Eat. Deplete. Repeat.
By Eric Sartori
This is dedicated to you and all of my friends in the timed eating, intermittent fasting, prolonged fasting and ketogenic community who have yet to reach your goal but refuse to give up. Your tenacity inspires me. May this new process deliver to you hope and the results your hard work deserves. Cheers!
This is not a complete user guide for the process it outlines. The manifesto identifies who I believe will benefit from this method, the struggles we face with current weight loss, ketogenic and intermittent fasting protocols and my experience with Eat Deplete Repeat (EDR) so far. This will be a living document and revised as necessary. At the time that I began self-experimentation and at the present time and after speaking with many people in the timed eating (TE), time-restricted feeding (TRF), intermittent fasting (IF), and low carb high fat/ketogenic (LCHF) communities, I am not aware that this method has ever been laid out in theory, practiced or studied. All potential adopters of this practice are advised to seek medical advice before making any changes to their diet or lifestyle and are advised to take full responsibility for their use of the practice. Any health care practitioners who would like to recommend their patients to use EDR to decrease BMI are advised that this discipline is still in the very early testing phase. There is opportunity for further study and updates will follow. The writer of this document is not qualified to diagnose medical conditions or make medical recommendations so all information contained in this document is intended for educational purposes only. This manifesto is a call to action to reexamine the inner workings of ketogenic and intermittent fasting science and finally put together a practice and discipline of eating that allows for flexibility, self-accountability, and customization. Let’s do something amazing, together!
Please continue reading and then watch the video explanation at the bottom of this page.
If you are reading this you may be like me, struggling to maintain your health in a world that is constantly sending mixed messages. Stay fit and look beautiful, but also, live a life of abundance and never be hungry. If you’re like me, you have found yourself overweight, showing signs of metabolic dysfunction, impending health problems and uncomfortable in your own skin. If you are like me, you have found intermittent fasting and timed eating to be an effective means of preserving your health and maintaining a lower body weight set point. If you are like me, months of honest and serious practice have helped you achieve results yet, you know that the process is not complete. If this is you, I want you to listen up.
We have an opportunity to change the way we think about how to have it all. I believe we can enjoy abundance, have a healthy relationship with food and enjoy all of the benefits of a lifestyle that lends itself to health and longevity. We just need to shift our mindset to a new way of thinking about how we fuel our bodies while using the methods emerging from the new scientific frontiers of ketogenic nutrition and intermittent fasting. For myself and truckloads of the friends I've made online, timed eating has been a useful tool but something about the method falls short. Many of us plateau and for some the weight even comes back.
"If you do, for example, one meal a day (OMAD) or a roughly 23 hour fast daily, you may do very well. In that case, continue. On the other hand, we see many people start to stall at a weight higher than they like. In that case, it is good to shake things up a little, to keep your body from adapting too much to this. Try alternating longer and shorter fasts, for example." ~ Dr. Jason Fung
If you are ready to enter the world of Eat. Deplete. Repeat, I’ll introduce you to a new paradigm where we stop trying different fasting times and use personalized metabolic feedback to discover the perfect rhythm. If you are tired of diets and cookie cutter programs and want to understand your metabolism from the inside out, please join me on this journey.
Choosing a healthy way of eating has historically been a process, getting advice from a friend or healthcare practitioner, or by reading about what works for others or what the experts say and then giving it a try. Researchers have looked at people groups from around the world and found that the longest-lived people live in what they call "Blue Zones." Clearly we should be learning from people from these places because they have something to offer those of us who want to live long and prosper. Other researchers look at cross-sections of populations of people and find similarities among healthy people and then use those similarities as points of advice for healthy living to the general population.
Instead of going into too much detail about the limitations of these studies with regard to what will work for you I’m just going to state that the one thing this line of thinking is missing is what I feel is the fundamental principle of personalized metabolic feedback. Metabolic feedback is a process by which we can monitor what is happening in our energy balance environment at any given point in time.
