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August 31, 2019

DAILYKENN.com -- It's just after midnight, August 31, 2019. I'm 34 hours into a six-day fast. Will I make it? Time will tell. I may cut it short after three days. 

As you read you will learn how I lost 100 lbs in the course of a year, then kept it off for 12 months. 

There are reasons for this long-term fast.


First, today is the two-year anniversary of my latest weight loss endeavor. The first year (2017-2018) I reduced to 150 lbs from about 260 lbs. (Actually, medical records report my maximum weight at 257. That was a snapshot when I visited the doctor's office. I almost certainly weighed more than that at some point and may have weighed as much as 270 lbs or more.)

Yesterday I recorded my weight at 153 lbs. That was before I mowed the lawn and spent 15 minutes in the sauna. After the sauna my weight dropped to 150 lbs. I'll weigh myself again later this evening for an official 2-year benchmark. I'm guessing it will be just under 150 lbs.

My waist measures 38 inches. That's six inches too many. The average hip measurement for men is 32 inches. The ideal waist measurement is .9 of the hip measurement, according to the World Health Organization. My goal is a 1 to 1 ratio; or 32-inch waist. Waist to hip ratio is, in my opinion, a preferred gauge of health than weight. 

Second, I have a colonoscopy scheduled September 4. The plan is to eat nothing until after the procedure. I'll probably wait until the 5th of September and break my fast with cottage cheese and pre-biotic yogurt; maybe some eggs, chicken bone broth with butter, or some other food that is not solid.

Third are the benefits of long-term fasting. These include fat management through ketosis, autophagy, human growth hormone production, stem cell development, and minimizing insulin reactions. Fasting also engenders enhanced energy and increased serotonin.

I consumed my last morsel of food (a tiny bit of hamburger and cheese sample at Sam's Club) at 2 pm Thursday, August 29. It's now just past midnight, Saturday, August 31.

Hunger is not an issue. I've done a lot of long-term fasting over the past year. My pizza and ice cream addictions seem a thing of the past. McDonalds signs have lost their allure. Food is now seen as a source of nutrition rather than a pleasantry for the sake of satiating an out-of-control appetite. (I think they call that "gluttony".)

Ghrelin attacks seldom occur. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes your stomach feel hungry and crave food. Apparently my brain has adapted to fasting and no longer signals the release of ghrelin as it once did. I learned that ghrelin attacks only last for ten or fifteen minutes. The most effective response to ghrelin attacks for me is to just ignore them, knowing each attack will soon go away. The notion that hunger increases over the course of a long-term fast simply isn't true.

I've been drinking diet Pepsi and taking small amounts of Himalayan sea salt mixed with with turmeric and pepper. The pepper, they say, helps the turmeric to assimilate; to do its job. I mix the salt, turmeric, and pepper in a tiny bowl, dip my finger in it, and lick it off. Two or three dips seem sufficient.

I'm also taking my daily dose of water with sodium bicarbonate, Cream of Tartar (potassium), and dashes of apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and ginger juice. That concoction (about 1/2 cup) is made palatable with a bit of Stevia. Some say that technically breaks the fast. I'm not trying to be technical. I'm attempting to optimize my health. Beside, a tiny splash of juice won't cause an insulin reaction. And that is a primary objective of fasting. I'm also taking prescribed meds twice each day; including vitamins without vitamin K (due to my heart valve.)

Beginning now I plan to abstain from Diet Pepsi, relying exclusively on a bit of tap water and store-bought water with electrolytes "for flavor". I learned my lesson a little over a year ago when I passed out apparently due to a lack of electrolytes or salt deficiency. That resulted in a tumble to the floor, a torn rotator cuff, and surgery. The end goal, after all, is not weight loss for sake of making the number go down on a scale. The end goal is optimal health. Torn muscles are not normally catalogued as optimal health.

Speaking of muscles, I plan to continue my workout regimen that includes daily walks. I've been taking seven-mile walks every day. I'm also mowing the grass about every second or third day. (The objective is not to cut grass when it's tall, but keep it from getting tall. It's also an excuse to sun myself in vitamin D.)

Self talk seems to be the bane of everyone who practices fasting. "This one bite won't hurt," you hear yourself thinking. "Then you can get right back on the wagon."  I've learned to talk back. "Yes, that one bite will hurt," I respond. That one bite is the finger-sized hole in the dyke. It leads to a second bite and a third. Eventually, you'll eat an entire meal; more than had you never begun your fast.

I think of self talking as conversations between inner demons and angels. May the angels always win the debate. "Think how good you'll feel when you successfully conclude your fast," my angel whispers in my ear. I usually find myself prodding the angel to get him to speak up.

What is the optimal weight for me? My optimal weight — and I'm only guessing — is probably 140 lbs. It may be as low as 130 lbs. I won't know until I get there, take a look in the mirror, measure my waist, and visit the doctor. Besides, waist to hip ratio is a better gauge for me.

I'd like to have a nearly-flat stomach. I plan to retain some adipose tissue, or fat, to retain a back-up energy store. I'd also like some excess fat to avoid ending up like Karen Carpenter. Too much fat and too little fat are detrimental to vital organs, they say.

