Category Archives: Low-Carb Life

The Fast-5 Diet by Bert W. Herring, MD #fasting

Among the many volumes in my low-carb and health library is ont called ‘The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle,’ by Bert W. Herring, MD.

I first heard of Dr. Herring when I read ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’ by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jason Fung.

Dr. Herring’s approach is to have people slowly adjust their eating window— the time of day when they allow themselves to eat. Some people only don’t allow themselves to eat when they are sound asleep!

You figure out in which hours your eating window is currently open, and when it is closed. And then you start adjusting. If you snack constantly in the evening til 11 pm, you start ending the snacking at 10, then at 9.

Dr. Herring’s goal is to narrow your eating window to the hours of 5pm to 10pm. But he also says you will be eating one meal a day. Does it really take from 5 to 10 to eat your supper? 

Dr. Herring also does not say one word about doing low-carb in your eating hours, and he seems big on cutting ‘calories.’ If you know about Kekwick and Pawan’s 1957 study, you know the ‘calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ slogan has been disproved some time ago.

If you want to add intermittent fasting to your life and have the choice between this book and Moore and Fung’s ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting,’ go with Moore & Fung. Much more informative book.

But if you or someone you know is just not at the point of doing low-carb but needs to get more control over weight or health issues such as blood sugar, the ‘Fast-5 Diet’ might be the right approach.

Personal note: I’ve been doing intermittent fasting every since the Moore/Fung book came out. Usually I do morning fasting. Sometimes I have allowed myself a bulletproof coffee, or lightly-bulletproof coffee in the morning.

After my health issues a few years ago, I did less fasting— I had to fast part of the time in the hospital, the rehab center, and ‘elsewhere’ to avoid meals that were mostly carbs.

But I’ve recovered now, and decided to get back on track with fasting. After a failed attempt with Dr. Jason Fung’s 30-hour fasting protocol, I went back to the no-breakfast plan. I usually close my eating window at 5 to 5:30 pm, since eating late raises my blood sugar the next morning. 

And I realized— if I eat my lunch at 12 noon and my supper just before 5, I have the same eating window Dr. Herring recommends. I just have two meals within it. Since they are low-carb meals, I think I can expect as good a result as the Fast-5 dieters.

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My Grocery Shopping Carb Binges #keto #lowcarb

I have a bad habit lately. Whenever I go to get groceries, I come home with a few high-carb items I really shouldn’t eat— chips, a big candy bar, or cookies. And every carb binge I have awakens more carb cravings, so I just want to do it again.

And the amount escalated over time. From being OK with a small bag of chips, I get a large one— or two. And the worst thing is, when I am done with my deadly carb foods, I’m still not happy or satisfied.

Doing this more and more lately, I’ve felt awful, had higher blood sugars, and my weight is up. 

I’ve decided this must stop. Yesterday when I went to the stores, I made a point of getting some low-carb food I liked— they had little ‘flatiron’ steaks, and I got two. I normally can’t afford beefsteak. I also bought some Merlot wine, which I am allowed on the Ketogenic Mediterranean ‘Diet’ I’m doing now.

I also decided if I didn’t buy any carb foods, I could get myself a tiny bag of nuts and a small bag of sugar-free, stevia sweetened mint chocolates. 
So, yesterday’s shopping trip went well. I got what I needed— though I had to go to two stores to get it all. It’s tough doing low-carb shopping out in a rural area. The grocery store has only started to carry a very few loaves of low-carb bread (1 net carb per slice.) I know the bread truck arrives on Wednesday, so I go to the store on Thursday. Usually there are three loaves, 5 Seed bread, Wheat and White. This week there was only the White left. I bought it anyway. I keep extra loaves in the freezer until I need them. 

Low-carb bread like other ‘carby’ things isn’t the greatest food— not like tuna or salmon or bacon and eggs— but I use it as a substitute for worse carb foods. It makes me feel a bit more normal. I ration it— no more than 2 slices a day, not every day, and with a meal, usually topped with cheese or sardines.

What about you? Are grocery shopping trips a source of temptation? Do you have any strategies for dealing with that temptation? Share your story!

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Dr. Jason Fung Could Cure Your Diabetes.

