Will July 4 be your Independence Day?

On America’s 245th birthday you will be about 20 weeks older than you are today.

How would you feel if you were 20 pounds lighter?

Wouldn’t you feel an amazing sense of freedom?

Like it’s your Independence Day?

I’m not saying you can have a beach body by Memorial Day. But if you lose just a pound a week, you will be down 20 by the 4th of July.

You can do it, and in the phrasing of our Social Media University, Global (SMUG) motto, Suus Non Ut Difficile, “It’s not that hard.”

I don’t have special meal replacement shakes or supplements or anything else to sell.

What I’m suggesting is totally free. In fact, it will save you money.

Two years ago, in 10 weeks of alternate-day fasting, I lost 14.2 pounds.

Lisa, despite her extra challenges being post-menopausal and with thyroid issues, lost 10.

In alternate-day fasting you still eat dinner every evening.

You just skip breakfast and lunch every other day, and so on alternate days you go from dinner one night until dinner the next without eating.

In that time you’ll burn about half a pound of fat because of your sustained low insulin levels.

Do it two or three times a week and you’ll lose at least a pound a week.

It’s a lot easier if you’re limiting carbohydrates and getting plenty of healthy fats. That prevents cravings that could lead to overeating during your feeding windows.

If you want to add some heavy whipping cream (not half-and-half) to your coffee on the fasting days, that’s OK and you may find it easier. It won’t spike your insulin, and you’ll switch pretty seamlessly between burning your stored fat and the fat in the cream, and then back again.

If you start now and just plug away at it week after week, you won’t believe the progress you’ll see by the time the fireworks fly.

Getting ready to leave on our Wild West Adventure

Lisa and I felt fantastic in August 2018, after our 10-week experiment, when we left for a three-week driving tour that took us to throughout the western U.S.

We feel even better now; another 15-20 pounds lighter and even more in control of our eating patterns.

If you’re not yet ready to dive into alternate-day fasting, start with the #BodyBabySteps.

The important thing is to start at some level today. Begin building your momentum. Small steps, repeated consistently, will get you there.

Check out My Health Journey for the full story of our health improvements, and my #BodyBabySteps for an approach to how I would do it if I were starting today, based on what I’ve learned.

I post updates frequently you can follow on FacebookTwitter  and LinkedIn, or you can subscribe by email to make sure you get them.

Have you tried alternate-day fasting? If so, what was your experience with it? If not, what questions do you have?

Extended Benefits of Extended Fasts

As I noted in an update the day after my Stepping Off the Wagon post, I was shocked that after eating a whole pizza and more than one gluten-free beer, I was still able to stay in therapeutic ketosis.

Since Lisa and I concluded our #3DayCancerPreventionFast on January 27, in addition to January 31 we have stepped off the wagon two more times: February 11 and last night.

While Lisa has stopped the daily glucose and ketone measurements between our monthly extended fasts, I have kept them up since then. My readings for the 24 hours after the first excursion are above, and below are those for the period after the February 11:

I technically was out of GKI ketosis on the morning of the 12th, but by fasting as I stepped back on the wagon I was back to moderate ketosis by dinner time.

So because we’ve handled our off-wagon ventures with few negative effects, and because Lisa was away most of the day yesterday, we decide to exchange Valentine’s Day presents a day late. Here was hers to me:

Some in the low-carb/ketogenic community believe it’s essential to always rigorously limit carbs to avoid undoing all of the good of ketosis, and that one step off the wagon will undo weeks of effort.

They say it puts you right back to square one.

I cautiously disagree, at least for myself and for Lisa.

One way it could derail us would be if it became a gateway to ravenous, uncontrolled carbohydrate indulgence.

I’m confident that won’t be the case for us today, because it hasn’t led to this in the past.

We will enjoy our black coffee this morning, and fast until dinner.

The other way it theoretically could cause a problem would be if it reversed the fat-adaptation we had achieved. I think the ketone readings above in my post-pizza periods – all of them 0.5 mmol/L or higher – show that the ketone production is continuing.

That’s a secondary benefit of extended fasting, on top of a generally low-carb eating pattern.

