Intermittent Fasting

I started experimenting with intermittent fasting about three weeks ago. Four or five days per week, I use the eight-hour window method, which for me means squeezing my meals into the period between noon and 8:00 PM. A few times I’ve forgotten to eat a snack at 8:00 PM, so the between-meal fast was extended by two or three hours. I’ve also been picking one day per week — Saturday or Sunday — to go without eating at all. As I noted in a couple of posts, it’s easier than I would’ve suspected. 

I ended up doing a 22-hour fast a couple of days ago without really intending to. Tom Monahan (the composer for Fat Head) and I are working on a music project together, and my old second-hand guitar isn’t up to snuff for recording. So in the early afternoon — after skipping breakfast, which I often do — I set out for Guitar Center in Nashville, planning to buy a particular acoustic/electric combo guitar, based on some positive reviews. I figured I’d be home an hour later.

The good news is that Guitar Center had that particular guitar in stock. The bad news is that when I played it, I wasn’t impressed with the sound. Rather than let budget-consciousness seduce me into buying one guitar that would serve as a mediocre acoustic and a mediocre electric, I accepted that I’d need to buy one of each.

So my one-hour shopping trip ended up lasting four hours, as I tried out several acoustics, then several electrics, narrowing down the choices until I was satisfied with the final two. That put me in rush-hour traffic on the way home. Rush hour in Nashville isn’t anything like rush hour in Los Angeles, but nonetheless it after 5:00 PM by the time I got home. My last meal had been at 7:00 PM the previous evening. It wasn’t exactly a total fast because I’d had coffee with cream in the morning, but still pretty close.  I was only aware of feeling truly hungry for the last hour.

I weighed 200 pounds when I began the intermittent fasting experiment. Yesterday at the gym (we don’t have a scale at home), I was at 194. I wouldn’t label that as rapid weight loss, but considering that I eat quite heartily during my non-fasting periods, I’m pleased.

Netflix

I just received word yesterday that thanks in part to the popularity of Fat Head on Hulu, our internet distributor was able to strike a deal with Netflix to offer the film in the Instant Play lineup. I’ll make an announcement when it’s actually available. A sincere thanks to all of you who helped Fat Head make a splash on Hulu.

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31 Responses to “Weekend Update: Intermittent Fasting, Netflix”
  1. Mary says:

    Do you have any links for sites with more information about the fasting?
    All my life I’ve eaten only from noon-8pm because eating in the morning makes me nauseous and put up with everyone telling me “Oh no, breakfast is the most important meal of the day…you must eat it.” I used to force down breakfast and deal with an upset tummy in the name of health so I’d love to research this more.

    The EatStopEat.com web site would be a good place to start.

  2. RobR says:

    Congratulations on both Tom :)

    Do you have any way of tracking how many views you have gotten on Hulu?

    None that I know of. The internet distributor tracks those numbers with great interest … it’s how they calculate royalties.

  3. Richard Tamesis, M.D. says:

    I had a similar experience during a recent trip to Hawaii to attend a meeting. I would go without eating breakfast and sometimes lunch too during the meeting except for coffee, and even though I would stuff myself at dinner with meat and fat during dinner, I lost 4 lbs after the week long meeting.

    You may have been the only attendee who left the meeting weighing less.

  4. John Clements says:

    I’ve gone without breakfast for almost a year and a half now, barring the off-day when breakfast of decent quality is on offer. Sometimes at the work cafeteria I eat eggs and meat (it’s the better deal for protein, lunch entrees tend to be carb-heavy) around 9-10 am (getting up at 5:30 am) and don’t eat again until dinner. I get to hear the “most important meal” spiel every other week from grain-eating folk. I once argued this, pretending to be a hunter-gatherer: “Whoops, no food this morning, looks like I won’t have the energy to hunt all day for some food. Looks like I’m dead. Or I can go gather berries off bushes that are close at hand. Out of season? Out of luck. End of this species.” I drink coffee with heavy cream every morning, and about once a week I go without breakfast or lunch. I think this helps a lot, keeping my pre-low-carb weight of 200-205 (5’11″) down to 185ish now, and along with a general low-carb diet, allows me to go off res and drink a few beers on the weekend or eat the odd pastry. Congrats on the netflix deal – I first watched Fat Head back when it was offered on disc, before it got pulled.

    The “most important meal of the day” nonsense about breakfast never made sense to me. Why eat if you’re not hungry?

