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LCHF/KETOGENIC DIET

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Benni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 17 2017 at 10:26am
I did not have to wait until 6 pm yesterday to eat.  The first twinge of hunger struck at 4:50 pm, and I did not ignore it Wink

This mornings weight showed 1/2 lb loss Clap
So happy I found Dr Westman's video suggesting we keep the total carbs at 20g or less,  rather than counting Net Carbs.  When I was trying to keep my Net Carbs at  or below 20g,  my total Carbs were close to 30g.  Weight loss was slow and sporadic.
  I now know I can have that much carbs later on when I achieve my goal, and want to maintain without further wt loss. 
I'm so close to changing the second number in my weight Clap

Looking forward to that 2 mile walk laterWacko
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Dear Diary; I will no longer put in writing a promise to exercise, but I did it anywayOuch.  It's 4pm pst and I still have not eaten.  Though I am pleased not to be eating all day long, this is getting ridiculous.

Meal plan for later...A 3-Egg veggie omelette with bacon...Medium salad with toms, bell pepper and avocado....3 ounces stir fried chicken breast with butter 2 tsp add (breast need fat Embarrassed)
Macros..Carb 19 g  Net Carb 11g
Protein....59g
Fat...62.5g
Cals..878

If I'm hungry later...hard boiled eggs with some homemade mayo.  Need a few more caloriesLOLLOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Benni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 18 2017 at 11:04am
Weight this morning shows .... 0 lbs lost Smile
Surprisingly, I woke up this morning feeling lighter,  like I was occupying less space in the Universe.  I have not taken measurements,  so I don't know if inches were lost.

Wink  Wink
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What is “Nutritional Ketosis”?

IN A NUTSHELL: Nutritional ketosis is a state of health in which your body is efficiently burning fat as its primary fuel source instead of glucose. When undergoing a ketogenic diet you are essentially converting yourself from a “sugar burner” to a “fat burner”.  This is accomplished by reducing your consumption of carbohydrates, increasing your intake of fat, and consuming only an adequate amount of protein to meet your body’s needs.

BUTTER 2

The term nutritional ketosis is claimed to have been coined by Dr. Stephen Phinney & Jeff Volek, two of the leading experts and researchers in the field of low carbohydrate dieting  (Check out this informative video to hear a talk from Dr. Phinney).

Ketosis is achieved by following a “ketogenic diet” which is high in fat, very low in carbohydrates, and adequate in protein (Please Note: It is “adequate” in protein, NOT “high” in protein. More on this later).  By consuming more lipids you are enhancing your body’s fat burning function by up-regulating the enzymes and other “metabolic machinery” needed to burn fat more efficiently, therefore making it easier for your body to tap into stored adipose tissue as an energy source (i.e. you turn yourself into a fat-burning machine!).

But don’t we NEED carbohydrates? 

While it’s true that our red blood cells and a small percentage of brain cells and kidney cells are exclusively glucose dependent, the body can actually GENERATE carbohydrates in a process called gluconeogenesis in which certain non-carbohydrate substrates like proteins (amino acids) and certain constituents of fatty acids (glycerol) can be converted into glucose.  The quantities of glucose produced by the body are sufficient to meet the needs of these particular cells and also help to balance the body’s blood sugar levels.

Moreover, ketogenic diets are not necessarily ZERO-carbohydrate diets and therefore you’re usually able to get enough carbohydrates from vegetables and minimal quantities of fruit or other carb-containing sources (unless the ketogenic diet is being used therapeutically, such as for severe cases of epilepsy, in which the keto diet can be extremely low-carb).

Also…there is a common misconception that the brain can run only on glucose, BUT, there is in fact a fuel source that the brain actually prefers over glucose:  KETONES.

And what exactly are ketones

Ketone bodies are byproducts of fatty acid catabolism (break down of fat) and can replace glucose as a primary fuel source for cells of the brain.  The brain cannot directly utilize long-chain fatty acids for fuel since these types of fats cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.  However, ketones can easily pass through this barrier and your brain becomes more efficient at utilizing ketones over time.

Beyond just providing the brain with fuel, ketones appear to have many therapeutic effects on neurons and are being intensely researched in their applications for epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety and other neurological disorders.

But doesn’t eating fat make you fat?

Well, the answer to this question is yes and no.  Yes, eating too much of ANY macronutrient in excess of your daily caloric needs can potentially cause weight gain, whether it be fat or carbs.  BUT, the answer is also NO – the consumption of fat in and of itself does NOT cause weight gain nor does it clog your arteries and directly lead to heart disease (as conventional theory has mistakenly stated).  This is a long-held myth that unfortunately continues to persist as part of the dietary advice administered by many doctors and some dieticians.  It’s important to make something VERY clear at this point:

“The deleterious effects of fat have been measured in the presence of high carbohydrate. A high fat diet in the presence of high carbohydrate is different than a high fat diet in the presence of low carbohydrate.”       

