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IF Part 3 – My Take on Caffeine, Bulletproof Coffee, and Longer Periods of Fasting

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In the previous parts 1 & 2 I covered the most popularly used types of IFing, and described the various benefits of doing so. This post is about my own brief commentary on IF and personal input on the subject.

My Routine

My personal IF routine that isn’t officially made famous as far as I know of – is as follows:

– Very much like the Leangains approach in terms of getting more calories from carbs on days of workouts, and more calories from healthy fats on rest days. I consume on average 2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight. (This amount can vary from person to person, different people have different genetic potential for successful assimilation of protein. Largely dependent on overall gut-related health. If you get gassy or bloated from your protein powder or from eating too much protein in general chances are you’re getting too much)

– Daily feeding gap of 8 hours and fasting period for 16 hours, with the exception of a 2-day fast (usually 48h) from sunday dinner to tuesday dinner, finished by a workout and massive meal. I always consume the majority of my calories post-workout.

– During this 2 day fast I usually consume L-glutamine, and sometimes coconut oil. Not because I can’t manage otherwise, but because they are good for promoting gut health, something I’ve had issues with due to candida. Intense exercise following a 48 hour fast is not something most “gurus” promote, but I have found that this 2 day fast is vastly superior to the normal IF that I did for roughly a year prior to coming up with my own method.

– My morning routine usually consists of L-glutamine, and perhaps coconut oil, followed by coffee or tea as I read/work/go to the gym.

On Leangains & Caffeine

I agree with most things Martin Berkhan says, but not with  his positive recommendation of consuming or overconsumption of caffeine as it breaks down magnesium which helps you relax. Caffeine also stimulates the pituitary gland and increases cortisol, and lowers melatonin that you need for sleep and relaxation.  Long-term consumption MAY lead to overstimulating your adrenal glands.

As a pointer – don’t drink too much coffee (more than 1-2 cups/day) if your diet is lacking in magnesium. Make sure you’re eating lots of veggies or supplementing with magnesium if you must drink coffee, and take a few days off every month when you don’t consume any caffeine. Also, if you do take magnesium supplements, don’t do so in combination with drinking coffee as it reduces absorption.

However, this example of coffee-drinking is completely arbitrary on a case to case basis. I know for a fact that I myself am very susceptible to the effects of caffeine and should never drink coffee after 2 pm if I want a good night’s sleep. It may be different for other people, and I would think that it is generally fine for people to consume 1-2 cups of coffee daily even during fasting given that they consume enough magnesium, zinc, and other minerals.

Other Reasons for Fasting

There are other reasons than the previously mentioned health and bodybuilding reasons as to why I am very pro-fasting:

– Fasting for longer periods, especially during my weekly two day fast, enables me to reach a deeper state of creativity and focus. This in turn makes it more fun to work on things for a prolonged period of time. When the mind stops being concerned with the stimulation of food, it frees up more mental energy for other stuff – such as deeper levels of thinking. It is not rare that your metacognition temporarily increases from this.

– The leeway of being able to eat huge meals and even getting away with eating unhealthy (though I try not to).

– Removing the mental block of knowing that you have to eat sooner or later. This boosts productivity for me because it destroys the mental excuse that I may not be able to reach a deep state of concentration because I have to discontinue the task soon. Fasting demolishes that excuse, now the only excuse left is whether you force yourself to put in the adequate amount of time.

The fanatic feeling that you are burning energy instead of storing it. This usually kicks in for me after 16-20 hours of fasting, making me feel somewhat unstifled and energetic, more spontaneous than usual.

On Bulletproof Coffee/Tea

 The reason I eat coconut oil and have it in my tea or coffee is because I suffer from a not-so-serious level of candida albicans. Coconut oil and L-glutamine are some of the stuff I have in my diet as a means to an end, not to lose weight.

It is very important to make that distinction – because a lot of uninformed people in the fitness community actually think they will lose weight by increasing their caloric metabolic rate by eating coconut oil or MCT-oil.

coconut oil

If your main goal is to lose weight by doing intermittent fasting, then you should avoid coconut oil/butter/MCT in your coffee as it adds calories. On the other hand if you find it unbearable to skip breakfast etc. (as is common the first 1-3 weeks) and that in turn causes you to eat much food later on, then perhaps the net effects having some butter/coconut oil in your tea/coffee is positive.

