Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Jan

This One Simple Trick Will Make All Your Meals Taste Better

Empty plate on wooden backgroundI have several close friends in the restaurant industry, and whether they’re helming hip eateries or Michelin-rated restos requiring reservations booked months in advance, these chefs and owners are all very good at what they do: giving people food that tastes really, really good and gets them coming back for more on a regular basis. Yes, they pick the choicest ingredients and use the freshest produce. Yes, they employ cutting edge kitchen skills and cooking techniques. But a lot of restaurants do all those things and never get over the hump to become truly great. So, how do they do it?

They have one simple trick. It’s universally accepted among people in the know that hewing to this trick is the key to making it or breaking it in the restaurant industry. That’s how crucial this weird trick actually is. Today, I’m going to introduce it you and explain how you can use it to excel in the Challenge.

Prepare to be shocked. This could be the most important blog post you read this year. It’s certainly the most important blog post you’ll read throughout the course of your 21-Day Challenge. If you’re a chef, restaurant owner, food truck proprietor, or even a line cook, it may be the most important post you ever read. I guarantee it will change your business — and your life — forever.

Ready?

Okay, here it is.

They offer free temple massages to all diners before serving food, with a (hidden) catch: the “massage oil” used contains a potent dose of ghrelin specially formulated for rapid dermal absorption. Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone.” After temple application, the ghrelin quickly reaches the ventral tegmental area, a region of the brain involved in the food reward response and partially responsible for insatiable hunger. The diners become seized with a hunger so ravenous and physiologically undeniable that even plain potatoes, unsalted chicken breast, and overcooked spinach would top their personal list of favorite meals. They devour the menu, becoming extremely responsive to the descriptions of the various dishes and, unable to decide on just one, order several plates at once. When the food arrives — maybe a lamb tagine with chestnut pureé, a Cuban ropa vieja, even a really solid burger and fries, or all three — it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever tasted. And yes, as I said before, the food is objectively good, but the real trick is that it’s seasoned with the best spice of all:

Hunger.

In the coming months, I’ll be unveiling my own transdermal ghrelin. Perfect for lifters who want to increase appetite for their winter bulk, hardgainers who can’t seem to gain an ounce, recovering calorie restricters who need to learn how to eat real meals again, or anyone who just wants to enjoy their food. Already, beta-testers are throwing “ghrelin parties” where people rub a dime-sized amount into their temples and enjoy incredible meals of the blandest, blah-est foods around. Stay tuned for that.

But as always, my product isn’t the only way to season your food with hunger. There’s another, arguably simpler (and definitely cheaper) method.

Just skip a meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner — it doesn’t really matter what you skip (although most people do best skipping either breakfast or dinner) — as long as you skip something. And there’s even a name for it: intermittent fasting, or IF.

For the better part of a decade I’ve been playing with intermittent fasting on a personal level and by helping others integrate it into their lives through multiple posts on the blog. The effects on the quality of my meals has been staggering.

Everything tastes better. Even plain tap water tastes like heavenly nectar.

Skipping meals has effectively transformed me into a better cook. Honestly? I could probably be the head chef for a very successful restaurant, provided we only accepted guests coming off a lengthy fasting session.

But as Primal enthusiasts, we expect more out of our diet than just a positive relationship with the flavor receptors on our tongues. The way we eat should also improve our health, performance, longevity, productivity, and enjoyment of life (besides just the sheer hedonistic pleasure of eating tasty food).

So what’s the big deal? What else do we get out of skipping a meal now and then beside an increased appreciation for the meals we do eat? Why do I think it’s such a powerful tool for your 21-Day Challenge — and beyond?

Fasting is freedom.

The first few times you try it, you might be really hungry, especially if you’re coming off a carb-dependent lifestyle, where your choice of fuel is fleeting and hard to store. But once you’re fat-adapted and you have tens of thousands of available calories at all times, fasting is second nature. It gets easier. You stumble into it by virtue of not being hungry from all the body fat you’re eating.

And when that happens, you’re free. Rather than scurry around frantically when hunger pangs set in, when the lunchtime clock tolls, you just chill and continue on about your business. Rather than worry about postural hypotension and hypoglycemia between meals, you eat when you feel like it. You have more time to do important, interesting things when you’re not thinking about food.

Fasting helps you reduce food/calorie intake.

