This week’s column is the second installment of a two-part series. To reiterate from last week, I turned 50 on May 15. Stress eating during two moves in a year, combined with unhealthy eating habits I developed during the pandemic, made it seem as though I blinked and had gained 15 pounds. It became my goal to lose “The COVID 15” by the 15th for my birthday.
I don’t know what I thought I could achieve in a month. I know that 15 pounds was a lofty goal. But, I’m happy to say: I’ve lost an average of 2 pounds per week with a combination of keto and intermittent fasting.
It’s only been a little over six weeks since I’ve really gotten serious about resetting my weight to my pre-COVID self. I’m now only five pounds away from my goal. This former national pageant titleholder wasn’t about to NOT be fabulous when I turned 50, but all vanity aside: my main reason for losing weight was for my health. As a mother, wife, daughter, and friend, it’s important to me to be around to celebrate many more birthdays. I was recently in the emergency room with uncontrolled hypertension, and it scared me. It was time to reclaim my health. So, if you are struggling with the COVID 15 (or the COVID 30, in some cases), this week’s column is for you.
I’m not a weight loss expert, and I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice, just what I discovered from doing keto myself, combined with intermittent fasting. Please consult your doctor before beginning any weight loss plan.
I’m not pushing some expensive weight loss program. The reality is: you’ll save money on groceries doing what I’m talking about this week!
I’m losing weight doing the ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting (IF).
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and toward fat and ketones. In last week’s column, I detailed my eating plan and how I do keto.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It’s currently very popular in the health and fitness community. I’ll be talking about how I intermittently fast this week.
Hope claims I’m starving myself, so I’ve had to educate her on the benefits of intermittent fasting, so she doesn’t think I’m nuts.
Fasting, for some of us, is beneficial and brings discipline with eating. Fasting is mentioned several times in The Bible, and is discussed in sermons around this time of year, but what’s funny is most of us never even try to fast.
Whether it’s for religious reasons or health reasons, fasting is a beneficial practice, no matter what your motivation. My motivation to fast was to reduce cravings, stabilize my blood pressure, and lose weight. I generally fast from 6 p.m. until noon the next day (an 18:6 fasting schedule).
The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung details how to fast, and has been hailed as a lifesaving book for many who have struggled with Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and other health issues. The book is also available on Audible, and Dr. Fung also has a very helpful YouTube channel. I owe a debt of gratitude to this man for helping me to get my health back on track for life. At least Hope now understands why I’m not eating as frequently as I used to. She knows I don’t open my “eating window” until noon (or later). She’s actually started to try fasting, too, and waits until noon every day to eat her first meal.
What’s been very helpful is having a “fasting buddy” to do IF with! FGG is my fasting buddy, and he’s already lost more weight than I have. The last time I checked, he was down 13 pounds, while I’m down ten.
FGG has used the “Simple” intermittent fasting app to track his food and water and receive daily tips and inspo. He loves the app, and it’s made it easy for him to stay on IF. After stress eating through college finals, Bella is serious about getting on track with making healthier choices and starting to do IF with us, too!
Lots of people seem afraid to fast because they fear being hungry. I address that concern and others that may arise here, in this list compiled by Dr. Fung on “What to expect when you start fasting.”
- Headaches or dizziness can result from lower salt intake. Normally, these symptoms go away in the first two weeks of fasting. One thing you can do is increase your salt. Drink a cup of salt water or put a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt under your tongue. Bone broth also helps. When FGG and I went to Asheville for my 50th birthday earlier this month, we discovered an amazing restaurant called Bone and Broth. Bone broth has many health benefits, and this restaurant served freshly made broth as a regular part of the menu. We are now hooked! You can make your own bone broth at home. The health benefits are numerous. It is excellent for healing the gut, joint health, contributing to healthy nails, hair, and skin, and supporting detoxification. In other words: it’s liquid gold. You can buy it at the store, but it’s pretty expensive, and making your own is surprisingly easy. This bone broth recipe is super quick to prep, and then you just forget about it until it’s finished cooking.
Instant Pot Bone Broth [Recipe]
Created by Chartered Wellness
Bone broth is a nutrient goldmine and helpful for improving gut health, skin health, nails and hair, as well as supporting joint health.
