calories out paradigm also seem pretty reasonable, too. Like fool’s gold, appearances can be deceiving, and we must dig deeper to appreciate the truth, otherwise we are the fools. So, let’s think about this a little more.

The advice to eat all the time to prevent hunger assumes that eating a little bit will stave off hunger. Is there any evidence this is true? That would be a big fat no. Somebody made it up, and it’s been repeated so many times that people assume it’s true. Mostly, it’s been promoted heavily by the snack food industry to make sure that people continue to buy their products.

Let’s take some analogous situations. Suppose you need to urinate. Which is easier?

  1. Just hold it until you find the right time/place.
  2. Pee just a tiny little amount and then stop yourself voluntarily. Do this repeatedly throughout the day.

You and I know full well that once that first bit of urine come out, there’s no stopping until it’s done. How about this situation? Suppose you are thirsty – which is easier?

  1. Keep water out of sight and wait to drink until you find the right time/place and can drink your fill.
  2. Drink a thimbleful of water and then voluntarily stop drinking while looking at the full glass of ice cold water. Do this repeatedly throughout the day.

Again, you and I both know that once you get that first sip, there’s no stopping until the glass is empty. in both these cases, it is easier to simply wait. Once you start something, it is easier to continue until satisfied (empty bladder, thirst sated, hunger sated). As with everything in life, there is a certain inertia (the tendency to keep doing what you are doing) to drinking, eating and urinating. It’s like my son. You can’t ever get him into the bath. Once he’s in, you can’t ever get him out of the bath. But this is normal behaviour. So why do we assume this does not apply to eating?

Some people would have you believe that eating a small amount will fill you up so that you can avoid eating so much. If this was true, what is the point of an appetizer? The hors d’oeuvre is literally served ‘outside the main meal’. For what purpose? So that we will spoil our dinner and cannot eat what the host has slaved over all day because we are full? Really? No. The whole point of an appetizer is that this is a small tasty morsel to make us eat more.

In French, this may also be called an amuse bouche – meaning literally ‘something that amuses the mouth’. Why? So that we will eat more. It’s not served to fill you up so that you can’t eat that expensive intricate meal prepared by the chef. Virtually all cultures have this tradition to whet the appetite, not dull it. So eating a small, less than satiating amount of food, makes us more hungry, not less. So, eating a tiny bit, enough to make us hungry, and then voluntarily stopping will take enormous willpower throughout the entire day. Not a good idea.

Now think about a time where you weren’t really all that hungry, but it was breakfast time anyways. So you start eating because people have always said it’s the most important meal of the day. To your surprise, as you start eating, you finished an entire meal relatively normally. Before you started eating, you could have easily skipped the meal and have been full. But once you started eating, you ate everything. Has this happened to you? It’s happened to me many, many times, mostly because I’m always aware of this fact.

Eating WHETS the appetite. Got it, McFly? We’ve known this for at least 150 years! Eating all the time so that you’ll eat less sounds really stupid, because it is really stupid. Don’t fall for it. If you hear a doctor or dietician giving you this advice, run far, far away, very very quickly. They will literally kill you with their idiotic advice.

How to stay hungry

So what’s another really great way to increase your hunger and sabotage your weight loss efforts? Calorie reduced diets, of course. The portion control, or Caloric Reduction as Primary (CRaP) strategy of weight loss always leaves you hungry. This is a proven fact.

In a well known study on obesity, researchers took subjects, had them lose 10% of their body weight, and then followed their hormone levels over the next year. Ghrelin (more about this next time) is known as the hunger hormone – higher levels means you are more hungry. Peptide YY is a satiety hormone – higher levels means your are more full.

 

After a year of maintaining their weight, there was a substantial difference in patients hormone levels. Ghrelin is much higher (more hungry). Peptide YY is much lower (more hungry). This translated into a measurable difference in hunger between the groups.

The weight loss group is measurable hungrier because their hormones are driving them to be hungrier. This is very important, because there is a tendency to play ‘blame the victim’. When people follow the CRaP advice and then regain their weight because they’re hungry, people think ‘oh, they have no will power’. THAT”S NOT THE CASE AT ALL.

They are hormonally driven to eat by hunger, so we should stop the silent accusations that people can control it. It’s not their fault. The problem is not with the people, the problem is the advice to eat smaller portions. It is a strategy guaranteed to fail. After all, hunger is one of the strongest basic survival instincts. Yes we can suppress it for a few days. But can we do it day after day, week after week, year after year?

People who have lost weight are physically, measurable hungrier than those that have not. You cannot solve this problem of long term weight loss until you understand how to curb hunger. What is the answer?

Well, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this only being the 28th post on fasting and all, the answer is fasting. There’s a certain logic here. If you eat all the time, you will get more hungry. If you eat less, you will get less hungry. How does that work? We’ll see next week….

