Well, another holiday season is over. And it’s back to business as usual. (That is, as usual as any business has been since COVID-19 came to town.)
Without a doubt, 2020 has changed life for everyone—one way or the other. But I have to admit, not all of those changes have been bad. For one thing, many people really started focusing on cooking healthy meals in their own kitchens… especially when we saw restaurant closures when the pandemic first hit.
Unfortunately, that enthusiasm only lasted for so long. And with the situation taking another turn for the worse this winter, stress eating has taken over yet again.
So whether or not weight loss tops your 2021 resolution list, let’s talk about two surefire strategies to help keep your waistline in check: a low-carb diet and intermittent fasting (IF).
The keys to ketosis
These two nutritional strategies may not get much love from “expert” conventional doctors, but they really lead the pack when it comes to weight loss. And the results of one recently published study make quick work of showing just how powerful they can be.
This small study of lean, normal-weight subjects showed that morning fasts fire up more fat burning activity than eating either a zero-carb or Mediterranean–style breakfast, made up of 50 percent carbs. (Remember, the Mediterranean diet features foods like fresh produce, full-fat dairy, meat, eggs, and olive oil.)
Researchers found that insulin levels were lower and fat-burning activity was higher in fasting subjects compared to the subjects who ate either type of breakfast.
They measured subjects’ ketone levels to get an idea of how quickly and efficiently subjects were converting fat to energy. (You can measure your ketones at home using specific urine strips you can find at almost any pharmacy. They’re not as reliable as a blood test, but they still give you a general idea of what your body is up to.)
Of course, on most ketogenic diets, it will take you about three days of carb restriction to alter your body’s metabolism to begin relying on fat rather than sugar as its main source of fuel. And for some dieters, it may even take a week or longer.
But by fasting, you can jumpstart that process. Without more immediate sources of fuel, your body more quickly turns to its most reliable source: Fat. It then converts this fat into ketone bodies that serve as an alternative energy source.
Researchers act as if this is new science. But I have been recommending these dietary strategies my entire, decades-long career. Still, I’m always thrilled to see my life’s work vindicated.
The best of all three worlds
I’ve busted this myth here before, but let me say it plainly once again: Breakfast isn’t necessary if you want to lose weight. In fact, as this research and other studies show, skipping it can actually help you achieve your goal weight faster. (And deliver a whole host of other health benefits in the process.)
There are a number of ways to put IF to work for you. You can periodically fast on a monthly or weekly basis—like the 5:2 approach (two days of fasting per week) or the alternate day fasting approach (every other day). Or you can simply restrict your eating times to eight-hour windows—such as between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.—daily.
These are all simple strategies that most anyone can fit into their lifestyle. But I also understand fasting isn’t for everyone. So if you prefer to keep your morning meal, just make sure you keep it low carb. Here’s why…
The study linked fasting with higher levels of hunger (perhaps the least surprising conclusion of all time). But it also found that a low-carb breakfast suppressed hunger—even better than a Mediterranean breakfast.
Not only that, but insulin levels were higher in the group that ate a Mediterranean-style breakfast. This is important, because elevated insulin actively blocks ketone generation and fat loss in dieters of any size.
But luckily, this is one case where you really can have it all…
When it comes to burning fat and warding off hunger, low-carb dieting and IF is the most winning combination you can use. But throw in plenty of antioxidant-rich fresh veggies, fish, and monounsaturated fats from olives and macadamia nuts, and you’ll get all of the cardiovascular and brain health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet, to boot.
In other words, this is not an “either/or” affair. That’s why my very own ketogenic, Mediterranean-style A-List Diet combines the best of all three worlds.
So if you haven’t already, I encourage you to order a copy of my A-List Diet book and discover the difference for yourself. After all, New Year’s resolutions really don’t get any simpler—or more delicious—than that.
“‘On-Demand’ Fast Mobilizes Fat; Low-Carb Breakfast Stymies Hunger.” Medscape Medical News, 10/12/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/938967)