I started doing Intermittent Fasting over three years ago. My strategy has always been to just deal with the hunger. If you ignore it, it goes away. When I first began fasting, I’d think about my hunger constantly. These days, it barely grabs my attention. Recently, I was inspired by a post over at the website Perfect Health Diet to try an alternate approach to Intermittent Fasting.
The Perfect Health Diet post Ketogenic Diets, I: Ways to Make a Diet Ketogenic is a detailed explanation of the ketogenic metabolic pathway. The part of the article I found most interesting was how the use of coconut oil, which is loaded with short chain fats, can accelerate the production of ketones.
This means that if you eat a lot of coconut oil (which is 58% short-chain fats), you deliver a lot of fat to the liver for disposal. The disposal process for fat is conversion to acetyl CoA followed by either burning in the TCA cycle or conversion to ketones.
Since that post was written, I have done many fasts where I consume nothing but 1 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. I find it has a slightly sweet taste and it does lower my hunger level. To confirm I was still hitting ketosis, I used Ketostix to measure ketones. After a 16 hour fast with coconut oil, I was measuring Small to Moderate ketones.
Well coconut oil by itself may not be enough for the hungry. Have no fear, the Perfect Health Diet book came up with another idea. It said you can consume fermented vegetables on a fast. Wouldn’t the carbs from the vegetables interfere with achieving ketosis? Nope. From the book:
Most vegetable carbohydrates are intercepted by gut bacteria, which digest vegetable fiber into short-chain fatty acids.
If the book is correct, I could eat coconut oil and sauerkraut and still go into ketosis. I decided to test it out.
- Monday night: My last food intake was at 10 PM.
- Tuesday 10 AM: 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 100 grams of cortido sauerkraut.
- Tuesday 1 PM: 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 100 grams of ghost pepper sauerkraut.
The cortido sauerkraut has some carrots, so I was concerned that those carbs might be enough to prevent ketosis. But it didn’t. At 2:30 PM, I tested Moderate ketones on the Ketostix. Victory!
Cortido Sauerkraut – Ketosis never tasted so good!
So if you’ve put off Intermittent Fasting, because you can’t deal with the hunger, you now have no excuses. Get yourself some coconut oil and make some fermented veggies.
Oct 5, 2011 — 7:53 am
I have done 2 fasts so far. Only for autophagy purposes. I haden’t eaten anything for about 21 hours in both instances. I just kept busy and drank a lot of fluids and was fine. It is probably good to feel hungry every once in a while. I can tell you, no matter what I eat at night after a fast tastes GREAT and I eat like a ravenous animal. Haven’t lost weight either which is fine by me.
Oct 5, 2011 — 9:26 am
Still doing IF once a week, MAS (doing one today as a matter of fact). I have not had a cold/flu/sinus infection since starting them 2 years ago 🙂
I have not tried the coconut oil part but might start that shortly.. take some after the 15 hr fast for women that you recommended or at the 13/14 hr mark?
Oct 5, 2011 — 9:36 am
@TigerAl – I would mix it up. I am a big fan of randomness when it comes to fasting. Everybody is different.
Oct 5, 2011 — 4:57 pm
This post is really interesting. The idea that coconut oil and femented veg won’t disrupt ketosis has given me some great “food for thought.”
I recall Mat Lalonde saying that his breakfast was often 1/2 cup of coconut milk, which provided a sense of satiety but, he believed, didn’t interfere with autophagy. Not sure whether the carbs in the coconut milk would be sufficient to disrupt ketosis, but there’s only about 6g in a 1/2 cup, so I’d be inclined to doubt it.
With the colder weather coming on I am ramping up my IF again. For October I’m starting back easily with just two 16-hour fasts a week. The number of weekly fasts will increase throughout fall, followed by increasing their duration in winter.
Oct 5, 2011 — 6:04 pm
@Geoff – That is exactly the same strategy I follow. Less daylight, less carbs, more fasting.
Coconut Milk has almost no protein, so Mat is probably right in believing it wouldn’t interfere with autophagy. It is the amino acids in protein that interrupt autophagy. As for interrupting ketosis, that might vary from person to person as well as the timing of the beverage.