Maybe you have been told that if you have T2 diabetes, you are diabetic for life. But Dr. Jason Fung knows an easy way to cure diabetes: bariatric (weight-loss) surgery.

All current kinds of bariatric surgery have this effect, and they reverse the diabetes before significant amounts of weight are lost.

So— does Dr. Jason Fung recommend we all get in line for bariatric surgery? No. The surgeries all have lifelong side effects, and in addition, over time many bariatric surgery patients adapt, they gain the weight back, and the diabetes as well. So bariatric surgery is a big risk and a big expense for something that may not last.

Dr. Jason Fung says he has a better way. He recommends intermittent fasting (and low-carbohydrate eating plans) as a way to get the results of bariatric surgery without the risks and complications.

In my experience, fasting is not so hard when I am in a state of ketosis. Dr. Jason Fung, who seemed to have had some difficulty in teaching his patients how to eat low-carb, often had his patients go direct from their normal, high-carb diets into fasting. This is harder, but if you do a fast of several days, you will get into ketosis by the third day anyway.

When Dr. Fung’s patients first fasted, and then were encouraged to eat low-carb foods, they would feel better once they were in ketosis, and they continue to feel good when they ate the suggested low-carb foods. But when they feasted on bread or french fries or donuts during their eating period, they would be kicked out of ketosis and feel less well. Most probably learned what eating low-carb meant because eating the high-carb foods had a bad effect.
Dr. Fung found that his patients had good results— they got off their diabetes meds, they had better A1c results, even non-diabetic ones, and their diabetes complications got better.

Do you have to do fasting if you are diabetic and want to control your diabetes. Other doctors such as Atkins and Bernstein never recommended fasting— though neither seemed to have a great deal of trouble with patients who couldn’t learn what low-carb meant. Atkins and Bernstein even warned against ‘skipping meals.’
I remember when Jimmy Moore had a fasting podcast— he often asked his guests if they had ever spontaneously fasted while doing keto/low-carb. Many had. If you are in ketosis which relieves your hunger and gives you more energy, sometimes it doesn’t seem to be worth bothering to make a meal.

Dr. Jason Fung is a big believer in the benefits of fasting— it doesn’t cause your metabolism to slow down, the way low-calorie dieting does. And it’s a quick way to get into ketosis and to lower your blood sugars.

One unsung reason I like fasting is that it is cheap. Going low-carb/keto often means spending more on food. Food banks rarely carry anything the low-carber can eat, other than a stray can of tuna or Spam. Institutional foods— even in rehab centers/nursing homes full of diabetics— are high in carbs and low in everything else.
Years ago I figured out that the monthly Food Stamp funds people get was not enough for them to eat three meals a day. I quickly adopted intermittent fasting, at least in the mornings, to regulate my food expenses. When I did longer fasting, I really saved.

The down side of fasting is that you can’t do it forever. At some point you to eat food. In my own experience, I find that fasting might make me hungry, especially extended fasting. And since I’ve been so good doing fasting, I might feel I deserve a carb treat— which usually leads to more carbs in my case. 

Right now I’m trying to get back on track doing more fasting as a routine in my life. I’m trying to do the 30 hour fasting plan (Sample 2) from Dr. Jason Fung’s ‘The Diabetic Code.’ The advantage to this plan is that I get to eat something every day— I just skip certain meals. 

Strategies for Single or Lone Ketonians

Low-carb and live alone? Or are you the only one living Atkins in your house? It’s hard to do elaborate cooking multiple times every single day. Sometimes we don’t feel like it. We need to find strategies to let us eat without fuss.

The first strategy I use is bulletproof coffee. I add a good fat— butter or coconut oil— and sometimes heavy whipping cream or coconut milk (from cans.) The fat makes you feel full and helps with weight loss (think of the Kekwick and Pawan study.) If you don’t like coffee, you can bulletproof up some tea or bone broth— or plain broth from cans.

Frozen beef patties are good to keep on hand. Check labels when you buy already frozen beef patties. Cheap ones may be Soy-and-beef patties and contain carbs. I usually cook up two patties, with whatever allowed toppings and seasonings I’m in the mood for. No buns, of course. I fry them up either in a frying pan or my George Foreman contact grill.