~Richard Feinman, PhD

Quick science lesson:  When you consume carbohydrates the body releases insulin in order for glucose to enter cells to be burned for energy.  What’s important to understand is that insulin blocks fatty acid catabolism, i.e. eating carbohydrates (which causes an insulin release) essentially blocks fat-burning.  So what do you think happens if you consume fat with lots of carbs? You guessed it: Your body tends to hang on to that fat more easily in the form of adipose tissue, and even carbohydrates in excess of what your body needs are stored as fat (YES, sugar converts to fat!).  So by eating HIGH amounts of fat in a LOW-CARB situation, you are influencing the body to become more efficient at burning fat instead of STORING fat, since fat consumption does not cause the same insulin release that carbohydrates do.

The old paradigm of “fat makes you fat” is finally shifting and the once vilified dietary fats and cholesterol are finally being vindicated and promoted among knowledgeable healthcare practitioners.  (For a fascinating history on how the low-fat craze started, check out this article written by Ann LaBerge: How the Ideology of Low Fat Conquered America. Also, refer to this quick read for an excellent overview of the many wonderful benefits of dietary fat.)

 Image borrowed from DietDoctor.com

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Who created the ketogenic diet?

InuitWell, quite simply, Mother Nature!  This isn’t just another “low-carb” fad diet that was invented to help with weight loss — this is essentially how the majority of us were evolutionarily designed to eat!  Many indigenous cultures from the Inuits of North America to the Masai of Africa have traditionally eaten diets consisting of macronutrient ratios similar to ketogenic diets.

What’s more is that these societies have subsisted on this type of diet for thousands of years without the major health complications that plague many modern civilizations today.  Famous doctors, researchers, and explorers such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Weston A. Price, George Catlin, John Rae, and Frederick Schwatka, have traveled the world to study and live among many hunter gatherer societies and have all observed a common theme among these cultures:  their limited carbohydrate consumption along with their absolute reverence for FAT.

So What Does a Ketogenic Diet Consist of?

ketogenic-diet- pie graph

This graph depicts typical macronutrient ratios for a ketogenic diet.  While this appears to be very restrictive it’s important to bear in mind that these ratios will vary greatly depending on MANY factors: your current state of health, your level of metabolic damage, level of insulin sensitivity, physical activity, weight, body composition, genetic makeup, age, gender, etc.

For example, someone who is young, lean, fit, works out on a regular basis, and who doesn’t have a genetic predisposition towards insulin resistance may have a higher threshold of carbohydrate intake and be able to enter ketosis more easily than someone who is older, overweight, and diabetic who has sustained a great deal of metabolic damage due to years of excessive carbohydrate consumption. The latter individual may initially have to be more restrictive about their carb intake in order to induce nutritional ketosis (essentially, those with insulin resistance can be viewed as having a sort of “carbohydrate intolerance”), but they may eventually be able to increase their intake of carbs after they have been able to regulate their blood sugar and repair their metabolic damage over time.

So how many Carbs should I have? And what about protein?

Generally, most people can initiate ketosis by reducing their carbohydrates to 30-50 grams per day (approximately 5-10% of daily calories) while also consuming an adequate amount of protein (which is calculated based upon your body weight and lean muscle mass). It’s essential to keep protein at a moderate level as excess protein on a low-carb diet can get converted into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. Your protein needs should not be calculated as a percentage of your total calories, but instead should be based on your body weight, total lean mass, and level of physical activity (Check out this awesome keto calculator if you want some help figuring out your own macronutrient ratios).

HEALTHY FATS4Carbs and protein will make up about 20-30% of your diet. As for the rest of your calories? All from FAT! On a ketogenic diet you will derive approximately 70-80% of your daily calories from healthy fats (i.e., grass-fed butter, animal fats, eggs, coconut oil, MCT oil, ghee, olive oil, avocados, macadamia nuts, etc. *NOT* margarine or other highly processed polyunsaturated oils).

Please also note: It’s very important to work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner who is well-versed in low-carb dieting who can help you create a well-formulated, nutrient dense ketogenic diet that takes into consideration your own unique needs and bio-individuality.  One of the keys to a successful experience with nutritional ketosis is to maximize your nutrient density (i.e., by eating enough plant-based foods such as veggies, nuts & seeds, etc.), but ALSO by being sure to consume enough fat to produce ketones.  This is NOT about stuffing yourself full of butter and bacon all day! You must also be sure to obtain enough micronutrients, antioxidants, and minerals from plant foods as well.

One other important consideration: the “Adaptation Period”

It’s vital to keep in mind that it takes some time to convert your body over from a state of primarily “sugar-burning” to “fat-burning”. The length of time again will vary from person to person based on the same individual factors listed above that dictate your total carb intake, but the typical adaptation period can range anywhere from 3-6 weeks.

During this time you could experience some symptoms related to “carbohydrate withdrawal” such as headaches, fatigue, light-headedness, etc. Typically, these are all TEMPORARY experiences while your blood sugar rebalances and your body adjusts to its new fuel source (fat & ketones). Additionally, until your brain “learns” how to utilize ketones as it’s primary fuel source you may also experience temporary “brain fog” and problems with focus, concentration, and memory.