In addition to activating autophagy and apoptosis, an extended fast flips the fat-burning switch to high gear.

The fundamental idea behind ketogenic eating and fasting is to restore metabolic flexibility the ability to use both sugar and fat for fuel.

Unfortunately, the typical American diet has so much sugar and starch in their various forms that it destroys fat-burning capability.

As I finish this post before starting work, and having just taken my morning readings, I’ve seen my ketones dip to 0.4 mmol/L, the first time I’ve been below 0.5 in a month.

So it suggests I probably should wait until after the next #3DayCancerPreventionFast for another pizza night.

Update: I tracked my “day after” glucose and ketones three times today, and here were the readings:

With plenty of carbs in my system from a whole pizza and a couple of gluten-free beers, and with the normal morning rise in glucose levels, I wasn’t too surprised that ketones dipped a bit further even at noon. But with only black coffee in the morning and coffee with cream at noon, I’m now solidly back into GKI ketosis.

Time for some scrambled eggs for dinner!

See the whole series about my health journey. Follow along on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn or subscribe by email

Rebecca Williams: Then and Now

I began telling the story of my health journey about 13 months ago on this blog to share what my wife Lisa and I had learned over the previous three years about getting metabolically healthy and losing weight.

We told Lisa’s story of losing at least 40 pounds in July, and followed up in November with her amazing achievement of fitting into her wedding dress for the first time in 36 years. We’re now both down 50 pounds or more from our respective peaks.

Along the way several readers have told us how we had helped to inspire them to try low-carb eating and intermittent fasting. That’s been really gratifying for us, because it’s exactly why we shared our stories in the first place.

So we were particularly happy John Bishop agreed to share his story in August, and that now Rebecca Williams, a colleague at Mayo Clinic, is doing likewise.

Below is Rebecca’s story in her own words. She’s living proof that the standard “eat less, move more” advice is simplistic and ineffective for weight loss in the real world.

And that there is a better way. Here’s what she sent me:

10 years ago, at the age of 41, I ran my first mile with the goal of finishing a marathon. Like many, I really thought that I would lose a tremendous amount of weight by running.

I was wrong. I lost a little, but I was still 60 pounds overweight when I crossed the marathon finish line a year and a half after I ran that first mile. Why was that? I thought I did everything I was supposed to do when running long distance. I carb loaded, I fueled with gels every 30-60 minutes, and since I was burning a tremendous number of calories, I rewarded myself afterwards with pancakes and ice cream.

However, when I step back and objectively assess what I did, I see where I went wrong. 

Rebecca at mile 25 of her 2012 marathon (left), and in a workout earlier this month.

On average, runners burn 100 calories per mile. So, let’s say I’m out for a 15-mile-long run. That means I’m burning 1,500 calories. However, carrying 60 extra pounds meant that 15 miles took me 3-4 hours, and if I was ingesting a 100 calorie gel every 30 minutes, I was taking in at least 600 calories. Then if I rewarded myself with pancakes and ice cream afterwards, that would quickly surpass the additional 900 calories I burned while running. No wonder I didn’t lose weight!

Over the past 10 years I continued running and finished a 200-mile relay, nine half marathons, and countless 5K’s. The weight hung on.

In March of 2020, my husband, Bruce, discovered Dr. Annette Bosworth (a.k.a. Dr. Boz), an internal medicine physician from South Dakota. He purchased her book Anyway You Can, and after reading it he was inspired. The book tells the story of how she saved her mother’s life. Her mother was battling stage IV Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Facing another round of chemo, her mother decided that she would rather die. Dr. Boz had been studying the science behind the ketogenic diet and was convinced that it would help her mother. The book is the full story of how the ketogenic diet helped her mother achieve optimal health while still battling this chronic cancer. Throughout the book she also explains the benefits of the ketogenic diet.

At the time I was reading this book, Lee Aase started posting stories about his and his wife, Lisa’s, health journey, and I was inspired by them. When I finished Dr. Boz’ book, I was convinced that this is what I needed to do. 

