- The three benefits of mindful eating and intermittent fasting during a pandemic include improved moods, improved immunity, and weight loss.
- Turn to mindful eating and intermittent fasting when it is hard to do keto due to scarcity of keto-type foods
- Cycle in lower carb types of foods when they are available
- Record your carb and calorie intake into Cronometer
- Use meditation and yoga to help your will power with mindful eating and intermittent fasting [/callout]
During this coronavirus pandemic, I have had several people tell me how difficult it is to follow a keto diet. I must tell you that I am very empathetic and have experienced the same problem! Why is this? Overall, I think the main reason is that there is a lack of certain types of keto foods. For example, recently, one of my favorite small organic grocery stores shut down for about ten days. At this market, I purchased all of my organic produce and keto food items. Talk about disappointing! In this situation, I feel that it is best to turn to intermittent fasting and mindful eating. In this article, I am going to go over three benefits of mindful eating and intermittent fasting during a pandemic. Enjoy, and learn!
Three benefits of mindful eating with intermittent fasting during a pandemic
Benefit #1- Improved moods, energy, and confidence in dealing with the pandemic
Have you been feeling grumpy because of quarantine? Maybe you are upset because you aren’t able to work from home. There are numerous reasons for people to be frustrated during these times. However, one of the ways to help improve the way you feel is to mindfully eat and intermittent fast. You may ask, “How is taking in less food going to help my mood?” Well, one of the main reasons is that you will put yourself in ketosis, which will, in turn, make ketone bodies to make you feel happier and more energetic.
The brain prefers ketone bodies instead of glucose for fuel
The reason for your increased feeling of well-being and energy is that your mind prefers those ketone bodies instead of glucose. It turns out that ketones are much more energy efficient. They will improve the way your body produces power, which results in feeling like you have more of it. Scientists noticed rats on a keto diet had better scores on both physical and cognitive tests than those on carb-heavy, low ketone-body diets(3). Induced ketosis has been proven to be beneficial in disorders such as depression. A study that just came out this year in 2020 showed that ketosis (or ketone body ingestion) could help several changes associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder(4).
Benefit #2- Improved Immunity
Fasting and mindfully eating fewer calories can improve your immune function. The way it does this is by reserving that precious energy spent toward digestion and eliminating pathogens. In humans, a 2008 Ramadan study found that fasting protected body lipids from oxidative stress. Although several theories have been proposed to explain the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction, one hypothesis suggests that it acts by decreasing oxidative stress. In layman’s terms, intermittent fasting encourages your body to destroy damaged cells; it no longer needs, which, in turn, makes you less vulnerable to the stress of your environment.
Improved immunity is also seen in eating mindfully and consuming fewer calories. Scientists funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that volunteers who followed a low-calorie diet or a very low-calorie diet not only lost weight but also significantly enhanced their immune response. In the study, 46 overweight (but not obese) men and women aged 20 to 40 years were required to consume either a 30 percent or 10 percent calorie-restricted diet for six months(5). For the first time, the results showed that short-term calorie restriction for six months in humans improves the function of T-cells.
What a beautiful natural response we have as humans! All we have to do is restrict our calories and fast to improve our immune function. Talk about adaptation.
Benefit #3- Weight loss
I know this one is the most appealing benefits of mindful eating and intermittent fasting during a pandemic. Yes, you can lose weight on a quarantine! Listen, just because we are couped up in our homes, does not mean that we need to be in the pantry all the time. We still need to exert some self-control! Now is the time to do it more than ever before. If it is not for weight loss, then at least for the two above mentioned benefits. However, if you want to lose weight, then that is great too.
I think it is evident as to why mindful eating and intermittent fasting help lose weight; however, that being said, let me reiterate an important concept for you. Mindful eating and intermittent fasting will help in this department as long as you are restricting your calories! Yes, I said it the big C-word. You can fast all day long, but if you are overeating and consuming way over your caloric limit, you will not lose weight, and may even gain. For a real weight loss to occur, there has to be a deficit. Please refer to my Keto Biometrics 2, as I do explain caloric deficit more.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, a big issue is that people have difficulty with the keto diet because there is a lack of lower carbohydrate types of food. The reason for this is mainly because most emergency stock foods are beans and rice. Listen, it is not the end of the world just because you have higher carb foods. This will not impede your weight loss efforts! All you have to do is mold to the situation. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I can completely understand as I also have to make adjustments! Now, I am going to go through several different ways to help with weight loss or weight control amid a scarcity of certain keto-friendly foods.
Weighing your food
The first method is to consider weighing your food. Yes, please get that little food scale of yours and dust it off! This is a necessity to know precisely how many calories and carbs you are consuming. After you weigh your food, then record it in Cronometer, which is an app explicitly tailored towards keto diets. If you end up consuming around 100-150 net carbs from eating stuff like beans and rice, it is okay. Just as long as you make sure, you don’t go over your allotted calories for the day. If you are wondering how to figure you net calories per day to lose weight without using Cronometer, then visit my post on Keto-Carb Cycling.
If weighing your food seems too time-consuming, then try to resort to just eating until full. You will be surprised how quickly this happens! The problem is that this method is mainly based on perception and does not have accuracy. If you can trust yourself to eat until you are full, then more power to you! I know for myself this is very difficult because I love the taste of food.