Some symptoms could also be caused by mineral deficiencies, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalances that may occur in the initial stages of a ketogenic diet when your body is depleting its glycogen stores and ridding itself of excess water. Increasing your water intake along with consuming extra salt and electrolytes often helps to alleviate these symptoms. Also be mindful of your caloric intake and try not to be restrictive during the adaptation period to give your body the energy it needs.

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How do I know when I’m in Ketosis?

Determining when you are in ketosis is understandably a common concern among many ketogenic dieters when first starting out. Generally, most people feel that they are in a state of steady nutritional ketosis once they see a reduction in the adaptation symptoms and a reduction in hunger and cravings, while also experiencing an increase in energy and mental clarity. But the most accurate way to know for sure is to test your ketone levels with a blood ketone monitor, similar to testing your blood sugar with a glucose monitor. (Important note: there are two types of ketone bodies that can be measured – betahydroxybutyrate (BHB) and acetoacetate. BHB is measured in the blood and is generally regarded as the more “accurate” biomarker for determining ketosis. Acetoacetate is excreted in the breathe and in the urine and can be measured by breath devices and urine tests strips, both of which I have utilized personally and find to be slightly less precise than blood ketone readings).

Optimal Blood Ketone Range

Most people start to enter ketosis when blood ketones reach a level of 0.5 mM/dL of blood.  However, the optimal range for blood ketones is from 1.5 – 3.0.  This is considered the “sweet spot” of ketosis that should provide the maximum amount of health benefits if maintained long term.  

Optimal Ketosis Range (2)

Graph borrowed from the phenomenal book by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeffrey Volek, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.

It’s imperative to realize that there is a “danger zone” to ketosis known as ketoacidosis that people commonly confuse with nutritional ketosis.  However, ketoacidosis usually only happens in those with Type 1 diabetes or late stage Type II diabetes in which the pancreas is unable to secrete sufficient quantities of insulin (insulin has a suppressant effect on ketone production) OR in those with severely compromised kidney function that cannot properly excrete excess ketones. Otherwise, nutritional ketosis is a completely natural, normal, and healthy state for most individuals.

What are the Health Benefits to Nutritional Ketosis?

Other than the obvious weight loss reasons, why restrict carbs and eat more fat? Beyond the simple goals of fat burning and body-recomposition, there are numerous other reasons why nutritional ketosis may be optimal for health and may even help ameliorate existing health problems. Here are some of the fascinating health benefits of ketosis.

Some of the things you may experience with Nutritional Ketosis:

  • Blood Sugar Balancing. Ketogenic diets are being utilized more and more for improving health conditions related to insulin dysregulation and blood sugar abnormalities, such as Type 2 diabetes, PCOS, and Alzheimer’s disease (which is often referred to as “diabetes of the brain”).
  • Improved Mood & Mental functioning. Many keto adapted people report major improvements in brain function in regards to clarity in thought, memory, and mental functioning that they never experienced previously in their life!  Vast improvements in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are also commonly reported.
  • Lean tissue preservation (Increases muscular retention & prevents muscular atrophy). A ketogenic diet is a highly muscle-sparing diet and it is being explored not only by body builders, athletes, and other fitness aficionados, but also for muscle-wasting conditions like ALS and sarcopenia in the elderly.
  • Greater Athletic Performance. Many athletes also claim to have better results while performing in a well-adapted ketogenic state, particularly endurance athletes. Once keto-adapted, there’s no more need to constantly fuel the body with sugars snacks and sports drinks if you can tap into your body’s fat store for energy.
  • Long-lasting ENERGY. When your body is in a “fat-adapted” state it can easily tap into your adipose tissue to give you more sustained energy without the constant need to eat and “refuel” yourself every couple of hours.
  • Hormone Balancing (Especially in women with PCOS). Chronically elevated levels of insulin and glucose are thought to have a disruptive effect on hormone and endocrine organ functioning throughout the body. Therefore a low-carb diet such a ketogenic diet may be beneficial for improving and optimizing hormone levels by lowering insulin and glucose levels. Nutritional ketosis is especially being researched in helping women with PCOS, a hormonal imbalance which is ultimately caused by insulin resistance similar to diabetes.
  • Need for LESS sleep! While some keto-dieters report longer and deeper sleep, many actually claim they need far less sleep (sometimes only 5-6 hours a night for some people!) and yet wake up feeling very well-rested. Can you imagine getting LESS sleep (yet still being energetic and vibrant) and therefore having MORE time to be productive in your waking hours?
  • Improvements in Dyslipidemia (Cholesterol Imbalances & High Triglycerides). Many studies have shown that a low-carbohydrate diet is able to significantly improve cholesterol profile as well as reducing triglyceride levels.
  • Reduced Hunger. A meal that is high in fat and protein leaves us feeling satiated much longer than a high carbohydrate meal and helps regulate blood sugar levels, thusly balancing our appetite, especially in those with diabetes or other metabolic abnormalities. Being ketogencially adapted also allows your body to access its fat stores more readily when your body requires more energy to meet its demands, thusly also leading to a reduction in appetite.
  • Healthy Skin. There is some evidence that nutritional ketosis helps to restore normal hormonal balance in the body along with other mechanisms that improve acne and other skin disorders. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22327146)

Nora Gedgaudas, one of my favorite experts in the realm of ketogenic dieting, goes so far as to call the ketogenic diet the “Holy Grail of Diets” because of its superior health benefits as compared to a high carbohydrate diet. Watch this interesting video to see her speak about ketosis at the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2012.