As I tried to make abundantly clear last week, attempting to consciously regulate the number of calories we eat doesn’t work well. If you have an omniscient researcher as authority figure forcing you to eat this or that number of calories, it works, but in the real world, it tends to fail. Calorie counters are plagued by the constant drive to eat. Eventually, they give in because you can’t deny the body forever and hope to win. The real trick is to figure out a way to inadvertently reduce calorie intake without adding another layer of stress to your life.

Primal Blueprint eating is designed to help you self-regulate your appetite levels and reduce food intake without getting overly hungry. IF helps you self-regulate your food intake by eliminating an opportunity for eating.

You can say “only eat 1500 calories, no more!” but you have no way of intrinsically knowing if you’ve gone over or under your limit (there’s no physiological input for “calories”). You’re always weighing and measuring, and even that isn’t very accurate. But when you simply decide not to eat for the next eight hours, that’s a hard and fast boundary that’s easy to respect. No measuring (except the clock) and no weighing. You just don’t eat.

And even when you follow a protocol like ADF (alternate day fasting) in which you alternate a 75% calorie reduction with a 25% calorie surplus day to day, you still reduce overall calories without feeling like you have. Just because you severely dropped or eliminated your normal calorie intake during the fasting period doesn’t mean you make up for it when you eat. That’s one of the most powerful aspects of IF, and it’s why anyone trying to lose body fat or figure out a way to safely drop calorie intake for the 21-Day Challenge should consider intermittent fasting, if only on a trial basis.

Fasting shows you what hunger feels like.

Most of us don’t have to feel hunger if we don’t want to. It’s easy enough to grab a bag of chips, boil a couple eggs, or drive five minutes and hit five restaurants and a massive store filled to the brim with every kind of food you can imagine. Food is everywhere, and we’ve forgotten — or never really even known — what it means to be hungry.

I’m not talking about serious starvation or malnutrition. I’m talking about the hour-to-hour feeling you get when you haven’t eaten for five or six hours. It doesn’t sound like much, right? But how many people truly go without snacking between meals?

I’m not sure I’d call it a good feeling, but it’s an important one. Hunger teaches us to identify when we truly need to eat because we need nutrients and when we’re eating just because we’re bored or there’s something tasty within reach. Hunger is essential to being human. It’s motivated us, as a species and on an individual level, to do great things and conquer an entire planet.

And yeah, it makes food taste really, really good.

Fasting increases cognitive function.

There’s compelling evidence that intermittent fasting, and the hunger it brings, can increase mental acuity. In one 2013 study, subjects were randomized to either a low-calorie diet or an IF regimen for two months. After a 6-month followup, the fasting group had better memory and showed evidence of neurogenesis. Similar studies done in mice show even more dramatic positive effects on brain function and brain structure.

Fasting increases neuronal autophagy, a fancy term for a sort of “pruning” of damaged tissue our brains do to maintain health and optimal function. Autophagy, or “self-eating,” is the process by which cells recycle waste material, downregulate wasteful processes, and repair themselves. It’s necessary for proper cognitive function.

Studies aside, I’ve found that fasting energizes me, boosting creativity and giving me a powerful angle from which to tackle a problem, a post, or a paragraph. Then, after I’ve eaten, I’ll often return to the work and come at it from an entirely different (fed) angle.

A word of caution:

In general, females don’t take to intermittent fasting as well or quickly as males. That’s not to say that they can’t do it and benefit from it. They can. But whereas a man might thrive with a seven hour eating window, a woman might do better with a ten or eleven hour eating window. Again, these are general trends to keep in mind, not absolute rules that apply to everyone. Whoever you are (male or female), fasting shouldn’t bring you to the brink of collapse. It shouldn’t be miserable, or torture. If it is, stop, eat something, and try again at a later date. Fasting can be a powerful tool but it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.

I know, I know. This all probably sounds crazy to a lot of you, especially those embarking on your first Primal Challenge after a lifetime of standard high-carb eating where a skipped meal means misery and hypglycemia.

I promise it gets easier. And fasting bestows a host of benefits that make life easier, better, and healthier. You have the freedom to not eat, rather than look desperately around for a snack when the hunger pangs set in. It’s a great way to reduce calorie intake without it being a constant exercise of willpower. It can even improve your brain function.

And it can be as simple as skipping a meal or two once, twice, maybe three times a week. What’s the worst that could happen?

