In my FAQs page I touch a little on our experience with fasting; however it has been such an effective and amazing part of our lives, that it deserves its very own page.
We started keto August 2015 and lost about 150 pounds combined within the first year. During that time and in the months after, we tried a few different methods. The reason is – eventually, you get down to a weight where your normal intake of calories is only low enough to maintain your current weight, and you stop losing. This is often referred to “plateauing” or “stalling”, and people usually get very frustrated and potentially give up. More often than not, they cheat. Sometimes (for whatever reason) having a cheat day will benefit you, but sometimes you’ll just gain weight. Several factors are involved in your weight, and it’s impossible to account for every ounce.
In the end, all plateauing means is that you need to change gears; you require a bigger gap between your calories in, and calories out. This can be accomplished by getting more exercise, eating fewer calories, or both. Below are the gears we have changed.
1st Gear | Cutting Out Carbs
When we started keto, we did it full time in the very beginning; by that I mean 7 days a week, 2 meals a day (breakfast and dinner). It was a new way of eating/way of life, and we wanted quick results. The first 20-30 pounds came off pretty easily, simply by cutting down on the amount of carbs we were consuming. Some was due to a release of water weight, some was a result of decreased appetite because we were eating better foods, as opposed to empty carbs that never seemed to really satisfy hunger. Thanks to overall calorie reduction (and the calories we were eating, being very efficient), we lost weight easily.
Well, life happens, and we did some celebrating during the holidays, moved to a new city, and we were feeling good about what we accomplished thus far! While we still wanted to lose weight, we also missed normal food. Now, you’re probably thinking, “why didn’t you just make the yummy keto food on your website?”, and here is why. Prior to August 2016, the only times I cooked were, 1) carby foods, and 2) more often than not, out-of-the-box or frozen meals. Keto, to us, still meant snacking on pepperoni and cheese, and eating bunless burgers. This entire world of “ketofying” real food was not a part of our lives yet, so carb-filled cheat days were our outlet.
Not to say there’s anything wrong with that in the beginning, and it may have actually been what kept us on it for so long. Getting that little fix on the weekend tided us over. If having a cheat day or two was what it took for us to not only be able to handle being “on track” for 5 days, but in some cases – made us actually miss that energetic, confident, “skinny” feeling keto gave us – then so be it. It was still better than quitting keto and going back to “normal” eating full time. However, at one point, it just stopped being worth it. While we relaxed on the weekends and didn’t have any problem getting back to keto full force on Monday, we weren’t making the best progress in our weight loss. It was more along the lines of maintaining/losing very slowly. So we re-evaluated (changed gears).
2nd Gear | All-Out “Keto” Cheat Days
Apparently eating Buffalo Wild Wings boneless wings, a large order of onion rings, and an entireVanilla Caramel Creme pie is not the secret weight loss trick we hoped it would be. So we realized, we just can’t “do” carbs anymore (unless it’s a special occasion – live your life! ☺).
We had the genius idea to instead, have KETO cheat days. 👊🎤⬇ How smart are we?!
We had things like: Halo Top ice cream shakes, cashews, Smok A Roni, Steak Strips, sugar free candy, etc. “They’re keto! Yeah, we’re being a little bit naughtier than we are during the week – but everything is low carb!” Turns out, keto is not exempt from math. While something may be low carb for one serving – it’s no longer low carb after 10, and/or in addition to all the other things you’re eating.
We dialed it back a lot, and instead of going all out, we allowed ourselves to have a keto dessert on the weekends. It was also the only time we could snack (minimally), and our progress continued. However that progress – like the progress before it – began to stagnate. Our “relaxing” days were under control, but even though we were still only eating twice a day, it was getting more difficult to make any progress. This kept up for a while. I mean…we were eating keto, we were active on our bikes (it’s our single mode of transportation now) – what else was there we could do to lose weight?
3rd Gear | Fasting
Since the first time I heard about Intermittent Fasting (IF), I have wanted to try it. There are many different combinations of days and hours that people choose to eat/not eat between. Some people block off certain hours a day (such as 16:8 which is 16 hours fasting and only eating within an 8 hour window), some people choose to block out days (such as 5:2 which is 5 normal eating days and 2 fasting days per week), and all combinations in between. Fasting – like keto – is completely customizable.
