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Skip breakfast and have a real meal later - intermittent fasting
December 9, 2011 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Intermittent fasting can affect insulin sensitivity. And a new eating style has developed around this idea. Skip breakfast and enjoy big meals late in the day instead of what Martin Berkhan (fitness trainer with attitude bigger than his muscles - be warned) called kindergarten meals 6 times a day.

Previously, fasting was discussed here associated with benefits of caloric restriction, and also as a way to get over jet lag.
posted by Listener (86 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh. Interesting. I wonder how well this will work?

I personally can't eat within an hour of waking up. Food, even the thought of it, nauseates me. I generally wake up, have some water, then eat once I get to the office. Then go until 6-7 in the evening before eating again.

This is really interesting.
posted by strixus at 4:53 PM on December 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Full text.
posted by user92371 at 4:55 PM on December 9, 2011


A FB friend of mine was just mentioning today that she'd dropped her A1c significantly in the last year or so, and that she credited a regime that included alternate-day fasting.
posted by immlass at 4:58 PM on December 9, 2011


Intermittent fasting as an alternative to caloric restriction has been known for a while.

Really though, there is so much variation in people's hunger and satiety levels, do what works for you. Some people cramp up horribly without constant small snacks. I'm in the "fasting is easy" camp ... I feel great eating one big meal per day. You only have so much willpower, don't waste it all doing something that is completely contrary to your physiology.
posted by benzenedream at 4:58 PM on December 9, 2011 [21 favorites]


I'm pretty much holding off on most non-basic nutritional and diet advice for a few decades, if not longer. No matter how convincing a paper or idea might be to a layman like me, wait ye only just a few months, and a just-as-convincing paper or idea will contradict its findings. Which is right? How will I be healthy? AAHHH!

It seems almost like the entire area is too poorly understood to make many informed life changes. It may be due to breathless reporting of every new tidbit by the media, but the end result is... I will read, but not act on almost any new nutritional or diet research.
posted by gilrain at 5:00 PM on December 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Isn't suddenly flooding your body with a lot of food a good way to shock your liver and improve your chances of getting diabetes?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:01 PM on December 9, 2011


I don't understand the jargon. What is the relationship between "insulin-mediated glucose uptake rates" and insulin resistance?
posted by gyp casino at 5:09 PM on December 9, 2011


Isn't suddenly flooding your body with a lot of food a good way to shock your liver and improve your chances of getting diabetes?

What?
posted by fshgrl at 5:10 PM on December 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


ou only have so much willpower, don't waste it all doing something that is completely contrary to your physiology.

I was listening to an interesting program on NPR a couple of weeks ago where they talked about that -- willpower IS, apparently, a limited resource, and it's one that's much easier to exercise when blood glucose is high. This is much of why dieting is so difficult for so many people -- it takes willpower, and your willpower is lowest when you're hungry.

So, yeah. Anything that lets you diet with the minimum possible exercise of willpower should improve your success rate.
posted by Malor at 5:14 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


John Berardi at Precision Nutrition has written up his experiments with IF (HTML; PDF). His summary includes these take-away points:
1. Trial fasting is a great way to practice managing hunger. This is an essential skill for anyone who wants to get in shape and stay healthy and fit.

2. More regular fasting isn't objectively better for losing body fat. While my IF experiments worked quite well, the intermittent fasting approach (bigger meals, less frequently) didn't produce better fat loss than a more conventional diet approach (smaller meals, more frequently) might have.

3. More regular fasting did make it easier to maintain a lower body fat percentage. Intermittent fasting isn't easy. However, I did find that using this approach made it easier for me to maintain a low body weight and a very low body fat percentage vs. more conventional diets.

4. Intermittent fasting can work but it's not for everyone, nor does it need to be. In the end, IF is just one approach, among many effective ones, for improving health, performance, and body composition.
posted by maudlin at 5:18 PM on December 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


willpower IS, apparently, a limited resource, and it's one that's much easier to exercise when blood glucose is high.

On the other hand, there's Willpower: It’s in Your Head
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:20 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


John Berardi has been harping on about IF of late after seeing some success with it. He's also made available also his highly informative ebook on the diet.

I enjoy experimenting with/collecting diets so this'll likely be my strategy of choice in the approaching battle with the New Year gut.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:21 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


D'oh. Sniped!

Curse my... sausage fingers... too fat to... type... fast *wheeze*
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:23 PM on December 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


I find intermittent fasting very interesting but it's just not appropriate for me at all.

Sixteen hours without food would make me extremely unpleasant to be around.