For more in depth info on fasting, check out some of my previous posts on the subject:

Why Fast? Part One – Weight Loss

Why Fast? Part Two – Cancer

Why Fast? Part Three – Longevity

Why Fast? Part Four – Brain Health

Why Fast? Part Five – Exercise

Why Fast? Part Six – Choosing a Method

Why Fast? Part Seven – Q&A

Dear Mark: Women and Intermittent Fasting

If you have any more questions, drop ’em in the comment section. If I don’t get to them at some point, you’ll probably be inundated with expert responses from fellow readers.

P.S. Although it would make a killer product to play around with, I will not be releasing a transdermal ghrelin supplement. I’m keeping it strictly for personal use.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I once fasted for 3 days as a personal experiment. After a while, the hunger signals subside and you feel VERY aware of everything. My senses were heightened, especially hearing and smell.

    I typically fast throughout the morning until lunch, only drinking coffee, tea, or water until then. What you say is true, hunger is the best seasoning. It’s also good for off-setting an unexpected influx of calories from a Red Lobster appetizer, meal, dessert, and beer that I had last night….

    …I’m a baaaaad Grok.

    Jacob wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • I think that you are not so bad… In your opinion coffee, tea are good to drink? Well, yes I think the same. But we need to have attention to WHAT we eat.

      Gloria wrote on January 17th, 2015
  2. Without realizing it I think I eat my meals in about an11 hour window on most days. I can’t imagine females having a great time with fasting in general, and agree it seems that men gravitate to this way of eating more naturally and might have a better time with it.

    Michele wrote on January 15th, 2015
  3. I’ve tried fasting. When I consumer too much sugar (for whatever reason…more fruit and treats) I get the gitters. If my diet is more primal it was easy to go 24 hours. I don’t feel particularly hungry when I start eating but I find that I seem to want to eat more than usual once I start. Maybe my carb intake is still too high…..I don’t know.

    Judy wrote on January 15th, 2015
  4. Ew. I can’t imagine a restaurant trying to offer me a free temple massage before my meal.

    Erica wrote on January 15th, 2015
  5. Ahhh, either I am getting the humor — beginning with the internet memes and then the joke about the transdermal hunger stimulator — or I’m a little worried about the direction you’re heading, old friend.

    If I’m right about the humor, it might be a bit subtle for newbies. But carry on!

    Martha wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • I agree I was put off until I got to the end, where it’s more clear that he’s joking. Im a daily reader and even I was confused. The sarcasm didn’t really come through. In my opinion, at least.

      Yasmine wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • Such is the problem with the written word in general. So many things misconstrued due to us not being able to gauge what his tone is while we’re reading. I will admit I initially thought he was serious about the transdermal hunger balm as well. :)

        Jacob wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • I, too, was a little worried. Then I thought about the last ghrelin party I attended. We ate one suckling pig (luau-style,) 1/2 cow, 1 water buffalo, and the host. That’s when I realized the article couldn’t be serious….

        Tom S wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • To see if that happens in reality I did a Google search for ghrelin oil to my chagrin.
      I was thinking that dosing people with hormones without their knowledge is a heinous trick and that convincing people to do it themselves is nearly as bad.
      Mark excels at deception, also known as the art of messing with people’s heads.

      Animanarchy wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • And here I just thought Malibu had gotten even weirder…

        Susan wrote on January 15th, 2015
        • Hahahaha

          dt wrote on January 15th, 2015
  6. I can attest to the heightened sense of awareness. My longest IF was 24 hours and I honestly felt really good up to the last minute. Where I think fasting can excel is for office workers (like myself) who are mostly sedentary for long periods at a time. Give it a shot, try eating a big primal breakfast then not eating until dinner. No “2:30 feeling” (and no 5-Hour Energy shot needed!). When I get home after 8-10 hours of not eating, I have myself a 3 hour feast eating appetizers and cooking, everything tastes amazing!

    Jeff wrote on January 15th, 2015
  7. I don’t know if you would call it ittermittent fasting or not, but over the last two years, I have eaten only when hungry. I have found that the three meals a day doesn’t work forme. If I wake up hungry I will eat breakfast, usually not. My largest meal is usually eaten sometime midday. I am not a very big dinner eater either. I have found that most people eat because of what time it is and not because they are truly hungry. As you state, they don’t relly know what hunger is.

