After talking with a new friend yesterday, and getting a lot of questions about how he should start fasting, I decided to write a series of a few articles about how I got started with fasting. The protocols that I followed. The things I did.
Let me start out by saying, I am not a doctor. I do have a lot of experience with fasting, though. I started out doing fasting back in February of 2017, and I have more or less fasted ever since then. I will explain more as we go along about what kinds of fasts I have done in the 8 months or so since I began fasting.
Let me start telling about my fasting history by giving a short recap of my health history. Here are the main points:
- Obese since I was a young child.
- Weighed 279 lb on the day of my High School Graduation.
- Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 1991.
- Weighed 430 pounds (or so) throughout the 1990s.
- Had a stroke in 2001 (age 39).
- After my stroke, I did a calorie restriction diet and a lot of exercise (mostly walking and swimming) and got down to about 320-330 lb, it fluctuated.
- Allowed my diabetes to progress with only brief periods of “control” (I use that word loosely) until 2014.
- Started doing a Ketogenic diet in March 2016 on the advice from a close friend.
- Had a heart attack in June 2016. My doctor blamed the Ketogenic diet and urged me to start eating more carbs. I relented and gave up on Keto (at which time I started gaining weight again).
- Had a Quadruple Heart Bypass operation in November 2016. I nearly died during this time.
- After the heart surgery, I told my wife I wanted to go back to a strictly Ketogenic diet. After some consideration, she agreed. I wanted her to be “on my team” if I was going to do it.
- Started losing weight and feeling great during my surgery recovery, the Keto diet felt right for me. I was losing weight!
- Learned about fasting in January 2017, but I really did not think I could do it.
I went for IF
I decided to go ahead and give fasting a try. I had found Dr. Jason Fung and researched him heavily, and he seemed like he was the man I needed. I watched possibly hundreds of hours of his videos!
I was already doing strict Ketogenic eating and was already “fat adapted”. My body was used to using my internal fat as its source of fuel.
For my first day of IF, I decided to do a 16:8 protocol. That means that I would fast for 16 hours, then eat for 8 hours, my “eating window”. I was unsure I could even do it, but I would do my best.
I was shocked at how easy it was! After that first day, I decided to change to an 18:6 protocol. No problems at all. It was simple for me.
Day 3, and I decided that 20:4 would be my protocol. Again, I found it quite easy. After a week or so, perhaps 2 weeks of doing 20:4, I again decided to push it a little more, and I went 23:1, with a 1-hour eating window, eating one meal each day. It not only felt good, I found it liberating! I had no hunger. I found myself free to concentrate on things other than food. I was losing a lot of weight too.
Another great benefit that I experienced during this time is that my diabetes was getting better. Before I started doing Keto, I was using 100 units of insulin daily and taking 3 oral medications. Even with that, my diabetes was still only moderately controlled. When I started doing keto, my need for insulin reduced almost every day. By the time I started the IF, I was using only 15 units of insulin daily, and only one oral medication (metformin).
What about your medications?
A lot of people tell me:
I can’t fast because I am using Insulin, Metformin or whatever drugs…. If I fast, my blood sugar will go too low!
Well, I agree with part of that! Your blood sugar is going to go low when you fast! That IS A GOOD THING! Getting your blood sugar low means that you don’t need as much medication! That should be your goal.
About a year or two earlier, my doctor told me that I had a really good understanding of how I should adjust my insulin doses, and he gave me permission to make changes on my own without consulting him. Of course, he had no idea that I was going to do something “extreme” like fasting! Neither did I at that time!
So, armed with my doctor’s permission, I took action. As I said, I had been using 100 units of insulin, along with oral medications, before getting into keto. I, based on my doctor’s permission, adjusted my insulin all the way down to 15 units per day. I had appointments over time with my doctor and he had no argument with what I was doing (adjusting doses) because whatever I was doing was working. He had no idea how I was able to reduce my insulin (and oral meds) so much, but he could not argue.
When I started doing IF
So, when I started doing IF, I knew that my blood sugar was going to be changing (for the better). I tested frequently, and I adjusted my insulin intake appropriately. I also stopped using Metformin altogether. My blood sugar was staying in good control, and I was progressively using less insulin and no oral medications. I was very happy and felt great.
Was my blood sugar too low?
Over the previous months, my doctor had expressed concern about my blood sugar. My HBA1C was down to 5.3 (it had been up in the double digits). My doctor asked me to bring my blood sugar higher, he wanted to see me with a 6+ HBA1C. That, in my mind, was crazy! I was diabetic, my goal should have been to get my blood sugar as low as I could, not bring it higher! The doctor said he was worried that I was going to have too low of blood sugar, hypoglycemia. I told him that I was not concerned about that, but he continuously, appointment after appointment, harped on me to get my blood sugar higher!
Hey doc… it ain’t gonna happen!
I made a decision
I had an appointment coming up with that Endocrinologist on March 26. On March 16, I was thinking about my doctor wanting me to raise the blood sugar and worrying about hypoglycemia. By this time I was totally off of insulin, no oral medication, and great blood sugar numbers!
I thought to myself “hmm… my appointment with the doctor is in 10 days, I think I will just fast straight for 10 days, no food at all, and if I go in for my appointment on day 10 of fasting, and have experienced no hypoglycemia, what can he say?” I mean, the argument would be over and done with, right?
The Doctor Visit
When I went in to see my doctor, I had lost about 30 pounds since I had seen him last. He was astonished at my rapid weight loss and asked me what I was doing. I told him about the fasting. I told him about the 10 days fast that I was just finishing up. I told him that I was no longer using insulin or Metformin. He was literally shocked. He said nothing more about raising my HBA1C. In fact, he seemed very curious about what I was doing, and he told me that he was impressed, and I had his blessing to fast for whatever length of time I wanted to.
I was very happy, and it got me going even more with fasting.
I will continue the story tomorrow with more information for fasting beginners.