This informative read by nutritional ketosis blogger Jimmy Moore provides a personal account of the many other health benefits a ketogenic diet can offer.

Possible physiological and biochemical mechanisms for the therapeutic action of a ketogenic diet in diseases and conditions for which there is strong scientific evidence (a) and emerging evidence (b).

Possible physiological and biochemical mechanisms for the therapeutic action of a ketogenic diet in diseases and conditions for which there is strong scientific evidence (a) and emerging evidence (b). Source: “Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets.” by Paoli, Volek, et. al.

Nutritional ketosis is also being researched for its ability to help with conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, mood disorders, eating disorders, Parkinson’s, ALS, PCOS, and various metabolic disorders. When well-formulated and correctly adhered to, the ketogenic diet can be incredibly effective in alleviating and possibly even reversing a multitude of health conditions.

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Cancer-cellTHE THERAPEUTIC KETOGENIC DIET
 
 
 
 
 
 
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therapeutic ketogenic diet can be helpful for a range of chronic health conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Domonic D’Agostino is doing interesting research into the possible uses for ketosis, both through diet and supplementation.  His initial funding was from the US Military to research the applications of ketosis for navy seal divers in order to avoid oxygen toxicity seizures.

He has continued this research into how ketosis can starve cancer and be used in conjunction with normal treatments to aid recovery from chemotherapy and slow tumour growth. [1]  His more recent research demonstrates that body builders can maximise their power to weight ratio and recovery using a ketogenic approach.


Dr Mary Newport has received a lot of coverage after treating her husband’s advanced Alzheimer’s with coconut oil. [2]


Terry Whals is undertaking clinical trials of her high nutrient density ketogenic diet that has worked to reverse her own multiple sclerosis.[3]


The ketogenic diet for epilepsy has made a resurgence since director Jim Abrahams [4] found success with the ketogenic diet for his son Charlie and then made a movie of his experience. [5]

The Charlie Foundation (with partner site ketocook.com) supports families working to use a ketogenic dietary approach to manage epileptic seizures. [6]


Jimmy Moore’s Keto Clarity [7] spends three chapters profiling the various conditions that the ketogenic diet has been claimed to be beneficial for.

  • Solid science (chapter 16)
    • Epilepsy
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Weight loss
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
    • GERD and heartburn
    • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Good evidence (chapter 17)
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Dementia
    • Schizophrenia, bipolar and other mental illnesses
    • Narcolepsy and other sleep disorders
    • Exercise performance
  • Emerging areas (chapter 18)
    • Cancer
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Chronic pain
    • Migraines
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Stroke
    • Gum disease and tooth decay
    • Acne
    • Eyesight
    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
    • Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Huntington’s disease
    • Aging
    • Kidney disease
    • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
    • Arthritis
    • Alopecia and hair loss
    • GLUT1 deficiency syndrome

The therapeutic ketogenic diet is similar to the LCHF approach but takes it one step further, with net carbs typically restricted to 25g per day (or sometimes less) and protein restricted to the minimum necessary for muscle repair.

People trying to slow or reverse cancer growth or stop seizures will often also resort to more aggressive measures including supplementing with larger amounts of butter, coconut oil, MCT oils and ketone salts to drive their ketones to higher levels (i.e. 1.5 to 3.0mmol/L).

I figured we could use the food ranking system to prioritise foods with a low insulinogenic load over and above nutrition or the other parameters.

The table below shows the weighting I have used for this ranking.  Still considering nutrient density, cost and calorie density will help to optimise these other elements of nutrition even though we are primarily targeting a low insulin load.

ND / calfibre / calND / $ND / weightinsulinogenic (%)cal / 100g$ / cal
5%5%5%5%70%5%5%

I have also used a filter using Wilders’ formula to show only foods that have a ratio of ketogenic to anti ketogenic calories greater than 1.5.  This is the commonly accepted parameter in therapeutic ketosis circles to determine whether a food or a meal is sufficiently ketogenic.

You could also use this calculator to check the percentage of insulinogenic calories of your food.  If you’re aiming for therapeutic ketosis you’ll probably need to have an overall average of less than 15% and any individual food should ideally have a percentage of insulinogenic calories less than 25%.

The resultant foods are listed below.  This approach will obviously prioritise the liberal use of fats and oils along with higher fat dairy products and meats.

Not all of the vegetables have a Wilder’s ketogenic ratio greater than 1.5 but it would still be desirable to include adequate vegetables for nutrition as long as they give they fit your tolerances whether they be net carbs, ketones or something else.