    Kay wrote on January 15th, 2015
  8. It’s true! I’m doing my 3rd Whole30 and I don’t snack. Because of my schedule, there are only about 3 hours between breakfast and lunch, but 6-7 hours between lunch and dinner. I am definitely hungry for dinner! And, I just can’t stop racing each night about how amazing the food tastes! It’s nothing different than what we normally have, except I usually grab an afternoon snack and am not really hungry at dinnertime. I think I’m ready to give up those snacks! BTW, I love Paleo /primal….it’s been 3 1/2 years, I’m an almost 61 year old grandma, all my aches and pains disappeared within days of starting and I feel amazing! One of my daughters and a grandson are also Paleo! Thank you, Mark!

    Lydia Garcia wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • That souls have been RAVING, not racing!

      Lydia Garcia wrote on January 15th, 2015
  9. I have tried fasting, but tend to feel light headed/dizzy after more than a few hours. Is this something that I can push through? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Andrew Campbell wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • I found that I needed to build up to it, adding more time each time I fast. Suddenly doing an 18 hour fast out of the blue will probably not be comfortable. Typically I’ll fast once or twice a week when trying to get leaner but when I first start doing it, I may only fast until 10am, then I add an hour each time so I can get used to it.

      spayne wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • Makes sense … thanks very much!

        Andrew Campbell wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • I used to feel like that when I was a vegetarian. I would have to eat something every two hours or so. Maybe you need more protein or less carbs or just need to get fat adapted. I say if you are light headed and dizzy you should eat something. Another thought if you are doing all the above, is to get checked out at the docs.

      Sharon wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • Obviously makes a difference if I am active compared to sedentary … I feel like if I’m active I need to continue to fuel the fire …. am I right in my thinking? Would fasting diminish my level of activity?

        Andrew Campbell wrote on January 15th, 2015
        • I tend to go for 16 or 17 hour fasts overnight, so finish dinner at 8 and then eat a fairly substantial meal at midday-1pm. My body seems to have naturally adjusted to this now but it’s not rigid. This morning I felt particularly hungry so I ate at 8am but I won’t eat again until dinner. I try to eat only when I’m properly hungry not when I just fancy something.

          Tracy Ellis wrote on January 16th, 2015
    • You might want to try a fat fast – see my post below. You don’t have to go more than a few hours without eating, and it seemed to have all the same benefits as IF. Good luck!

      Amy F. wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • I had the same problem. I had some bone broth going in the slow cooker, salted it to taste and had some whenever I started to feel spacey or horrible it got me over the hump and then I felt better and was able to continue.

      emily wrote on January 16th, 2015
      • Spacey is the perfect word … thanks for the advice. Usually I try to drink water, but broth (with salt) gives more bang for the buck.

        Andrew Campbell wrote on January 16th, 2015
  10. What are the thoughts on bulletproof coffee? Does a cup disrupt the fast or keep the fat burning engine going?

    Emily wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • There’s some mixed emotions on bulletproof coffee and fasting. Some argue that it’s calories and will disrupt the fasting cycle, which is true if you’re using fasting for the purposes of weight loss and/or autophagy.

      Others will say no since you’re consuming no carbs and will therefore illicit no insulin response.

      At the end of the day it all depends on your goals. I tend to lean on the stricter side and say yes you ARE consuming calories which will take your body out of the autophagy mode.

      Jacob wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • I agree. If we’re fat adapted, then eating fat counts as a meal. Nor is there any difference between eating and drinking calories. It all gets digested.

        oxide wrote on January 16th, 2015
  11. I’ve tried IF and I didn’t see a different in my performance or weight loss. I’ve read things that caution women against fasting, but I think that was for longer periods (24 hours+). This was mostly on the basis of the differences in hormones in men and women and that most of the research done on fasting has been in men not women. Does anyone know of study(ies) that include women?

    The whole Ghrelin thing was a joke, right? I don’t quite get it.

    Carrie wrote on January 15th, 2015
  12. This reminds me of working with my old boss who ate only once a day (sometimes not at all!) and I would be forced to occasionally skip lunch, meaning an 11 hour fast some days-absolutely dreadful. Of course, I was not fat-adapted those days, maybe now I could handle it better.

    John wrote on January 15th, 2015
  13. Any insight as to IF in pregnant women? I’m sure there aren’t many studies available regarding pros/cons of IF while pregnant, as studies regarding women in general are scarce.
    Anyone have experience with IF during pregnancy?

