Meatless Mondays

What is it called when a carnivore doesn’t eat meat?

A fast.

I’ve recently had a renewed interest in fasting, no doubt because of seeing Jason Fung speak at Low Carb Vail last month.

Shortly after that I was chatting with a friend about it. I said that I don’t fast on a schedule, but that I often eat only one meal a day (most often two meals). I did mention that I’ve long thought it would be fun to fast once a week for a whole day — that would be more than 24 hours, since I don’t eat during the night.

So for the first two Mondays in March, I did just that. (That is, I ate no meat. I did drink my usual coffee, and I had a few spoons of tallow in the afternoon when my energy was dipping.) In practice the first fast was 48 hours, and the second more like 42. I enjoyed it.

Under a fat-based metabolism, one doesn’t normally feel hungry throughout the day. The liver takes care of glucose and all that, much better than for those on a glycolytic diet. So I wasn’t hungry.

I lost a few pounds, and was down to my lowest weight in decades. I know from experience that weight loss from short term fasting is often transient, so I wasn’t really worried about it, or counting on it staying off, but it was still fun.

This past week, however, I have been ravenous. My policy is always to feed my body when it’s hungry. Fighting hunger is a losing battle. If you’re hungry, there’s a hormonal reason. It’s a signal. You can’t change it simply by not eating (except insofar as not eating changes your hormonal state). This is counterproductive. You have to change the signal.

Anyway, today I intended to fast again, but I was hungry and the tallow didn’t help and by the time I got home I was ready to eat. So I did. Besides, I had ribeye jerky waiting for me.

11 replies
  1. David Leitner
    David Leitner says:

    I agree with you that fighting hunger is a losing battle. Fasting looks great on paper but I never have had it work for me. I used to fast often (up to 72 hours) but would subsequently overeat. Now I'm eating mostly 3 meals, sometimes 2, per day and I feel great: good energy, good sleep, and no cravings.

  2. Andrew Marcus
    Andrew Marcus says:

    Dear Amber, I'm curious about how to keep protein moderate to low, as advised by Dr. Ron Rosedale, on a zero-carb diet. I've done pretty well, calculating that I should have between 36-46 grams of protein per day, eating lots of vegetables with fat, in order to stay in ketosis. (I'm a healthy male, 5' 10", 145 lbs.) As Rosedale says, taking in too much protein, the most common mistake made when adjusting to a ketogenic diet, is akin to eating carbs because beyond a certain amount it mtabolizes as sugar. He said at his most recent lecture that protein restriction may be even more important than carb restriction in terms of longevity and fighting desease. If I cut out vegetables, how will I moderate protein?

  3. L. Amber O'Hearn
    L. Amber O'Hearn says:

    Hi, Andrew. I am not in full agreement with Ron Rosedale on this issue. I can give you a few relevant pointers to why.

    First, Bill Lagakos has a nice article showing some data supporting uninhibited ketosis at levels much higher than those recommendations. Search for "Dietary protein, ketosis, and appetite control". Second, protein turning into sugar is demand driven, not supply driven, and so the effect of higher protein is not as simple as many make it out to be. I've written extensively about that on Third, anecdotally, I eat ad libitum, and regularly register ketones on my Ketonix breath meter. Also, my acquaintance Andrew Scarborough, who has brain cancer and must stay in ketosis has personally found that when he eats no plants, he can eat higher protein levels and stay in ketosis, and moreover he feels drastically better when he does this.

    This brings me the other point, which is that eating too little protein may be insidiously bad for you. I'd much rather overestimate than underestimate.

  4. L. Amber O'Hearn
    L. Amber O'Hearn says:

    That said, my dear friend Sean Baker eats essentially like I do, but with less protein, and he finds it perfectly satiating. I typically eat 1.5 – 2 pounds of meat a day, and I estimate he eats more like 1 pound.

  5. ccavanaugh
    ccavanaugh says:

    That was exactly my experience with fasting–subsequent ravenous hunger until all the lost weight came back on, plus 1-2 lbs. I don't do it anymore, instead breaking up daily intake over 2-3 meals. I've read that for diabetics it's better to limit size of protein intake at any one meal.

  6. MagicDave
    MagicDave says:

    I eat once a day. It is not exactly a contrived regimen except that when my body needs nourishment it tells me with hunger. That is almost always around 2PM. So my "normal" dietary regimen is one meal per day. There are occasions when I need a slab of cultured homemade butter or spoon of my homemade cream cheese. That mostly happens after a day of physically demanding work. My fasting is usually about 22 hours. I do drink water, coffee, and tea throughout the day for hydration but never need food for energy.

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