Oct 6, 2011 — 10:01 am
I have been doing my own little version of this, but
with romaine lettuce and olive oil, as a meal for dinner
only. Just as a light three day thing.
Problem, as I was re-checking my data on romaine lettuce, I was dismayed to find that it has a substantial amount of sugars. I don’t know if this interfered with ketosis as I can not afford keto sticks.
But, I do feel like I am in ketosis.
What do you think of romaine lettuce as part of this “experiment” ?
Oct 6, 2011 — 10:07 am
@Sheila – I don’t have an opinion on romaine lettuce. Perfect Health Diet does make a convincing case for using coconut oil over all other fats.
Ketostix are dirt cheap at Wal-Mart.
Oct 8, 2011 — 6:59 am
Cool experiment – thanks MAS.
I gotta admit though that I’m concerned about the possibility of over-consumption of coconut products. I doubt my genetic line (Northern European) feasted on coconuts over the past few millenium – but who the heck knows…
I suppose I could try to replicate the experiment with pork lard and/or duck fat…
Oct 8, 2011 — 7:23 am
@GWhitney – I think butter might work better. It is the short-chain saturated fats that seem to accelerate ketone production. Worthy of test though!
Oct 21, 2011 — 6:59 pm
I have been doing IF with coconut oil a few times a week for the past two weeks. This week I broke out in a horrible rash. I have eaten coconut oil for years though by cooking with it but this is the first time I am eating it straight. Why do you think it is having this effect on me?
Oct 21, 2011 — 7:02 pm
@Shannon – That is new to me.
Oct 22, 2011 — 7:49 am
That’s a find, Mas. Anyway, I prefer water-only fasts. The simplier – the more chances it works.
– Alex Zinchenko
Oct 22, 2011 — 8:15 am
@Alex – Water fast are great too. One downside to fasting is that feeling of getting cold. By consuming saturated fat, you can stay in ketosis and increase your body temperature.
Jan 20, 2012 — 10:14 am
What types of Intermittent Fasting do you do? For example is there like one day a week where you don’t eat anything (besides the above mentioned coconut oil maybe), or do you not eat from 12am-12pm.
Just curious, thanks!
Jan 20, 2012 — 10:16 am
@Becca – I vary the strategy. However, these days I mostly do 14-16 hours fast with a small amount a fermented veggies and coconut oil. I fast more in the winter months and less in the summer.
Jan 20, 2012 — 10:17 am
@Becca – My eating window is usually 2PM-10PM. The kimchi and coconut oil is consumed around 8AM-10AM.
Jan 20, 2012 — 10:20 am
Very interesting. I’ve been trying out a 12pm – 9pm eating window… but find that I often get very hungry around 1am. Like the hunger will wake me up… think i might try just eating a little coconut oil when this happens.
Jan 20, 2012 — 10:25 am
@Becca – I have the same issue. I must eat right up until the moment I go to sleep or I wake up hungry. Quality sleep is more important than fasting.
Jan 26, 2012 — 12:14 am
That rash was likely a fungal infection from funghi that live on ketones. GOOGLE site:perfecthealthdiet.com RASH FUNGAL and let us know how you got rid of it
Feb 14, 2012 — 1:15 pm
I thought coconut oil was medium chain fatty acids rather than short chain?
Feb 14, 2012 — 1:25 pm
@Steve – Good point. PHD has it at 58% short chain. The Wikipedia says it is 66% Medium chain. Something isn’t adding up. I’m going to contact PHD.
Feb 14, 2012 — 1:27 pm
@Steve – I got the answer. Paul explained it in his comment thread.
“… short chain fats in our lingo encompasses the standard “short-chain” and “medium-chain” — 12 carbons or fewer. Since they’re handled similarly biologically, we thought it made more sense to use a descriptive term instead of technical jargon.”
Feb 15, 2012 — 4:49 am
Makes sense. Comparing with long-chain fatty acids found in most saturated fats coconut oil, which also contain saturated fat, has short chain fatty acids in comparison but not as short as some other fatty acids. At least that is how I am making sense of this.