74 Responses

  1. Thats why I started eating only twice a day. It Works and I’m not hungry. I do know that if I eat a piece of cheese or a handful of cashews a half hour before dinner I tend not to eat much at dinner. Might be a good strategy to keep from eating all your dinner. Incidentally, I have heard that SGLT2 inhibitors increase hunger (possibly from ghrelin increase?)

    • Well this class of meds induce glycosuria, and increased appetite is one of the symptoms of that. It’s not hard to imagine why, seeing that a portion of your meal is going down the toilet 🙂 This is all just craziness and demonstrates just how deep our insane fetish with blood sugar management has become, not that we needed any convincing 🙂

  2. Our body develops a certain rhythm towards eating, much like circadian rhythms govern our sleep. If one is accustomed to eating certain amounts at certain times of the day, our hormones will guide us toward maintaining these habits. The way to succeed is to look to disturb these rhythms if they lead us to overeating, which they so often do in our culture of engorgement.

    We can explain all this hormonally but that doesn’t really mean much to patients, and the way toward truth here is to actually try it. Sure, you will get hungry at first, but the body will adjust to this new rhythms, healthier ones.

    So if you were eating 5 or 6 times a day, with a little time and a little dedication, we find ourselves well adapted to eating much less often. Then our hormones get a chance to rest, and our bodies do as well in turn.

    Eating more though does whet our appetites, and especially snacking. We eat like hogs, and then we start looking like them.

    Obesity really is hormonally driven, but for the most part, we’re the ones at the controls. It is only when we use this power for good rather than for harm that we can start turning ourselves around.

    So this involves looking at both macronutrients, carbs in particular, the number of times we eat, and the sheer quantity of what is eaten. We’re part of a mass experiment to see how much they can fatten us up, it worked great on the livestock, the same technology is being turned on us, and it’s called overconsumption of carbohydrate.

    • sten bjorsell

      Yes, Ken! And pigs are best fattened on skim milk, low-fat or fat-free milk. The sugars (lactose) and growth promoting proteins are left, providing direct “hormonal advice” to eat often. The advice comes in 3 parts:

      1/ Natural growth hormones in milk to make offspring grow quicker
      2/ Lack of fat means hard to reach a lasting feeling of being full
      3/ More protein and carbs (sugar) and less fat raise blood sugar quicker than “natural fat milk”, resulting in higher insulin rise and following stronger blood sugar fall. Because neither we or the pigs are evolutionarily adapted to the new artificial “mix” in the low-fat stuff still being sold in huge quantities.

      Reduce the fat percentage and the swings increase, for same meal calorie intake: The low-fat diet sparks hunger through low blood sugar much earlier just by removing fat. Hunger persists “naturally” resulting in higher meal frequency. That is “the secret of the low-fat milk”, one that likely has kept many food company executives laughing all the way to the bank, time after time. A key driver of food sales and hormonal obesity, modelled on pig fattening. That breakfast is quoted to be the “most important meal of the day” is obvious: The earlier start of the roller coaster the better, for big food.

      • Hi Sten, got a question for you. What can you tell me about the effect of exercise on blood sugar levels. I had a test today where I had to fast from midnight until after the test. After the test I went to the gym. I did an hour of intense cardio and the machine says, given weight, I burned 700 cal. I got home showered and thought, for grins and chuckles I’d use my wife BG meter. it said 138. Standardly it is in the high 80’s to low 90’s. I tested it again maybe 90min later and it was down to 122, still hugely high off the 90 +/-. Any thoughts?
        Thanks,
        Walt

        • Hi Walt, I hope you don’t mind the interference. It’s the stress response making the liver dump glucose in your blood. The harder the workout, the higher the effect. I wouldn’t worry about it. I guess you might have noticed your blood sugar going up in the morning compared to, say, bedtime, or blood sugar going up after a coffee, it’s the same reason, but exercise seems to have the strongest effect. I think Jason has articles on Dawn Phenomenon or Cortisol. Cheers.

          • Thanks Monica. It’s not remotely related to Dawn Phenonenon or cortisol. I believe it’s related to severe insulin resistance or a clogging (technical term 🙂 pancreas. From the research I did it’s not enough insulin. So either I am not producing enough or I have worsening resistance to it. Normally after exercising bg drops, as the muscles require more. This was after 10-11 hrs of fasting.
            No, I don’t mind.

  3. I’ve had a lifelong battle with weight and always known that eating makes me hungry. I’m better when I fast but then lose control after 20 or so hours and give up on that day’s fast ‘until tomorrow’. And so it goes. If I could just get over the first few days and stay on a fast long-term it would be incredible. Even knowing all the bad things I’ve done to my body with a lifetime of over-consumption of sugar, and the way sugar feeds cancer and Alzheimers, but still my carb cravings are stronger than any reason and logic. It IS a stronger addiction than heroin, I’m quite sure, (although have never tried heroin). I dread getting on the scale in the mornings.