Someone using this approach may choose to supplement vitamins and minerals or use organ meats to achieve their nutrition in order to minimise carbohydrates from the vegetables.

People battling chronic illnesses also often have allergies that will mean that they further need to refine this list.

insulinvitamins & mineralsproteinfibrecalorie density
70%10%10%5%5%

I hope that these lists will be useful for people who need to maximise ketosis for therapeutic purposes, as well as possibly others with diabetes, insulin resistance or people looking to lose weight who want to use a more aggressive approach for a period.

fats and oils

  • butter
  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • fish oil
  • flax seed oil
  • lard
  • bacon grease

nuts, seeds & legumes

  • Brazil nuts
  • pecan nuts
  • peanuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • coconut milk
  • pine nuts
  • almonds
  • coconut meat
  • almond butter
  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • pistachio nuts

fruit

  • avocado
  • olives

dairy and egg

  • egg yolk
  • whole egg
  • cream
  • cream cheese
  • goat cheese
  • cheddar cheese
  • Monterey cheese
  • Camembert
  • Muenster cheese
  • Colby cheese
  • brie
  • blue cheese
  • Edam
  • Gruyere
  • parmesan cheese
  • feta cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • gouda
  • Provolone
  • Monterey cheese
  • ricotta cheese
  • cottage cheese

animal products & fish

  • polish sausage
  • link sausage
  • chorizo
  • frankfurter
  • bratwurst
  • beef sausage
  • duck
  • knackwurst
  • bacon
  • bologna
  • herring
  • ground lamb
  • chicken
  • chuck eye steak
  • sardines
  • turkey
  • chicken liver
  • anchovy
  • salmon
  • ham
  • carp
  • trout
  • clam
  • catfish
  • shrimp
  • oyster
  • squid
  • lobster
  • cod
  • haddock

vegetables

  • turnip greens
  • mustard greens
  • coriander
  • spinach
  • artichokes
  • mushrooms
  • chives
  • lettuce
  • alfalfa seeds
  • sauerkraut
  • cauliflower
  • asparagus


Edited by Benni - Aug 18 2017 at 11:31am
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Hunger vs. craving: What's the difference?

A better understanding of these potential food triggers will help you stay on track.

Have you noticed that when food temptations strike, it often has more to do with your mood than when you last ate? You may crave food to relax, relieve stress or boredom, soothe anger, or cope with loneliness, sadness or anxiety. Indulging in cravings during these emotional times may lead you to eat too many high-calorie, sweet, fatty foods.

Everyone has a food craving at times — and yes, chocolate is at the top of most people's list. The first step to managing your cravings is being able to identify when you’re truly hungry. Learn how to recognize the difference between a craving and hunger.

Cravings:

  • Are usually for comfort foods, such as chocolate, sweets and fatty foods
  • Are often caused by negative feelings
  • Lead to eating that makes you feel good at first, but then guilty
  • Increase during a woman's pregnancy and menstrual cycle
  • May be stronger when you're dieting, especially if you're giving up your favorite foods
  • Can occur even after you've recently eaten
  • Pass with time

Hunger:

  • Usually occurs when you haven't eaten for a few hours or more
  • Results in a rumbling stomach, headache or feeling of weakness
  • Doesn't pass with time
  • Isn't just for one specific food
  • Can be satisfied by a healthy snack or meal

If you have a craving, distract yourself. Try calling a friend, listening to music, taking a walk or bike ride, reading, or writing. If a negative feeling is causing your craving, use positive self-talk, exercise or a fun activity to improve your mood.



Edited by Benni - Aug 18 2017 at 1:11pm
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Intermittent Fasting 101 - The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world's most popular health and fitness trends.

People are using it to lose weight, improve health and simplify their healthy lifestyle.

Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and brain, and may even help you live longer (123).

This is the ultimate beginner's guide to intermittent fasting.

2

What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a term for an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.

It does not say anything about which foods you should eat, but rather when you should eat them.

In this respect, it is not a "diet" in the conventional sense. It is more accurately described as an "eating pattern." Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16 hour fasts, or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.

Humans have actually been fasting throughout evolution. Sometimes it was done because food was not available, and it has also been a part of major religions, including Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.

When you think about it, our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn't have supermarkets, refrigerators or foodavailable year-round.

Sometimes we couldn't find anything to eat, and our bodies evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time.

If anything, fasting from time to time is more "natural" than constantly eating 3-4 (or more) meals per day.

For a more detailed explanation of what intermittent fasting is, read this article: What is Intermittent Fasting?

Bottom Line: Intermittent fasting (IF) is a term for an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It is currently very popular in the health and fitness community.

3

How to do Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been very popular for many years and several different methods have been used.

All of them involve splitting the day or week into "eating periods" and "fasting periods." During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all.

These are the most popular methods:

  • The 16/8 Method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, for example from 1 pm to 9 pm. Then you "fast" for 16 hours in between.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
  • The 5:2 Diet: On two non-consecutive days of the week, only eat 500-600 calories. Eat normally the other 5 days. More details here.

By making you eat fewer calories, all of these methods should make you lose weight as long as you don't compensate by eating much more during the eating periods.

I've personally found the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to. It is also the most popular.

There is more detailed information on the different protocols here: 6 Intermittent Fasting Methods.

Bottom Line: There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting. All of them split the day or week into "eating periods" and "fasting periods."

4

How Intermittent Fasting Affects Your Cells and Hormones

When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level.

For example, your body changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.

Your cells also initiate important repair processes, and change the expression of genes.

Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:

  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few (4567).
  • Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible (8).
  • Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells (910)
  • Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease (1112).
These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Bottom Line: When you fast, human growth hormone levels go up and insulin levels go down. Your body’s cells also change the expression of genes and initiate important cellular repair processes.

5

Intermittent Fasting is a Very Powerful Weight Loss Tool

Weight loss is the most common reason that people try intermittent fasting (13).

By making you eat fewer meals, intermittent fasting can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.

Additionally, intermittent fasting changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss.

In addition to lower insulin and increased growth hormone levels, it increases release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

Because of these changes in hormones, short-term fasting may actually increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14% (1415).

By helping you eat less (fewer calories in) and helping you burn more (more calories out), intermittent fasting causes weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation.

Studies show that intermittent fasting can be a very powerful weight loss tool. In a review study from 2014, it was shown to cause weight loss of 3-8% over periods of 3-24 weeks (1).

That is actually a very large amount compared to most weight loss studies.

According to this study, people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference (1). This indicates that they lost significant amounts of the harmful belly fat that builds up around the organs and causes disease.

There is also one study showing that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than the more standard method of continuous calorie restriction (16).

However, keep in mind that the main reason this works, is that it helps you eat fewer calories overall. If you binge and eat massive amounts during the eating periods, then you may not lose any weight at all.

Read this article for more information on IF and Weight Loss.

Bottom Line: Intermittent fasting may boost metabolism slightly, while helping you eat fewer calories. It is a very effective way to lose weight and belly fat.

6

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Many studies have been done on intermittent fasting, in both animals and humans.

These studies have shown that it can have powerful benefits for weight control and the health of your body and brain. It may even help you live longer.

Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • Weight Loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories (113).
  • Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31% (1). This should protect against type 2 diabetes.
  • Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases (171819).
  • Heart Health: Intermittent fasting may reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance. These are all risk factors for heart disease (12021).
  • Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer (22232425).
  • Brain Health: Intermittent fasting increases a brain hormone called BDNF, and may aid the growth of new nerve cells (262728). It may also protect against Alzheimer's disease (29).
  • Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats live as much as 36-83% longer (3031).

Keep in mind that the research is still in its early stages. Many of the studies were small, short in duration or conducted in animals. Many questions have yet to be answered in higher quality human studies (32).

More evidence-based details here: 10 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.

Bottom Line: Intermittent fasting can have many benefits for your body and brain. It can cause weight loss, and may protect against type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It may also help you live longer.

7

Intermittent Fasting Makes Your Healthy Lifestyle Simpler

Eating healthy is simple, but it can be incredibly hard to stick to.

One of the main obstacles is all the work required to plan for and cook healthy meals.

If you do intermittent fasting, this gets easier because you don't need to plan, cook or clean up after as many meals as before.

Intermittent fasting is actually very popular among the "life hacking" crowd because it improves your health while simplifying your life at the same time.

Bottom Line: One of the major benefits of intermittent fasting is that it makes healthy eating simpler. There are fewer meals that you need to prepare, cook and clean up after.

8

Some People Should be Careful With Intermittent Fasting (or Avoid it Altogether)

Intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone.

If you are underweight, or have a history of eating disorders, then you should not do intermittent fasting without consulting with a health professional first.

In these cases, it can be downright harmful.

Should Women Fast?

There is some evidence that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women, as it is for men.

For example, one study showed that it improved insulin sensitivity in men, but worsened blood sugar control in women (33).

Although there are no human studies on this, studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting can make female rats emaciated, masculinized, infertile and cause them to miss cycles (3435).

There are plenty of anecdotal reports from women who became amenorrheic (their menstrual period stopped) when they started doing IF, then went back to normal when they stopped doing it.

For these reasons, women should definitely be careful with intermittent fasting. Ease into it, and if you have any problems like amenorrhea then stop doing it immediately.

If you have problems with fertility and/or are trying to conceive, then consider holding off on intermittent fasting for now. Intermittent fasting is probably a bad idea when pregnant or breastfeeding.

Bottom Line: People who are underweight or have a history of eating disorders should not fast. There is also some evidence that intermittent fasting may be harmful for some women.

9

Safety and Side Effects

Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting.

You may also feel weak and that your brain isn't performing as well as you're used to.

This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.

If you have a medical condition, then you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.