We are lucky enough to exist at a time when the technology to monitor our metabolism very precisely is readily available at a low cost. Different lifestyle methods are being utilized to a great extent and success, which give a glimpse into the inner workings of human metabolism. It's like when the gas gauge was invented for automobiles, only for our bodies. The emerging fields of ketogenic nutrition and intermittent fasting have exposed many of us to concepts that have not been understood until the last couple of decades. Autophagy, fat adaptation, metabolic flexibility and the complex inner workings of the neurohormonal mechanisms that regulate fat storage, energy conservation, and hunger were not well understood when the current recommendations were written. Within the intersection of these emerging lifestyles and the new scientific understandings, there is an opportunity for growth that I’ve identified. It’s time to merge science and lifestyle. It’s time for Eat. Deplete. Repeat.
An EDR Analogy
I would like to make an analogy that I think paints a picture of the opportunity that we have at this point in time and with this particular practice. Imagine the place where the ocean meets the shore. Now imagine a marine biologist and a terrestrial biologist are sitting down for a cup of coffee. Each is an expert in their field and they enjoy conversing about the place where their knowledge overlaps. In this conversation, the biologists speak of the ways that terrestrial life benefits from marine life and how marine life benefits from terrestrial life. They could also talk about things that are unfamiliar to the other. What does the marine biologist know about the rare species known as the Southern Bog Lemming, a small rodent that is endangered in the Appalachians, and what does the terrestrial biologist know about the Vaquita, a small rare porpoise found in the Gulf of California in Mexico?
Now let’s say that a shoreline conservationist walks into the cafe and sits down with the marine biologist and the terrestrial biologist. The shoreline biologist has much to add to the conversation about where the two disciplines intersect. The shoreline conservationist has much more detailed insight into the place where the ocean meets the shore. The knowledge base of these three disciplines will be quite different and rightly so: they are studying three unique environments.
EDR & TRF
Now consider the process of time-restricted feeding (TRF). Every day practitioners of TRF use time as a tool to allow their bodies to use most or all of the consumed fuel between meals. Think of the biological process that happens in this situation. After a meal, the body starts to use carbohydrate and any molecules that are readily turned into ATP for fuel. For many TRF practitioners, the body burns through its glycogen stores and then transitions to using fat for fuel. During the interval in between meals, the body switches from carbohydrate-burning mode to fat-burning mode. The terrestrial biologist is the nutritionist who is familiar with how to fuel the body with mixed macro-nutrient foods. The marine biologist is the nutritionist who studies what happens when the body is in a state of ketosis through ketogenic nutrition or fasting. The newcomer to the scene is the scientist who is keenly interested in what happens as the body makes the transition from glycolysis to beta-oxidation and ketosis. EDR practitioners live daily in the place where the ocean meets the shore. I’ll explain.
I check my weekly average weight loss every Saturday. After the initial whoosh I've been averaging a solid, predictable 2lbs per week. I've never done something that's been so consistent. I'm floored.
EDR & CICO
Eat. Deplete. Repeat. is a method of monitoring fuel consumption and expenditure that does away with the need for calorie counting. While calorie counting works well in a lab setting, it's a real cluster of confusion for many people who try to use it as a weight loss method in real life. All of the science behind calories in / calories out (CICO) is based on sound theory, but in my opinion, there are too many variables for it be simple and accurate in practice. One must seek a well trained expert with expensive machinery and equipment to calculate basal metabolic rate (BMR). Then too he or she is required to keep an accurate and timely tally of all foods consumed and fuel used during increased activity levels above BMR.
Calorie counting feels unnatural and while it works for some, most of us get frustrated with barcodes that don’t scan well and having to convert units of measure with no obvious conversion calculators in our calorie-counting apps. The casserole at the family gathering doesn’t come with a barcode, and no one is going to guess the precise calorie count of the nine-layer dip at your favorite restaurant. Pulling out a tape rule to measure the diameter of a fig takes the romance out of enjoying nature's bounty. If you are like me, you are done with calorie counting. There is a better way.