Jul 9, 2012 — 4:24 pm
I didnt see this anywhere, sorry if I missed it, but how long have you fasted before – in one stretch, using the sauerkraut? I am thinking of doing a mix of this along with the bulletproof rapid fat loss protocol. https://blog.bulletproof.com/bulletproof-fasting-results/ I IF daily now, anywhere from 16 – 19 hours, will some 24’s here and there, using the BP coffee and green teas.
Jul 9, 2012 — 5:24 pm
@Melinda – My usual sauerkraut fasts are 14-16 hours, but I’ve done 22 hours before.
Jan 31, 2013 — 10:06 am
I’ve been IFing for around three weeks now. Not everyday, but I have done several 36 hour fast using coconut oil to kill the hunger. My goal is fat loss
and I have lost around 12 pounds. This is a life-style choice I can live with.
I never really liked eating breakfast anyway. On fast days I have coconut oil and coffee in the morning, and my first meal at 2:00PM. My feeding period is
between 2:00PM and 10:00PM. I normally have one big meal or two smaller one’s. Anyway things seem to be working as planned, eating is not the big deal it used to be.
Aug 5, 2013 — 8:26 pm
I am wondering how coconut butter, rather than coconut oil, would work for IF. Do you have any thoughts?
Aug 5, 2013 — 9:54 pm
@Mary – Nope. It has protein. My understanding is it needs to all fat.
Aug 8, 2013 — 5:51 am
Thanks. I’m going to try coconut butter anyway. The brand I buy — Maranatha raw coconut butter — has 1 gram of protein and 1 gram net carbs per tablespoon. This morning when I woke up, my ketostix showed a “small” amount of ketones (the pink color, or “small” “15”). I’m going to have 2 TBS after my BP coffee and see what my ketones register on a ketostix in about an hour. I’ll let you know. Eating coconut butter is way yummier than plain coconut oil.
Aug 8, 2013 — 7:58 pm
Okay, so I did check my ketones (same ketostix as you show in your blog) about an hour after I had my BP coffee and coconut butter and my ketones went down to “trace”. I got to work at about 7:40 and didn’t eat until 12:30 pm. However, at noon, I checked my ketones and they were “moderate”. At lunch (spinach salad with salmon, tomatoes, oil/vinegar dressing, + peach, couple squares 88% dark chocolate, and a coconut flour zucchini “muffin” — gluten/dairy/egg free). Snack was 1/2 oz almond, more extra dark chocolate, and some sugar snap peas. At 6 pm my ketone levels were “small”. Then I had dinner. So I don’t think the coconut butter threw off messed up the morning fast much.
Aug 8, 2013 — 8:00 pm
@Mary – Good to know! Thanks for sharing.
Aug 24, 2013 — 8:18 pm
I encourage you and all to consider proper food combining.
Check these out, and give it a try and assess how YOUR BODY FEELS; remember, every BODY is different:
Also, remember, we’re only human and we all give in to the temptations of our flesh, some having graver consequences than others; but THANKS and PRAISE be to God because from Him we have a Saviour in Jesus Christ. 🙂
God bless you all,
Sep 26, 2014 — 8:53 pm
Are probiotic drinks like kombucha, kefir water, coconut water allowed during IF? Thanks!
Sep 26, 2014 — 8:56 pm
@Jessie – I don’t know for sure, but my guess is no. You can also test yourself with the keto strips to find out.
Dec 1, 2014 — 12:53 pm
It’s supposed that you don’t have to eat to produce more GH and this is produced when we have high ghrelin levels. So when you eat this veggies you will be suppressing the ghrelin levels and by consequent the GH levels too, so you lost one of the main reasons of intermittent fasting: boosting your GH
Dec 2, 2014 — 8:42 am
@Carlos – I’m no longer convinced that boosting GH is always beneficial.
Sep 29, 2015 — 1:52 pm
DUUUUUDE!!! I just so happen to have started my very first batch of homemade sauerkraut!! This is great news!! Woot! Woot!
Oct 13, 2015 — 9:54 pm
MAS, do you still recommend this method to be tried out?
Oct 14, 2015 — 7:38 am
@Johan – This method is just a strategy for others to use if they desire to fast but have too much hunger. Not a recommendation. Just a tool.