You’ll have to experiment for yourself in order to know, the answer is out there for you to find!

Personally I rarely ever get hungry anymore. I eat whenever I want to by my own volition and it feels great. Coffee/tea in the morning is a nice stimulant though, but I usually don’t need it to suppress hunger. Coffee is really addictive though, keep that in mind if you aren’t already an avid drinker.

PLEASE do not be a stupid David Asprey fan guy who mistakes bulletproof coffee or whatever, for a magic pill solution. The fundamentals of calories in and calories out still apply and must be adhered to. As is stated in Eat Stop Eat, by increasing your muscle mass you will increase your basal metabolic rate.

Purchasing all the overpriced products from David Asprey’s, Joseph Mercola’s, or Mark Hyman’s websites will NEVER be a substitute for a sound mind and discipline. If you have all the money in the world and don’t care, then go for it – never buy in completely into a lifestyle or system, use only what is of value to you and then move on.

Coconut oil is a great thing to have in your diet for various reasons, but know why you are consuming it, don’t just do it because some dude on a forum told you to. Don’t be that guy.

If the enlightened guy jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge?

–      Jed Mckenna, Spiritual Enlightenment – The Damndest Thing

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Comments

  1. Just read all 3 part of the IF series. Recently a classmate told me that fasting will increase the production of growth hormone, and now as I read this article that fact gets reinforced. IF sounds cool, I think I’ll try it out. I never get hungry anyways; I just eat because it’s convenient…

    I’ve got some questions though:

    1. Is it possible to start doing IF (for example the 5/19 method) instantly, or should I make a gradual change? Seeing as I eat breakfast, lunch, fika, dinner and evening fika, making the change to IF would be pretty big and maybe pretty strenuous on my body. Or is it?

    2. What do you eat during the ~5 hours when you’re allowed to? Protein shakes? Vegetables? A lot of meat? Lots of carbs? I have not really learned how many grams of protein different meals contain, for example. I’m totally clueless in that area. Only thing I’m doing right now is trying to eat less carbs and more vegetables. Still eating a lot of meat.

    3. You said your breath gets bad after a while. For how long will this last?

    I hope I’m not troubling you too much with my questions. As always, your blog is awesome and inspiring. Keep writing, I’m reading most of your new posts as well as some of your older ones. I kind of lost the motivation to write myself. I’m still developing, but I simply don’t feel like I need to write to do that.

    • ludvigc says:

      Hey,

      Yeah it does increase growth hormone levels, but depending on which source is used there is a bit of a difference. Personally I believe the science being used in Eat Stop Eat seems unrealistic. Not only does it increase growth hormone levels, but also reduces risks of cancer for a few reasons; one being improved insulin resistance.

      1.
      Anything is possible – but as you probably understand, it may be a bit too rough on you in the beginning, thus giving you a negative experience of it. Perhaps it the change is too strong and you fail to get through the plateau and that would suck because then you would quit before noticing any change.

      Seeing as how you eat about 4-6 meals a day your insulin levels are constantly fueled; your body never fully goes into a state of ketosis and starts to use fat instead of glucose as your primary energy source. A bit over a year ago when I first started to consistently do IF every day it was a semi-rough transition that took about three weeks, then it felt better than before and my energy levels and mood slightly more leveled throughout the day. I remember seeing a big drop in body fat within just two months.

      In short, some people seem to have more difficulties than others switching over to ketosis than others. I’ve never had any noticeable issue with it. But don’t be surprised if it takes you a few weeks to adapt to it fully like it did for me at first. Keep that in mind if/when the energy levels & hunger hits you. Expect it to come and you will not be surprised, making it that much easier to “weather out the storm”.