    • I was addicted, too, until 6 months ago! When I found Dr Fung I had just lost 25 lbs on “The Whole Thirty” (30 days to totally change one’s palate: the program rules are on line). Then segued right in to the LC/IF lifestyle (IF is easier after a month of LC, for fat-burning adaptation). Sandra, this sequence might help you, too! I borrowed the books at my public library … “Whole30,” GundryMD’s “Diet Evolution,” and then I found Dr Fung’s “Obesity Code” and “Fasting Guide.” I listen to free podcasts from “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show.” The archived ones too (especially Drs Fung, Noakes and Naiman among so many other favorites)! I am still dropping weight, slowly, which is good so my skin can keep pace? Have heart and good spirit: the becoming “woke” is so much fun!

    • Stephen T

      Sandra, if 20 hours is a struggle, perhaps being a bit less ambitious is sensible. Have you heard the saying, “The best is the enemy of the good”? I rarely go beyond 16 or 17 hours and find it pretty easy, but it would not have been possible without first going low carb and learning to control my appetite. I went low carb for health, not weight, reasons, so it may be easy for me to say, but weighing yourself daily seems like part of the problem. I don’t own any scales, although I did notice I’d lost ten pounds when I went low carb and then occasionally weighed myself at the gym. If you can eat a healthy, junk free, low-carb diet with some fasting, then you’re on the right road and you’ll get to the right place.

      Best wishes.

  4. Werner K Kujnisch

    I eat only once a day. I eat one pound of raw hamburger, 3 raw eggs and one stick of butter. Takes me about 5 minutes to eat and then I water fast for the remaining 24 hours. I’m never hungry and I have lots of energy throughout the day. I also lost 35 lbs since last fall.

    • Roger Bird

      You are an inspiration. I eat once a day, usually, but many more veggies. I’ll think seriously about your system.

      • I’m hoping Werner was joking 🙃. Nobody eats raw ground beef

        • Holy shoot…I just got this email yesterday I think. Lots of posters. Rats Doc, I thought after 27 posts about fasting we’d get to the topic of eating, maybe not 27 separates posts but…

          Serious question:
          Can fasting permanently normalize one’s adapted metabolism? Referring to pg 239 in OC, Protein preservation starts day 5, which produces adrenalin and HGH to boast metabolism. How is that maintained long term?

    • WOW let’s all cheer and clap and strive to be like you Jedi Master. This borders on disordered eating. I enjoyed Dr Fung when he first came into prominence but cannot continue to read the comments in this blog as it’s a contest to whoever fasts the longest. Now we’re adding raw meat and guts before we set off for next long fast.

      Many people with a dieting history are aware that greater weight gain is anecdotally observed after a period of fasting or dieting. People with a history of eating disorders, yo-you dieters and the like, if you fast be prepared to never return to ad-lib eating . Rapid wt gain after a may involve a pathological excess of GIP which seems to promote fat growth even in starvation.

      • You can have your opinion, like everyone else, but you might want to take your sarcasm to American/ Canadian Diabetes Association.

      • Disorder eating is losing control of hunger. This is more like the opposite of disorder eating.
        I usually read the comments and I sincerely do not see this alleged competition you speak of.
        Most of us go for IFs under 24 hours, sporadically (like, once a month or so) adding longer fasts (rarely above 5 days).

        As for the “greater weight gain” you speak of, I have seen it time and again with CRaP diets, because you are basically eroding your metabolic rate and raising your hunger hormones by CRaP dieting, so once you lift the foot from the feeding brake it’s stuffing your face more than ever vs having a basal metabolism slower than ever.

        With fasting, duh, not so much. Of course, after 3 days of not eating, refeeding means that:

        1.- your guts, previously empty of “feeding postproduce” (a.k.a. faecal matter in the making), will stop being empty
        2.- your glycogen stores, previously empty due to the extended fast, will recover and bring 2,7 g of water to the parety for every g of glycogen.

        So yes, a sporty person will regain, say, two pounds of ex-food, one pound of glycogen and almost three more of water after fasting, for a whopping 6 pounds in a couple of days, what a rebound, man…

        …except for the fact that this weight gain stops dead after the mentioned process…
        …and the very relevant fact that not a gram of fat has been gained in the rebound.
        ’cause, you know, dieting is all about fat loss, weight is just a (very bad) indicator.

        • Well put Carlos! Feel free to weigh in on my question to Sten (above). I started an indefinite fast. I am thinking I should go maybe 2 weeks. Since that weight loss I’ve always worried than perhaps I didn’t do what I thought I had, despite bringing a1c to 5.5 over a 9 month or more period, which is clearing out my pancreas. Ergo, a protracted fasting. Even Dr Taylor’s protocol takes 8 weeks of 600-700 calories.

    • Chris Hastings

      ROFL, troll alert! Don’t take this post seriously. It’s just some jackass trolling. If someone actually tried to eat that diet they’d certainly lose weight, since they’d never eat!