Atkins drinks are a processed food, and the Atkins corporation is free to change the formula at any time. But when I had a health crisis, and my pipes froze and needed replacement, I ended up in an anti-Catholic homeless shelter which fed a mostly-carb diet. I managed to walk with my walker to a nearby CVS and buy some Atkins drinks so I didn’t have to get hungry enough to eat crappy carbage.

Eggs. You can get cheap eggs at a grocery store, or keep chickens/ducks and get eggs that way. Hard-boiled eggs are easy to fix, especially if you have a Cuisinart egg cooker like I do— it makes hard-boiled or soft boiled eggs or poached eggs. You can eat hard-boiled eggs sprinkled with salt, Vege-Sal or spices, or make them into devilled eggs.

Cheese. You can have many kinds of cheese on our eating plan. Check the carb count. Add to foods, or use as dessert or snack.

Low-carb bread. My rural grocery in Stephenson MI now carries some low-carb bread. Small loaves, and $5, but easier than making it myself when I’m not feeling like running the bread machine. You can put on nut butter, cheese slices, scliced meat and whatever you like that’s on our eating plan.

I’m sure that once you’ve been doing our eating plan for a while, you will find some more easy foods that you like. Also, if you have a favorite low-carb recipe and make it often, it will seem easy to make even if objectively it’s a bit complex.

Do you have a low-carb easy food solution? Share it with us!

Bulletproof Mornings on Keto/Low-Carb

Many of us drink bulletproof beverages on low-carb. A bulletproof beverage is a hot beverage like coffee, tea, bone broth, or very-low-carb hot cocoa or carob, to which a good fat has been added.

The original fat for a bulletproof beverage was butter. MCT oil is also popular— I used to use that when I could afford it. Heavy whipping cream (NOT creamer) is used both as a fat source and a ‘lightener’.

Coconut oil, bacon fat, beef tallow and extra-virgin olive oil are all fats I have used in bulletproof beverages. Recipes for bulletproof coffee tend to call for 2 Tablespoons of fat and 1 Tablespoon of heavy whipping cream. I tend to use a bit less fat than that, and omit the cream when I’m out of cream.

Why do we want fat in our bulletproof coffee? Both fats and proteins are essential for humans. It’s the carbohydrates which are non-essential. That old ‘fat will kill you’ mantra is NOT science based.

One thing fat does for us is make us feel fed and unhungry. High-carb, low-fat foods, on the other hand, are easy to eat and eat and eat.

Sweeteners are usually not added to bulletproof beverages, except that I do add a few drops of Sweetleaf liquid stevia to the cocoa, cacao or carob in hot cocoa/carob.

Dr. Jason Fung in his book on fasting sometimes makes it sound like you can have full bulletproof beverages while fasting, and in other parts of the book it seems like you are only allowed one very lightly bulletproof beverage with only a teaspoon of fat.

I translate that into 2 kinds of fasting— strict fasting with only one lightly bulletproof beverage, and bulletproof fasting with full bulletproof beverages allowed.

I do one kind of fasting or the other most mornings, and only open up my ‘eating window’ at lunchtime. On days I have bulletproof morning fasting, I am at least giving my body a break from carbs.

I stay in ketosis most of the time, even when I have a carb indulgence. I really think my bulletproof beverage custom helps with that. They are so low carb you can even have them on Induction! (They are NOT low calorie— but we count carbs not calories.)

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Reading: Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes will help you understand why our society is so fat-phobic yet unworried about high carb even for dieters and diabetics.

Your Daily Morning Walk on Low-Carb/Keto.

In his 1957 book Eat Fat and Grow Slim, Richard Mackarness gave a low-carb plan which required a half-hour morning walk at the start of each low-carb day. This is mentioned in Appendix C of his book.

I’m not that big on morning exercise myself. My mornings have been mostly sedentary, sitting around, writing, feeding cats….

But because of a health problem I had a while back I need to recover my strength and activity level.

Walking is highly regarded as ‘the best exercise. You don’t have to drive to a faraway gym past every fast-food seller in the area. You don’t have to be able to afford a gym membership. You just put shoes on your feet and start walking.

Doing your walking early in the day gets you started being active right from the start. It makes you feel a little more like not-just-sitting.

