Sunday, September 27, 2009

Intermittent Fasting, Zero Carb and Inflammation

I'm back!

I can't believe I haven't posted since August 6th. Why, you ask?

Well, I haven't been IFing. I switched to a zero carb (ZC) routine, and trying to do both seemed to cause unwanted weight loss. And the pain in my hands and wrists (from rheumatoid arthritis) continued to get better and better on ZC, so I went with that. On ZC, I eat only meat and water, and find it to be quite satisfying, despite my fears to the contrary at the beginning.

Everything went along great, until about 2 weeks ago, when the pain in my hands started to return. Last week, it was getting worse and worse, and I had to intervene. What did I do? Take a drug? A supplement? No. I went back to what started me on the path to healing in the first place: Intermittent Fasting.

In just a few days of eating 24 hours on, 24 hours off, the pain is already subsiding. So I'm hopeful. The only issue now is my weight. I'm 143 pounds (at 6 ft), and that's not acceptable. So tonight, for the first time in 7 weeks or so, I ate something other than meat: I had some fruit. I'm going to add fruit to my meat and water, and see if I can't add a few pounds, even with alternate day fasting.

My big question is: Why did the pain come back? I was very strict with my diet, never cheating even once. I "assumed" the improvement in my arthritis was from avoiding allergens, such as gluten, casein and soy. Now I'm starting to wonder.

Interestingly, I remember reading somewhere that the anti-inflammatory effects of IF seem to last about 6 weeks after stopping IF. pain started back about 5 weeks after stopping, and got to be too much to handle a week or so later. Coincidence?

My working assumption now is that intermittent fasting, which is what gave me the initial pain relief, was at least partly responsible for my continued improvement while on ZC. Don't get me wrong, I believe whole heartedly that avoiding gluten, casein and soy is important--I was doing that even before I started IFing, and it did help all by itself. But the fasting seems to be a critical component.

My foray into zero carb has been very interesting, and extremely educational. I believe eating only meat and water is both healthy and effective, especially for weight loss. But more importantly, I have become even more convinced that grains (wheat, oats, rice, corn, etc.) are absolutely poison. We were not meant to eat them, and they contain lectins and proteins that harm the human body.

So while I am adding fruit, I will not be eating grains. If I liked vegetables, I would eat those, too. Since I'm not fond of them, I'll stick to meat, fruit, and water. I'm not eating the fruit because I think it's necessary, but because it is full of carbs and should cause me to gain some weight. I think fruit is the "safest" carbs to eat, especially since I dislike vegetables.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.


  1. What would you say to a vegetarian? And I'm glad you're back :)

  2. see tom, this is what i admire. real people documenting real experiences that fit the theories. im sure the experts know from experiments that the benefits of IFing fade after a little over one month, but to see it happen outright in your own body is very intriguing. thanks for sharing that with us.

    i wonder if you get your symptoms under control, if going one week on, one week off one the fasting would maintain an equalibrium, along with the sustaining fruit carbs of course? hmmmmm

  3. sadhana,

    I'm glad you brought this up. I was a vegetarian for a couple of years, so I can relate. Basically this is what I would say: If you're a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I disagree with you, but respect your point of view. However, if you're a vegetarian for health reasons, you have been duped (as was I). It is not a healthy way to eat. I discovered this for myself when I had my cholesterol checked and my HDL was 19 and my triglycerides were over 400. I did some research, and found that it was because of my vegetarian diet. I changed immediately, as did my lipids. I would also strongly suggest a new book by long-time vegan Lierre Keith called "The Vegetarian Myth." See an excerpt here

  4. Thanks Tom, it's more of an ethical reason although at this point I'm been vegge so long now that i get horribly sick if I eat even the smallest amount of meat. Go figure, eh?

  5. Tom, I wonder if you have had any luck with the fruit. My dad has very severe RA. My mom tries to make him eat constantly, but his weight is dropping. He is 62. I don't think I would ever convince my parents to have dad do IF. But I do wonder if having him eat more fruit would help him keep his weight up. Mom's been trying to fatten him up with grains and junk food.

  6. Tom, it's been a year since your post about IF, ZC, and inflammation. What is your experience by now?

  7. Tom, I notice its been over a year since you blogged and I was hoping for an update. I've been reading a book called "Alternate Day Dieting" and am getting ready to start this regimen to improve my health and lose weight.

  8. I'm a coelic so I naturally avoid most grains, however corn, vegetables etc are o.k. I have been experimenting with IF for about 3 months now and I can tell you it is working for my chronic pain. I have pain in feet, hands, calves, back and even jaw when the flare up is bad. I am bedridden with pain at times. Since fasting for 19 hours a day, my inflammation has subsided. I can eat anything I want in the 'healthy food category' Lots of meat, fish, veg, fruit and olive oil. If I want to slip in a naughty every now and then, as long as I fit it into my eating window everything stays the same. Its when I break the fast like slipping in breakfast or lunch again to fit in with society's pressure that I find the pain starts to return, almost like an allergic reaction, its bizarre. My point is that IF is the key to a pain free life, but avoiding vegetables and fruit is detrimental to health in the long term because we need these foods for essential nutrients.

  9. Hi!
    Are you still doing IF?
    I am blogging about it here:

  10. Regarding the comment from: TeenJanuary 21, 2011 6:07 PM,
    I am starting IF too. It makes sense because I also have chronic pain from my autoimmune diseases. Before IF, I could get free from pain either because it was a "good moment" in the day or from using my meds. But then as soon as I eat my pain would come back! Sometimes even during the same window of time that my pain meds should be covering, for instance 2-4hours. Before starting IF I naturally tended to eat that way, possibly because of the pain reaction. Also my pain is muscle and not gut. I finally got a handle on my GI symptoms from major diet change to: No gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, sugar, and other foods I personally am intolerant to. -Jill

  11. Tom, can we get an update? Are you still doing 24/24? Thanks!

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