  5. Trevor Boardman

    I read somewhere that if you get a snack attack you are actually thirsty and the message has got changed to hunger in your brain. The advice was to drink a glass of water instead. I find this works a treat for me.

  6. Thanks. Once again, you have posted a clear explanation of my own experience with food and sustainable weight loss. First, before I discovered your invaluable blog and Megan’s online clinic, I lost enough weight by the CRaP method(Calorie Restriction as Primary and low fat) to reverse my type two diabetes then I sustained this weight loss by reducing carbohydrates from 300g to 100g daily, then I began intermittent fasting and finally I aimed for less than 50g carbohydrate a day. I now try to eat only one meal a day as often as I can, but habit and social situations often defeat that good intention. I don’t think that I am ever really hungry but the psychology of old habits makes me think I am. Fortunately I feel so well with an empty belly that I can keep fasting frequently and the desire for two or three meals a day is lessening.

  7. Buttercup

    Hello again, love the article!
    I’m still going strong with my fasting schedule and the knowledge about my eating habits is slowly spread in my work group. I was downright scared that people would figure it out and comment in a very negative manner about it (and maybe even go to my boss because of rumors concerning eating disorders). Over the last 6 months I began to talk about it just a tiny bit to see how people would react. Most of them are very skeptical but some are actually interested and keep asking questions. I was able to inspire 3 of my friends/coworkers. 2 of them were overweight and are now down to a healthy weight thanks to fasting and/or a ketogenic diet. They are very grateful that they can ask me for advice and talk about all of their experiences.
    Fasting and ketosis can be quite scary when everyone around you preaches at least 3 meals a day and to eat tons of carbs. I’m starting to get more comfy with my new lifestyle and some day I won’t act defensive about it anymore. I’d love to help more people but sadly I didn’t choose the right education to work in this field. But we’ll see what the future holds.

    I want to thank Dr. Fung very much for his blogs including all the references and all the commentators for their discussions and input.

  8. David Nyman

    I’ve generally eaten in the evening in a 3-4 hour window for about the last 20 years, together with a regular morning fasted exercise habit. I don’t feel the need to change this much even when hiking or skiing etc. all day. Would endorse pretty much everything in the blog on appetite control. Only thing is, in effect this did reduce my calorie intake from previous levels because I just can’t eat as much in this compressed time frame. So in my experience permanently reduced calorie intake is sustainable.

  9. Deborah Hart

    The French have an expression: “L’appetit vient en mangeant”, meaning the appetite comes while eating.

    • In Spain we have “Comer y rascar, todo es empezar”: eating and scratching, it’s all in starting.
      So every culture around the globe has known this since forever.

  10. Michael B

    I like what someone said on twitter about the advice to “Eat less, exercise more.” He said that it’s not a prescription for weight loss; it’s actually the result of a well-formulated diet – that on a good diet you eat less because you’re satisfied and you naturally are more physically active because you have more energy.

    • I love that reflection. It feels much truer than the original one.
      And it’s soo typical in every aspect of life, to reverse causes and consequences…
      It’s like the tribe shaman thinking that, because he dances in the rain, he can cause the rain by dancing.

  11. Thank you for this this great article! I’ve dieted in one way or another most of my adult life just to maintain a healthy weight. I’ve never been significantly overweight but now that I’m over 40, it’s getting harder and harder to stay slim. The old CRaP method and frequent meals certainly isn’t working anymore! I also became vegan 5 years ago. I’ve been trying to fast daily for 19 hours and eat only in a 5 hour window, but I find I’m still stuck at a weight that is about 15lbs heavier than I’d like. It’s hard to eat low carb and vegan, but I’m not giving up. If Dr. Fung or anyone could give some advice, that would be amazing! Oh and BTW, I took a fasting class here in BC led by a dietician who trained with Dr. Fung! It was great!

    • Stephen T

      Sarah, it would be a lot easier as a vegetarian, but you probably know that. There are no doubt searches you could do for more advice on vegan low carb. Getting the necessary fat would be my concern. I drink coconut oil twice a day and recommend it. Avocados and olive oil are other fats that you are likely to already use.

  12. Thanks for sharing all this valuable information, Dr. Fung. Everything you say (and write about in your books) is being proven true in my experience. The CRaP diet plan led to decades of yo-yo weight gain, guilt, shame, despair for me. Not eating is easier than eating small meals. I even find it easy to do grocery shopping while fasting, contrary to the advice to “never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach.” I experience more “hunger” in my brain than in my stomach on fast days, at typical meal times, for instance. In short, not eating = diminished appetite. Eating stimulates hunger. So easy!

    A friendly edit suggestion for your blog: reins are for guiding horses, reigns are for monarchs.