    Whitney wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • Look into studies on Ramadan fasting with pregnancy (similar to IF) – there seems to be a negative affect, the type and extent depends on pregnancy stage. Please be careful.

      Carolyn wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • My understanding is that pregnancy is one of the exceptions to fasting during Ramadan. Incidentally, so is menstration.

        Cari wrote on January 16th, 2015
    • Probably a bad idea to fast while pregnant. Maybe just dont eat between dinner and breakfast – usually 12 hours. If that doesnt feel good, I say wait for a different phase of life to try this. After all, pregnancy and nursing are a time of growth, not cutting back.

      HopelessDreamer wrote on January 15th, 2015
  14. I’ve been a Primal Blueprint devotee since 24 January 2012 and I haven’t so much as glanced back since. I’ve been taking the challenge this year simply for the fun of riding along.

    When I first read the books and decided to give this lifestyle a try my eyes glazed over every time I read a reference to fasting. I couldn’t even imagine it. But after going Primal – “hunger” became a completely different thing. A much less intimidating and commanding thing.

    I’ve since become a big fan of fasting. I usually eat all of my meals (most days either one or two meals) between 1:30 pm and 9:30 pm. I’m not militant about it. If I’m camping for example, I love eating smoked trout, hard-cooked eggs and berries for breakfast. I wouldn’t let my usual I.F. window impede on such a luxury. But on a day to day basis I rarely eat outside of that window – and I often don’t get around to eating until 2:30 or 3:00. I am rarely hungry.

    In addition to that regular I.F. I enjoy 20 – 23 hour fasts anywhere from 2 to 8 times a month.

    I enjoy them immensely – I find that I get quite the buzz from them, I get a great deal accomplished and the increased focus is noteworthy. I always end these fasts with a favorite home cooked meal (always fully Primal foods).

    I also have one over-arching rule of thumb – if I get hungry – I eat. Consequently I never find it to be unpleasant. Sometimes I’ll plan for a lengthy fast and find that I’d rather eat – when that happens I eat. But usually I wake up on a planned fasting day feeling liberated from the notion of food – I get a great deal accomplished and then I cap the day off with a great meal.

    Blue Ajay wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • This is the way it works best for me, too. I screwed up a couple of times in the last year and “hit the wall” during moderate exercise. Made me kind of sick and took a while to recover. I think it had to do with continuing a weight-loss regimen when I was already pretty lean. I don’t know. But I vowed then to keep doing what works but to respect both hunger and fatigue as important signals. When I’m hungry for more than just a minute or so, I eat. When I’m tired and want to just go home, I go home. That wouldn’t have been a formula for success pre-Primal, but it works very well for me now.

      Martha wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • I probably should have mentioned this –

        I’m also adhere to the PB Fitness regime. Essentially I do full body workouts on Mondays and Fridays, Sprints on Wednesdays – hike/kayak/walk regularly.

        On Mondays and Fridays, after my workouts, I have a big refeed meal – going a bit lower in fat than most days while adding in a couple of roasted or steamed sweet potatoes – significantly more carbs than other days.

        I do lengthier fasts either the day before or after a workout/refeed day.

        The balance works for me – I’m active enough to warrant the extra starchy carbs, but I stick ’em after my full body workouts. But they’re regular enough that my metabolism doesn’t sink. It also wards off bonking. 😀

        I’ve had it pretty well dialed in for nearly two years – thanks entirely to the fasting, exercise and refeed posts here at MDA.

        Blue Ajay wrote on January 15th, 2015
        • Wow, that’s my exact schedule and workouts down to the day. We must be twin sons from different mothers.

          Nocona wrote on January 15th, 2015
  15. This is the post I’ve been waiting for! I was curious if I was just weird or crazy, but recently it’s almost like I’ve had to relearn what hunger is and how it feels.

    I had a particular busy week maybe a month or two ago, and on top of all the work frustration I was kicking myself for getting sick, which rarely happens to me.

    I felt miserable, my stomach was in knots, the thought of moving was nauseating, the thought of eating gave me a weird feeling. I finally figured I should probably try to eat something. At first I thought it might make me feel worse, but once I shoved a bit of food in my face the feeling began easing off a little, so I starting snacking in gradual bits.

    Then it hit me…… I hadn’t really eaten much in three days and never actually noticed. All better once I got some food in me, feeling gone.

    I wondered what this new, strange feeling was :O.