Being an ordinary mortal, with an office job and bills to pay, I have to maintain an even keel. This would be impossible under such a diet.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:23 PM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I really like IF regimens for clients who have issues with late-night snacking and aren't great with portion sizes. For most people it amounts to skipping breakfast--just eat all your food from 12pm-8pm, or whatever other lunch-dinner window you fancy. Because you're eating your calories in a shorter amount of time, you end up eating larger meals. Furthermore, it's actually good to get in all your calories and carbs at the end of the day, so people are less likely to feel deprived and snack at night. To me its main benefit comes in ease of adherence and helping to dispel the myth that one has to be eating bunches of small meals throughout the day to "rev up the metabolism" or some nonsense.
posted by schroedinger at 5:42 PM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is going to interfere with my Atkins and South Beach diets.
posted by horsewithnoname at 5:43 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I despise eating breakfast. I always feel grossly full throughout the day, no matter how lightly I eat...
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:44 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been reading about this and it interests me. All the stuff I've read here says that IF is a way for people to get leanER. Does anyone know if IF is an effective way to lose weight (and maintain it) for people who are overweight?
posted by triggerfinger at 5:57 PM on December 9, 2011


What is the relationship between "insulin-mediated glucose uptake rates" and insulin resistance?

If you're insulin-resistant, your body will take up less glucose, and take it up more slowly, for a given amount of insulin. (Type I diabetes is a supply-side problem: the body doesn't product insulin. Type II diabetes and insulin resistance are demand-side problems: the body still produces insulin, but is less and less effective over time at using it.) What the study seems to show is that intermittent fasting makes the body more effective at using the insulin it's already producing.

This is interesting, but I do notice that the study used healthy subjects. I wonder if anyone's proposing to repeat it with insulin-resistant/Type II diabetic subjects.
posted by asterix at 5:58 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


triggerfinger, IF is just a way of timing your meals. It says nothing about what or how much you should eat (though various gurus have their recommendations). Like I said, I like IF for overweight clients because it allows them to eat larger meals. It's not going to be magic though, you still need to count calories and macronutrients.
posted by schroedinger at 6:00 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what I have been naturally doing for years. I generally don't eat at all until after work. Except for Sunday brunch. At work people occasionally comment that they never see me eat. I don't remember the last time I felt hunger.

My partner eats oatmeal every morning, takes a midmorning snack with him to work, eats a full lunch, and has an after work snack before sharing dinner with me.

I am somewhat of a foodie by the way. I make handmade pasta and lots of "complicated" meals with carefully selected ingredients.

But I only eat once a day. I am the same weight as when we met. He has gained 45 pounds in 8 years. But it is my fault he is diagnosed as prediabetic. So he bounces from one dietary proclamation to another. And I continue eating whatever the hell I want. Once a day.

Anecdata.
posted by yesster at 6:01 PM on December 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


Huh, I didn't know this was a thing. I lost 50+ lbs last year doing intermittent fasting. I felt guilty about it because all the literature told me that I was Doing It Wrong and my body would go into "starvation mode". But that's just what was easiest for me. The only problem I have now is that it is hard to maintain my weight since I am so used to eating X calories a day for so long. It's hard for me to fill the gap with healthy calories because I feel satiated at X calories and overly full at X + 200 calories a day. And I LOVE food!
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:02 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just started this fasting thing and so far it's been great. I'm not that overweight, but a terribly emotional eater. Turns out I really don't miss the food. Waking up in the morning and not eating until noon helps put me on track for the rest of the day as well. Which is to say, I really enjoy lunch, and aspire to finish the day with a light dinner before 8.
posted by phaedon at 6:02 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, yesster, I used to get the same thing. People never saw me eat at work and some would even get a bit upset when I turned down free food. The truth was, I just wasn't hungry.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:04 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lot of paleo people are into IF. They claim that it's not as hard to do because the paleo diet doesn't spike blood sugar that much, so hunger is a lot less than with normal diets. No idea how true this is.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 6:13 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I personally can't eat within an hour of waking up. Food, even the thought of it, nauseates me. I generally wake up, have some water, then eat once I get to the office. Then go until 6-7 in the evening before eating again.

Finally! Verification that I'm not insane! Everyone I know wakes up hungry -- I wake up with complete disinterest in food, even nausea at the thought of eating. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!
posted by hippybear at 6:13 PM on December 9, 2011 [22 favorites]


maudlin and Kandarp Von Bontee, those are much better links than I originally posted.
posted by Listener at 6:20 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


And benzenedream's link, too.
posted by Listener at 6:21 PM on December 9, 2011


The guy featured in today's "Primal Transformation" success story on Mark's Daily Apple says he used Intermittent Fasting as part of his routine to achieve his astounding results. Check out the before and after pictures - he says he achieved that in 6 months.
posted by starvingartist at 6:24 PM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh yeah, I used to do this three-day fast once a month. Not for "diet" reasons or anything like that, but just to make sure that I wasn't getting into bad food habits/addictions. It never bothered me. I haven't done that in 20 years now. Maybe doing that helped me get to my current behavior? Who knows. But 24 or 36 hours without food is hardly noticeable anymore, and it's not because there is no food (thankfully). And as I said, I absolutely love food. When I get around to it, it is going to be good, and I will delve into it with gusto.

When I get around to it.
posted by yesster at 6:30 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I get up at lunchtime--problem solved!

(Note that when I used to get up at breakfast time, if I ate breakfast I was ravenous by lunch, if I didn't not so much.)
posted by maxwelton at 6:33 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


insulin-induced inhibition of adipose tissue lipolysis was more prominent after than before the intervention

In other words, intermittent fasting is a good way to help your body fat stay right where it is. No surprises there for any experienced yo-yo dieter.
posted by flabdablet at 6:35 PM on December 9, 2011


Finally, I have been doing something just fine for years instead of the exact wrong thing.