Appearance, by the way, is not the objective. Rather, it's a side benefit. Most men my age are cursed with a slowing metabolic rate that precludes an unsightly and dangerous excess in fat; particularly around the midsection. I plan to be the exception.

If I achieve my flat-stomach goal, it will be the first time in my adult life. I was skin-and-bones as a child. After high school I began to add fat. At age 18 my belly was beginning to betray my newly found love affair with food. 48 years later I'm on the verge of returning to my svelte high school body.

Once achieved, I plan on retaining an optimal fat reserve. (Notice I didn't say, "optimal weight." I really don't care about weight. I care about health.)

How do I plan to do that? I plan to continue reading articles and watching YouTube videos from a variety of nutrition gurus. Some physicians produce videos that advocate the keto approach. This seems to be the most effective for me. It's the approach I've adopted. Others advocate plant-based regimens and some of those allow small amounts of animal products. A few gurus advocate the carnivorous diet approach. All gurus cite studies that support their respective cases. And all insist their strategies ward off cancer. Considering that some research suggests that protein can be detrimental to those with kidney disease, I plan to limit my protein intake. (I'm currently at third-stage kidney failure. If I can prevent my kidneys from worsening, I should be fine.)

I end each week by creating a one-meal-a-day (OMAD) menu for the following week. I then track the week-to-week results. A spreadsheet is utilized to accomplish this.

My menu includes a meat column that budgets beef, salmon, and liver most weeks. Chicken is sometimes included to boost collagen. The fat column tracks bacon, avocados, and butter. 

I add red vegetables in the anthocyanins column each day. These include radishes and bell peppers. Red fruit, such as grapes, veer from the keto ideal due to fructose, but will occasionally be added.

Eggs will show up in a protein column, though I seldom eat eggs daily. The dairy column includes heavy whipping cream (add eggs and Stevia in a blender; very good!), Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese, and Good Culture Simply Cottage Cheese. Dairy products contain lactose which is, of course, a sugar. However, it does not produce an insulin reaction as dramatic as fructose and glucose.

The vegetable column rotates kale, baby spinach, baby greens, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. No salad dressing for me. I prefer Himalayan sea salt.

Bread is not on the menu. However, Sunday's are our day to dine out and carbohydrates show up on my plate in the form of dinner rolls, breading on pork tenderloins, chicken strips, and fish. Pizza consumption has been reduced from monthly to two or three times per year.

I made a list of twenty-three restaurants in our area. Those are plotted on a spreadsheet next to a date. The outcome is a year-long schedule of where we'll have our Sunday dinner. Yes, I know a year in advance where we plan to eat. OMAD is tossed out on Sundays.

I refer to Sunday's as "cheat days," even though they're actually incorporated into the dietary budget and are not, technically, cheating. I also have "super-cheat days." These are special events such as holidays and birthdays. Yes, I actually eat sugar via cake and ice cream and will even load my plate with carb-laden noodles.

A typical week is: OMAD and keto on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; fasting on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday allows for moderate consumption of carbohydrates.

Other strategies include weighing myself daily and recording the results; again using a spreadsheet. I then record the weekly average. A once-a-month waist measurement is also recorded, though I sometimes forget to do it. Clothing is a less-than-accurate gauge of excess stored fat, but helps keep things in perspective. I recently gave away two seldom-worn suits. They were simply too large. What's more, I can no longer wear my skinny jeans; even with a belt and suspenders. They're size 40. Standing sideways in front of a mirror is a particularly good measure of success. Flat mirrors don't lie. Truth-telling is also accessible by keeping a few fat photos of my chubby self within view. Those photos are motivational reminders of where I've been and could return.

How did I lose 100 lbs in one year? I applied an eating system with the three components — keto, OMAD, and fasting (KOF) — described below.

• I utilize the keto lifestyle.

The keto lifestyle abandons calorie counting. It is a high fat (75%), lower protein (20%), and very low carbohydrate (5%) eating system. The objective is to place your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Your body consumes ketones and fat rather than carbohydrates. The health benefits are documented by at least 23 studies. Bread, potatoes, corn syrup, and sugar are virtually eliminated. 

• I eat one meal a day. 

I used to graze. That is, I made the mistake of eating micro-meals every three waking hours. I errantly thought that would ward off hunger. It actually did the opposite. My mind was fixated on the clock as I waited for the next eating opportunity. Grazing triggered a non-stop insulin reaction that inhibited fat loss. One meal a day (OMAD) does the opposite. I typically eat between 7 pm and 8 pm. Due to the high fat consumption, I am satiated. I'm not hungry. 

• I fast. 

My extended fasts usually last about 80 hours. My last meal of the week is usually Wednesday evening. I break the fasts early Sunday mornings around 4 am. I would then eat periodically through the day on Sundays.

• I'm not "on a diet."

There is a very good reason: A diet implies a start and finish with the goal of losing weight. Once the weight is lost, the diet ends. Weight returns. Rather than dieting, I created a mind-set regimen that consumes food necessary to maintain optimal body weight. The eating system must be sustainable; something I will do for the rest of my life.

I'm now 35 hours into a 6-day fast.



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