    By the way…. The Epic Bison protein bars are an indescribably amazing little slice of pure Heaven when you’re really hungry O.O . Taking a moment to enjoy every bite was a complete sensory overload! They’re good before, but after being really hungry for a bit…. WOW!

    Alex wrote on January 15th, 2015
  16. So, this is truly interesting, but I’m having a really hard time figuring out how it is legal for a restaurant to rub a transdermal hormone onto my body without my knowledge.

    Valerie wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • It’s a joke…..unless you’re joking too – then it’s not.

      Mitch wrote on January 15th, 2015
  17. This is strangest-written post on this blog in a while. Yeah, fasting is cool, but I wonder how many people are going to be turned off by the weird restaurant massage stuff.

    Kevin wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • It’s pretty consistent with Mark’s humor, which I enjoy, because it’s smart and original and fun, but this episode maybe one of those things that looked better in the wee hours than later in the full light of day.

      Martha wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • Most people seem unimpressed with the weird humor.

      My reaction is that having to read an eight-paragraph build-up that ended up having nothing to do with the topic is a huge waste of my time. If I want to waste my time on the internet, MDA is not the place I go to do it.

      Juanita wrote on January 16th, 2015
  18. Thanks for the post Mark! I love all of the IF info, and I probably IF once every 1-2 weeks, and it helps a ton. I love this swift kick to CW’s balls.

    Myles wrote on January 15th, 2015
  19. I’m getting a good 16 hour fast a day. I eat between 10am and 6pm most days. Twice a week I skip breakfast.

    You didn’t fool me about the Ghrelin, Mark. It was close for a second there…

    Nocona wrote on January 15th, 2015
  20. Enjoyed the humor! After reading this post – I am excited to start IF!

    Nancy wrote on January 15th, 2015
  21. I found that IF using an 8 hour eating slot (noon to 8pm) worked well in enabling me to lose weight and feel healthier. However I hit a plateau after about 6 months and it effectiveness diminished.

    Yossi wrote on January 15th, 2015
  22. Did one this morning because I’d read about it in the books, just a short one. Wasn’t hungry at breakfast so I didn’t make myself eat. Lunch was delicious.

    Michelle Wells wrote on January 15th, 2015
  23. I don’t care for this Buzzfeed style headline and the build up to the reveal. Please don’t let this site become schlock.

    paul wrote on January 15th, 2015
  24. How does IF affect protein intake?

    The obvious would be you get less because you skip a meal or two. But, is it necessary to add even more protein to the meals you do eat to make up for the IF? It’s been interesting not count, but the one thing I do worry about measuring is the protein to support my muscle retention.

    Joe wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • (Third sectence should be “It’s been interesting not counting calories, but………)

      Joe wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • I think I can remember Mark saying some time that after a fast you should eat a normal sized meal.
      I normally prioritize protein after fasting or going a bit hungry for a while (and in general) unless I have more of an urge for other foods but I don’t feel qualified to answer that part of your inquiry.
      Still, I don’t think we need as much protein as we’re commonly told (the gram per pound of bodyweight, or even of lean mass). I often find eating that much protein from whole foods hard to do especially if I’m trying to get my plants in too.

      Animanarchy wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • It seems that MDA, Why Fast Part One: Weight Loss answered my question. Fasting has the effect of maintaining lean mass.

        Joe wrote on January 17th, 2015
  25. This is so interesting! I did a little different kind of fast a few months ago, a fat fast, guided by a book by Dana Carpender. This method was 5 or so small “feedings” a day, of 75-100% fat content and a goal of around 1,000 calories. The book listed the fat content and calories for the recipes, so it was pretty easy to track. I did this for 4 days and I found it pretty challenging because I love to eat, but I made it. I had the same things happen – my mind seemed sharper than it had in years, I had more energy and a better attitude about literally everything, and when we did sit down for a feeding, the tiny amounts of food we ate tasted phenomenal and we savored every bite. I think I am getting psyched to do this again soon. Thanks for the great post, although I admit I, too, didn’t get the humor in the beginning. I’m glad the commenters clarified that for me!

    Amy F. wrote on January 15th, 2015
  26. This oil would be a great way to prank your enemies while in college. Rub this on their temples each night while they are sleeping and watch them get fat over the school year. HAHA!