      2.
      The short answer is that you can eat whatever. Fasting is a lifestyle, not a diet.

      I choose to eat very specific types of food due to health & productivity reasons. Also I’ve had something called candida (going to write posts on it later some time), gluten-sensitivity, and a low level of lactose-intolerance. Therefore I try to avoid food related to that. You should read my post about what i eat and why. My current diet regimen hasn’t changed much since writing that post. The only difference is that I have dropped some of the supplements without noticing a difference.

      Honestly, I feel there is way too much opinion when it comes to food. I’ve read SO MUCH about the topic by now and feel I could lecture about it. I’ve listened to several licensed dieticians and so-called experts, and very few of them actually know what they are talking about. It’s unfortunate.

      Eating is SO individual. One has to go through a ton of self-experimentation (diagnostic tests if you want to save time) to know what food is best in terms of specific criteria.

      There are certain guidelines & principles that hold true for most people, but they are not truths. A few good guidlines that work for most people in terms of being healthy and gaining muscle are:

      – Eat about 2x your body weight in protein daily assuming you are serious about working out –> you weigh 70kg, eat about 140g protein per day. You will usually notice pretty fast whether or not your body is capable of assimilating this amount of protein depending on if you get very gassy or feel slow. Eggs are great.

      – Limit carbs as much as possible (except after workouts). Including fruits. Fruit is a better alternative than candy – but if you can and care about being healthy enough then limit it.

      – Eat vegetables of varying colors. Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, parsley. These are the good sort of carbs.

      In the end, it all depends on your goals. It’s very hard to give food advice to a person you don’t know personally.

      3.
      Bad breath is a common, but not definite, symptom of entering ketosis. It doesn’t happen to me as much as it used to do. Another symptom that has now been lost on me upon entering ketosis was that i could feel my saliva taste sort of sweet. It doesn’t happen to me anymore either, but did for over 6 months.

      (I’m actually writing this to you now 22 hours into my 48 hour weekly fast – just now feeling symptoms of getting into the best part)


      “I hope I’m not troubling you too much with my questions”

      – No, you’re definitely not boring me with your questions. That’s what this blog is for, to connect with and speak to people with interests similar to mine. I am going to put more time into it now over the summer. I actually got a free book coming out (hopefully in two weeks) that i will publish on the blog. I hope you’ll read that and provide some feedback. Actually very few readers comment – less than 1 in 100. We live in a spectator nation.

      True, you don’t have to write. But it helps a lot due to a number of reasons. I can think of at least three:

      1. It gets your brain engaged on a topic – you get investment/buy-in from yourself and your ego.
      2. Similar to 1. By expending more energy than you have to you are signalling to your brain/subconscious that this is something worthy of your time, which then increases your chances of internalizing information. This is key in the long-term.

      I put myself through more trouble than I have to in order to force repetitions and internalize certain mindsets & habits. For example, when I write (especially important stuff) I usually write it first on my phone as doing something during the day. I do this to capture the thought ASAP instead of letting it go away. I always write everything down on my phone or pieces of paper. I used to do this with rhymes when I was younger and interested in rap – probably how i got the habit.

      Then I transcribe the notes from my cellphone to my computer. It takes quite a bit of time because I write so much random stuff every day. By having to write it up several times it sticks to my memory much more than if I just think it once. I get at least two repetitions extra.

      3. You learn more about yourself and become better at conveying information to other people, which is a great skill no matter what you will do in the future.

      • 1.
        I’m on day 1, so far so good, haha. What the heck, I’ll just keep doing it for a while and see what fits me best. Does the hunger go away after some weeks of doing it?

        2.
        I’m good as long as I get the essential minerals and vitamins as well as enough protein, I guess? Eating a lot more vegetables than before, but I’ve really got to start counting grams of protein. Kind of hard though…

        3.
        All right. Thank you.

        —————————-

        You’ve written a book? That’s awesome! I will definitely stay updated and perhaps read it when I have the time. Right now I’m reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand… It’s a great book so far; you should read it if you haven’t already.

        —————————-

        On writing:

        Hell, I guess you’re right. I just kind of lost the motivation to write. I’ve got so many other things I want to do, but I end up not focusing enough on either. I’m doing good overall however; still evolving, haha :) Very true about point three, by the way.