It can be used as a base for soups or stews, cooking liquid for rice or grains, or as a replacement for water in most recipes.
Chicken bones (including 2-3 feet if desired for extra gelatin)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (helps pull minerals from the bones)
Optional: 1 sheet of kombu, a tasteless seaweed that adds extra nutrients + minerals to the broth). You can buy it on Amazon.
Set the crockpot on low and cook for 24 hours. This timing doesn’t have to be exact, so feel free to cook for a little longer or a little less time. You can also make broth on the stovetop or in a slow cooker (Pinterest has instructions).
In addition to drinking salt water, putting salt under your tongue, and drinking bone broth to relieve headaches and dizziness, you can also drink a little unsweetened pickle juice.
2. Change in bowel movements: This can be caused by reducing the amount of food intake. Constipation can be relieved with fiber. Diarrhea usually is a symptom when starting IF. It can be relieved with psyllium husk (drink dissolved in water).
3. Trouble sleeping: During fasting, your insulin levels go down, but your body doesn’t shut down, it actually ramps itself up. It gives you so much energy that a lot of people feel that they can’t sleep. I struggled with this the first two weeks of my fast. I was awake at 2:30-3 a.m.! I usually am in bed by 10-11 p.m., out of habit. The best advice I can give is: adjust your bedtime if you’re not tired, and wait until you’re tired before you go to bed. Try to relax before you go to bed. Take a soothing epsom salt bath and end your “screen time” when you get in bed for the night. Your body has access to all the energy in your fat stores because you’re fasting. If you get up earlier than usual, it’s okay. This is the reason why.
4. Heartburn: When people don’t eat, sometimes, the acid in their stomachs comes back up into the esophagus and causes burning, called acid reflux. As you’re losing weight, you may have issues with reflux until the weight comes off. What you can do to ease this as you lose weight is increasing the amount of acid you consume. Adding lemon juice to your water is one good way to do this. I take apple cider vinegar capsules daily. It also helps with fat burning! It sounds counterintuitive to add acid if you’re suffering with acid reflux, but the added acid helps the stomach contract and push things out the other way, rather than coming back up. You can also take over-the-counter antacids. In severe cases, you can talk to your doctor about a prescription.
5. Blood glucose. This is important if you’re taking medication for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. When you fast, your body is using glucose in the blood as a source of energy, so blood glucose levels tend to go down. If you’re taking medication to lower blood sugars on top of the fasting, then it may go too low. This could be a potentially dangerous situation. Be very aware. You need to talk to your doctor before you change your diet in any way, and that includes fasting. Counter regulatory hormones can also cause blood glucose levels to go up in certain individuals who are fasting. The body is using the glucose stored in the liver and pushing it out into the blood. Either way, this needs to be burned off for you to lose weight and get your blood sugar down.
Here are more tips for you if you’re just starting out with IF:
- Try a low carbohydrate diet. FGG and I adhere to a ketogenic diet, which I talked about last week.
- Stay on a consistent diet and don’t deviate.
- Fast consistently. This allows your body to get used to what you are doing. My schedule is generally a 18:6 fast every other day with a 20:4 fast twice a week.
- Hunger comes in waves, and it will pass. Ride out hunger waves. This is the number one problem that people worry about when fasting. Anticipate your hunger and keep busy! Drink sparkling water and listen to fasting podcasts or Dr. Fung’s YouTube videos when you get hungry, and it’ll keep you motivated! When I feel hungry, I think: this is a good thing because that means that the body is using my stored glucose. Keep your mind occupied! Feel free to reread this week’s column to distract you when you’re feeling hungry.
Fasting has improved so many areas of my life beyond weight loss. The unexpected benefits include increased energy and mental clarity, and sharpness. It’s boosted my metabolism, and I’m willing to exercise more. I have five more pounds to lose before I hit my targeted weight, but I’ll continue to do IF after losing that five pounds because it’s a lifestyle (I’ll just increase the amount I eat during my “eating window”).
Have you tried intermittent fasting? Share your tips and success stories with me on my Little Mrs. FGG social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, IG, and TikTok), and share your stories!
Sources: Dr. Jason Fung, Chartered Wellness.