I don't like breakfast (no, you're not alone other people!) and often don't eat well into the afternoon, sometimes I'm not hungry and sometimes I am but busy. I drink plenty of water.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:50 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of paleo people are into IF. They claim that it's not as hard to do because the paleo diet doesn't spike blood sugar that much, so hunger is a lot less than with normal diets. No idea how true this is.

I'm doing keto and let me tell you people are not kidding about the reduced hunger. Before keto, I had to eat every 3-4 waking hours or I started to feel reeeeally shitty. Now after 5 or 6 hours it's like, "hmm, I should probably eat something soon." Even when I am actually, physically hungry, it's like, "hey, woudja look at that? My stomach's growling" and not "Feed me now or something really really bad is going to happen."

I don't do IF, at least not yet, but it's something I can see as a possibility now, whereas before keto I'd have thought there was zero chance I could do it.

People moralize dieting and exercise. They think that it's all about willpower and that they are better (or worse, for the self-shaming) than others because of their weight. But it's not about willpower, it's about knowledge. If you do keto (or probably paleo) it takes very little willpower. Your body just knows how to regulate itself in the absence of carbs.
posted by callmejay at 6:50 PM on December 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


To me its main benefit comes in ease of adherence and helping to dispel the myth that one has to be eating bunches of small meals throughout the day to "rev up the metabolism" or some nonsense.

schroedinger, I'm asking seriously here--isn't it the case that by eating small, well-balanced (macro-nutritionally speaking) meals throughout the day at regular intervals (2-3.5 hours as I've read), you maintain a higher metabolism throughout the day?

I'm not critiquing your overall approach to your clients who may have trouble with this--I'm firmly in the "do what works for you camp"--but I wanted to try to understand this point, since I've been roughly following it for, well, years now, with the assumption it was keeping my metabolism at a higher general level (as opposed to "revving it up" as you put it, to be clear). And, subjectively speaking, it really seems to be the case that my overall mood and energy levels drop when I haven't eaten anything for more than 4 hours or so.

Of course it seems like all of this is very much contingent on an individual's body type too, and maybe I've just gotten used to it so my body has adjusted, but it seems like there is something to it.
posted by dubitable at 6:52 PM on December 9, 2011


This is how I've been eating for the past year and I've dropped 40 pounds/feel much healthier. I tend to eat too many calories if I'm eating all day, and dinner is my favorite time to eat. Having few calories left for something tasty is what usually makes me throw my diet all off.

So now I usually stick to lots of tea, water, fruits and veggies during the day and then a bigger (still nutritional, but more calorie dense) meal at night.

I didn't know it was A Thing, though.
posted by addelburgh at 6:53 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Schroedinger, I'm asking seriously here--isn't it the case that by eating small, well-balanced (macro-nutritionally speaking) meals throughout the day at regular intervals (2-3.5 hours as I've read), you maintain a higher metabolism throughout the day?

No, that is pretty much a myth. There are a lot of fitness myths perpetuated by the media and keep getting repeated because nobody knows even better. Even doctors, who unfortunately do not really get much rigorous training in nutrition science so they end up parroting the same things they read in fitness magazines.

There has been no evidence connecting metabolic rate to meal frequency--look here and here. We can talk about "optimal" meal timing (after workouts, most calories at night, etc), but really, the "optimal" timing of eating meals is the timing that will result in dietary adherence.
posted by schroedinger at 6:59 PM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I personally can't eat within an hour of waking up. Food, even the thought of it, nauseates me. I generally wake up, have some water, then eat once I get to the office. Then go until 6-7 in the evening before eating again.

Finally! Verification that I'm not insane! Everyone I know wakes up hungry -- I wake up with complete disinterest in food, even nausea at the thought of eating. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!


This is a classic sign of a dys-regulated circadian rhythm of cortisol. Cortisol is commonly known as the "stress" hormone. It's main function is to regulate blood sugar. Normally, it should be high in the morning and then reduce throughout the day. It should be low at bedtime (allowing sleep) and then build up through the night to signal the liver to burn fat/release sugar to provide energy for the body while fasting/sleeping.

Eating breakfast (particularly a healthy portion of protein which metabolizes slowly) will serve to maintain healthy levels of serum glucose and allow cortisol production to wane throughout the day.

If you don't feel like eating or feel nausea in the A.M. it is a sign that you may have abnormally high levels of cortisol. Additionally, a person with an abnormal cortisol pattern will commonly have a hard time either staying asleep, falling asleep or both. They may have short term memory issues and are prone to reflux/ulcers.

It's a pattern that can lead to insulin resistance.

It also occurs to me that one reason Intermittent Fasting may work is because people may have unknown food sensitivities and less exposure reduces inflammation, increases insulin sensitivity and enhances fat burning and/or elimination of excess water which can account for a substantial portion of additional weight.

