Like all of us, my weight has fluctuated over the years depending on what’s going on in my life. I generally live a low carb lifestyle, eating mostly poultry, fish, meat, vegetables and fruit. But when my food choices go awry for a while, such as during the holidays, nothing jump starts weight loss like my own version of a Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF) which I describe later in this post.
Before I jump into the eating plan, please let me clarify that I am not a medical professional or nutrition expert. I’m just a blogger sharing my experience. I highly recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional before starting any specialized eating plan, especially if you have an eating disorder or a medical condition. Please be sure to consume a sufficient amount of calories to avoid malnutrition and other health problems. Additionally, it is important to meet your body’s micronutrient needs by including a variety of vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods in your diet.
Before I share my version of a Protein Sparing Modified Fasting Diet, let’s review a few different eating styles so it all makes sense.
What is a Protein Sparing Modified Fasting Diet?
PSMF is a diet that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in the fitness and bodybuilding communities. It is a low-calorie diet that involves restricting carbohydrates while maintaining a high protein intake. The idea behind this diet is to spare muscle tissue while promoting rapid fat loss.
What’s the difference between the Protein Sparing Modified Fasting and Ketogenic Diets?
While it shares some similarities with the Keto Diet, Protein Sparing Modified Fasting is not the same as Keto. The main difference between PSMF and a ketogenic diet is that PSMF is much lower in fat. While the ketogenic diet typically requires that around 70-80% of calories come from fat, PSMF restricts fat intake to very low levels. Additionally, PSMF is typically only used for short periods of time, usually 2-4 weeks, while the ketogenic diet can be used as a long-term dietary strategy.
What kinds of things can a person eat on PSMF?
Here are some examples of foods that can be included in a PSMF meal plan:
- Lean proteins: Chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, shrimp, scallops, lean beef, pork tenderloin, egg whites, and low-fat cottage cheese.
- Non-starchy vegetables: Spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers, asparagus, and mushrooms.
- Low-carbohydrate fruits: Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), melons, and citrus fruits.
- Condiments and seasonings: Salt, pepper, herbs, spices, and low-calorie sauces (such as hot sauce or mustard).
- Beverages: Water, unsweetened tea or coffee, and zero-calorie drinks (such as diet soda or flavored water).
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carbohydrate diet that is designed to induce a state of ketosis in the body. The typical macronutrient breakdown for a ketogenic diet is around 70-80% of calories from fat, 15-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates.
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake to force the body to burn fat for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates. When carbohydrate intake is limited, the liver breaks down stored fat into ketone bodies, which can be used as an alternative fuel source by the body, including the brain. This metabolic state is known as ketosis.
Foods that are commonly consumed on a ketogenic diet include meat, fish, eggs, high-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, oils and fats, and low-carbohydrate vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. Foods that are typically avoided on a ketogenic diet include grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and most fruits.
My Version of Protein Sparing Modified Fast
My version of PSMF is a little different. Basically, it’s PSMF but without the calorie restrictions. I eat as much lean protein and non-starchy vegetables as I need to feel full and nothing else for a few weeks. The reason that I compared PSMF to a Ketogenic Diet in the beginning of this post is that they both induce a metabolic state called Ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body uses ketone bodies, produced from fat (in this case your own stored fat), as its primary source of energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates. Normally, the body uses glucose as its primary source of energy, but when carbohydrates are restricted, such as during this eating plan, the liver begins to break down stored fat into ketones.
Ketones are then used as an alternative energy source by the body, including the brain, which can function well on ketones. The state of ketosis can be measured through blood, urine, or breath tests that detect the presence of ketones in the body.
Ketosis is a natural process that occurs in the body during periods of carbohydrate restriction, such as during fasting or when following a ketogenic diet. It is generally considered safe for healthy individuals, but can be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions such as type 1 diabetes, who need to carefully manage their insulin and blood sugar levels.
Why Ketosis Results in Weight Loss
For me, Ketosis is the holy grail of weight loss. However, my body doesn’t respond as well to a Keto Diet as it does to the plan I’m outlining here. Ketosis can result in weight loss for several reasons:
- Reduced calorie intake: Many ketogenic diets, including the Protein Sparing Modified Fast, are designed to restrict calorie intake in addition to carbohydrates. By consuming fewer calories than the body requires for daily activities, the body must turn to its stored energy (fat) to make up the difference. This calorie deficit, along with the use of stored fat for energy, can result in weight loss.
- Increased fat burning: When the body is in a state of ketosis, it shifts from using glucose as its primary source of energy to using ketones. As a result, the body must break down stored fat into fatty acids and ketones to provide energy. This process, called lipolysis, can increase the amount of fat burned by the body, which can result in weight loss.
- Reduced insulin levels: When carbohydrate intake is restricted, the body produces less insulin, a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Lower insulin levels can help the body to more easily access stored fat for energy, which can lead to increased fat burning and weight loss.
- Reduced hunger and cravings: Some people on ketogenic diets report feeling less hungry and having fewer cravings for sugary or high-carbohydrate foods. This can be beneficial for weight loss, as it can help to reduce calorie intake and promote adherence to the diet.
Remember, this is not a sustainable diet and therefore shouldn’t be considered a permanent way of life. Rather, this is a plan for losing weight. Once you achieve your desired weight, high quality complex carbohydrates should be gradually reintroduced in a measured way that doesn’t cause you to undo all your good work and re-gain the weight you lost.
Tips for Weight Loss
Weight loss can be a challenging process, and it often involves changes to both physical and psychological habits. Here are some psychology tips for weight loss that may help make the process more successful:
- Set achievable goals: Setting achievable goals can help keep you motivated and make it easier to measure progress. Break larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones and celebrate each accomplishment.
