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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 09 2018

Primal Starter: Fasted Mornings

By Mark Sisson
15 Comments

Inline_Food_Nutrition_Live-Awesome-645x445-01“The simplest way to building your fitness for going keto is to delay your first meal of the day until WHEN—When Hunger Ensues Naturally. This simple, intuitive strategy will turbocharge you fat- and ketone-burning genes, enhance your insulin sensitivity, and set you up for easier adherence to a low-carb or keto eating pattern for the rest of the day. When you act in accordance with your hunger instead of pursuing a fixed schedule for fasting, you will free yourself from the pressure and anxiety that can often cause you to rebel when your willpower weakens or you lose interest in being so regimented….

Owing to the many stress variables of daily life, some days are better than others to stretch the limits of your metabolic fitness. For example, I’m extremely comfortable eating in a compressed time window during which I routinely fast for 18-hour periods with no trouble—even if I throw an intense workout or jet travel into the mix. However, on certain days, hunger grabs me in the morning hours, possibly due to some interesting triggers. For example, if I have a public-speaking event, my nervous energy sometimes manifests as hunger. I also notice on mornings when I do little or no exercise, I often get hungry sooner. This might seem counterintuitive, because in the carbohydrate paradigm, exercise drives glycogen depletion drives hunger. However, I suspect that exercise increases my fatty acid and ketone oxidation, and thereby allows me to power along for longer on internal energy sources than if I had not exercised. With the WHEN approach, you essentially take what your mind and body give you each day, do your best with your eating, exercise, sleep, and stress-management strategies, and allow progress to happen naturally.

TAGS:  keto

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15 thoughts on “Primal Starter: Fasted Mornings”

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  1. This is pretty much what I do. I don’t really get hungry in the time period following dinner until around noon the next day. I suspect the “need” to eat breakfast upon arising is more mental than physical. I think the same is true of routinely snacking between meals. In both cases they are habits but rarely necessities.

    What I’ve found to be true is that the body can actually function extremely well, if not better, on much less food than what most people think is necessary. It’s really a matter of sticking to a nutrient-dense diet in the first place, then training the mind to accept the fact that three large meals plus several snacks are no longer going to be the daily norm.

  2. Is Mark’s coffee with sugar and cream consumed within his eating or fasting window? If I don’t count my daily morning coffee I have been eating within a similar compressed eating window and it has worked out very well for me.

    1. I wouldn’t consider anything with sugar and cream in it to be fasting, but if what you’re doing works for you, then don’t worry about it.

  3. I’ve been hearing so much about starting the day with protein… this is why people get confused?

    1. This also makes me wonder.

      The main arguments I’ve heard for high protein breakfast being higher satiety for the rest of the day (maybe not necessarily true if you’re fat adapted), as well as higher insulin sensitivity in the morning, circadian entrainment, etc…
      I guess you’d have a hard time convincing anyone here that they’re missing out on breakfast, I skip it myself now and then, but still…

  4. I can usually make it past midday without eating but find I am quite dependant on my mid-morning full fat coffee (often de-decaffeinated, with butter, MCT oil and double cream). This delivers a good dose of good fats with less than 1g of carbs, so hopefully little in the way of an insulin response. It doesn’t help that the coffee is so damn tasty!

  5. Its interesting, I’m on a similar fasting routine (~20h fasting only on water, a big ass salad breakfast and lunch, no dinner) every month I try to do a full day fast. And its the same for me, I’ve noticed the days o don’t work out I’m hungrier and I tend to breakfast sooner.

  6. If you’re fully keto adapted, hunger is an illusion. I eat by preference or instinct and very rarely in the morning. A few weeks ago I decided to try an experiment. I put regular 16 hr periods between meals but was mentally preparing for a longer 5 day fast (previously have done 48hrs). I prepped by going 24hrs regularly between meals and when I was ready I easily drifted right up to 60 hrs before feeling any sense of hunger. I supplemented with bhb and vitamins (mag, potassium, vit B). I was quite hungry at 72 hrs due to a very stressed work day so a shot of mct oil in my bhb drink fixed that. I worked out moderately everyday and recorded some of my heaviest lifts, as well. I did have a bit of a refeeding problem at the end but easily went back to regular 16 hr windows. I don’t think I’d fast that long again because I’m quite healthy at this point but it was an interesting experience that really helped me reframe what hunger is and isn’t in the keto paradigm. I have forgotten what hunger in the carbohydrate paradigm feels like.

  7. I prefer to skip *dinner* instead of breakfast – that’s how I do 8:16 type IF.

  8. “Fasted Mornings”, huh? Is that what it’s called? That’s what I always do… I don’t wake up hungry, and have found that if I eat before I get hungry, I will get logy and sleepy. Besides, food is much more enjoyable when you are hungry!

  9. Hmmm…I am wondering…can anyone tell me… if it ‘counts’ as fasting if what I have in the morning is a cup (12 oz) of free trade organic coffee with 1tablespoon MCT oil, 1tablespoon grass fed unsalted butter, 2Tablespoons (from grass fedcows)collagen, 500 mg Vitamin C??? Otherwise I don’t actually ‘eat’ anything until about noon after eating dinner the night before by 7pm. I never feel ‘hangry’ as some carb eaters put it, since eating the lo carb-high fat way.

    1. I would say taking in calories isn’t fasting. But more emphatically would say if it’s working for you, do it.

    2. For me, your definition of fasting comes down to your goals. If you’re fasting for fat loss, keeping your calories low and from foods that don’t illicit much insulin response like fats, is alright to consider fasting. however, if your goals autopagy, keep it as close to zero calories as possible, as any alternative fuel sources will give your body an alternative to recycling damaged cellular material for energy. Whereas if you’re simply looking for fat loss, you goal is to keep insulin as low as possible. So, a bit of fat shouldn’t hurt you especially if it helps you feel full and refrain from other types of food. Many people allow for up to 500 cal on fasting days like Dr. Mosley’s 5:2 fasting protocol. So, first, figure out why you want to fast to begin with. Then decide how best to implement it to best suit your lifestyle.
      But, don’t take my word for it, I don’t know Nothin’.

  10. I do skip breakfast regularly and often even lunch but if for some reason I’m stressed or I did not sleep well (probably going to bed too late) then hunger appears in the morning. I wonder how people did in the past when food was not so available to be a confort for our emotional stress. I too have less hunger if making intense/brief training, on contrary the long runs made me craving food as mad. But restriction of carbs makes really the difference into sustaining a fasted state. I used to fight the instinct, now I follow it and eat otherwise I feel worse later. An high fat moderate protein breakfast is very good for that and does not trigger insuline. This site is great source of information to fine-tune such aspects 🙂