If skipping breakfast causes you to lose weight you may want to:

1. Remove the gluten - breakfast foods are typically gluten based.

2. Remove all grains - gluten is not the only possible grain-based food sensitivity.

3. Eat a non-traditional breakfast that is more like lunch or dinner. One example would be chicken with veggie's for example. This not only removes grains but has adequate protein and fiber and photonutrients.

Bottom line - the benefits of skipping breakfast may be due to other factors than merely foregoing calories.
posted by noaccident at 7:08 PM on December 9, 2011 [23 favorites]


No, that is pretty much a myth. There are a lot of fitness myths perpetuated by the media and keep getting repeated because nobody knows even better.

To be fair, 5-6 small meals was Internet Conventional Wisdom, too.
posted by downing street memo at 7:08 PM on December 9, 2011


There has been no evidence connecting metabolic rate to meal frequency--look here and here.

Well, shit.

Guess I'll have to eat my words from a bunch of comments I've made in MeFi...haha.
posted by dubitable at 7:11 PM on December 9, 2011


On a more philosophical note, what is it about diet that makes it so hard for us humans to wrap our heads around? This is whether we are talking about preventing disease, losing weight and maintaining health, etc...I understand the arguments that people like Michael Pollan have made, where in the U.S. government and industrial factors have played an important part in determining what sort of food is more prevalent and what sort of dietary advice gets perpetuated. But it seems like we spend so much time thinking about diet--and are so frequently wrong, or at least misguided.

Speaking of, I still think Michael Pollan's food rules are some of the most sensible (general) advice on diet I've read in my life.
posted by dubitable at 7:17 PM on December 9, 2011


Fasting induces a very pleasant euphoria and that always made me think it must be good in some way or another.. I used to fast one day out of every two weeks, I should get back to that.
posted by rainy at 7:17 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Finally! Verification that I'm not insane! Everyone I know wakes up hungry -- I wake up with complete disinterest in food, even nausea at the thought of eating. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!

Add me to the list; I'm usually up at 5:30 and don't consume anything but coffee until after nine. Then it's usually eggs and cheese and maybe some salmon or something like that in with the eggs.

If you do keto (or probably paleo) it takes very little willpower. Your body just knows how to regulate itself in the absence of carbs.

Maybe? We are omnivores, and will take calories where and how we can get them. But anecdatally, when we started a low-carb...thing last year (we didn't follow an Official Program; we just basically stopped with the beer and the pasta and so on, and tracked carbs rather than calories), the weight came off pretty easily, and I never got the "if I don't eat something right now I'm gonna hurl or fight" feelings. It was sometimes hard to eat more than eight or 900 calories as day, because I just wasn't hungry.

On preview:

If you don't feel like eating or feel nausea in the A.M. it is a sign that you may have abnormally high levels of cortisol. Additionally, a person with an abnormal cortisol pattern will commonly have a hard time either staying asleep, falling asleep or both. They may have short term memory issues and are prone to reflux/ulcers.


Personally, none of this applies to me (no sleep issues, no digestive issues, etc.) - perhaps some of us are just predisposed to not being OMG STARVING right when we wake up. And I do put whole milk or cream in my coffee, so that may make a difference.

One thing the low-carb pattern did was make me recognize that I may be sensitive to gluten; eating it doesn't make me sick, but I do feel different if I've had a gluten-heavy meal. I'm having pizza tonight because I haven't had it in a long time and I'm dying for it. I'll probably snore like a train tonight.
posted by rtha at 7:18 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd actually have to say that my disinterest in food when I first get up isn't because I'm not hungry... it's because I'm SO FUCKING HUNGRY that food is disinteresting to me. I know that doesn't make sense, but it seems to be what is going on with my body as I wear it. After 1-3 hours of being awake, my appetite is quite healthy.
posted by hippybear at 7:22 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]



To be fair, 5-6 small meals was Internet Conventional Wisdom, too.
posted by downing street memo at 10:08 PM on December 9 [+] [!]


For sure, didn't mean to exclude that either.
posted by schroedinger at 7:35 PM on December 9, 2011


Oh, noaccident, do you have any citation for that stuff?
posted by schroedinger at 7:38 PM on December 9, 2011


hmm, I've only been eating dinner this week mostly just due to personal stress. I've lost five pounds since Tuesday but I don't plan on keeping this up.
posted by sweetkid at 7:40 PM on December 9, 2011


I know precisely what you mean, hippybear. I feel the same way, and it turns out I do this IF thing too (and I also didn't know it was a thing). I usually eat twice a day, one light lunch or snack and then a larger dinner. I do feel hungry sometimes in the morning in a nauseous way, but that generally goes away as I have my coffee (black) and I don't tend to notice hunger until 1 or 2 PM (I wake up at 6:30).

Like others above, the hunger doesn't really bother me and isn't unpleasant at all. I'll usually eat when I get home around 3 and then have dinner around 8. I've definitely noticed that I don't feel hungry as often as I did, I eat a lot less and I think less about food than I did before.
posted by nonmerci at 7:45 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I should tell --- no, suggest, that my partner stop eating oatmeal at breakfast and instead get some protein at that time, if noaccident is right. Oatmeal is really thickly gluten laden, no? So no wonder he feels peckish and lightheaded by 10 a.m.