  13. I have been Keto adapted for over a year and have lost 15 #, I am able to fast for up to 36 hours, but 24 is much easier. I still find I am hungry all the time. I do run about 40 miles a week & go to hot yoga . How can I change this more fat when I eat, what about carb up day before running? Thank you. I have read both books.

    • The Intelligent Omnivore

      Stop running! 1. Bad for your joints. 2. Very bad for women’s metabolisms. 3. Makes you HUNGRY. 4. Running does not really deplete muscle glycogen the way a very slow, heavy weight workout would.

      • Running was great for me for many years- No joint problems, runner’s high = therapeutic, sweat cleared out my system…made me wholesomely hungry…be real!

    • Your statements seem to conflict with each other unless … theorizing here, your BMI is already extremely low?

      Hunger, beyond the first-ever few day fasts, isn’t a symptom of long term keto-adaptation. Neither is being hungry all the time. Hunger diminishes and is completely gone for most people after the second or third day (72 hours!) fast. Keto to me has been level energy and never being hungry _at__all_ even after a full week fast.

      Carb loading and keto are opposite ends of the spectrum; one effectively precludes the other.

      Adding fat to meals is as easy as making a sauce/gravy/dressing adding a fat – coconut oil, olive oil, bacon fat, butter, cheese – and a variety of seasonings.

  14. Dorothée

    In french we say “l’appétit vient en mangeant”; appetite comes when you eat…

  15. lass lass

    I delay not deny! I continue to enjoy eating WHOLE foods and live my life in accord with how it’s designed. Fast/Feed!

  16. What a perfect acronym, “CRaP”! Bad advice and full of “it”.
    Keep on being the best doctor that I know of, Dr. Jason Fung. Many thanks.

  17. Ron Hunter

    Here’s my rant about the calorie in – calorie out crowd. In their minds losing weight is all so simple. Anyone who doesn’t do it has poor self control. I try to give reassurance to people who are frustrated and think they must be a failure because they don’t seem to be able to do it. It’s just there are so many mindless calorie in – calorie out zombies. Aarg!!!

  18. Im lean, regularly work out, no medication or diagnosed medical problems.
    i eat once every 24 hours, ~2300 calorie feast.

    Would i go into starvation mode if one random day i eat only 1000 calories.
    Would my body lower metabolism to make up for the 1300 uneaten calories?
    Or would my fasting just make my body run out of glucose earlier and no starvation mode would occur?

    thanks.

    • The Intelligent Omnivore

      Boris,

      I have been doing a 48 hour fast a week, sometimes a 72+ fast per week and eating at or near maintenance other days. Once a week I carb load for 8 hours. This keeps my metabolism up for fat burning through the week. I am down from 225 to 198 and still going like clockwork. I eat LCHF the remaining time. If you look into fasting the metabolism rises between 24 and 72 hours fasted. Obviously, this may be temporary.

      • The Intelligent Omnivore

        Additional Info – exercise is optional and is not for weight loss.

        • Agree completely that exercise is nearly worthless for weight loss. A marathoner for example burns around 3,500 calories (one pound) during that 26 mile effort. He/she might’ve trained for around 250-350 miles prior to the event. Average weight loss over that time? Zero.

          Exercise-wise – the exception is that (weight-lifting curiously and in particular) has been found to be very effective for retaining lean muscle mass during parallel weight-loss efforts. A case of use it or lose it.

  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20807839

    A little off topic maybe but I saw this study and hope to find out if this holds true for us humans.

    • This is very concerning and would certainly question the gospel articulated here that a very LCHF diet cures all.

      This references an early study by J Shirley Sweeney http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/64869-elevated-blood-sugar-in-diabetics-is-due-to-excessive-gluconeogenesis/

      which found that eating a high fat diet caused elevated blood sugars while eating high carb did not in the short terms and it also discusses how this eventually led to the Rice Diet for diabetes and hypertension.

      I have no opinions one way or the other, I am simply concerned as to whether IF and LCHF will help or hurt me in terms of developing diabetes, heart problems or losing weight. The study referenced and the study mentioned above seems to directly contradict the message of this web site.

      • I think the comment should be “which found that eating a high fat diet WITH CARBS caused elevated blood sugars while eating high carb did not in the short terms and it also discusses how this eventually led to the Rice Diet for diabetes and hypertension.”

        In my own experience, eating a high fat diet WITHOUT CARBS causes sustained low blood sugar and healing of pre-diabetes in the long term.

    • Hi SA, which of their results do you find concerning? I did not understand a few things, but here is what I got:
      1. The increase in insulin resistance seems to me physiologic insulin resistance, which is a process of glucose sparing, is harmless, and totally reversible. In a nutshell, the body tissues that can use fat as energy say no to insulin, in order to leave the available glucose to the tissues that can’t due without it.
      2. The KD mice were getting their livers fattened up… there were no details about the kind of fat they fed those mice, but I suspect cheap omega 6 PUFAs. They will do that to the liver. So, KD is good, with saturated fats.
      3. A lot of info was missing; I didn’t understand why the KD mice were fatter and had higher percentage of body fat/ lower lean mass. There was no baseline data, so I assume that there were more obese mice in the experimental group. Hope that helps.

