It’s all the rage. And it works! Intermittent fasting has taken the nutrition world by storm. The idea is simple. If you restrict the number of hours that your body must deal with the tasks of digestion, then it will have more time to repair, replenish and heal many other parts of you body and brain. And by keeping insulin levels low for long spans of time it allows your body to access and use your stored body fat. And when that happens you can literally begin to shed extra pounds.
But it’s not easy. Most of us grew up with the idea that three meals per day was normal and healthy. Remember your grandmother told you that ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” Well Grandma was trying her best but maybe she was wrong.
All those calories, carbs and sugars are simply spiking your insulin levels and making weight loss much more difficult. Eliminating breakfast, it turns out, could be a critical key to weight loss.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet – What is it? And How does it Work?
So if you’re reading this article, you are probably looking for ways to make the intermittent fasting journey a bit more reasonable. And, as luck would have it, there are many others who have been looking for the same thing and developing ways to enjoy the benefits of intermittent fasting while avoiding or lessening the challenges.
Which brings us to the concept of the FASTING MIMICKING DIET. This is a low-calorie, low-protein, low-carbohydrate, high-fat, diet plan that tricks your body into thinking it is fasting so that it may enter a cellular protection and regeneration mode while still receiving all of the essential nutrients that it needs to thrive.
Like any trending diet concept, there are several companies who have created an industry around guiding you though the journey. And they all want to charge you big dollars and lock you into extensive meal plans. But you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to begin your own Fasting Mimicking Diet.
Your Fasting Mimicking Diet should last 5 days. And it should consist of the following;
- Low carbohydrates
- Zero or very little animal-derived proteins
- High micronutrient content (30-50% of recommended daily intake of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, with 50% of them coming from natural sources)
- Proteins from plant-based sources (lentils, chickpeas, nuts, quinoa)
- Carbohydrates ideally from complex carbohydrate plant sources
- Fats primarily from “healthy” oils (coconut oil, olive oil) and nuts (almonds, walnuts)
- Less than 30g of sugars on day 1, and less than 20g of sugars on days 2-5
There are many websites that provide recipes and do-it-yourself meal plans for the 5 days of the Fasting Mimicking Diet. I recommend this guy’s plan.
By starting with 4 simple hacks you can begin your own Fasting Mimicking Diet at home, in your own kitchen.
Which brings us to the first hack of the Fasting Mimicking Diet
HACK #1: Bulletproof Coffee
If you haven’t heard of bulletproof coffee then you’ve been missing out on one of the newest ways to get your body and brain off on the right foot each morning. Bulletproof coffee is not a brand (although one company has tried to jump on the bandwagon and trademark the name). Instead its a homemade concoction that’s a mixture of black coffee, butter and MCT oil. The secret of bulletproof coffee is that it gives your body the signal that you’ve eaten, and you won’t feel hungry for hours. And at the same time it will not spike your insulin levels or break your fast. If you subscribe to the 16:8 fasting method (16 fasting hours cycled by 8 non-fasting hours), then breakfast is probably a challenge. I personally stop eating by 8PM each evening and I don’t eat another thing until lunch. But I need my coffee every morning. The caffeine gets my brain working and allows me to have some of the most productive hours of my day. Bulletproof coffee is a game changer for me.
You can use any brand of coffee to make your own bulletproof coffee. But there is one that I think creates the most luscious blend. It’s called Boxcar House Blend #7. If you haven’t heard about the folks at Boxcar Coffee in Boulder, CO please check them out. They truly have some great blends.
Here’s my Bulletproof Coffee recipe:
Start by brewing a pot of great coffee and pour 4-6 cups into a blender.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter or 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed Ghee (for those who can’t tolerate dairy). Grass-fed butter or ghee is mandatory as you do not want to introduce any grains, gluten or soy to the mix. Regular butter or ghee will definitely break your fast and spike your insulin levels so please remember to use the grass fed variety.
Finally, add 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil. MCT oil is a supplement made from a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides. MCT molecules are smaller than long-chain triglycerides [LCT] found in most of the fats you eat. This makes them easier to digest. You can absorb MCT in your bloodstream quickly. This turns it into energy you can use. And it helps power-up your body and brain in the morning.
There are many types of MCT oils on the market and several of them are not very good. The best one that I’ve found and the one I highly recommend is called MCT Lean:
Once you’ve got the coffee, butter and MCT oil together, mix it all in your blender for 20-30 seconds and enjoy. It’s a nice creamy, rich way to start your morning.
Fast Bar is a plant-based protein bar invented by scientists at the University of Southern California (USC). After 20 years of research a group of scientists discovered a nutri-technology that nourishes the body while keeping it in a fasting mode. These bars are made from a proprietary blend of healthy fats from nuts that can nourish your body while keeping it in the fasting mode.
By incorporating Fast Bar into your routine you can have a delicious snack and still maintain a fasting mode. For many people these bars help to create a more rewarding intermittent fasting experience to support weight management goals and overall wellness. For me, they form the backbone of my Fasting Mimicking Diet.
HACK #3: Follow Your Rhythm
I know, I know. ‘Rhythm’? It sounds new-age. But bear with me.
Fasting is all about rhythm. And just like dancing, everyone has their own style. I’ve found my fasting rhythm in 2 core methods. First, I subscribe to the 16:8 method (known as the Leangains fasting method). This means that I only eat during an 8 hour window from noon to 8 PM (this encompasses lunch and dinner) and then I fast for 16 hours.
I eat my lunch around noon and I always eat lunch in moderation as I don’t want to fall asleep at my desk. I may have a Fast Bar around 3:30 PM to keep me going. Then I eat a very satisfying meal with my family around 6:30PM. I normally have one alcoholic beverage with dinner. Most of the time it’s a glass of red wine. At 8PM I totally shut things down. This means no bedtime snacks and no cheating.
After 8 PM I enter my fast. It’s easy when I’m sleeping then it gets a bit tougher in the morning as I’ve had to learn to live without breakfast. I’ve found that bulletproof coffee with the right MCT oil can get my day started without a meal. And then I hold on until noon. If I’m struggling I’ll have a Fast Bar around 10:30 AM. This is my food rhythm.
The second part of my fasting rhythm is much more nuanced. It comes with the way I now enjoy and savor my meals. By eating more deliberately and chewing more slowly, I’ve actually learned to enjoy my meals and it’s even helped me to relax and destress in a whole new way. When you are fasting, food takes on a new meaning and your eating pace and eating rhythm can play a huge role. If you begin an intermittent fasting journey I highly recommend you consider your own rhythm.
HACK #4: Know Your Food Sensitivities
The final hack I’ll mention is probably the most important one. Millions of Americans suffer from food sensitivities or food intolerances and most don’t even know they have an issue. Your inability to lose weight or your chronic malaise, indigestion, arthritis etc. could all be the result of food sensitivities. I’ve written an extensive blog piece about the issue of food intolerance and exactly what causes it.
A successful fasting diet will be much more effective if you can eliminate the foods that your body has trouble digesting. When your body isn’t trying to fight off a perceived pathogen it can focus on doing the business of healing, repairing and re-energizing. The easiest way to test for food intolerances is with an at-home test like Everlywell.
Everlywell is a simple blood stick test that you can administer at home in about 5 minutes. Simply mail it back to the company and they’ll give you a detailed report on over 95 different foods and how compatible they are with your digestive system.
Everlywell results are extremely robust they come with detailed reporting to help you understand exactly what you should try to eliminate. I found out that brewer’s yeast was something that was wrecking my gut. In cutting down on beer I’ve been able to calm my digestion and that has helped my fasting a great deal. Below are are some sample results from an Everlywell test: