As I write this, I have lost 6.4 pounds in 5 days.
On May 1st I turned in the manuscript for another cookbook, 500 Paleo Recipes. It will be out sometime in the fall, and, needless to say, I’d love it if you all went to Amazon and pre-ordered it. Heck, order two.
It is the supreme irony of my professional life that I can gain weight writing diet cookbooks. How? Why? Does this suggest that my recipes aren’t as healthful as I claim? Not at all. What it suggests is that five hundred recipes is a whole darned lot of recipes to come up with in six months time. I cook and eat more than I otherwise would, that’s all.
In the normal course of things, if I don’t like what the scale says I’ll cut back for a day or two, eating virtually no carbs, and certainly not eating unless I’m physically hungry. Intensive recipe development doesn’t allow for this; I have to cook and eat whether I’m hungry or not, the scale be damned. Indeed, I can get out of the habit of weighing myself.
All of which explains why I recently found myself asking a great deal of my size ten jeans. When I did weigh myself, it turned out I was up a good 12 pounds since Christmas. That’s most of a dress size. Ugh.
I was determined to evict those pounds before they called up a bunch of friends and invited them over for a party. So last weekend I started fat fasting. I’ve been talking about my fat fast on my Facebook fan page, and understandably people want to know more about it. I’ve written about it before, but interest is great enough it seemed time for another mention. So here’s the skinny, you should pardon the pun:
Recommended by the late, great Dr. Atkins as a way to overcome metabolic resistance to weight loss or to break a stall, a fat fast is simple: 1000 calories per day, 90% of those calories from fat. Yes, this is calorie controlled as well as extremely low carbohydrate, and even low protein. The fat fast catapults you into deep ketosis, with its triple benefit of appetite suppression, metabolic advantage, and protection of muscle mass. Once you’re in that ketosis, the calorie restriction forces your body to turn to its liberated fat stores for fuel.
I’ve covered the research regarding the fat fast in a previous article, and wrote about my first experience with it last autumn. Here are some other thoughts on the subject:
- I was moderately hungry the first couple of days. Then serious ketosis kicked in, and I’m far less hungry than you might imagine. Di Bauer said she hates fat fasting, but I’m really not finding it that onerous, and certainly I find it easy considering the weight loss it is causing.
- As mentioned in last autumn’s article, I have tried the widely-touted HCG protocol. It worked, but it screwed up my blood sugar. Despite the hype, I lost weight at about half the speed I am on the fat fast. Further, my fat fast allows me twice the calories, and requires no injections.
- More than actual hunger, I find myself wanting to eat a little something just to eat. Most of us are prey to this. One of the benefits of the fat fast is that it makes me conscious of how often I automatically reach for a handful of nuts, or a square of sugar-free chocolate, with no real hunger behind it.
- I feel fine. My head is clear, my energy level is good, my mood is cheerful. This might have something to do with the fact that my ketostix are turning a deep royal purple.
- I’m neither sitting around like a slug, nor exercising like a mad thing. I go for a walk most days, because it’s June and it’s gorgeous out there, and I love to walk. I did my usual Slow Burn weight lifting on Monday, and plan to do it again today (Friday.) Oh, and I’ve been doing my breathing exercises.
- Jimmy Moore has written about fat fasting. I love and respect Jimmy, but disagree with him on this subject. He asserts that fast fasting shouldn’t be used unless you are severely metabolically resistant and simply can’t lose weight any other way, but doesn’t explain why he feels that way. He also asserts that fat fasting done simply to lose weight rapidly can be dangerous, but again, does not explain why. The original research on the subject, first by Kekwick and Pawan and then by Benoit, mentions nothing about severe metabolic resistance, and indeed the subjects were put on other programs for comparison, losing weight on some of them. They simply lost fat most rapidly on the fat fast.
- Similarly, I’ve had queries as to whether it’s safe to fat fast beyond the 3-4 days recommended by Dr. Atkins. I suspect that Dr. A mostly felt the fat fast was too restrictive for most people to want to continue for any longer than absolutely necessary. In Benoit’s research at the Oakland Naval Hospital, subjects fat-fasted for 10 days, and reported no ill effects. They lost an average of 14.5 pounds in that time, with only a half-pound of muscle mass lost. The same subjects lost twice as much fat on the fat fast than they had eating nothing at all, without the considerable muscle loss the total fast incurred. Because of the muscle-sparing effect of ketosis, it’s hard for me to imagine a safer quick weight loss plan.
- That said, the fat fast is notably short on protein – I’m eating about 30 grams per day. I wouldn’t want to do that much longer than Benoit’s ten days.
- It is hard – really hard – to get a full 90% of calories from fat, unless you can afford a lot of macadamia nuts (exactly 90% fat), or like plain cream cheese better than I do. Most days I get between 80-85% of my calories from fat. This seems to be sufficient. Too, I often range as high as 1200 calories. It doesn’t seem to be preventing fat loss.
- When I do my Slow Burn, I eat at least 20 grams of protein afterward, making sure to get plenty of fat with it. (Last time I had 7 ounces of fatty pork ribs.) Why? Because Fred Hahn told me to, that’s why. He says that there’s a magical hour after heavy resistance training when the muscles are primed to suck up amino acids for growth and repair.
So what do I eat on my fat fast? I wrote about this in the first article, but there have been some additions to the menu:
- Most mornings I’ve been eating 3 eggs scrambled in a full tablespoon of coconut oil. This is a change from when I fat fasted last autumn, and I think it’s beneficial. This has 317 calories, 77% from fat. The lower fat percentage means I have to eat extra-high-fat during the rest of the day to keep my percentage up, but I love eggs, love big breakfasts, and like getting most of my protein early in the day. Too, coconut oil is profoundly ketogenic.
- Pepperoni chips with whipped cream cheese. I take an ounce of pepperoni slices (about 15 little pre-packaged slices), lay them on a plate, and nuke them for 90 seconds on high. They get nicely crispy. I then spread them with a total of 2 tablespoons of cream cheese. Very tasty!
- Tofu shirataki fettuccine with a tablespoon and a half of butter, two tablespoons grated Parmesan, and a touch of garlic. This has a higher fat percentage than the fat fast Alfredo I mentioned in the previous article.
I have a great mac-and-cheese recipe:
Fat Fast Mac-and-Cheese
- 1 packet tofu shirataki, preferably fettuccine width
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon whipped cream cheese
- 1 1/4 ounces cheddar cheese — shredded
- ½ tablespoon coconut oil
Drain and rinse 1 packet of tofu shirataki — I like the fettuccine width or the hard-to-find macaroni version. Put ‘em in a bowl, and nuke them on high for 90 seconds or so. Drain them again. Nuke them again. Drain them again. This should get the excess water out of them.
Add everything else to the bowl, and stir till the cheese melts and you have a smooth sauce. That’s all!
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1 serving with: 339 Calories; 33g Fat (86.4% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber
Being me, I have recipe ideas brewing that I haven’t tried yet. I have a beautiful, ripe avocado in the house, so I think I’ll have half an avocado, sliced, with a teaspoon of olive oil and a half teaspoon lime juice, plus S&P, for my next “feeding.” 202 calories, 82% fat. I have a party to go to tonight, and if the hostess okays my bringing something, I’ll stuff some mushrooms with Boursin cheese and bake them. Too, I’ve figured out that 4 ounces of sliced mushrooms, sauteed in a tablespoon of butter, with a tablespoon of Boursin melted in, will come to 190 calories, 82% fat. I’ve calculated that two jalapeno peppers, seeded and stuffed with a total of 1 ½ ounces of cream cheese, then each wrapped in a strip of bacon and broiled or grilled till the bacon is done, will have 230 calories, 82% fat. And I want to try mixing an ounce each of cream cheese and sour cream with a little melted chocolate, plus chocolate liquid stevia. How bad could it be? 234 calories, 84% fat.
You’ll notice that none of these is 90% fat. I’ve been relying on at least one serving per day of macadamia nuts to push my fat percentage a bit higher. It’s rough, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
(Oh, and I forgot! I actually bought a couple of pounds of beef fat trimmings. I cut this in small strips, lay it on my broiler rack, and roast it till it’s crispy. Don’t have an exact figure on this, but surely it’s at least 90% fat.)
I keep track of my calories and fat percentage in my MasterCook program – I just enter everything I eat as if it were ingredients in a single recipe, then hit the recipe analysis button. I very much recommend that if you fat fast you keep track as well. If you don’t have a food tracker app or program, Fit Day has a free nutrition tracker program that works nicely.
So what’s the take-away message, here? That fat fasting is an extremely fast way to lose fat with minimal muscle loss. That’s it’s not a walk in the park, but it’s not gruesome, either. And that regardless of the restrictions, Dana has to create recipes. (In fact, there’s a part of my brain that given dietary restrictions immediately starts trying to figure out all the best things to eat within those parameters.)
But the most important message – hardly new, but one that needs hammering home over and over again – is that fat is not the enemy. Your low carb diet should not be low fat as well, nor should it be, as so many think, high protein. Super-low carb, moderate protein, high fat is the best way to lose fat.
Or as we say around my house, “Atkins was right.”