Lessons from a carb-craving-munch-fest

Overall, I am happier than I have been in many decades, I have considerably more energy and I sleep much better.  All of which I credit to the changes I have made in my way of eating –  low carb (minimal sugar, minimal flour) with intermittent fasting and an occasional extended fast.

This new way of eating is fantastic.  I love the way I feel with this approach to eating and it offers tremendous flexibility.  Because, sometimes life needs a little flexibility.  Right?  I simply refuse to be rigid in my diet.  Life is short, and unlike last 40 years, I am not going to spend the next 40 years trying to lose weight.  I am done with that nonsense, forever.  Lose your excess weight, then be done.  Stop perpetually dieting!

For me, runnin’ on empty with a brain fueled by ketones feels fantastic.  As I eluded to in an earlier blog, the brunt of our daily energy expenditure is accounted for by the digestion and absorption of food.  When you fast for 24 – 36 hours, all that energy can be redirected elsewhere.  And contrary to common belief, you won’t die if you miss a meal or two!

When I completed my first extended fast of 5 days, after the first two days, I rarely felt hungry.  Even those first two days were not terribly miserable.  Hunger comes and goes and is never an emergency.  Master faster Jimmy Moore, co-author with Dr Jason Fung of The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting, routinely fasts 7 – 10 days.  He is of the opinion that if you are going to fast for 48h, you might as well extend it to 5 – 7 days, because the hard part is already over.  That has also been my experience.

I am not recommending you jump in with both feet and start a 7 day fast.  Please do not do that to yourself.  Fasting is like running, if you start with a marathon, you are unlikely to finish and if you do, you will likely be miserable for much of it, vowing never again!  You must be smart about it and build up to it.  Get yourself off sugar and processed foods stuffs and train your body to burn body fat for fuel.  Then all the amazing benefits of short extended fasts are yours!

To date, my longest fast has been 5 days (though I confess I take coffee with cream every morning, fasting or not – ‘cuz life is short.)  And at the end, I felt great – full of energy, with crystal clear mental clarity!  VROOM! VROOM!  Truly remarkable.

This past month, I was canoeing/portaging with some lifelong friends, and with that week long adventure, I was completely off my new way of eating.  And truthfully – I was and remain totally fine with my choices.  We had a fabulous trip – rain included!  Sugary snacks readily available (chocolate, every flavor jelly beans, and peanut butter, banana and chocolate gorp), early morning oatmeal and highly processed dehydrated (but amazingly tasty) evening meals, my carb-craves have returned big time!

It’s the first time in over a year that I overloaded on carbs daily for a week.  Since then, I have been fielding cravings for Baskin and Robin’s Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream, Almond Crunch Cookies (one of my food nemesis’) and the salty crunch of Miss Vickies potato chips.  And I will confess I caved on more than one occasion!

Along with this carb-crave-munch-fest, I lost my crystal clear mental clarity and my inner critic has returned.  The mental clarity of low carb with intermittent fasting was incredible, but the silencing of my inner critic was astounding.

As I return to my new way of eating, I watch my brain fog slowly lift and listen to my inner critic as she recedes into silence again with curiosity.  Hmm, what can I learn from this?  This is such great information to know.  I already knew I was ‘sensitive’ to carbs.  A ‘cheat’ of some homemade banana blueberry muffins with homemade strawberry jam would add 2 – 3 lbs water weight for a day or two.

Now I have evidence that mental clarity and a silent inner critic are tied to my new way of eating.  Whoop!  Whoop! My cotton candy brain recedes.  I want that always.  AL-WAYS!

Who wouldn’t?  Many women who follow a low carb diet combined with intermittent fasting report an increase in their mental clarity but few mention a silent inner critic… I doubt I am a special unicorn in that regard, but if I am, I will take it thank you very much!

What about you?  Are you a special unicorn too?

Buff on my friends!
Dr. Karen

If you want to swap out some mental clarity for the brain fog, I can help.  Let’s chat.