  5. John Clements says:

    Oh, and what axes did you get? I play a strat mostly, with a Fender acoustic bought new in 1996 that sounds pretty good.

    Taylor acoustic, Fender strat.

  6. Auntie M says:

    Congrats!. I’ve bought something like four copies of Fat Head, and two I lent out haven’t come back yet. I still tell people to check Hulu. I can’t wait to recommend Netflix, too.

    I suppose people who borrow copies and don’t return them are doing me me a favor if it means you’re re-stocking. I of course appreciate having you as a customer.

  7. Char says:

    My husband loves his Taylor. And now he is dying to know which one you purchased.
    I enjoy your blog and your sense of humor. Great news on Netflix!

    There’s no name on it other than Taylor, but I believe the Guitar Center guy said it’s called a Taylor Baby … something like that. Much richer sound than the guitar I originally planned to buy.

  8. I have found that going low-carb, high-animal-fat paleo does indeed increase one’s ability to fast without becoming grumpy.

    The other day I fasted all day, and did a hard workout at about 4 PM, without becoming grumpy, irritable, or even thinking about food much. My mother swears she voluntarily eats one less meal a day now that she’s gone high-fat, low-carb, and mostly gluten-free.

    I suspect that a diet high in fatty red meats and low in carbohydrates trains the body to better extract energy from human fat, which is of similar composition to ruminant fat.

    Human body fat is quite close in composition to lard. I think the moral of the story is that we’re meant to eat bacon.

  9. Jo says:

    Wow – well done on the IF. I’ve heard lots of people have successfully lost weight doing it. I like to skip breakfast. I’ve been stalled for 10 months despite being very good on my low carb WOE (I enjoy it!) and doing IF, so I’m going to experiment with a few carb refeeds mixed in with IF. This is based on the theory that over time a low carb diet can lead to low levels of leptin in some people. This seems to be more common in women than men. Men tend to find low carb and IF very successful in terms of weight loss. Good for women too, but women seem to struggle more with it even when they have high adherence (or maybe because of?). Maybe the odd cheat is helpful, which would fit in with the intermittent nature of food availability in our hunter gatherer ancestors. Not every day though of course, and maybe not face down in a plate of donuts (to quote Dr Mike Eades)!

    I wish you continued success.

    Thank you. I don’t call my re-feeds by that term, but I have occasional whatever-I-want days, which probably serves the same purpose.

  10. Man, I can just imagine the great pre-owned guitars available in Nashville! Think of all the starry-eyed young pickers that come there seeking fame and fortune: so few make the cut.

    Yup, just like going to L.A. to become a movie star.

  11. Galina L. says:

    I can’t supply you with the links, but I hope you will trust me that I read about some occasions when people had higher then 100 mg/dl BG level while fasting (Peter the Hyperlipid, Dr. Eades while fasting and exercising). What are your thoughts about it? I yet to buy my own Glucosemeter, I tried some fasting 24 h recently in order to get more into ketosis (migraine management) and liked the result. I just don’t feel comfortable having BG levels higher than 85 if it is not short-time after meals.

    I’ve checked my BG while fasting and it’s usually 90-95. I guess that explains why I don’t feel foggy-brained.

  12. Mallory says:

    sounds like IF is working for you! i agree that the window makes life MUCH more productive, i get a lo more accomplished at work and have better energy and overall calmness and happiness!

    also, i like Jo’s point about the downregulation of hormones overtime…im not convinced ‘carb’ refeeds are where it’s at as much as breaking the repetitive cycle of fasting and taking days of eating-all-day type of thing just overall a lot of food, and haha that doesn’t mean face down to donuts either, maybe get out the paleo recipes are starting making some you’ve ‘been meaning to’ but never have

    I heard someone (can’t remember who) describe a diet where the daily intake varied quite a bit, but averaged 1800 per day. So it would be, say, 800 one day, 2500 another, then 1500, then 2400, etc. The idea was to avoid the slowdown in metabolism that can result from a low caloric intake day in and day out. Personally, I wouldn’t want to have to count calories like that, but apparently the diet worked.

  13. Hector says:

    I have been doing a IF for 24 hours and I have been losing muscle strength and tone. But at the same time i’m feeling much better and energetic. Its this good for the muscle? because even though I feel better I still don’t want to lose my hard earned muscle.

    The theory is that you will lose a bit of muscle during the fast, but then your body will produce extra human growth hormone to try to rebuild the lost muscle. That’s the idea behind working out towards the end of the fast.