Bruce and I took Dr. Boz’ online course, Consistently Keto, and on September 7, 2020 we started our ketogenic journey.

  • We reduced our total (TOTAL not net) carbs to <20g per day.
  • We measure our urine ketones each morning and use the Chronometer app to track our food and activity.
  • I began my day with a bulletproof coffee using a tablespoon of salted ghee and a tablespoon of Brain Octane Oil (MCT). This would keep me satiated until Noon when I at two eggs and 3-4 strips of bacon. I had a half cup of mixed nuts and cheese for an afternoon snack, and dinner was a ribeye steak with creamed spinach.
  • As the weeks progressed, I started to incorporate 18:6 intermittent fasting. I dropped the bulletproof coffee and now drink it plain and black. My eating window is from Noon to 6pm. 

Since beginning this keto journey, I am rarely hungry, and the sugar/carb cravings are gone. I lost 25 pounds, and I am continuing to run. However, I now run in a fasted state as my body is using my fat for fuel.

I still have 35 pounds to lose in order to reach my goal weight, but I have to say that the ketogenic diet is by far the easiest thing I have ever done and the only thing that has ever worked to help me drop the weight. 

I feel amazing! So amazing, in fact, that I am training for my second marathon. In January 2021 I started a couch to marathon training program. The first 12 weeks is training for a 5K, the next 12 weeks are training for a 10K, the next 12 weeks are training for a half marathon, and then the final 12 weeks are training for the Walt Disney World marathon in January 2022. I’m looking forward to this experience allowing my body to burn fat for fuel rather than depend on carbs.

The hardest part of this was making the decision to do it. The easiest part is doing it.

If you have been considering trying low-carb living with intermittent fasting, I hope Rebecca’s story will be that extra nudge that gets you started.

If you have questions about keto or fasting, feel free to ask in the comments below or in my social feeds on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

If like John and Rebecca you have a story you’re willing to share to help inspire others, send me an email.

I hope you’ll pass along Rebecca’s story with your friends using the sharing buttons below.

Stepping Off the Wagon

It was glorious.

And I didn’t even share a bite.

Lisa had a thin-crust Herb Chicken Mediterranean, and she didn’t share either.

I don’t think that’s what they mean by The Mediterranean Diet.

We had started our #3DayCancerPreventionFast last Sunday afternoon, and since noon Tuesday had been in at least a moderate level of GKI ketosis (<6).

My ketones had been above 1.0 mmol/L since later that afternoon, and for most of the time since then I was in the high (<3) or highest (<1) GKI level for four straight days.

Mission accomplished.

Chapter 16 of The Case for Keto, an outstanding book by Gary Taubes which I highly recommend, is called “Lessons to Eat By.” One of these six lessons is from Katherine Kasha, a family medicine doctor from Edmonton, Canada.

If you do fall off the wagon, at least you know there’s a wagon to get back on.

Dr. Katherine Kasha

When Lisa and I first heard this in the audio book it really resonated with our experience.

The problem we had four years ago was we didn’t really know what would work for us to reliably lose weight.

Now we know what works – where the wagon is heading – and can easily get back on. And we step on the scale each morning to track out direction.

We do take issue to some extent, however, with the admonition from some that when you get on the low-carb path you need to come to grips with never eating some of those favorite carb-laden foods again.

But then they talk about “falling off the wagon,” and not letting it get you defeated, and that instead you need to “just get back on.”

I don’t think that’s the best way to think about it, and as I discussed it with Lisa, I developed what I think is a much better formulation:

You decide when you want to step off the wagon.

And then you step back on.

That makes it much less likely you will fall off it.

If I think I can never have pizza again, I’m much more likely to be tempted to indulge.

Or to sneak a few fries from the grandchildren at the fast food drive-through window.

But if I plan when I will be having it (or my favorite ice cream dessert), I don’t feel perpetually deprived.

You have to know yourself. You may have a carbohydrate addiction, and for you it might, at this point, be like someone with alcoholism taking a drink.

You may want to wait until you’ve reached your weight loss or health goals, when you feel confident enough that you won’t relapse.