    JT wrote on January 15th, 2015
  27. Before the holidays, I was doing IF 16/8 and it was great. The weight came off easily. After the new year (and indulging way too much) I have been doing 18/6, hoping to lose weight faster (yeah, I know) and have been slowly gaining weight. I am switching back tomorrow! (I am a 42 year old woman)

    Heather wrote on January 15th, 2015
  28. After too much holiday eating I have begun fasting regularly. Mostly I have eaten one big evening meal. Sometimes I get hungry in the afternoons, but because everything tastes so good at suppertime it doesn’t bother me. Before eating I feel much more alert, and after my evening feast I feel so satisfied and calm that my sleeping has improved as well.

    This past weekend I fasted for over 24 hours and then took about an 8-mile hike. It was a Real Grok Experience: I felt like a hunter or an animal in his natural habitat. I even did some sprinting here and there. All of my senses seemed more intense, and I felt more engaged in or possessive of my own limbs and organs, my whole body. I just can’t wait until I get to do it again.

    I would encourage everyone to try fasting for a while.

    Ryan wrote on January 15th, 2015
  29. Wow, so many people making a big deal out of a little humor. And classic Sisson humor at that. Anyway, I’ve done IF for a few months with great results (lost 25 pounds), and found only the first three days or so to be miserable, i guess that’s how long it took for my body to burn through stored glycogen and be fat adapted. After that, piece of cake. (Gluten free no carb of course) Keep the funnies coming Mark, i look forward to that everyday as well as the quality info!

    ntrojnky wrote on January 15th, 2015
  30. This IS a joke, right? Or are things really that different out there in the land of fruits and nuts than they are here in the Northeast? o

    Deb Willbefree wrote on January 15th, 2015
  31. Following this message I’ll be going on an indefinite fast.. again, from commenting. Too many of my comments are being removed (at an even faster rate than before) and a lot of them are just harmless jokes that aren’t as “bad” as others I’ve seen here, even featured as comments of the week, or even as “bad” as things Mark has said if you really think about them. Whoever is removing them must have something against me or assume that readers are so suggestive and immature as to insult their intelligence. So I won’t say my perceived errant thoughts and I won’t share any of my good ideas either. I’m out!

    Animanarchy wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • Hate to see you go, Animanarchy.

      We have a plugin that automatically catches spam. It does a good job, but it sometimes marks things as spam that shouldn’t be. And those often get lost in the sea of hundreds or even thousands of spam comments MDA receives every day.

      As I understand it, if a commenter ever used offensive language, for example, and their comment was marked as spam as a result, they’re future comments are more likely to be marked as spam even if they’re benign.

      Anyway, it’s nothing personal. Hope to hear from you in the future.

      Grok on!

      Mark Sisson wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • Aww man, now after a response from Mark (which I wasn’t expecting, or fishing for, and in case anyone was wondering or suspicious I wasn’t trying to be melodramatic either) I feel somewhat wracked with guilt. Speaking of witch (heheh), have you heard of the medieval torture tool known as the rack? Its victims found it very disarming.
        Regarding the spam/censorship filter – I figured about as much when it comes to comments being relegated to examination, which is why at one point I made a new Gravatar account with the same picture and started using my alternate email address to circumvent it or sneak by.
        I have a nagging suspicion, however, that a moderator is / some moderators are being particularly stringent in their judgments of whether or not some of my comments are appropriate and maybe disallowing or removing them just out of spite. I would not be surprised, especially after I basically insulted them in a strawman fashion when some of my comments disappeared.
        I get a bit frustrated when comments that I just fire off don’t get posted (or get deleted afterwards – that’s worse) and sometimes I put quite a lot of thought and time into some comments and when those ones go to waste I want to go apespit, so to speak, and fling excrement at whoever is responsible, or something similarly insidious.
        I don’t like to get Grok blocked and occasionally the level of stress it causes flicks a switch in my head and makes me feel temporarily averse to sending comments about the posts in or responding to others’ comments because my enthusiasm gets dampered. At that point I think it’s better for me to focus more on other endeavors for a while until I really feel like returning in force. I won’t claim that it’s entirely logical but I don’t like to go against my emotions, as may be apparent from this sentence.
        My life has been in prolonged and repetitive upheaval lately anyway and I’ve been distressed, agitated, and feeling antisocial much of the time and need to find productive, enjoyable things to do, spend more time outside, prioritize exercise more, and hopefully set up a more stable living situation for myself so being on the internet a lot probably shouldn’t be high on my list of things to do.
        I need to walk around more at least because when I slack on that I tend to get lower back and knee pain (and excessive coffee consumption and hunching and slouching seems to make it worse).
        This morning though I walked about an hour to use a hotel lobby computer rather than wait for the library to open because I was there yesterday to check email just before closing time and didn’t have time to provide a sufficiently in depth blurb to explain my hiatus, or reduction in inclusion, and inform Mark and everyone else this applies to that I am not turning my back on MDA. You can expect more from me in the future. I’m just not sure how much any time soon.
        Oh yeah, another good reason to walk here is that I can take the lobby breakfast leftovers (and freeze the extra outside for later, since I’ve been eating too much lately and need to skip some meals and stockpiling food is generally a good thing) and it’s not far from a rotten grape juice store, which should be open soon if it isn’t already.