    • Hi SA,

      That study certainly does not mirror what many others have found. Here is one quote from that thread: ” these people were extremely sick and diabetic, their bodies were falling apart at an accelerated rate due to a lack of insulin.” For most of us in the modern, developed world with Type 2 Diabetes, it’s not “a lack of insulin” that is our problem. Definitely the opposite. (With Type 1 Diabetes, lack of insulin *is* the problem – the body is not making it, or not enough.)

      For most of us – our problem is insulin resistance, too much insulin in the blood, metabolic syndrome, high blood sugar. I don’t think most of us were “falling apart” at initial diagnosis or as blood sugar levels rose, as it’s common not to experience much in the way of symptoms other than gaining weight.

  20. Boris, I had a similar question.
    If I am eating a LCHF diet of say 1200 calories a day with one meal. Will the remaining calories be pulled from my body fat.
    I am a little confused since hearing about low calorie diet
    Thanks
    Patrick

    • Yes, as long as you have a low insulin level (are LC) the energy difference comes from body fat.

      If, instead, your insulin level was high, which prevents fat from being used as an energy source, your body has no other choice but to reduce your metabolism.

    • I agree with JohnM on this (Yes, however…). It’s the ‘however’ that will get you every time. You will know if you are pulling from fat if 1) you get keto stiks and they turn purple, and/or 2) if your feet and hands get cold, esp at night, then no your body isn’t switching to fat burning mode. Where John is questionably wrong is his “no other choice”. The ‘other choice’ is to, starting at the extremities, reduce blood flow, thereby preserving energy. What you don’t want is your vision to start going and mind to go ‘kind of off’ or ‘fuzzy’ or ‘not as sharp as normal’.

      • Thank you for the information Walt. I will avoid going fuzzy…except when listening to boring people. lol

      • A little confused Walt.

        “You will know if you are pulling from fat if 1) you get keto stiks and they turn purple, and/or 2) if your feet and hands get cold, esp at night, then no your body isn’t switching to fat burning mode.”

        So if the Keto stick turns purple I AM OR AM NOT burning fat?

        If I am colder than usual does that mean I am not burning fat?

        • Lori, they reflect two different things. The keto stick measures ketones in the blood. Cold appendages signifies the body lowering metabolism. The first time I did an extended water fast, my feet were always cold, mostly at night (wool socks) but the rest of me was fine. I think I’ve been water fasting for a week now and at night my feet intermittently are slightly cool, not freezing and then become toasty warm. I could and should have been clearer. sry for confusion. When you feet stay toasty warm that means your body has completely adjusted to extended fasting state. In Obesity Code, pg 239 at the bottom, the 5th phase is called protein retention and it’s when you body produces HGH and Adrenalin in order to raise your metabolism. From research I’ve done that actually happens before day 5. But the key is your body has to be able to access the fat, which is Fung’s two container model.

      • seebrina

        Walt, I think daily relax tea should fix alot of what ails you.

    • Full disclosure though, I lost over 100lbs by reducing my caloric intake by 1,000/day and going to the gym burning off ~600cal/day. For the most part, yes I lost at a rate of about 3lbs/week +/-. I did hit plateaus and just had to work through them. Get MFP or Lose-It to track your caloric intake and adjust your caloric floor accordingly. Note, however, for a guy 1500 cal/day (or 1200 for a woman) is the recommended floor. When I first discovered the Fung You Tube vids I cut simple carbs. Now I am taking around 1200/day eating only dinner and not losing a lb. You can get the book, Atkins Revolution and do the Induction Phase for as long as it takes. Drink LOTS of water as you’ll be fighting constipation otherwise. Every diet works, “every diet fails, including fasting”, quote of Dr Fung himself.

  21. I have always joked that I didn’t have a stop button once I started to eat and that is why I always skipped breakfast. If I ate in the morning my appetite would just increase as the day progressed. By evening I would be gnawing on the kitchen sink. People though I was crazy or making this up. So glad to know there is actual science that backs up my experience.

  22. I am very grateful for this blog and Dr. Fung’s work. It makes sense to me – the explanations of what actually happens inside our bodies, the advantages of fasting and low-carbohydrate diets, that dietary diseases are best treated by alterations in the diet, rather than with drugs, the folly of much commonly-accepted information, etc. I am determined to find out for myself, having been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes three days ago.

    I’ve been developing insulin resistance for decades, I am sure, along with gradually becoming impaired in glucose tolerance. My dietary sins have been enormous – there was a time when I’d eat 2 extra-large pizzas in an evening, and even going through my 50s I was still good for one whole one at a sitting. The pies, the cakes, 80 saltine crackers in a big bowl of soup… I figure 2 extra-large pizzas are good for 700 – 800 grams of carbohydrates – whew. So, here I am at age 58, after having consumed like an adolescent for 45+ years, and having gained 150 lbs. while doing the same job.