        I thank you a lot for your well-written and detailed answer. I’m sorry that I don’t reply to it with an answer of equal length :)

        / Alexander

      • ludvigc says:

        1. On hunger:

        – Yeah it goes away for sure within a few weeks. It’s about adjusting your body’s hormones (insulin, ghrelin, etc..). The hunger is not “real” in terms of being dangerous.

        2. Eating:
        – Yeah you probably are. Changes in diet & sleep don’t show themselves immediately, but within weeks or months the net effect is huge in terms of health, mood, productivity, and energy levels.

        Books:

        I intend to read all of Ayn Rands works soon ( I have all her books), I have only read excepts so far actually. I’ve read about 80 books this year (not these 6 months, in 1 year), but I got about 500 left on my list assuming I will read them all.. It’s hard to prioritize.

        Short answer:

        No prob!

  2. Hello Ludvigc,
    Enjoying your articles greatly. Fantastic addition to my studies.

    Question;
    I work 3rd Shift (10pm-8am)
    – How would you suggest orienting IF accordingly
    if sleep hours are (9am-3/4pm)?

    • Hey Alasdair,
      I’m glad you like them.

      I would suggest you try two different ways to see which one fits best:

      1. Eat at meal one at 8:00 or 9:00 PM before work to be sure that the food is digested and you’re not in a comatose state when you do your job. Eat meal two at latest 4:00 – 5:00 AM.

      2. Eat just one big meal at 00:00 or 1:00 AM and fast the rest of the day.

      If you’ve got a physically exhaustive job it’s probably going to be a bit more challenging in the beginning (the hormone adjustment period). If you have a lot of trouble stifling the hunger you could drink coffee, supplement with L-glutamine (ca 5 g – I do this during longer periods of fasting), or if you must you could have some coconut fat.

  3. ” never buy in completely into a lifestyle or system, use only what is of value to you and then move on. ”

    Holy Crap.

    This is freaking profound.

    I have been wrestling with this exact same concept for a few months now. I knew I was experiencing this, but could not put it into words. And suddenly BAM! I read it here.

    This hit me like a bullet.

    Thanks so much for this blog

    • Very cool. I know exactly what you mean — when something instantly crystallizes in your mind. It’s powerful!

      You’re probably the only person reading this article to take that out of it. Everyone else came for the fasting advice ;)

      Thank for reading, Thomas.

  4. Hi Ludvigc, thank you for the very enlightening article! I have been on and off trying paleo, whole30, no carb for a few years and my weight yo-yo alot and somehow I don’t even recall when I started binge eating, I can do a week with super low carb and then bang, I go three days just eating non-stop bread and pasta and pastries… Maybe I have been thinking about food too much that it just consumed me totally. I want to try IF to get control over my mind about food, stop this binge eating after restriction and lose a few kilos (I am not obese but I would like to lose around 5kg)
    1. Will this IF also work for women?
    2. When on IF, do I still need to count calories so I do not overeat?
    3. Can I eat anything I want as in, is bread allowed or best avoided since I am trying to lose weight?
    4. Will IF lead to more binge eating?
    Thank you! Jessie

    • Thank you Jessie,

      “I go three days just eating non-stop bread and pasta and pastries… Maybe I have been thinking about food too much that it just consumed me totally.”

      –It’s more efficient — and a lot easier — if you are consistent. That way your hormonal system is given time to adjust and ‘reset’ itself to a new mode of operating.

      #1
      –Yes. But I believe it’s slightly different for women . The 8/16 routine should be fine. Just make sure you are consistent with it the first month, so that your hormones adjust.

      #2
      That depends on your lifestyle — how active you are. Personally I don’t have to do it, because I work out a lot and only eat 1-2 times per day.

      #3
      You can eat exactly whatever you want. The point is that when you don’t eat anything for a while — fasting — your insulin levels drop. This allows you to burn fat (ketones) instead of glucose (which is what you’ll burn if you eat non-stop).

      I would still recommend being moderate in your consumption of bread, pasta, and other gluten/flour-based foods. It’s not particularly healthy.

      #4
      Possibly. Because when you eat — you eat MORE.