  14. I have a lot of respect for IFing, and I have done it at times. What I don’t have respect for is some websites I have seen that say as long as you are eating in a five hour window each day, you can eat whatever garbage you want. Processed foods, sugar, flour, junk food.

    One site I saw was a blog by a lovely overweight lady who was doing this every day and had a list of all the garbage she was going to eat during her next window – Twinkies, ice cream, chocolate cake, etc. Not much real food on that list. But she was losing weight and she was ecstatic!

    Using IF in an unhealthy way = just sad!

    Good lord, what is she thinking?

  15. Clark says:

    I wish you the best in getting your documentary uploaded to Netflix. I believe it is important for a documentary like this to have more publicity. I’m glad that the fasting schedule is working for you. Sometimes, not eating for a whole day is good once you have to right hormonal programming set up.

  16. dennis says:

    Cant wait for it on netflix was just looking for it like 2 days ago.

    Website http://www.leangains.com as a bunch on IFing with out losing muscle. He isn’t quite a lowcarb kind a guy but has some other good info, He is more about show and helping people get lean with IF so has a lttle bit of more carbs on work out days which help with leptin to get off those last lbs of fat

    Thanks for the link.

  17. Amy Dungan says:

    Glad the IF is working so well! I’ve considered it, but I still have to cook for everyone else, 3 meals a day, so not sure how well I’d do. I may have to try it anyway and see.

    Awesome news about Netflix!!!

    That would make it considerably more difficult. I don’t have to cook meals and then walk away from them without eating.

  18. TonyNZ says:

    Go the Fender!

    My strat would be one of my most treasured material possessions.

    I recorded two strat tracks for a blues song this weekend, and compared to the cheap hand-me-down electric somebody gave me, it’s like night and day. Used the Taylor acoustic for another song as well … very nice sound.

  19. js290 says:

    re: low leptin… how low is too low?

    I have no idea. If anyone knows, chime in.

  20. David says:

    I switched some time ago from IF to alternate day caloric restriction. Every other day, I keep calories to 20% to 50% of “normal”. On the other days, I eat to satiety. Recent research indicates this effectively signals turns on the same genes and processes as IF, but unlike IF, I think it is more likely sustainable (for me at least) over the long term.

    I would suspect it works in a similar manner. By eating to satiety on the alternate days — as I do during my 8-hour window — you prevent your body from reacting as if there’s a chronic food shortage.

  21. Bullinachinashop says:

    Concerning Netflix, do you know if it would be available outside the US?

    I’m not sure, but my guess would be no. However, the company that worked out the deals with Hulu and Netflix will probably keep pushing the film into other markets over time.

  22. Jay says:

    Tom,

    Unless I misunderstood, 2 pounds a week starting at 200 pounds sounds pretty rapid to me!

    Short of sawing off body parts, I’d do almost anything to be able to maintain that rate, I really slowed down around the 200 mark.

    Well, I’m certainly not complaining, mind you.

  23. Congrats! I was so glad to see Fat Head on Hulu… finally convinced my husband to watch it, and you explain things much better than I could have! Excited for netflix too… maybe my brother will finally watch it.
    I’ve been doing IF for several months and noticed more weight loss also. As long as the rest of my diet is focused on good fats, proteins and veggies, I very rarely even notice that I’m fasting for at least 24 hours. Funny how this sparks so much outside comment (just like eating fat) from well-intentioned friends. The conventional idea of eating every few hours has gotten so prominent, that I have actually been told that I was slowing down my metabolism and going into starvation after not eating for 12 hours… funny.

    I fell for that one myself back in the day. Of course back then, I was really hungry if I went more than 4 or 5 hours between meals.

  24. Looking forward to the addition to NetFlix noticed it was not on the DVD list anymore (where I first watched it) and want to have a little refresher course.

    I’m not sure why it’s not available for rent anymore. I’ve emailed our distributor, but nothing has come of it.

  25. Ellen says:

    As most low carbers will tell you, the less carbs I eat, the less hungry I am, and IF just happens.

    I’m not really thinking about doing it on purpose. I got up this morning after only two small meals yesterday (total carbs 14 for the day), and was mildly surprised to not want breakfast. I just was not hungry at all.. and that is a great feeling, after so many years of eating a high carb diet. I used to feel hungry all the time.. I can’t even count how many times I said to myself “How can I be hungry?? I JUST ate!!” Arggh!

    Didn’t eat until 2pm today when I finally felt a hunger pain.