    Cheers, everybody – we’ll see how this goes.

  23. Eating all the time is the exact same advice given to bodybuilding aspirees who can’t gain weight. Kinda crazy right that it’s weight loss advice?

    That’s the amazing thing about fasting is it just gets easier. Around 60 days of cumulative fasting I noticed that my appetite has started to crash. I could eat 6 chargrilled oysters and be full.

    On interesting thing is that I can be kinda full but if I eat an insulinogenic food I can be hungry again and eat some more. Insulin interferes with leptin signaling. Then I can wake up the next day and be full for several days.

    It’s all obviously with me a hormonal cycle. I struggled for years and made myself sick with the standard advice. It’s not just hunger, regular dieting interferes with energy/thyroid and makes you sick. People/nutritionists just don’t care about the suffering of others as much as they do about being right and feeling that bliss of self-righteous judgementalness.

    One of the major problems with fasting is it’s so easy you want to strangle people for telling you not to do it.

    • David, I quite agree. It’s a contentious topic, and many people have a good bit of their ego invested – there are often violent disagreements, with people being in different camps depending on which “guru” they are currently following, etc.

      While fasting and low-carbohydrate diets may not be for everybody, the theory of what happens when you fast – no load on the body from having to engage in digestion, the chance for the body to rest, detoxify, get rid of damaged and unneeded cells, attain lower levels of blood sugar and insulin – makes a huge amount of sense to me. For those of us who are overweight and impaired in our glucose tolerance/have Type 2 diabetes/have metabolic syndrome problems in general, it’s hard for me to see a better thing to do, or at least to try.

  24. If you say, “I’m just going to stop eating.” Most people would think you are crazy, but it is true. Stop eating and you will lose weight. Reduce the quantity of food you eat but continue to eat and you are basically torturing yourself and setting yourself up for failure. I’ve been IF 20 plus hours most days now for 32 days and cut all sugar out 29 of those days and I’ve lost weight without really “going hungry”. Try to explain this to your friends and they are like, “yea, if you don’t eat you will lose weight”. Most people hear so much about how to lose weight they it seems they are desensitized to advice. I’ve tried to tell people that are fat that I know and I get responses like, “yea, when I get in a groove I can get exercise in and eat right and lose weight.” I may as well have been talking to a wall.

  25. Susan Koble

    Found out recently I have T2D. I couldn’t get an appointment with my doctor for about a month, so I started searching for dietary fixes. Found Whole30, did 30 days of that with great success, then someone mentioned Dr. Fung’s “The Obesity Code” in a Whole30 Facebook post. Read that, read “Guide to Fasting” and decided to try a 24 hour fast. Well, it’s day 3 now, and I’m going to go for 7. It’s surprising how hungry I’m not. I actually put off my doctor appointment for another month because I want to get a good HgbA1C. It was 6.5 when I started. We’ll see how it goes.

    • Stephen T

      Well done, Susan. That month’s delay has been a huge help. Have you seen Dr Sarah Hallberg’s Tedx talk on Youtube? Or Professor Wendy Pogozelski’s?

      Let us know how you go on.

      Best wishes.

    • Welcome to the diabetes reversal club. I’ll wager you’re going to have a very pleasant surprise when next you check your A1C if you keep up what you’ve been doing.

    • Susan, maybe once a week check your blood sugar. Your insurance will pay for meter and doctor can prescribe test strips. If you had an A1C, that represents a 3 month avg. So rather than getting anal about pricking your finger, eliminate simple carbs, do IF and test once a week after 10hrs of nothing. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.

    • Susan, first, absolutely watch this, https://campus.recap.ncl.ac.uk/Panopto/Pages/Embed.aspx?id=c3bef819-e5f4-4a55-876f-0a23436988ed

      Dr Roy Taylor is the guy credited with proving T2D, if caught early enough, can be reversed. It is an 8 week trial protocol he used over multiple trials. I did not follow it but rather did a My Fitness Pal approach as at the time I was unaware of either Dr Taylor or Dr Fung. So you have an advantage.

      Another point I should make. Back in the day when “Fat Sick, and Almost Dead” (juicing) was a thing there was a forum for it, much like this one. There was a woman saying her doctor, when told of what she was doing, told her to absolutely stop juicing and stop it immediately. The people on the forum urged her to ignore her doctor and ‘do what your body tells you is right’. Word to the wise, do NOT ignore your doctor. He knows your medical history, not the people on this forum. As I said, I, out of ignorance to alternatives, did a simple MFP “I want to lose 2lbs per week” diet. It worked. I’ll say it again, it WORKED. In OC Fung poo poo’d it, he is selling fasting. Maybe it truly is the best thing since sliced bread but OC and Complete Guide are selling fasting. Yet he does freely admit, all diets work and all diets fail. Regardless how you accomplish it, your goal is to get you fasting blood glucose to be consistently in the 80’s. if not lower.