This is particularly important if you:

  • Have diabetes.
  • Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
  • Have low blood pressure.
  • Take medications.
  • Are underweight.
  • Have a history of eating disorders.
  • Are a female who is trying to conceive.
  • Are a female with a history of amenorrhea.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
All that being said, intermittent fasting does have an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing "dangerous" about not eating for a while if you are healthy and well nourished overall.
Bottom Line: The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first.

10

Frequently Asked Questions About Intermittent Fasting

Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.

1. Can I drink liquids during the fast?

Yes. Watercoffeetea and other non-caloric beverages are fine. Do not add sugar to your coffee. Small amounts of milk or cream may be okay.

Coffee can be particularly beneficial during a fast, because it can blunt hunger.

2. Isn't it unhealthy to skip breakfast?

No. The problem is that most stereotypical breakfast skippers have unhealthy lifestyles. If you make sure to eat healthy food for the rest of the day then it is fine.

3. Can I take supplements while fasting?

Yes. However, keep in mind that some supplements (like fat-soluble vitamins) may work better when taken with meals.

4. Can I work out while fasted?

Yes, fasted workouts are fine. Some people recommend taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) before a fasted workout.

5. Will fasting cause muscle loss?

All weight loss methods can cause muscle loss, that is why it is important to lift weights and keep protein intake high. One study shows that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than regular calorie restriction (16).

6. Will fasting slow down my metabolism?

No. Studies show that short-term fasts actually boost metabolism (1415). However, longer fasts (3 days or more) can suppress metabolism (36).

7. Should kids fast?

That's probably a bad idea.

11

How to Start

Chances are that you've already done many "intermittent fasts" in your life.

If you've ever eaten dinner, then slept late and not eaten until lunch the next day, then you've probably already done a 16+ hour fast.

Many people actually instinctively eat this way. They simply don't feel hungry in the morning.

I personally find that the 16/8 method is the simplest and most sustainable way to do intermittent fasting. I recommend that you try that one first.

If you find that it is easy and you feel good during the fast, then you can try moving on to more advanced fasts like 24-hour fasts 1-2 times per week (Eat-Stop-Eat) or only eating 500-600 calories 1-2 days per week (the 5:2 diet).

Another approach is to simply fast whenever it is convenient. As in, skip meals from time to time when you're not hungry or don't have time to cook.

There is no need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to derive at least some of the benefits.

I recommend that you experiment with the different approaches and find something that you enjoy and fits your schedule.

Bottom Line: It is recommended to start with the 16/8 method, then perhaps later move on to longer fasts. It is important to experiment and find something that works for you.

12

Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not something that anyone needs to do.

It is just one of many lifestyle strategies that can improve your health. Eating real food, exercising and taking care of your sleep are still the most important factors to focus on.

If you don't like the idea of fasting, then you can safely ignore all of this. Just continue to do what works for you.

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in nutrition. The best diet for you is the one you can stick to in the long run.

Intermittent fasting is great for some people, not others. The only way to find out which group you belong to is to try it out.

If you feel good when fasting and find it to be a sustainable way of eating, then it can be a very powerful tool to lose weight and improve health.

More about intermittent fasting:
  • 6 Popular Ways to do Intermittent Fasting
  • 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
  • How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight
  • The Beginner’s Guide to The 5:2 Diet
  • Is Skipping Breakfast Bad For You? The Surprising Truth
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What Is Prediabetes?

Written by Brett Huffman and Valencia Higuera
Medically Reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on July 18, 2016

Prediabetes Diagnosis

Prediabetes

If you receive a prediabetes, it means you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level that’s not high enough to be diagnostic for diabetes. If you don’t get treatment for it, prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), prediabetes is reversible. Treatment may include lifestyle modifications, such as diet and exercise, and medication. Type 2 diabetes can develop within 10 years if you have prediabetes and don’t make lifestyle changes, says the Mayo Clinic.

The first step for managing prediabetes is understanding what a prediabetes diagnosis means. Read on to learn more about this diagnosis and what you can do.

Other names

Your doctor may refer to prediabetes as the following:

  • impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), which means a higher-than-normal blood sugar after a meal
  • impaired fasting glucose (IFG), which means a higher-than-normal blood sugar in the morning before eating
  • insulin resistance, which means your body can’t use insulin effectively

Insulin resistance leads to a buildup of sugar in the blood.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Prediabetes has no clear symptoms. Some people may experience conditions that are associated with insulin resistance, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and acanthosis nigricans, which involves the development of dark, thick, and often velvety patches of skin. This discoloration usually occurs around the:

  • elbows
  • knees
  • neck
  • armpits
  • knuckles

If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, it's important to consult your doctor if you experience:

  • increased thirst
  • increased urination, especially at night
  • tiredness
  • blurry vision
  • sores or cuts that won’t heal

These are symptoms typical of type 2 diabetes, and may indicate that your prediabetes has progressed to type 2 diabetes. A doctor can run a series of tests to confirm this.

Causes

What are the causes of prediabetes?

The pancreas releases a hormone called insulin when you eat so that the cells of your body can take the sugar from the blood and into the cell for energy. That’s how insulin helps lower your blood sugar level. In the case of prediabetes, the cells don't respond properly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance.