But he's not going to listen to me at all. He thinks my dietary regimen is unhealthy. I'd point him to this thread, if it weren't for the fact that I've already outed him as a gainer.

Beer anytime is still ok, right? [confirmations only accepted, thank you]. Wine after 4 is harmless?
posted by yesster at 7:49 PM on December 9, 2011


Yeah, the non-bothersome hunger thing...

As a decades-long stoner of varying degrees, I've managed to avoid giving in to the munchies largely through ignoring the cravings. The insidious thing about the munchies is, if you ignore them they don't affect you much, but if you give in, they snowball and you eat everything in the house.

A side-effect of this is that hunger really doesn't bother me for quite a while, until it becomes a matter of low blood sugar more than anything else.

I'm often content with one meal a day unless I'm doing a lot of physical activity. I might be hungry, but that doesn't mean I have to eat. It just means that my system is telling my brain it feels empty. Having a regularly scheduled large meal once a day tends to let me regulate my intake, and ignoring hunger is an interesting practice in self-discipline.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I lost almost 40 lbs (leftover pregnancy weight) in 3 1/2 months last year doing this.

Wake up most days and exercise by 10:30 AM, no food until I'd exercised, no breakfast. Chocolate milk or cup of yogurt right after I exercised. First meal usually lunch - eggs if I was very hungry and a large salad if I wasn't (I'm vegetarian). A snack if I felt I needed it mid-afternoon (a handful of almonds, or an apple with peanut butter), a medium-sized dinner, then no food after 8 PM. I noticed that the longer I held off from that first meal, the less food I'd eat the rest of the day; but the earlier I ate, the hungrier I'd be.

I gave myself at least one "cheat" day a week - eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I let myself have certain treats like chocolate or red wine so I wouldn't feel deprived. I limited carbs overall - carbs make me want more carbs and then there I am, eating an entire pizza. (Mmm, pizza.) But when I stop eating carbs, after a few days I lose the craving for them. When my weight loss plateaued I went mostly paleo (almost no carbs, almost no dairy) for a couple weeks and it kickstarted again. I can't maintain paleo, but it works as a jump.

I do think every body is different and it's about finding what works for your body. But this method seems to work great for mine. The weight just sloughed off - it was really motivating. I thought the regular exercise was going to make me hungrier, but was surprised to find that I ate more on the days I didn't exercise.
posted by flex at 7:57 PM on December 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


> Beer anytime is still ok, right? [confirmations only accepted, thank you]. Wine after 4 is harmless?

According to Berkhan, basically yes.
posted by Listener at 8:06 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wake up with complete disinterest in food, even nausea at the thought of eating. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!

Once I got my reflux fixed, this went away. I used to be physically incapable of eating breakfast.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:10 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I'm suffering from reflux, it's the least apparent reflux on the planet. No heartburn, no sour throat, none of the symptoms typically described at all.

(We won't talk about the sensation of jalapeños moving through my colon... that's entirely NOT reflux, but makes me avoid them most of the time.)
posted by hippybear at 8:15 PM on December 9, 2011


> Beer anytime is still ok, right? [confirmations only accepted, thank you]. Wine after 4 is harmless?

According to Berkhan, basically yes.
posted by Listener at 8:06 PM on December 9


Damn. My partner is never going to believe this.
posted by yesster at 8:16 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My only symptoms are not eating in the morning and wicked sinus issues. I thought the ENT doc was full of it until treatment worked. Anyway, it was odd to suddenly be a breakfast person.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:41 PM on December 9, 2011


Schroedinger, I'm asking seriously here--isn't it the case that by eating small, well-balanced (macro-nutritionally speaking) meals throughout the day at regular intervals (2-3.5 hours as I've read), you maintain a higher metabolism throughout the day?

No, that is pretty much a myth.
I had always heard this as a system people use to maintain an even level of hunger/blood sugar throughout the day, theory being that people tend to get too hungry and overeat when there are only 2-3 big meals throughout the day.

Of course, as many have said, the really important thing isn't following what someone said worked for him/her, but doing whatever works best to help you acheive your goals.
posted by !Jim at 8:44 PM on December 9, 2011


!Jim you raise an interesting point there; there are many other dimensions determining the efficacy of diet beyond the biological, and even though the nutritional concepts behind certain diets may be disproven (as in the flawed maths of the grazing diet), that doesn't immediately undo any success people may have had with them.

Just as with exercise, so much of our eating habits are contingent upon an interplay of lifestyle and psychological factors that concerns of what is scientifically found to work best for the idealised human on a biological basis shouldn't always dominate the agenda. Sometimes 'bad' diets work better than 'good' diets because they happen to align well with that person's particular lifestyle and psychological factors, and thus they end up eating better accidentally.