      Watch the video by Dr Taylor.

  26. Insulin drives hunger, that’s what it comes down to. There have been numerous studies where rats were directly fed insulin and they encountered uncontrollable hunger.

    The more you eat (the insulin driving food), the hunger you get overall.

    But I think this is exactly how nature intended it. We weren’t built to sit in comfy warm houses with stockpiles of food in the fridge, we were built for survival out in the tundra (probably under minimal coverage), and needing some means to survive winter. Insert fruits vast availability in summer and fall (and it’s sweet taste making someone gorge on it). Combine that with wanting to eat more and more and more, and we have ourselves 1 fattened up individual ready for winter.

    Insulin working as intended; driving hunger for survival.

  27. if hands and feet are cold and keto stix in purple what does it mean?? and what are we doing wrong? some direction needed…is fasting not for everyone???

    • Joyce, is this your first fast, of any length?
      I had that same issue the first time. I think it has to do with residual insulin resistance, so yes fat is being burned but you body has still slowed down it’s metabolism. If you have Obesity Code, look at towards bottom of pg 239.
      For instance, for me, this fast, almost a week now, my feet and hands might get mildly cool intermittently but, by and large, toasty warm. Oh, and I am dropping like a rock.

  28. I have had a nagging disbelief in Fung’s explanation of why CICO doesn’t work. I get the 2 compartment analogy but that presupposes a broken insulin sensitivity. Pg 36 of OC, he describes the Minnesota Starvation experiment. Thirty-six young men, since we’re not given their age, let’s say 25, we fed a 3,200 calorie diet for 3 months. That given a 20% increase for activity would be 1200/day higher than Mifflin St Jeor would predict. Then, for 6 months cut that in half.
    As mentioned about I kinda sorta did this for about a year and was never cold and while I did experience plateaus I was able to adjust and/or work through them. However comparing that to long term water fasting, say 7 days or 14 days, isn’t that a far more severe reduction in calories/day, like 3200 to 0. I am setting something up so bear with me.
    All that I described above and a little bit here was done before crossing paths with Dr Fung’s webinars or books. In fact I think I actually preordered OC. Here’s where I am going. So right now I either eat nothing per day or a salad w/dressing that is around 200 cals. If I go to the gym, as I did over the last year and walk 21mi/wk at a rate of 3.6 mph the machine tells me it burns 700 cal/hour. If my body requires, say, 2300 cal/day according to Mifflin St Jeor if it’s a no food day doesn’t that represent a deficit of 3000 cal/day (2300+700) that MUST be made up, if my metabolism is functioning, by ketosis? If it is a fed day isn’t there still a 2800cal/day deficit that must be made up?
    For the purposes of fasting, isn’t the presence of absence of a 200 cal salad (oil dressing being the bulk of the cals) irrelevant? It doesn’t provide, that I can see, excess glucose as even a instantaneous infusion of 200 calories worth of glucose would be consumed in just about 2 hrs by subtracting out the fiber. I do take weekends off from the gym so that adds back 700 (or 350 if I do only 30mins) for 2 days /wk but I would still be running a, what I would think, starvation mode diet by consuming at most 200cal/day but still expending maybe 2000 cals/day. Generally speaking at night my feet are intermittently either a tad cool or perfectly comfortable and in the morning they are perfectly comfortable.

    Can anyone come up with a functional difference between what I described and and a full on water fast? In fact, wouldn’t the 200 cal be consumed just by virtue of digesting the salad? I guess I specifically would appreciate the thoughts from those having done both a full on water fast as well as a 2-5 fast.

  29. I get the part about whetting one’s appetite with a little food. Yes (eat)/No (fast) is a psychologically easier choice than having just a little bit of food. It is hard to have just one potato chip when a whole bag is lying there open.

    But the second half of the post seems incomplete: people who have lost weight have elevated levels of ghreliin. But it doesn’t say anything about how the weight loss was accomplished. So my default assumption would be that if I lost weight by any means, including intermittent fasting, my ghrelin levels will be elevated, because I’ve lost weight. Without evidence that intermittent fasting produces lower elevation of ghrelin levels for the same level of weight loss, there is nothing to suggest that IF is hormonally superior for maintaining weight loss. The only thing I can conclude from the second half of the post is that maintaining weight loss is very difficult due to hunger.

  30. You know something I have noticed?

    I am approx. 220lbs (and quite short so it doesn’t carry well). If I fast, I feel great once I surpass the hunger pangs and those moments of cravings.

    BUT the moment I eat? I just wanna eat eat eat eat. It’s not even hunger; a very small amount of food will satisfy me, but it’s like eating sparks the addictive behaviour or something. Fasting has helped me control my binges so well.

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