- Don’t practice “all or nothing” thinking: Please don’t be extreme with yourself. If you are doing great on your eating plan and slip up one day, it’s no big deal. It’s not an excuse to throw all your good work out the window and quit. Just pick back up where you left off and take it easy on yourself. Be kind to yourself and recognize that setbacks are a normal part of any process. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up, and instead focus on getting back on track.
- Find a support system: Having a support system can help you stay motivated and accountable. Consider joining a weight loss group, finding a workout buddy, or working with a coach or therapist.
- Manage stress: Stress can lead to overeating and other unhealthy habits, so finding healthy ways to manage stress is important. Consider practicing mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
- Practice mindful eating: Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and try to eat without distraction. This can help you enjoy your food more and avoid overeating.
- Focus on the process, not just the outcome: Instead of just focusing on weight loss, focus on building healthy habits that will help you maintain a healthy weight over the long term. This can help you stay motivated and make it easier to maintain progress.
- Celebrate non-scale victories: Weight loss is not the only measure of progress. Celebrate other accomplishments, such as improved energy levels, increased strength, or better sleep.
Remember, weight loss is a journey that requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to make changes. By incorporating these psychology tips into your weight loss plan, you can improve your chances of success and create healthy habits that last.
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Products that Support Your Weight Loss Journey
While there are no products that are required to support the weight loss plan outlined in this post, there are some products that can make the diet more convenient and enjoyable.
Here are some products that may be helpful:
Protein powder: A high-quality protein powder can be a convenient way to increase protein intake on a PSMF. Look for protein powders that are low in carbohydrates and fat, and that have a high protein content per serving.
It’s Just Egg White Protein
As a person who is Lactose Intolerant, egg white protein is my favorite. Egg white protein is complete protein that will support muscle development; Helps to nourish body with nutrients and vitamins the immune system and metabolism need for optimal functioning; Low-calorie, low cholesterol; Great for managing healthy weight and/or high protein diets. It’s Just! Egg White Protein, ultra fine, unflavored, powder; Premium, high quality stand-up pouch with resealable zipper for maximum shelf life; No additives, no soy, no msg, no added sugar, no preservatives, no lecithin, no fillers – Nothing Else!
Orgain Organic Protein Powder
Vegan protein power is also a good way to go if you’d prefer to skip the dairy. Orgain Organic Protein is high in plant-derived protein, has the added benefit of prebiotic fiber and zero sugar. Orgain Organic Protein comes in flavors such as chocolate and creamy vanilla bean.
Primal Kitchen BBQ and Steak Sauces
Low-carb sauces and seasonings: While you’re working you plan, it is still important to make meals flavorful and enjoyable. Low-calorie sauces and seasonings, such as hot sauce, mustard, vinegar, and herbs and spices, can add flavor to meals without adding significant calories.
Primal Kitchen BBQ and Steak Sauces are organic, unsweetened and sugar free. What’s not to love!? Try this healthy three pack in three flavors: Steak Sauce, Classic BBQ Sauce and Golden BBQ Sauce. Primal Kitchen sauces are certified Keto, Paleo and Whole 30 Approved. They are awesome as Great as marinades, condiments, and dipping sauces for grilled meats and vegetables.
Non-starchy vegetables: Non-starchy vegetables are a key component of any low carb eating plan, as they provide essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Frozen vegetables can be a convenient option, as they can be quickly and easily prepared.
Cool Water Bottles
Water bottles & tools: Staying hydrated is important on any diet, and having a reusable water bottle on hand can help make it easier to drink enough water throughout the day.
The UVBrite Go Self-Cleaning UV Water Bottle is beautiful and super functional! At the press of a button, you can quench your thirst with pure, safe water from a clean bottle. The Go Bottle also has an intelligent self-cleaning function, sterilizing the bottle each time you run a cycle. This Go Water Bottle reduces microbes up to 99.99%! The water bottle is crafted of food-grade, 304 stainless steel to ensure long-term use, while the cap – made of BPA-free, food-grade materials – boasts a top-grade quartz lens with built-in LED and a leak-proof silicone gasket.
If high tech water bottles are not your particular style, this Hydracy Water Bottle with time markers and fruit infuser is a lovely choice and comes in beautiful colors! The bottle conveniently reminds you when and how much to drink to ensure you get your optimal water every day. The bottle is safe, non-toxic and shatterproof. You can relax and enjoy your water free from harmful chemicals, plastic taste or bad smell.
Meal prep containers: Preparing meals ahead of time can make it easier to stick to a PSMF, as it ensures that there are always healthy, low-calorie options available. Meal prep containers can be used to store meals and snacks for the day or week ahead.
Meal Prep Tools
For me, the key to sticking to any weight loss plan is meal prep! If I stock my refrigerator with healthy and delicious food options and take the time to prepare them, I’m guaranteed to have a great week!
For me, glass containers are a healthier option than plastic and make me feel like I’m having a quality lunch rather just chomping down some leftovers out of a plastic container.
Check out this handy 8-pack of glass food containers from M Micro. The containers are air tight and feature BPA-free lids that are safe for the oven, freezer, microwave and dishwasher.
Reading books and blog posts like this one always inspire me. Some of my favorite books about eating are by Dr. Jason Fung, a renowned Canadian nephrologist and best-selling author who has become a leading voice in the fields of fasting, nutrition, and metabolic health. I love Dr. Fung’s book “The Obesity Code.” While he doesn’t specifically talk about Protein Sparring Modified Fasting, and obviously doesn’t talk about my version of it in this post, his books contain a wealth of information about eating for weight loss, diabetes and overall good health.