When I mentioned IF to my boyfriend, his instinct was to say “it’s not good for you.” I argued that it was, and after researching to prove his side to me, the only things he was able to find were benefits. One of the methods people chose was fasting every-other-day. What worked for us was eating our 2 keto meals (breakfast and dinner) Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (Friday and Saturday were also “relaxing days”). However Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday were “fasting” days, where we eat ¼ of our normal daily intake in calories. For us, ¼ of our normal intake equaled roughly 300 calories. Although keto and IF are customizable, some people will still argue “any calorie consumption, even a stick of gum – will break your fast!”. Others will refer to an “egg fast” which is “a (short term) diet that consists of primarily eggs, cheese, and butter“. Again, including anything and everything in between. Roughly 300 calories a day worked for us.
The weight started coming off again! At this point we’ve been doing keto for almost 2 years and are once again approaching our goal weight. We’re making progress, and it’s quick like when we started keto! We lost another 10-15 pounds, then it came to a halt again.
4th Gear | Christina’s Fasting Melting Pot
I had been researching a lot recently about calorie/fat intake, and after all my research I came to the conclusion that I was still eating too much for my activity level. Although I was only eating twice a day like my boyfriend, and we were having the same thing for dinner – my breakfasts were higher in calorie than his were. The simple solution would be just to have smaller/equal calorie breakfast, right? Well I still wanted to do 23:1 fasting. The ideas of starting off the day “empty”, having my body burn its own stored fat for energy, and having a clear and sharp mind all day, were very appealing to me. I told my boyfriend I was going to simply skip having breakfasts on our “eating” days. I still do our “300 calorie” fasting days on Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday; however Monday and Wednesday I also only eat once. Ultimately I do 23:1 fasting 5 days a week, but 3 of those days are only 300 calories. The other two days are “relaxed keto” to satisfy some ice cream and protein chips cravings. 😉
Now, some people will say what I used to; that “calories don’t matter” – and to be fair, other than on fasting days we have never tracked calories. We especially don’t now because we already have a huge deficit, therefor counting is pretty pointless and would only be informational. There would be nothing to “assess”. It didn’t take me counting the calories to realize I was eating too many to lose weight anymore. I simply cut them down, and when the weight started melting off again – that just confirmed my suspicions.
For those who might say “Of course you’re losing weight – you just don’t eat” – I’ve taken the liberty of giving a little play-by-play of just the things I could remember or had documented over the initial 2 weeks. It looks to me like I’m eating very well, wouldn’t you agree? ☺
Results of “Christina’s Fasting Melting Pot”
- *Disclaimer: Do keep in mind that this is just what I could confirm we ate on these days, whether by photo proof or memory. Sunday – Thursday are pretty exact as I’m very strict those days, but Friday and Saturday…I am forgetting things. Many, many things.
Weight loss: 4.4 pounds
Weight loss: 3.0 pounds
Not shown is week #3 where I broke the previous 2 week’s records and lost another 4.8 pounds! I just didn’t make a food diary for it. 🙂
5th Gear | 5-Day Fasts
Below is my experience after fasting for 5 days (Monday – Friday). This method worked so well for me; not only weight loss wise, but physically feeling better than I ever have, and having just the most energy. I will definitely be doing extended fasting again.
I just finished a 5 day fast (Sunday night to Saturday morning) and wanted to share my experience, especially since some of you were doing it with me! 🤹♀️ . I thought about keeping a journal, however I realized every day was "overall" the same. Admittedly, I had the luxury of 1) already intermittent fasting for about the past year, so long, foodless stretches were something I was used to, and 2) When I did eat during the week, lately it has only been between 500 – 600 calories as I eat a LOT more on the weekends. Basically the only difference between doing *my* version of OMAD (one meal a day) and fasting for 5 days was, instead of eating one (small) meal a day…I simply didn't do that. . For someone who doesn't do intermittent fasting, it would no doubt be a different experience. Luckily I've been inadvertently preparing for this and it was exponentially easier than I ever imagined not eating for a week would be. Physically, I have never felt better than I have during this week. While I simply WANTED food, I didn't feel "hungry" at any point. The desire for food has and will always be with me, fasting or not. . Now for the parts everyone wants to know: . 1) "Won't you just gain aaaaaall the weight back and more when you start eating again?" . I don't understand why people think this is a thing. No. You gain weight because of overeating; not eating. . 2) "How much weight did you lose?!" . I lost at least 5.4 pounds over the course of 5 days, and I say "at least" because I didn't take a starting weight when I began the fast – I'm just using last Saturday's weekly weigh in. But keep in mind, I go calorie CRAZY on the weekends, so at LEAST 5.4 pounds were lost which brought me to a 🎈🎉NEW LOW🎉🎈!!! . 3) "Would you do it again?" . Extended fasts are definitely going to be the new normal for me. The number of days will vary depending on several factors, but yes – this was an amazing experience, extremely efficient, and I will be doing it quite regularly from now on.