QuickStart Guide – Data-Driven Fasting

There are many fascinating things to learn about how your body responds to food.  But the basics of using your blood glucose as a fuel gauge to guide when and what to eat are pretty simple. 

This Data-Driven Fasting QuickStart guide will give you a high-level overview of the process we guide participants through in the 30-Day Data-Driven Fasting Challenges

The Purpose of DDF

  • Validate your hunger using your blood glucose as a fuel gauge.
  • Retrain hunger signals to align with your need for fuel.
  • You test to validate your hunger, not eat because your blood sugars are lower, but not hungry. 

Baselining 

  • Test glucose before every meal and snack you usually eat.
  • The Data-Driven Fasting App will calculate your initial premeal trigger based on the average of your pre-meal glucose.
  • It’s crucial that you eat as you usually would during baselining.  Otherwise, you’ll get a trigger value that is too difficult to keep up with during the four weeks of the challenge

Hunger Training 

In Hunger Training, you play a ‘get to know you’ game with your inner lizard brain. 

You will learn to tame Lizzy, and find out what makes her happy and content.  Before long, you will find that she goes back to sleep when you give her WHAT she needs WHEN she needs it using your blood glucose as a guide.  

  • If you’re not hungry -> don’t test. 
  • If you feel hungry -> test your BG to validate hunger.
    • If BG is above trigger -> wait.
    • If BG below trigger -> eat.
    • If BG is slightly above trigger AND hungry -> prioritise protein and nutrients by focusing on fuel with less energy from carbs and/or fat.  This tends to be a super useful ‘hack’ for people with some level of insulin resistance or a lower carb diet who tend to see higher blood glucose levels in the morning. 
    • If BG is significantly below trigger and hungry -> allow some carbs to replenish, but not overfill, your glucose fuel tank without gravitating to fat+carb comfort foods.  
  • When you test your blood sugar, reflect on physical symptoms and sensations that indicate you’re hungry (e.g., stomach rumbling, mental exhaustion, can’t think straight, light-headed or feeling cold). 
  • Over time, you will learn to calibrate your physical sensations of hunger with your blood glucose levels and understand your true hunger signals. 

Stages 

To maximise sustainability and minimise cost, it’s wise to not overtest.  This table outlines the stages of the Data-Driven Fasting 30-Day Challenge and when you need to test your blood glucose. 

Stage Goal pre-mealafter mealwaking
BaseliningEstablish triggeryesyesyes
Hunger trainingWait to refuel until BG ? trigger yes
Eating WindowEnsure you’re not eating
too late
yesyes
Meal skippingSkip meals if BG > trigger yes
ConsolidationEstablish your new sustainable routine yes

Your Personalised Trigger

  • After five days of Hunger Training, the Data-Driven Fasting App will recalculate your new trigger based on your average pre-meal blood glucose over the past seven days. 
  • Progressively targeting a lower trigger will stretch you so you continue to move toward your goals without pushing you to the point of breaking. 
  • The maximum your trigger drop is = 0.5% per day.  However, it won’t lower if you cannot meet your trigger consistently. 

Your Fuel Gauge Lines 

  • Wait until BG is below your current trigger to eat.
  • If post-meal BG is above the ‘upper limit’/full line -> reduce food quantity and/or processed carbs.
  • To reduce the time between meals -> reduce dietary fat.

Progressive Overload for Your Metabolism

  • The descending blood glucose trigger is a crucial part of the DDF process.  It’s like a progressive overload workout for your metabolism, designed to stretch you without breaking you.  
  • We don’t reach our goal all at once, but rather by small doses of stress (fasting) and recovery (nutrient-dense eating).  
  • If you are hungry and your BG is below your trigger, eat!  
  • Waiting longer typically leads to excessive hunger, poor food choices, rebound bingeing, burnout, and unproductive feelings of guilt and failure.
  • You only need the minimum effective dose to progress sustainably over the long term.  The DDF process should gently nudge your eating habits into a more optimal routine.

WHEN to Eat 

  • If pre-meal BG is higher earlier in the day and you are hungry -> prioritise foods and meals with a higher protein % (i.e., prioritise protein and reduce energy from carbs and/or fat) at your first meal.
  • If pre-meal and post-meal BG is higher later in the day -> eat more satiating meals earlier. 
  • If waking BG is not lowering -> try to finish eating a little earlier in the day.  

