Each patient [in Dr. Atkins’ clinic] was told to include a protein serving with each meal and snack. It was not necessary to trim the fat from meat or remove skin from poultry. We encouraged the liberal use of butter with vegetables and healthy oils like olive oil on salads. Sour cream and heavy cream were also allowed.
– Jackie Eberstein
Think of IF as a means for measuring your “keto fitness level.” Once you become fully keto-adapted and begin spontaneously fasting for twelve to twenty-four hours at a time with ample hydration, there is a sense of freedom from no longer having to look for something to eat every three hours. Using ketones as fuel enables you to be mentally sharp and have total hunger control without consciously using your willpower to resist temptation to eat. Spontaneous intermittent fasting with no adverse side effects is a very clear indicator of optimal metabolic health.
In the context of commencing a high-fat diet, it indicates the metabolism is burning fatty acids and ketones and that is what is essential for optimal health.
– Dr. Ron Rosedale
But what do you do if you start to get hungry while intermittent fasting? The answer is pretty simple: eat something! When you feel hunger, your body is signaling that you need more food. But do keep in mind that not every gurgle and noise that comes from your digestive system is hunger.
DOCTOR’S NOTE FROM DR. ERIC WESTMAN: To drive home the point that you do not have to eat three meals a day, I created a sign for the wall of my clinic room that says “Eat When Hungry, Drink When Thirsty!” I want my patients to think of it as an ancient proverb! Many of my patients have told me that it helps remind them that they aren’t “skipping meals” when they only eat once or twice a day.
I’ve seen Dr. Westman’s “Eat When Hungry, Drink When Thirsty!” sign posted prominently on the wall of every single patient room in his Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic in Durham, North Carolina. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
But what makes it incredibly profound is the fact that very few people these days are actually listening for their bodies to tell them when they are genuinely hungry or thirsty. The fact is that eating carbohydrates makes you hungry. This is an important concept to figure out if you’re going to attempt to engage in fasting.
When I weighed over 400 pounds, I was hungry virtually all the time. And it didn’t seem to matter how much food I put in my mouth; I just kept eating and eating and eating. Getting my hunger under control and recognizing what true hunger was supposed to feel like was a huge part of my success. Of course, hunger is a subjective feeling that’s different in each person, so I can’t tell you exactly what true hunger will feel like for you. But I can tell you what hunger is not.
DOCTOR’S NOTE FROM DR. ERIC WESTMAN: For most people, hunger and cravings for carbohydrates will go away after one to three days of significantly reducing them in your diet. But as time goes on, other reasons for eating may become problems that interfere with your progress toward ketosis.
Sometimes what feels like hunger may actually stem from a nutrient deficiency. I once received an email from a blog reader who was new to ketosis.
Despite eating a low-carb, high-fat diet, she was having trouble getting her hunger under control, as well as experiencing constant brain fog and the excruciating headaches that can accompany the switch to running on ketone bodies. I suggested that she boost her daily salt intake by adding extra salt to her food and drinking, for example, a bouillon cube mixed with some warm water. Within just a few days, she was seeing great results, as she wrote back to me:
Thanks so much for responding to my email! I took your advice and added the bouillon to my diet. Since then, my headaches have vanished and I can now tell when I’m truly hungry. I measured my blood ketones and blood glucose for the first time. I hit 1.2 millimolar in my blood ketones and my blood sugar was 93.
Yesterday I ate bacon, spaghetti squash, and ground beef with marinara sauce along with some grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and 85% dark chocolate and felt completely satisfied. I should have been doing this a long time ago!
Simply by increasing the amount of salt in her diet, she was able to feel completely satisfied by the foods she was already eating. Her excitement about discovering what hunger and real satiation are supposed to feel like is something I wish I could bottle up and let you experience for yourself.
Far too many people who attempt to go on a diet to lose weight think being hungry is a virtuous, even desirable, thing. Can I tell you how insane that is? If you are feeling hungry, your body screaming at you to feed it.