Intermittent Fasting for Narcolepsy
Have you ever tried intermittent fasting for narcolepsy? I would love to hear about your experience!
I’ve seen the term a million times in the keto community, but I always tell myself I am doing well enough with what I have. There is no need to make it more complicated. I enjoy my early morning coffees and snacks throughout the day that fit my ketogenic diet. But lately I’ve been lacking mental clarity and I’m ready to try something new.
I started looking into fasting, which seems very travel-friendly. I gave myself the weekend to wrap my head around it and decided I would dive in on Monday.
Today is my first day. I have decided to start with the 16/8 method that I learned about here. In my case, I only plan to eat between 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Here were my first questions and the answers I have found.
Can I still have my coffee in the morning?
Yes! Better without cream or sugar (obviously) but with less than 50 calories, the body should not recognize the fast has been broken so a tiny bit of cream and sweetener is ok.
Can I eat whenever I want during that 8-hour window?
Yes, but don’t overcompensate and eat more than you normally would in a day. I am going back to tracking my food intake on MyFitnessPal to avoid that issue.
Do I still eat the same number of calories?
Yes, but since you are eating in a shorter time frame it’s easier to reduce the number of calories you are eating to be in a deficit if you want to lose weight. If you want to maintain or gain you need the same amount of calories as when you are not fasting so your meals will look big.
How will this change my lifestyle?
That will be different for everyone. But it doesn’t seem like this will be too big of a lifestyle change for me. I am pretty lazy about cooking anyway. I generally go for a late brunch instead of cooking both breakfast and lunch and 99% of the time that meal is egg based. So all I have to do is cut out any random snacking outside my meal window and reduce the calories in my morning coffee!
Update March 23, 2019
It definitely took me a while to get used to, but I now consider intermittent fasting for narcolepsy to be one of the strongest tools in my kit! It creates an amazing sense of freedom from food and gives me mental clarity and energy that I crave.
Just in the past few weeks, I have been experimenting with eating just once a day. I spent a week traveling around Malaysia and it was not the easiest place to find meals that fit my version of the ketogenic diet. I realized that by eating only once a day, I could keep my body in ketosis even if I was consuming above my carb threshold.
Intermittent Fasting and Hydration
Eating less frequently also pushed me to consume more water! Every time I felt hungry, I would drink some water and wait twenty minutes to see if the hunger passed. If it didn’t pass, I would listen to my body and find something to eat, but honestly, this only happened once all week. That day I had spent a lot of time walking and swimming so I listened to my body and had some chicken satay.
Now that I am back home in Myanmar, here are the benefits I have found from intermittent fasting for narcolepsy.
It is easier to:
- Spend less time thinking about food, preparing food, and cleaning up after food.
- Cut down on decision fatigue about what to eat since I am only deciding once a day.
- Make positive choices when I see everything I am going to consume for the day in one place.
- Prioritize what is most nutrient dense knowing I am going to get full, and then not eat again until tomorrow.
- Be free to eat what my body craves like more fruit.
- Feel more focused and less likely to wander into the kitchen from boredom.
- Listen to my body.
- Distinguish actual hunger from the signals I used to get based on the time of day my body was conditioned to eat.
- Lose weight since I am giving my body time to actually burn my stored fat.
- Stay more hydrated!
Was it difficult to start intermittent fasting for narcolepsy?
Sure, like anything it was hard to get out of my habit of eating set meals three times a day. But as I learn self-love and compassion, this way of eating actually seems to fit into my lifestyle better than I expected. I listen to my body and only eat when I feel it’s necessary or helpful to do so. There is no need to be strict on myself, if I feel genuinely hungry and the fast is not over, I do not starve myself. I decide what is best based on the information I have. Consuming something that will not “break” the fast like a coffee or tea is always the first option. Then, I give my body time to adjust and tell me what it needs.
2 thoughts on “Intermittent Fasting for Narcolepsy”
Hi, same here. I have narcolepsy with minor cataplexy. Till now it was successfully managed with Modafinil (200mg/day) for over a year. I am experimenting with intermittent fasting and during last 5 weeks I have finally managed to keep the regime for 80% of the days. I eat my first meal round 4-8. The effect is amazing. I was able to drastically reduce my medication ( 70%).
However, I feel that it would be ideal to actually stretch the fasting window to 20-21 hours. Because I don’t want to eat at least 4h before going to bed.
So far I have struggled with finding resources whether that would be safe in long term. Do you have any info about that ? I am very low with body fat already so there not much to burn :).
Hello! So glad you are enjoying intermittent fasting! I find it to be an extremely useful tool. Stretching the window to 20-21 hours I think is fine. I usually do this only twice a month maximum, not because of any worry about the effect, it just takes effort to eat enough calories in that short of time.
If you are interested in learning more about the long term effects, I like this blog by Mindvalley: https://blog.mindvalley.com/intermittent-fasting/
It seems like for men there are no ill effects long term, and for women they are variable but for me, not a problem. This study from that blog might be particularly interesting if you are into the science behind IF and mitochondria: https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(17)30612-5 .
The key to not losing weight is to keep the calorie count at your maintenance level. This might take some playing around, but if you are on a keto diet, it’s easy to just adjust up your fat to get more calories. I assume off keto you can do the same, adding healthy foods that are still calorie-dense like nuts, avocado, tofu, or granola.
Thanks for taking the time to comment!