Your Main Meal 

  • After a week of Hunger Training, you can adopt a Main Meal that you can eat regardless of BG (e.g., family dinner or before or after exercise).
  • You don’t need to test your BG before Your Main Meal.
  • All other meals and snacks become Discretionary Meals that you eat if BG is less than your trigger.

What To Focus on in Each Stage

  1. Initially, we want you to see blood sugars in the normal healthy range. 
  2. Then you can focus on delaying meals until your glucose is below trigger. 
  3. The final phase is to dial back fat to increase protein % to increase satiety and eat again sooner.  We focus on this stage more in the Macros Masterclass

The table below summarises the various stages we will guide you through in the Data-Driven Fasting Challenge

StageLimitActionWhen to progress
1. Stabilise blood glucose< 30 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L rise after mealsReduce processed carbs to achieve healthy glucose stability.When BG rise after meals is < 1.6 mmol/L or 30 mg/dL
2. Meal timingOne Main Meal with one Discretionary Meal (OMAD+)Reduce the number of times you eat per day.  When average meals per day is less than 1.5. 
3.  Protein % Slowly work up to 40% protein.Increase protein % by reducing dietary fat until weight loss re-commences.When you have reached goal weight, body fat, waist: height or waking glucose. 

WHAT to Eat 

  • Once you are comfortable using your BG to guide WHEN to eat, you can use your BG to guide WHAT to eat.
  • If post-meal BG is above the upper limit -> look to reduce refined carbs that are spiking your blood glucose and overfilling your glucose fuel tank. 
  • If BG is above trigger and you are hungry -> go ahead and eat a protein-focused meal (this can be particularly useful in the morning when most people have elevated BG due to Dawn Phenomenon).
  • If post-meal BG is typically below the upper limit -> progressively reduce your fat intake to allow your BG to return to below trigger sooner. 
  • When pre-meal BG is significantly below trigger -> allow some fast-acting carbs to bump your BG back up into the normal range to avoid binging on fat+carb comfort foods. 
  • It will be hard to fail if you give your body optimal nutrients when you know you have plenty of fuel onboard.

Guidance of the DDF app

As outlined in the table below, the DDF app will give you feedback when you log your premeal glucose values.  This guidance about WHAT to eat is a critical part of the success of DDF.  In time you’ll learn to understand your hunger and give your body exactly what it needs when it needs it.    

GlucoseGuidance
Significantly above triggerWhoops!   Your glucose is still significantly above trigger.  Suggest waiting an hour or so to allow your glucose to drop and/or do some gentle exercise, then retest.   If your glucose is higher than normal due to stress, exercise, poor sleep, pain, fatigue, or premenstrual, you can tick one of the events to get a higher temporary trigger for the next 24 hours to allow you to eat until you’re recovered. 
Just above triggerYour glucose is just above trigger.  If you’re particularly hungry, go ahead and eat, but be sure to prioritise protein and nutrients while consuming less energy (from carbs and fat) to allow your stored energy to be used.
Just below triggerCongratulations!  Your BG is below trigger.  It’s time to eat!
Significantly below triggerYour glucose is significantly below trigger.  It’s definitely time to eat!  Consider adding some whole food starchy carbs (e.g., rice, potato, beans, pumpkin or oatmeal) to quickly bring glucose back up into your normal range. 

The End Game

The hourly glucose chart from the DDF App shows what a healthy blood glucose chart could look like after some experimentation with what and when to eat.  That is:

  • Lower premeal trigger,
  • Most glucose values under the upper limit (i.e., 30 mg/dL or 1.6 mmol/L above current trigger),
  • Lower waking glucose, and
  • Similar premeal and post-meal values across the day. 

Maintenance 

We recommend switching to maintenance mode between successive rounds of the DDF Challenge to allow your body to recover and recuperate and practice maintaining your weight without rebounding.  

You should also transition to Maintenance Mode in DDF app if:

  • You reach your goal (e.g., waist: height less than 0.5 and waking BG is less than 100 mg/dl or 5.6 mmol/L),
  • The process is becoming overly stressful,
  • You are becoming overly food-focused,
  • You are struggling to reach your trigger,
  • You are feeling overly hungry, weak, cold, depressed, lethargic, or   
  • You notice changes in libido or monthly cycles (for women).

You can always restart baselining, find your new trigger, and recommence another round of Data-Driven Fasting when you feel you are ready or at the start of the next Data-Driven Fasting 30-Day Challenge.  

If In Doubt

  • Don’t try too hard.  
  • Don’t overthink it.  
  • Follow the process.
  • Less is more.  
  • Progress over perfection.

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