Perfect is the enemy of good. A broken clock is right twice a day. And people who for no valid scientific reason bring seven tiny bags of lunch to work with them everyday do sometimes succeed in losing weight.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:22 PM on December 9, 2011


A lot of paleo people are into IF

QFT
posted by eddydamascene at 9:26 PM on December 9, 2011


a newer, more scientific study in June 2011 finds calorie restriction actually heals established type II diabetes (Lim 2011 [pdf], or [Google Quick View]).

600 Calories/day for 2 months. (previously)
posted by dongolier at 9:40 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, a study of 8 healthy subjects?

You know, you can find support for any crazy idea from a PubMed search. A reasonable person draws conclusions applicable to real life when many studies consistently show outcomes that really matter (ie morbidity and mortality not "serum beta-hydroxybutyrate concentration") in large numbers of people. Interesting study for discussion? Perhaps. Reason to advocate a radical change from evidence based recommendations on healthy eating? Hell no, that would be some first class quackery.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:49 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


We won't talk about the sensation of jalapeños moving through my colon...

Pain is jalapeños leaving the body.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:38 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oatmeal is really thickly gluten laden, no?

No.
Alton Brown
This is by far the best gluten free recipe for cookies I’ve found.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:09 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


On a more philosophical note, what is it about diet that makes it so hard for us humans to wrap our heads around?

It's not hard for humans, it's hard for humans who have been raised to think that fat and especially saturated fat are the devil and who live in a society where carbs are basically free, omnipresent, and shelf-stable while real food (animals and non-starchy vegetables) is expensive, time-consuming, and perishable.

People raised in this culture are horrified when you suggest an Atkins-like diet, but it wasn't like that a hundred years ago.

In our society, people are given diet advice that's terrible (use willpower!) and then blamed and shamed for failing, which over 90% of dieters do.
posted by callmejay at 5:36 AM on December 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


a newer, more scientific study in June 2011 finds calorie restriction actually heals established type II diabetes (Lim 2011 [pdf], or [Google Quick View]).

I don't think that's the point of the paper -- it's been established for a long time that caloric restriction and subsequent weight loss improves insulin sensitivity. The authors put forth a bit of a straw man with the statement that diabetes is thought to be irreversible. Yes it is a progressive disease that eventually ends up killing most of your insulin producing cells, but that takes years if not decades. Weight loss and caloric restriction are well known to improve most metabolic parameters associated with metabolic syndrome and Type II diabetes. This is not a newsflash.

Bariatric banding surgery is well known to reduce blood glucose and improve metabolic parameters of type II long before weight loss is achieved. This has been hypothesized to be the result of all kinds of incretin cascades and satiety hormone changes as a consequence of the surgery. The authors were testing if the improved metabolic parameters might just be a consequence of rapid caloric restriction rather than anything more complex. Despite the low N (and the difficulty of getting a real control group age, sex, and weight matched with small N), the paper does suggest that much of the improvement seen is due to caloric restriction from the banding itself, rather than the subsequent weight loss or more cryptic mechanisms. Interesting stuff.

There is increasing pressure from surgeons who see lap banding as a panacea (see below), it would be interesting to see a study comparing 1 week forced caloric restriction in a controlled environment vs. lap banding surgery.
Part of Rubino's theory that non-obese type 2s can benefit from the surgery is based on his observation that post-operative diabetes remissions happen far more rapidly than could be accounted for by the weight loss that the surgery is designed to induce. He reasons that excess weight alone, in the form of visceral "belly" fat, is not enough to explain the origin of type 2 diabetes. Instead, he thinks that the disease's origin is in the gut, most likely the upper digestive tract, and that gastric bypass surgery somehow short-circuits the malfunctioning digestive process that leads to diabetes.

Recently Rubino has become more outspoken about removing the restriction that limits the surgery to obese patients, saying that it should become a more routine procedure that doctors should be free to offer their type 2 patients, especially those who have been unable to control the disease despite careful diet, regular exercise, and drugs. (source)
posted by benzenedream at 5:41 AM on December 10, 2011


Check out the before and after pictures - he says he achieved that in 6 months

Holy crap, that's an amazing transformation

People raised in this culture are horrified when you suggest an Atkins-like diet, but it wasn't like that a hundred years ago.

There was a lot of nutty diet advice floating around 100 years ago, too; confusion and uncertainty about this topic is not a modern phenomenon.

Personally, if I skip a meal I get cranky and eventually get a bad headache. So if I am doing field work with people who, like many who have commented above, are happy to miss meals, I have learned to pack plenty of food for myself.

When I was a teenager, though, I tended to fall into a sleep cycle where I slept in until noon, ate a large breakfast/lunch meal, ate a large dinner, and that was it. Even though those meals were large, I think that calorically it was less than three meals (or worse, three meals plus snacks) averages. I'm not trying to get skinnier, but if I was I could easily imagine reworking my meal schedule to just two meals again, with a side effect of intermittent fasting.
posted by Forktine at 6:19 AM on December 10, 2011


There was a lot of nutty diet advice floating around 100 years ago, too; confusion and uncertainty about this topic is not a modern phenomenon.