There’s a saying in the low-carb/ketone community – you can’t outrun a bad diet. Which means, if you are still eating carbs, exercise won’t make you thin or healthy. And if you think your exercise means you have ‘earned’ a doughnut or a Twinkie, think again. No one deserves that poison.

When you do your walking, you don’t have to do it down your street or in a special place. You can walk in your house, around the kitchen table or in place.

I live in a place where winters get snowy and I don’t like to get out in snow when I don’t have to. I’m not thrilled with walking in place, either. So I have an old elliptical trainer for bad weather days or weeks.

My morning routine has added some morning exercise. I put on some music, and get going. Just a little, I have stuff to do in the morning. But when I get going, it makes my day just a bit better.

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Do you have an exercise program or routine? Please share about it in a comment!

Making Tallow & Cracklings at Home

Recently I followed the recipe for beef tallow and cracklings given in Maria &Craig Emmerichs’ The Carnivore Cookbook.

The key ingredient is beef suet (pronounced ‘sue-it’) which I got from Gary’s Market in Stephenson for about a dollar a pound.

The recipe calls for putting it in a heavy kettle with a lid. For the first time period you melt the cut-up suet in the kettle without the lid. When it’s mostly melted down you cook it for thirty minutes with the lid.

At the end of this time you harvest the ‘cracklings’ out with a slotted spoon. Cracklings are a little like pork rinds but softer.

I strained the tallow into small, half pint canning jars which I labelled, dated and put in the freezer.

I pulled out the first jar this morning. It’s a little like coconut oil, but harder. I put some into my bulletproof coffee this morning. It’s not quite as much of a treat as butter, ghee or bacon fat, but it had a good flavor. I shall fry some eggs in tallow later.

Lamb/mutton fat is also called suet and so I imagine that if I got some lamb fat I’d have lamb tallow. I’m hoping to get a lamb butchered next year, and I shall be sure and ask for all the fat, bones and organs I am entitled to.

The best thing about making tallow is that the suet is low cost. Tallow ends up being cheaper than butter. I suppose I could use half-tallow, half-butter to save money and still have some butter flavor.

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We count Carbs, not Calories.

There is a calorie tyranny afoot. Ever where you go, the talk is of calories, calories, calories. The only ‘common sense’ way to lose weight or get healthier is to cut down those darn calories and get used to being hungry.

But the science doesn’t line up with that. People have lost weight, have gotten into ketosis to improve health, all with counting carbs and eating more calories than ‘diets’ allow. But that’s OK because we aren’t on a ‘diet.’ This is our way-of-life now.

When we cut down on the number of meals we eat or even do OMAD or intermittent fasting, we don’t do it for calorie reduction. Mainly we do it because in ketosis we aren’t constantly hungry and wanting food. OMAD or fasting isn’t done to cut those calories. It’s to deal with problems of insulin resistance, or simply because one bigger meal generates less dirty dishes than three smaller meals.

Don’t ever be tempted to do white-knuckle fasting or OMAD with willpower alone. Your body doesn’t manage your eating life with willpower. Make sure you are getting enough food that your body doesn’t think you are in a famine. That’s how you get in a place where you are eating Big Macs with fries again, or coming home with a box of PopTarts.

Low-carb is not like calorie counting. In calorie counting, eating a one hundred calorie portion of candy bar is seen as a victory. On low-carb, we give up that 100 calories of candy for 300 calories of zero-carb beefsteak and feel fed, and lose weight and/or get healthier.

Adding calorie counting to our low-carb way-of-eating can just defeat you. You may be tempted to add more carbs than you should, and end up giving up low-carb for another failed diet.

Or you can just be miserable, unhappy, and undernourished to the point that your body’s signals for more/better food lead you back into carnivore land and from there back into weight gain or calorie counting.

This way-of-eating is science, not ‘common sense’ or internet rumor. You can do this. But you need to be firm that this is a different way-of-eating, not the same old calorie mentality at all.

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Recipe: Bulletproof Bone Broth

Bulletproof coffee is a thing. I even started drinking coffee over it, because I didn’t want to put stuff in my tea.

But I’ve been reading up on the carnivore way-of-eating lately, and some of the books discourage coffee. What to do? A good alternative is bulletproof bone broth.