        Animanarchy wrote on January 19th, 2015
        • Completely hat-stand!

          WelshGrok wrote on January 22nd, 2015
    • Don’t go man!

      Snake Plissken wrote on January 15th, 2015
      • Don’t go!

        Caroline wrote on January 16th, 2015
  32. Cutting calories (as part of eat less move more) to lose weight is a myth, but fasting just might work!

    Rick wrote on January 15th, 2015
  33. If I have a cup of coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil in it in the morning, does that count as breaking the fast?

    Heather Longoria wrote on January 15th, 2015
  34. Sorry guys, but I got to “one simple trick” in the header and I smelled spoof!!

    Cody wrote on January 15th, 2015
  35. Oh man…so food tastes so good because I’m hungry…not because of the very fresh, always unprocessed ingredients I’m using?? I (quite seriously) thought I had become a much better cook! Alas…
    I am female, well north of 50, and have been IFing for about 5 months now. I eat two meals per day with no snacking at all. I find it easy and effective, and don’t plan to return eating all day long ever again…

    Sandy wrote on January 15th, 2015
  36. This 44 year old female has been intermittent fasting for over a year now (no breakfast, usually 7 hour eating window), with no ill effects. I’ve been in ketosis pretty much the whole time, and find that my hunger signals are almost always suppressed. Even on several three-day fat fasts I’ve done, I’m not really starving at the end. Not like when I was a sugar burner and hadn’t had a snack for 90 minutes.

    Allison wrote on January 15th, 2015
    • I’m curious as to how you ate on a fat fast. Can you give me any details? Thanks

      Kristin wrote on January 19th, 2015
      • I’m ok with dairy, so a fat fast for me looks like coffee with a lot of heavy whipping cream (3T) and MCT oil (2T), often twice a day, plus a cup or two of bone broth during the day. Also, usually a piece of very dark (90%) chocolate. I drink water as I like, and any kind of tea (unsweetened, of course).

        Allison wrote on January 19th, 2015
  37. Oh man, for a minute there I thought you were giving up one of our massage secrets! I am going to have to read today’s blog a few more times to digest it all.

    Magic Fingers Donna wrote on January 15th, 2015
  38. Fasting doesn’t work for me. I get a headache when I skip meals. I have to always make sure that I am fed.
    Now do you have any secrets to get my kids to eat?

    Kat wrote on January 15th, 2015
  39. The post was funny and the phrase “weird trick” was the tell… so I figured it was a spoof then.
    I’ve been bulletproofing for a while and that works well for me.

    Paretoparent wrote on January 15th, 2015
  40. Funny that I finished a 24 hour fast yesterday, with a big leg workout around the 20th hour. i actually didn’t eat for a while after that so it was more like 26 hours or so. It was one of the best workouts I’ve had in ages. The meal I had at the end of the fast tasted amazing and I was 2 lbs lighter than the morning before. I would have thought it was loss of water due to the fast but my dinner had 400 grams of mashed sweet potatoes, 4 venison burgers a glass of wine and a plate of stir fry veg, it was low fat ( due to the carbs from the mash) and i would probably normally not enjoy such low fat food but it tasted heaven :-)

    I have done IF every now and then since becoming primal two years ago but not been as good at doing full 24 hour fasts. The way I felt yesterday, living on herbal teas and a big coffee before my workout was just amazing. So clear in my head. Amazing strength and stamina at the gym, followed by deep sleep.
    Not to mention that I only spent £13 on food all day ( the big meal in the evening ).
    I’ll definitely try to fast 24 hours a few times a week and time it with big, heavy lifting sessions and see how it feels in a months time.

    Jacob wrote on January 16th, 2015

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