The causes of insulin resistance are unclear. According to the Mayo Clinic, prediabetes is strongly linked to lifestyle factors and genetics.

People who are overweight and sedentary are at an increased risk of prediabetes.

Risk factors

Risk factors for prediabetes

Prediabetes can occur in anyone, but some factors increase your chances. If you’re over 45 years old or you have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25, your doctor may want to screen you for prediabetes.

Another risk factor is the storage of more fat around the waist than the hips. You can measure this risk factor by checking if your waist is 40 or more inches if you’re male and 35 inches or more if you’re female.

Another risk factor for prediabetes is being sedentary.

Diagnosis

How is prediabetes diagnosed?

Your doctor will need to do a blood test for an accurate diagnosis. This means drawing a blood sample to send to a lab.

Results can vary depending on the type of test. You should take the same test twice to confirm the diagnosis, according to the NIH. Devices that measure glucose levels, such as the finger-stick test, aren’t used for diagnosis. Instead, your doctor will use one or two of these tests:

Hemoglobin A1c test

The hemoglobin A1c test, which is also called the A1c test or glycosylated hemoglobin test, measures your average blood sugar level over the last two to three months. This test doesn’t require fasting and can be done anytime.

An A1c value of 5.7-6.4 percent is diagnostic for prediabetes. A second A1c test is recommended to confirm the results. The higher the A1c, the higher the risk that your prediabetes will progress to type 2 diabetes.

Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test

During an FPG test, your doctor will ask you to fast for eight hours or overnight. Before you eat, a healthcare professional will take a blood sample for testing.

A blood sugar level of 100-125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) indicates prediabetes.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

An OGTT also requires fasting. Your doctor will check your blood glucose levels twice, once at the beginning of the appointment and then two hours later after you drink a sugary drink.

If the blood sugar level reads 140-199 mg/dL after two hours, then the test indicates IGT, or prediabetes.

Random plasma glucose (RPG) test

An RPG test can be drawn anytime and doesn’t require fasting. Results with a blood sugar level 140-199 mg/dL indicate prediabetes. Unless you have clear symptoms, you’ll want a second test to confirm a diagnosis.

If testing shows that your blood sugar level is normal, you can repeat screenings in three years. If you're diagnosed with prediabetes, your doctor may recheck your blood glucose level in 12 months or sooner.

Treatments

How to treat prediabetes

Treating prediabetes can also be thought of as preventing type 2 diabetes. If your doctor diagnoses you with prediabetes, they’ll recommend certain lifestyle changes. A study called the Diabetes Prevention Programshowed a reduction of approximately 58 percent in people who kept up with these changes in the long term.

The most common ways to manage prediabetes are:

  • maintaining a diet that’s rich in fiber
  • exercising regularly
  • losing weight
  • taking medication if your doctor prescribed it

Some people with diabetes choose to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments to manage their condition. CAM treatments can include taking supplements, meditation, and acupuncture. Always check with your doctor before starting any CAM treatments because they may interact with your medication.

Read more: Diabetes alternative treatments »

Low-carbohydrate diet

Many studies suggest that a low-carbohydrate diet improves blood glucose control, insulin resistance, and weight. Many people consider a carbohydrate intake of 21-70 grams per day to be low-carbohydrate diet, but no standard definition exists. According to the article, lower levels of carbohydrates may help those with type 2 diabetes, and while it doesn’t address prediabetes specifically, it may be fair to assume the same would be true for those with prediabetes.

Low-carbohydrate diets may not be recommended for people with high cholesterol or heart disease. Talk to your doctor before making major changes to your diet.

Complications

Complications

If you don’t get treatment for it, prediabetes can become type 2 diabetes and other conditions, such as:

  • heart disease
  • a stroke
  • nerve damage
  • kidney damage
  • eye damage
  • foot damage, in which poor blood flow may lead to amputation
  • skin infections
  • trouble with hearing
  • Alzheimer’s disease

The good news is that prediabetes is reversible with long-term lifestyle changes.

Prevention

Tips for preventing diabetes

Prediabetes is reversible. You can prevent or slow the development of prediabetes and diabetes through lifestyle changes.

One study showed that a 5 to 7 percent weight loss greatly reduces the risk of diabetes, according to the NIH. Those who participated in the study followed a low-fat, low-calorie diet and exercised for 30 minutes five times per week.

A heart-healthy lifestyle includes the following:

Eating right

Fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, will help you reach your health goals. According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean-style diet follows these principles.

Read more: 12 Low-carb fruits and vegetables »

Exercising more

You can reduce your risk of diabetes by being regularly active. Thirty minutes of any activity that raises your heartbeat to your target rate, such as walking, most days of the week, is recommended.

Ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily schedule include:

  • riding a bike to work
  • walking instead of riding the bus or driving
  • going to a gym
  • participating in recreational sports with a team

Thirty minutes of exercise per day and 5-10 percent weight loss reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes progression by over 58 percent, according to the American Diabetes Association.

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