There are many recipes for bone broth out there. Most involve cooking the bones in a crock-pot for up to 48 hours to get all the bonely goodness out. I’ve made bone broth from beef, pork, and leftover chicken bones. It’s all good.

Bulletproof Bone Broth or Broth

1 cup or more bone broth (or 3/4 cup bone broth and 1/4 cup water) or ordinary broth

1-2 Tablespoons fat- tallow, bacon fat, lard, schmaltz, butter or ghee, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil or MCT oil for the plant-eaters.

Optional – 1 -2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream, unwhipped. May substitute coconut milk or cream.

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. (Omit if you really have to.)

Optional– herbs or spices for flavoring.

Put the ingredients in a saucepan. Put it on a stove burner set to low for at least five minutes or until any solid fats melt. Stir a little if you like.

When time is up, pour the broth into a mug. You may need to wait a couple of minutes for it to cool to drinkable temperature.

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My Strict Fasting Day

Ever since ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’ came out I have been trying to get intermittent fasting and even extended fasting into my life. In the book Dr. Fung suggests every-other-day fasting, especially for diabetics and the obese. I’m a T2 diabetic and was obese at the time, so I did try, but I just didn’t like it. I wanted to cram my fasting days together into a bunch.

As a Christian, Friday immediately comes to mind as a potential fasting day. I picked the two days before, Wednesday and Thursday, as my other fasting days. Mainly because it wouldn’t do to be fasting on Saturday and Sunday that are more celebration/feasting days. 

When I had my stroke in February of 2019, that threw off my fasting schedule. When I was in institutions, I never knew how much of my institutional meals I could actually eat. I ate what I could of the meat and vegetables, but carb foods and mixed dishes I didn’t touch. I got fussed at for not eating properly, but admired for controlling my diabetes without any meds. 

That experience threw off my fasting life. I just couldn’t do fasting like I had before. In addition, I was worried about my eating— was I getting enough variety of foods? Times of not-eating got less important.

I learned about the concept of ‘bulletproof fasting’ which was sort of implied in the confusion of ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting.’ I declared Wednesday and Thursday to be my bulletproof fasting days, with only Friday as a strict fasting day. 

[How strict is strict? It’s not water-only, I can have plain tea or coffee, and even add a pinch of salt and a bit of cinnamon to them, and I could potentially have a cup of hot bone broth, or ONE very-lightly-bulletproof beverage.]

Recently a dear but misguided friend, knowing I was mostly trapped out at my rural home due to my increasingly non-functional truck, brought me a load of food items of his choice. There were a lot of loaves of bread, most bought cheap due to being near their expiration dates, some bakery items, lots of boxed noodles including an expired salad/noodle mix, a few canned goods including sugared fruit, and more fresh vegetables than I could use if I even ate beets. (My friend is a Serbian-American and doesn’t seem to understand the rules of my eating-lifestyle very well.)

The result of the gift plus my lack of transportation meant that I actually ate some of these things daily for a while. I tried to keep it to one serving daily, but even that amount isn’t a great idea, not daily, and the food cravings spilled over into my fasting days. I even ate butter-noodles in the afternoon of my fasting days!

Yesterday, though, I finally had a good fasting day and it was my strict day. This is what I did: I started the day with a big cup of water (as I do every day) and then I had a cup of tea. I make my tea in a 16 oz. cup with two teabags— Prince of Peace brand, either Oolong or Pu-ehr tea. This time, I put 1/8 teaspoon each of sea salt and cinnamon in my tea. I had several of these cups of tea during the day. 

I felt a little hunger near the end of the day. I had decided I could have a lightly-bulletproof coffee if hunger hit, but I wasn’t hungry enough to bother. And so I completed the strict fasting day on tea and water. 

The result that my blood sugar was down to 76, and I had ‘moderate’ ketosis according to my Ketonix. That’s what I do fasting for— lower sugar numbers and a boost to my ketosis.

Since I was hungry in the morning I had two scrambled eggs with sardines— the first time I put sardines in scrambled eggs. Next time, assuming I can get more eggs, I will use three eggs. I might also try using tuna instead of sardines— both canned items are available for the same price, and the tuna has more ounces in the can. 

So, that was my fasting adventure last week. Have you tried intermittent fasting? How did it go for you?