Fasting for weight loss
Interestingly, most people who want to lose weight think about what to eat. But with all we learned by now: Shouldn´t we rather think about when to eat? And when not to eat?
As far as I understood, weight gain, weight loss, overweight, and obesity are mostly hormonal topics and not a problem of caloric intake and expenditure.
And the major player in the hormonal field everyone needs to look at is insulin.
Before going deeper into it, please note that it is important to understand that insulin is crucial for our health (everyone having diabetes type 1 will agree at this point) but as always in nature: It is about balance. Too much is to be avoided as too little.
And no doubt: Insulin is one of the key markers to look at when it comes to weight loss.
I wrote about insulin in a couple of articles already. However, insulin is a complex topic and so important that it will come up again and again and again. Especially when it comes to nutrition, weight management, and well-being.
Did you know? While hormones usually have an impact on some organs, insulin is a real multi-talent and has an effect on every single cell in our body. And its tasks differ greatly depending on the different tissues or organs.
I do not pretend that I understand its role fully, and I think I am only scratching at the surface of this topic, but each day I learn a bit more - and with this getting more excited about insulin.
Still - I am not a doctor and I am not giving any medical advice at all. I am just sharing my thoughts and please, treat this as entertainment and personal opinion only.
Put it simple
Ok - let´s forget a second about the complexity of this topic and put it in simple words:
Insulin is a storing hormone and tells your body to store food energy as fat.
👉That means: As long as you have elevated levels of insulin in your body, you can´t access your fat to utilize it as energy and burn it. And with this, we can conclude: You need to lower your insulin to become able to lose weight and burn your body fat.
How to avoid "too much" insulin?
That one is basically easy to answer: You can avoid high and constantly high levels of insulin by following a low-carb lifestyle and by not eating outside your meals. You guessed right: No grazing - no snacking. Both would keep your insulin elevated all the time!
The good news is: When living low-carb, snacking and grazing are not needed, and you´re not hungry all the time - you might even forget about eating. And here we are starting to talk about fasting. Let´s come back to this point later as we need to look at some other things first.
Did you know? Too much insulin is basically the problem of diabetes type 2. Not only that, but also insulin resistance and elevated glucose levels. It all goes hand-in-hand.
How to avoid "too little" insulin?
That one is also easy to answer: As long as you do not have diabetes type 1, your pancreas will produce insulin based on your needs.
If you have diabetes type 1, I think you checked with your doctor already and "supplement" insulin based on your needs. Therefore - too little insulin is most likely not an issue if you do not have diabetes type 1.
Leave the fat-storing mode
We now know that we need to have low insulin levels to allow our bodies to burn our fat.
A high amount of insulin in your bloodstream keeps your body from burning the fat you have stored - and that´s a problem if you want to get rid of your fat to become leaner. With elevated insulin levels, there is no access to your fat stores besides putting more fat in. And that´s not what we want to do, right?
We basically need to leave the fat-storing mode that is active when having high insulin levels and go into a fat-burning mode when insulin is low.
Therefore: The first step to losing weight (assuming you want to lose fat and not simply cut off your leg) is to lower your insulin to allow your body to burn your fat. And while doing this - you will increase your health and well-being dramatically. So keep on reading, dear friend!
Let´s talk fasting
I mentioned it above already: You can lower your insulin by not eating outside of your meals and by stopping to snack.
To put this into other words: Lowering insulin can be achieved by fasting.
In the absence of food, especially in the absence of carbs and protein, insulin levels are falling, your glucose levels normalize and you are ultimately reaching the point in which your body can utilize the fat you stored for exactly the time when food is scarce. This might not happen on day 1, but it will happen.
If you are not eating, you are not raising your blood glucose levels and with this, you are not triggering your pancreas to produce insulin to "clear" your blood.
If you are not eating, your body soon realizes that the elevated insulin levels are not needed, and it takes the insulin back
If you are not eating, your insulin levels are coming back to normal and even low normal levels, and you can finally access your fat stores and burn your body fat for fuel
And by lowering your insulin levels, your cells soon begin to react normally to insulin again.
Don´t worry: As you still need and want to eat sometimes just because eating is awesome, tasty, and wonderful, you are not not-eating until you reach your goal weight, but keep on eating daily or every other day.
What to eat?
Once you stop eating all day long and allow your body to digest and calm down, you are lowering your insulin levels naturally.
To not raise it dramatically again with every meal, I recommend sticking to low-carb and high-fat meals with a moderate amount of protein. Simply go keto 💪
(In my blog are a couple of articles about nutrition and keto that might help you get started: https://www.themultiblog.com/post/was-ist-ketose )
Why keto? Because we do not want the pancreas to produce a lot of insulin after each meal and rather keep low insulin levels to never leave the fat-burning mode. With this, you keep on burning your body fat even though you are eating.
Intermittent fasting like 16/8 or 18/6 seems to be perfect for maintenance and avoiding weight gain. However - for me, those schedules do not work optimally for weight loss. But hey - Maybe they work for you! This would be awesome as it is slightly easier. 👍
My weight loss is speeding up on longer fasts.
While I lose weight on OMAD too, the effect is more visible after a fast of 36 or 42 hours. I guess that during this time, my insulin levels have been low for quite some time, and the body had enough time to use some of the stored fat to keep me energized.
I did not test extended fasts of more than 48 hours yet but depending on where you are in your journey and how your general health level is, such longer fasts might work for you - or not. Please check with your doctor!
In any case, just keep in mind that having a low insulin level is key for losing weight successfully and for keeping it where you want it to be.