And maybe at that point you’ll be so happy and well-adapted to low carb that you’re not even interested in pizza, pasta and cookies.

I really enjoy ketogenic eating, and combined with the daily weigh-ins I don’t have concerns that stepping off the wagon today will get me seriously off course.

These were my glucose and ketone readings before I stepped off at about 7 p.m. tonight.

So it’s bye-bye ketosis tonight, and I’ll update this post later with both my lowest ketone and highest GKI readings, and then with how long it takes me to get back into GKI ketosis.

What’s your experience? Does a planned excursion help you stay on the wagon most of the time? Or has it led to a significant setback?

Check out My Health Journey for the full story of our health improvements, and my #BodyBabySteps for an approach to how I would do it if I were starting today, based on what I’ve learned.

I post updates frequently you can follow on FacebookTwitter  and LinkedIn, or you can subscribe by email to make sure you get them.

Update (2/1/2021):

Well, I thought it was going to be bye-bye to ketosis.

First, I will confess that the gluten-free beer pictured above was not my only one Saturday evening.

I was pleasantly surprised – astonished even – that the next morning I was still in GKI ketosis, and that with my regular LCHF eating on Sunday I stayed there, although I was technically borderline last night.

And at right you see my readings just before work this morning.

Seems that’s a topic for another post.

Weight Loss Side Effects of the #3DayCancerPreventionFast

In a comment on LinkedIn this morning, Janet Kennedy asked:

I’m glad she asked, because it highlights an important positive side effect of the #3DayCancerPreventionFast.

You may have noticed that I haven’t said anything about weight loss in my previous posts about this experiment, because that wasn’t the main goal.

The goal of our fast was getting to a high enough level of therapeutic ketosis that it would stimulate autophagy (recycling of damaged or inefficient cell organelles, especially mitochondria) and put any cancer or precancerous cells under enough stress that they would trigger apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Another major benefit of extended fasting is a recharged and rejuvenated immune system, so if apoptosis doesn’t cause the cancer cells to commit suicide, maybe they’ll be weakened enough for our natural immune defenses to kill them.

And there’s this virus going around, perhaps you’ve heard of it, that seems to generally cause more severe consequences in older people than it does in children and young adults.

A rejuvenated (literally “made young again”) immune system would seem to come in handy for that, too.

Although weight loss wasn’t the main goal of our #3DayCancerPreventionFast, it was a beneficial side effect. A nice bonus.

As Dr. Jason Fung says, the basic logic of fasting is simple: “If you don’t eat, you will lose weight.”

Here’s what we found:

  • Lisa and I each lost six pounds from our Sunday morning weigh-in, before starting the fast, to our low point post-fast on Thursday morning, after we had concluded the fast on Wednesday.
  • My weight went up a little on Monday morning because I had two meals on Sunday, beginning my fast at 4:30 p.m., so the loss from my high point was 8.8 pounds.
  • The high point of our weights early in the month correspond to the visit of my daughter Ruthie and her husband and daughter. They’re missionaries in Bulgaria, and were back in the country around the holidays, staying with us from Jan. 3-8. That was a feasting time, and we could revel in it without fear or guilt because we balance it with fasting.

I call that a balanced diet – balancing feasting and fasting – not seeking some kind of equal partitioning of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

We enjoyed having Trevin, Ruthie and Noa Hoot home with us to start the New Year with a feast.

To answer Janet’s second question, as you can see in the graphs above we’ve reached our weight goals, and had been there before the holidays. Now as we head into February with no major feasts on the schedule, we will settle into a more normal rhythm, gradually eating a little more toward the end of the month, so that after our next fast we’ll be again about at this level.

In future posts I’ll do a deeper exploration of how our fast affected blood sugar and ketone levels, workout capacity and sleep, as well as some overall reflections and our plans for February and March fasts.

And if you, like Janet, have other questions about, please ask them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them.

You can  subscribe by email to make sure you get new posts delivered, or follow along on on FacebookTwitter  or LinkedIn.

Check out My Health Journey for the full story of our health improvements, and my #BodyBabySteps for an approach to how I would do it if I were starting today, based on what I’ve learned.