Fasting? Not So Fast…

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Time-restricted feeding windows, intermittent fasting, and extended fasting are very much in vogue. The basis for this movement is recent literature that demonstrates that a prolonged period without food starts a process called autophagy in which cells recycle damaged or nonfunctioning cellular components in the absence of recent nutrition. After some time on the carnivore diet, most people tend to fall into a pattern of eating meals less frequently.

I typically eat once or twice per day, but that presumes I’ve eaten enough not to be hungry between feedings. If you focus on the delicious food and ensure you get plenty of it, you won’t need to set a stopwatch to tell you when to eat again. When you don’t eat enough, your body will let you know, and you should listen. A common theme with the carnivore diet, as you may have noticed, is to let things happen. Your body knows how to take care of itself. If you’re ravenous for three days in a row, don’t be afraid to feed that need. Things will level out eventually. With time, you learn to have power over food and understand what nutrition means rather than being a slave to convention or food addiction.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an attempt to hack your appetite, and it can have benefits with the carnivore diet, but it also can result in problems. Because many people come to the carnivore diet from a background of caloric restriction, intentionally denying the body food can lead some people back into unhealthy behaviors due to excessive hunger, and I think people do better when we’re not constantly snacking. Many people like eating one meal per day, which is something you can certainly do on a carnivore diet. In fact, a carnivore diet might be the diet that most lends itself to this strategy. My caveat is that you should be able to feast adequately to support your body as you go the next 24 hours without food. For some people, this may mean eating two, three, or more pounds of meat in one sitting when they have only one meal each day.

If weight loss is your goal, or you’re trying to get lean beyond a normal level of body fat (which is 10 to 15 percent for men and 18 to 24 percent for women), then intermittent fasting may be helpful. I find going much beyond 24 hours without eating to be counterproductive over the long term with this particular diet. When we’re eating suboptimal or potentially toxic foods, it’s often helpful to give our bodies a break. But the carnivore diet doesn’t include those types of food. So if you’re no longer consuming potentially harmful foods, then the benefits of extended fasting are likely diminished except in unusual cases.

I’ve not seen any data from studies of carnivorous animals that show benefit from fasting or caloric restriction. Specifically, athletes are unlikely to benefit from prolonged fasting, especially during competition periods. I suggest you be cautious about combining intermittent fasting with the carnivore diet.

I know I keep saying this over and over again, but the carnivore diet isn’t a quick-weight-loss scheme. Trying to fix a malnutrition problem by starving yourself is a recipe for disaster. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, and instead you gain 5, but you now enjoy life, don’t have back pain, and are no longer a slave to processed food, you’re far better off with the 5 extra pounds for now.

Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
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2 thoughts on “Fasting? Not So Fast…”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for this article. I am trying to reverse my insulin resistance and am doing 72-100 hours fasting every few weeks. I have read that by doing these extended fast, it will help reverse my insulin resistance. Is this true?

    Thanks
    Tim in England

    1. The fasting must be combined with a clean diet. If you continue eating seed oils and excess sugar you will be unlikely to fix anything.

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