Intermittent Fasting, Day 3
If you’ve joined in on my two week Intermittent Fasting self-study, you’re likely now at day 3. Hopefully you’ve gotten through the two worst days of IF — day 1, which is about your body feeling hungry (which it isn’t, it’s just insulin entrainment from previously eating breakfast every day since you were born) and day 2, which is about your brain lying to you.
Day 3 differs greatly among people starting out on an IF platform. In my experience, 2 out of 5 IF newbies end up feeling amazing today for the first time in a long time. If you’re one of the lucky 40%, you’ll get your first taste of catecholamine-based hunter-killer mode. It’ll come around the 12 hour fasted mark, and likely last until you eat.
Another 2 out of 5 will feel indifferent, but better than the last two days. You’ll still have some hunger due to both insulin entrainment and due to your brain lying, but it won’t be terrible.
The final 1 out of 5 will continue to be battling your brains. Your brain is wired for a variety of reasons to demand the dopamine surge from constantly filling your mouth with crap. That’s OK, though, because IF is helping you cut out that addiction to dopamine. It will likely take a few more days, maybe even a total of a week, before your brain understands that you don’t need to eat every waking moment.
The Mountains of Food Reward Addiction
Regardless of which group you’re in today, you’re still battling the depression of withdrawing from the “joy” of food. One thing to understand is that all food that comes in a package is backed by engineers who are working hard to make that “joy” irreplaceable. You think you love that food, but it’s just dopamine being released.
When you become obese, and you eat a lot of packaged food all day long, your brain’s dopamine receptors appear to shrink in quantity. This means your brain is less capable of feeling joy from eating the same foods. Like any narcotic drug, food can have the same effect. Obesity is just the body saying “we have enough energy stored for future periods of starvation”, but the brain loves dopamine. It loves it so much that it becomes tolerant, shrinking the quantity of receptors available to feel “joy” from eating junk.
That means you have to eat more junk more consistently, to get that say high/”joy”. And that’s the cycle you’re breaking.
What to eat during IF?
When I start people out on IF, I don’t tell them what to eat, I tell them when you eat. For a man, you’re looking for a 16 hour daily fast between dinner and “breakfast”. For women, 14 hours seems to be the best — too many daily fasts over 14 hours and you can lose your female cycle. During your monthly cycle, you may have to eat more: you’re losing tissue and blood, and the body demands to restore it.
If you want to continue eating packaged food, even junk food, just eat it during your feeding window (8-10 hours). I won’t disparage you or discourage you.
The beauty of IF is that you’re helping your brain stop lying to you. When you are burning body fat for energy, both your body and your brain will realize how much happier it is getting back to what is considered normal for a healthy body.
In time, this means you will actually stop eating crap, without even putting your mind to it. You will quickly, over the next 2 weeks, hear your body’s signals and listen to them. That’s because the dopamine addiction is being reduced, but the effects of bad eating will become more pronounced.
The Next Step
The next step, regardless of the group you’re in, is to take your first measurement. You don’t need a scale, just a tape measure. 23 hours after you first ate yesterday (your “breakfast” time minus 1 hour, today), you will take a measurement around your waist, at your belly button. Write this down. That’s your 3-day set point. Every 3rd day for the 2 weeks, you will take another identical measurement.
Because you are likely overweight by some degree, your body will be burning fat but it will also be attempting to build muscle. Your focus going forward should be to make sure you’re eating protein (preferably animal) in your breakfast meal. Anything is fine: eggs, chicken, beef, cottage cheese, even ice cream. Just get some protein in you, lots of protein is better than less. I don’t care what carbs or fats you eat right now, you need protein. Protein builds muscle, muscle burns fat (even when you’re sleeping).
Exercise and diet platforms don’t concern me at the moment. Getting your brain to stop lying is what matters. Being about to hear your body and listen to it — this is the goal of IF.
Continue on to day 4.