The beauty of counting your portions and weighing food is it allows you to eat more types of foods and not be as limited, which happens to be very important in pandemic times! It will enable you to be able to eat those beans and rice out of your emergency stock and not feel like you are entirely blowing your keto diet. For example, if you weigh your black beans on a food scale and consume 1 oz, then this would equate to about 4.4 net carbs ( this is per Cronometer). Not too shabby if you ask me.
Cycle lower carb foods when they are available
If you do get access to some keto-friendly type of foods then, try to hold off on the beans and rice. Take advantage of this and eat these types of foods when you can! If you can’t stomach going out to the store during this time, don’t worry. It is still okay to live off any stock food, but make sure you include this with your intermittent fasting and monitor your carb count to stay in mild ketosis (which is around 0.5mmol/L). Remember, you should incorporate an intermittent fast for at least 13 hours to see the actual benefits, such as preventing any breast cancer recurrence(2).
Another option, if you feel squeamish about going to stores, is to take advantage of companies that deliver keto goods. One that I would recommend would be the Keto Box. The great thing about this company is they will send 10+ keto goodies every month, give you a 28-day meal plan, a 20-minute free keto coaching session after your second shipment, and awesome coupons. Talk about convenience! Please go to my website and you will find my icon there for the Keto Box.
How many carbs to consume?
Now, you may wonder how many net carbs you could consume to stay in this ketosis. I can’t give you a specific answer to this question because this varies from person to person. What I can tell you is that you need to weigh your food to determine how many net carbs you can consume to stay in ketosis. The best way to do this is to record your net carbs in Cronometer and to monitor ketones with a Keto-Mojo device or Keyto Breath Sensor. Please go to my Keto Biometrics part 1 for more information.
Generally, I would recommend trying to stay around 50-100 net carbohydrates during this time. However, if you find that you can go higher, but still stay in light ketosis of around 0.5 mmol/L then that is fine. Again, it is all in accordance with your body type
Meditate or do yoga session before eating
A great way to help with food restriction is to get in a proper mindset before eating. I would take advantage of any yoga videos or meditations before consuming a meal or if you are fasting for the day. I recommend purchasing Guided Meditation and Hypnosis audios from here, to help balance your solar plexus chakra. This chakra happens to be the seat of your personal power, and it assists you in the ability to master your thoughts and emotions, overcome any fear, and take appropriate action in any situation. (1) It also happens to be very powerful for will-power when it comes to eating!
A summary of mindful eating and intermittent fasting during a pandemic
In conclusion, I do understand incorporating mindful eating and intermittent fasting can be challenging. Trust me; I do realize that the lack of supplies does make “doing keto” challenging, which is why I wrote this article so people can still live to achieve their goals in times of food scarcity! If you have to live off beans and rice for the next couple of months, then do it! Just record how much of them you are consuming into Cronometer and do your best to stay within your appropriate caloric range. Also, try to keep your net carbs within 50-100 net carbs in hopes of maintaining light ketosis for your moods and energy levels. If you can go higher and still maintain light ketosis, then good for you.
Mindful eating and intermittent fasting only part of the equation
Now that we have gone through the benefits of mindful eating and intermittent fasting during pandemic times, it is important to realize how it is you can achieve wellness. In order to go down this path towards health, you must realize that it is an integration of several different concepts. If you would like to learn more about how to make better wellness, I would encourage you to click on my About me and Start Here pages. In this area, I go over several different ways to start living more holistically and beginning your journey to health. The path is not always easy, as sometimes you will have obstacles along the way. It is possible to get through these; you just have to recalibrate yourself.
One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate mindfulness and gratitude in your life. These two concepts will also help with intermittent fasting and mindful eating. An excellent way to start is by opening up your chakras, which are considered little energy centers responsible for a specific “spoke” of physiological function and emotional experience. You can start, by first tending to your root and sacral chakras, since these should be aligned first to help with the other chakras. Please read about my root chakra and sacral chakra posts to learn more information.
I wish you the best of success with your efforts along the way. You got this!
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Mindvalley. “Everything You Need to Know About the Solar Plexus Chakra.” Mindvalley Blog, 24 Jan. 2020, blog.mindvalley.com/solar-plexus-chakra/(1).
Douillard, John, et al. “The Benefits of Night Fasting: The 13-Hour Rule: John Douillard’s LifeSpa: Ayurveda Natural Health.” John Douillard’s LifeSpa | Ayurveda Natural Health, 24 Sept. 2018, lifespa.com/crazy-benefits-of-night-fasting-the-13-hour-rule/(2).
Murray, Andrew J., et al. “Novel Ketone Diet Enhances Physical and Cognitive Performance.” The FASEB Journal, vol. 30, no. 12, 2016, pp. 4021–4032., doi:10.1096/fj.201600773r(3).
Morris, Gerwyn, et al. “Induced Ketosis as a Treatment for Neuroprogressive Disorders: Food for Thought?” International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 8 Feb. 2020, doi:10.1093/ijnp/pyaa008.8(4).
“Restricting Caloric Intake Boost Immunity.” Infection Control Today, 29 Apr. 2010, www.infectioncontroltoday.com/immune-system/restricting-caloric-intake-boost-immunity(5).