  5. Bro….your site is FARKING AWESOME!
    I’ll be reaching out to you soon. We need to do a PODCAST TOGETHER!
    #pronto

    Congrats. I’m gonna BLOW YOU UP! :)

  6. Chris Harmse says:

    Hi Ludvig,

    I only recently came across your blog…pretty prefound stuff, enjoying it a lot.

    Question on IF. Which of the below 3 methods would you recommend for a beginner to IF? Also based on your personal experience which of the 3 do you think is most effective at fat burning?

    1. Feeding gap for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours for maybe 5 -7 days a week.
    2. Fasting for 24 h once a week.(i want to start with this)
    3. Fasting for 40 – 48h once every two weeks. (Your 2-day fast)

    thanks
    Chris

    • Hey Chris,
      Your plan sounds good, start with one day (24h) and do it a few times so that you get used to pushing through the plateau of hormonal hunger. If that should work out well, maybe you don’t need to do anything else. But if not. . .

      –Then transition into 16/8h and endure it for 2-3 weeks until your hormonal levels adjust to it (and it becomes your new homeostatic set point).

      “Also based on your personal experience which of the 3 do you think is most effective at fat burning?”

      –I have no idea actually. But it would depend…
      1) If you don’t have a problem with fasting (from the hunger perspective) just do it as much as you can (in a structured way).
      2) If you have to do just one, probably 16/8 is best, because (if I remember correctly) research indicates that ketosis peaks at ca 16 hours.

  7. Nice. Thank you for sharing your life experience. I ll try the easiest, to skip breakfast. I am overweghted and I want to find my old good self.
    When I was a student I used to make a type of fasting, for 1-3 days, living on coffee and oranges. It was great!But I can ‘t do it now :3

  8. 1- How do you break your 2 day fasts?
    2- You just have a massive meal? No pre- meal?
    3- What do you eat? Do you combine proteins and starches?
    4- Do you experience constipation or difficulty with Bowel movement after fast?
    5- thought we were supposed to break the fast with a small, easily digestible meal? Like vegetable juice LOL

  9. Black or green tea during fasts, which do you think is better?

  10. Do you consume coffee/tea during your daily 16 hour fasts as well? I mean do you need to?

  11. Hey Ludwig,

    You have talked about your approach on caffeine in the afternoon. I’ve tried, and now sleep within 5-10 minutes. So thankful

    Do you think taking green tea pre-workout will alter my sleep pattern, as seems to happen when taking coffee post 2p.m.?
    Since green tea has no caffeine, I wonder what would happen.

    Thanks

  12. “The fundamentals of calories in and calories out still apply and must be adhered to”.

    Says who? The body is not a machine that can be controlled simply be counting the number of calories consumed against the number burned. I think it’s well established that MCT/coconut oil does push metabolism forward and reduces stored body fat. Avoiding it because it “adds calories” doesn’t mean much.

  13. I grew up running a lot and still run lot. because I truly like it. I run about 8 miles 5 X a week. I also lift weights. I don’t just jog, but run at a good pace (for me). Somewhat new at lifting weights but I do it about 4 times per week. Just like you, I am not fat at all but I want to have less fat so I decided to do the 16fast/8 feed about 5 days ago. So far, it’s been good because I never really have time to eat during the day. My hours to feed are from 2 to 10pm. My question is: If I do a 40-48 hour fasting once a week -which for me would be ok from Sunday night to Tuesday night- how do I handle my running? You stated that cardio is not the fav for cutting body fat… I can’t see myself stopping, but I can definitely run on an empty stomach on Monday…but not sure about Tuesday morning. What would be your advise? Cut back on running Tuesday mornings and just lift? It’s complicated when you have the running addiction ;-)
    Thanks so much for your help

Trackbacks

  1. […] Quinoa or brown rice. To the extent you can, skip pasta, white rice, bread, and various gluten foods that most people stuff themselves full with. It’s empty calories,  devoid of any real nutrients. I make a point out of eating as few carbs as possible, as briefly mentioned previously in relation to my IF and overall fasting regimen. […]

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