Yeah, that's a good point. Still, there is a uniquely modern aspect to the idea that starchy carbs are healthy and that fat makes you fat and gives you heart disease.
posted by callmejay at 6:30 AM on December 10, 2011


...and that idea, combined with the rise in availability of starchy carbs, is primarily responsible for the obesity epidemic, I would guess.
posted by callmejay at 6:31 AM on December 10, 2011


...starchy carbs and sugar/HFCS, of course.
posted by callmejay at 6:32 AM on December 10, 2011


Still, there is a uniquely modern aspect to the idea that starchy carbs are healthy and that fat makes you fat and gives you heart disease.

Around 1829, Graham invented the Graham diet, which consisted mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole wheat and high fiber foods, and excluded meat and spices altogether (see vegetarianism). Very fresh milk, cheese, and eggs were permitted in moderation, and butter was to be used "very sparingly".

There are other, much older, examples. Seriously, people have worried about this for a long time, without reaching any consensus.
posted by Forktine at 6:49 AM on December 10, 2011


Alrighty then. I guess it's not uniquely modern.
posted by callmejay at 7:28 AM on December 10, 2011


Not that I'm an expert, but I really feel losing weight ultimately comes down to calories, and everything else is a psychological mechanism to make caloric restriction easier, more intuitive or more natural. I mean, look at the Twinkie diet.
posted by shivohum at 8:15 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


> I guess it's not uniquely modern.

Seems what is uniquely modern is the cheap and easy availability of carbs, I guess due to the green revolution and subsidized modern agricultural production based on high inputs. The latter industry seems to have influenced the FDA/RDA [I said seems because I don't have the proof, though it's alluded to in the neat little documentary, "Fathead"], and yeah, now people are blamed for overindulging in foods designed to make you overindulge. So many people are now screaming "Go vegetarian for environmental footprint reasons," and they do have one point: there isn't enough for everyone to eat mostly mostly meat and veg, both of which must cost more to produce, store, and transport than grains.
posted by Listener at 8:20 AM on December 10, 2011


thank you, thank you for this thread. this explains so much.

before i had kids i used to eat this way and was very lean; not just thin but actually lean. in the 11 years since THING2 was born, i've gained 70lbs and have had to contend with :

1) food allergies & sensitivities; particularly to
wheat & cow milk (but not goat/sheep)

2) pain & inflammation; due to
2.a injuries during THING2's labor
2.b huge back injury i had in '07
2.c an unknown problem with my gall bladder
that ended up with me in the emergency room
last year and getting it removed

3) depression & sleep deprivation due to pain

coincidentally, am meeting with my nutritionist this week. she's suggested in the past eating smaller meals but i always feel like it's too much. my favorite meal is dinner. i'd rather eat til am satiated then so i dont end up having a snack at 2am.
posted by liza at 8:26 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


A diabetes diet trial from Newcastle University published 6 months ago was very interested. They enrolled 11 people with type 2 diabetes and had them follow a 600 calorie diet for 8 weeks. After that, they went back to their regular diet. 3 months later, 7 of the 11 still had normal blood sugars.
posted by neuron at 8:50 AM on December 10, 2011


Not that I'm an expert, but I really feel losing weight ultimately comes down to calories, and everything else is a psychological mechanism to make caloric restriction easier, more intuitive or more natural.

It's not psychological, it's physiological.
posted by callmejay at 9:15 AM on December 10, 2011


Not that I'm an expert, but I really feel losing weight ultimately comes down to calories, and everything else is a psychological mechanism to make caloric restriction easier, more intuitive or more natural.

That's my feeling too. I should say though, that once I decided to start counting every calorie and setting limits, extreme hunger went away. I think once you can start to view food (at least for some of the day) as mere fuel, the rest is, pardon the pun, gravy.
posted by ob at 9:57 AM on December 10, 2011


Not that I'm an expert, but I really feel losing weight ultimately comes down to calories, and everything else is a psychological mechanism to make caloric restriction easier, more intuitive or more natural. I mean, look at the Twinkie diet.

This is basically the case. There are ways of eating that will likely leave you with slightly better blood parameters in the end, or you'll retain more muscle, or you'll be able to keep up a more intense training program, or you'll be less likely to plateau early in. But what I tell people is that the best diet is the one that you can stick with--that is, the one where you can maintain the caloric restriction for a long period of time.

If you're a more highly trained individual, like an athlete looking to drop a weight class while maintaining strength, or a bodybuilder trying to drop from 7% to 5-6% for competition, or a dancer who wants to gain strength but can't afford extra fat gain, then eating patterns and macronutrient splits become a lot more important and you get less leeway to go wherever you want to. But Joe and Jane Normal without significant athletic background who needs to lose 10, 50, 100+lbs needs to pick a system that works for them and stick with it.

The one caveat is I'd suggest is I think all diets would turn out better if everyone ate 2x the amount of protein they think they needed (the FDA recommendation of 60g is woefully inadequate), but again . . . the important thing is that what you do works and you end up healthier in the end.
posted by schroedinger at 10:15 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just wanna note that Martin, was the recent popular topic of Fuckaround-itis on the blue a week ago.