    That’s why I want to tear my hair out (what little is left) when people dismiss low-carb diets by pointing that people end up eating less, so that’s why they lose weight. They’re not asking the crucial question: WHY do people eat less when they cut the carbs? Obviously something in our use of fuel has changed.

  26. Yay! Now hopefully I can suggest it to my friends who don’t like to use hulu or don’t have access to it, but do have and use Netflix. :D Although, I highly doubt anyone on my fb friends list ever listen to me when it comes to nutrition, no matter how smart and talented they claim I am.

  27. Richard Tamesis, M.D. says:

    The answer as to why people on low carb diets eat less is because they are already eating up the fat stores in their bodies for fuel and therefore don’t have to eat as much if their bodies’ energy needs are already being provided for by their own fat cells.

    That’s why my fasts are turning out to be painless.

  28. Jo says:

    Sigh.. my problem is I used to get hungry on carbs, solved that going low carb, but after a year of successfully eating and losing weight on low carb (under 50g a day) I am getting hungry again, despite eating full meals. Does the low carb effect diminish? I’m hoping the carb ups with help me decrease appetite. I’m confused so any pointers from your readers would be most welcome. All the forum’s tell you to drop the carbs further but I’m not convinced. I like IF but I don’t lose weight doing it.

    I haven’t heard of the appetite-control aspect diminishing. If anyone has suggestions for what’s going on with Jo, chime in.

  29. MedPhyzz says:

    When I eat carbs I get ravenously hungry, shaky and dizzy and even get heart palpitations. I now eat anywhere between 10 to 50 grams of carbs a day and never have any shaky-with-hunger feelings. I think people who don’t have blood sugar problems refuse to believe that the problem exists.
    I recently read a magazine article about how we have ‘evolved’ to eat 3 meals a day and snacks, and if we don’t our metabolism will be ‘upset’… which is so stupid that I just had to blog it.
    http://medphyzz.blogspot.com/2011/01/nutritionist-nonsense-1.html
    I don’t start eating each day until I really need to and I’m now pretty much living on (almost carb-free) chocolate fudge cake… it is mega-satisfying!

    Love the heading, “Stupid Alert.” So we evolved to eat three meals per day? Man, the hunting must’ve been amazingly easy and reliable.

  30. Holly J. says:

    I only eat when I’m hungry. I don’t eat breakfast right away weekdays (wake up at 5am, eat around approximately 9). I also weight lift fasted on Saturdays. This wouldn’t work for me if I didn’t eat low carb (LC). I also wouldn’t have called it IF. I used to obsess about food if I didn’t eat. I’d also get hangry (angry hungry). My coworkers have given up on fixing my ideas about food and diets. Some have even commented that they’re jealous I eat ribs and chicken wings for lunch and still lose weight. HA!

    That storm that hit DC last week and caused mass chaos in our area, besides the damage and frustration – a lot of people couldn’t get dinner on time. Made the always “interesting” DC commute worse. The average time to get home was about 6 hours. People were getting dizzy, foraging in their cars, getting really angry, etc. Yeah, it was stressful but at least I wasn’t starving.

    I think IF works best as long as you’re getting good quality + amount of sleep. From what I understand it’s an extra added stress to your body if you’re not doing other things right. (I think the sleep thing is where I tend to fail.)

    I agree sleep is important. When I’m short on sleep, I’m hungry. Fortunately, since I work at home with no particular schedule, I sleep until my body decides it’s time to wake up.

  31. Sharon Santo says:

    First, congrats on your documentary….I loved it!!! I am in the middle of my weight loss (20lbs so far) and am really focused on eating eggs and any other type of meat. For the first time in my life I am eating real butter and whole milk (only stuff my husband has ever eaten) and it seems to do me well.

    That said, I was quite surprised by this post. I wanted to ask about how often I should be eating (as of right now I am eating something small every 3 hours fat/protein heavy meals with fruit in between for snacks) because I hear the “keep your metabolism going” argument. That has always seemed logical to me until I thought about the low insulin levels during sleep meaning more body fat loss during that time. Is that what the IF is about? Do you have links for the research? I am mixing cardio workouts and pilates to build up my strength so I don’t want it to affect my workouts. I would love to get some advice!

    From what I’ve read, intermittent fasting won’t slow your metabolism if you’re eating quality meals when you’re not fasting. I’ve lifted weights twice so far at the end of a 36-hour fast and was surprised that I was just as strong. Here are some placed to get started reading:

    http://www.leangains.com
    http://www.eatstopeat.com

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