He's pretty no nonsense about dieting and eating, but particularly what I think is crucial to his approach is the IF isn't a diet per say in the same way that many programs are. Exercise is a separate component to IF and so is what you eat during your actual window while practicing IF.

For this reason it's a much more flexible approach that can be combined with a wider range of peoples actual diets and exercise routines. He still suggest that if your goal is really to lose fat that calorie counting during the window is still the way to go, and IF will assist you in tandem.
posted by straight_razor at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2011


schroedinger, is there any basis for the other common advice of a 40-40-20 protein/carbs/fat macronutrient split? Or is the only important thing getting enough protein?
posted by downing street memo at 11:00 AM on December 10, 2011


Protein should be the #1 priority of anyone trying to lose weight.

The 40/40/20 split is kind of arbitrary. 40% of your calories from protein means you're generally going to be getting enough protein, provided you're not an extreme calorie cutting diet (in which case your diet should be mostly protein anyway). 40% of calories from carbs is a lower amount of carbs than most people eat (a good thing) but not so low that people feel like they will die for a bagel. It also easily supports most athletic training. 20% fat just makes up the rest (fat is good for you!). It isn't a magic split that if you deviate to 45/37/18 your body will go all out of whack.

Honestly for most people just starting out they could drop the 40% carbs to 10-20% and probably feel a lot better and see faster weight loss. But again, it's about finding the balance that works for you.
posted by schroedinger at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2011


The guy featured in today's "Primal Transformation" success story on Mark's Daily Apple says he used Intermittent Fasting as part of his routine to achieve his astounding results. Check out the before and after pictures - he says he achieved that in 6 months.

It's definitely an impressive result. I do wonder how much of the success people see on paleo is "just" from cutting out sugar and simple carbs, as opposed to cutting out (e.g.) whole grains and legumes. The dude in the story mentioned he ate a lot of fast food before, and as has often been detailed on AskMe, even savory restaurant food is often sexed up with sugar and high-GI starch.

Anecdotally, I had a small experiment in cutting sweeteners and simple carbs a year or so ago, and I was really shocked by how fast my tastebuds adapted. All of a sudden I could taste sugar in everything -- marinara sauce, for instance, started to taste almost unbearably sweet. It really made me realize how people without a sweet tooth could be consuming tons of sugar without realizing it.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2011


I get the logic behind intermittent fasting. I also work with a lot of Hindu guys, who mostly fast one day a week (the day varies depending on the sect). They are all really skinny despite eating tons of awesome Indian food, including large servings of buttery rice every day.

I really do not like the idea that skipping breakfast consitutes a "fast" though. Just about the ONLY widely-agreed-upon result from the (large, well-studied) National Weight Control Registry surveys is that there is a strong correlation between eating breakfast every day and losing weight. I also just don't see how skipping a meal that most Americans skip anyway could possibly be considered a diet.
posted by miyabo at 1:00 PM on December 10, 2011


I think I must be the statistically average person sometimes. I’m constantly thinking I have some great idea only to find everyone else is having that same idea. I just started a plan of fasting one day a week a couple of weeks ago thinking it might have merit even though everyone said just the opposite. I found a little of this information, but not this clear, and had no idea it was a thing.

On a gut level (pause for laughter), skipping breakfast doesn’t seem like a great idea. Having breakfast as your main meal seems to make more sense, but would be harder to fit in the average lifestyle.

Finally realizing I have a problem with gluten has made a huge difference for me though. For years I could never tell if I was hungry or not because of all the heartburn, constipation, acid reflux, etc. It’s hard to know what your eating habits should be, or if they feel right, if your whole digestive system is blowing up all the time.
posted by bongo_x at 1:29 PM on December 10, 2011


Jack Lalanne always pushed the two meals a day diet, and that's what he did his whole life.

I remember back in the 1970s, there was a 60 Minutes news episode about the French diet. "They eat a very cholesterol rich diet. Why are their heart attack rates so much lower than in the US?" In the end I think they concluded something about red wine having some kind of effect.

What's interesting is that they asked a French doctor and he said it is because the French eat just 3 times a day with no snacking. The idea was so foreign to US ears, what with all our snacking and 'eat 6 times or more a day' mantra, that they didn't pursue or comment on this statement. Even though they gave his quote, I don't think they even heard (or were capable of hearing) what he said, and went on with their wine theory.

I remember telling my parents "Hey, what about this 3 times a day theory?" and it was like talking to a brick wall. My Dad replied, "I guess we should stock up on red wine".
posted by eye of newt at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anecdote:
A few years back I lost ~50 lbs. over six months by eating breakfast (usually from Burger King), eating lunch (crap from the work cafeteria) and by not eating dinner. Weekends were also only two meals, but timing was more lunch and dinner rather than breakfast and lunch. I didn't start exercising until the last six weeks or so of that six month period and that didn't continue past six weeks (I moved). The exercise wasn't anything special - stationary bike and/or treadmill for an hour total. I'm sure if I had eaten healthy meals I would have lost more weight.

Note: this was before I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I have no proof but I doubt the diet had any effect on the diagnosis (I'm sure I was already diabetic).
posted by deborah at 8:43 PM on December 10, 2011


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