The honest truth is that Eat. Deplete. Repeat. was born out of the pressure I felt to adopt one of two lifestyles. The first is a lifestyle that enjoys pizza, wine, fruit, beer, and many other delectable dishes laden with carbs, but uses a concept called time-restricted feeding (TRF) to augment the negative effects that sugar plays on cellular degeneration and hormonal balance. In TRF, all calories taken in are consumed within a specified time of eating called an eating window. Using TRF, I was able to lose about 15 to 20 pounds, lower my blood pressure and A1C. I started out pre-diabetic and now my A1C is normal and I avoided having to start taking medications for blood pressure.
EDR & KETO
The other lifestyle, the ketogenic diet, trades the freedom to eat carbohydrates for a metabolic environment that balances hormones, reduces excess adiposity, reverses the metabolic syndrome, has been known to alleviate a plethora of complaints typically associated with aging, and let us not forget that it boasts a decreased risk for most cancers, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. I've tried the ketogenic diet, but I'm just not willing to give up foods like mangos, dates, pizza, tacos, beer and wine.
How does one actually have it all? If that’s possible, only time will tell, but for right now, I and some brave willing participants have adopted a new way of eating to decipher if Eat. Deplete. Repeat. could actually be the missing link, the confluence of two paradigms, the full expression of the marriage of ketogenic nutrition and intermittent fasting science. This is not just low-carb, intermittent fasting; this is cyclic, glycogen-depletion-dependent refeeding. We've traded the clock and the calendar for our own metabolic timer. Like a sand timer and the radioactive degradation of an atomic clock, we use a natural process to measure the distance between encounters with food. In other words, we verify that we have fully utilized our consumed carbohydrates between meals' ensuring that the process of converting from sugar burning to fat burning is complete.
By adopting this new way of eating, we are able to separate and observe the factors that affect metabolism through the glycogen depletion process. We use the variables of time, activity and carbohydrate mindfulness to observe and augment the depletion process. The one small change of verifying the presence of ketones in the blood, urine or breath changes the way we look at time-restricted feeding. When we change our focus from the clock and the calendar to a biological process as our timer, we can study ourselves more precisely. I may sound like a broken record, but when we trade programs and theory-based protocols and allow our body to complete a natural bio-chemical process before refeeding, a window opens up and self-examination can happen over the course of days, rather than having to wait weeks and months for the scale or your measurements to move.
EDR & EF
There's another element I'm adding to this document after some careful consideration. A significant number of people are showing a keen interest in EDR for the purpose of maintaining their weight loss after extended fasting (EF). Prolonged or extended fasting may be the fastest way to lose weight but as I've observed, it's also the method that seems to have the most difficulty producing lasting weight loss results. After fasting for 2 weeks or more, there are some physiological changes that happen in the body that EDR may be able to monitor. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) may decrease for some people after an EF. Since EDR is dependent on catching the moment when the body finishes using glycogen and begins to produce ketones, the practitioner will be tracking the magnitude of the decreased BMR. With a slower metabolism, we will experience longer depletion times and therefore will delay the next meal until the body has done its job utilizing the stored fuel. It's a nice safety net that could really help with controlling the refeeding process. Since some people overeat because of increased hunger after a prolonged fast EDR will hold each meal accountable to the metabolism. After overeating, most of us never know how much we've actually over-fueled. With EDR, depletion times will increase or decrease based on BMR, food quality and quantity and energy spent through activity and exercise. Could EDR be the perfect plan for maintaining EF weight loss?
Is EDR the Missing Link?
Eat. Deplete. Repeat. (EDR) offers an element to traditional time-restricted feeding (TRF) that has been missing. While many have found success with TRF, some are still left disappointed that this method has failed them. The missing element is metabolic feedback. We often assume that practitioners of TRF are achieving a state of fat burning between meals. Dipping into fat reserves between meals is assumed to happen as a result of the natural tendency to calorie restrict, which comes about because of a process we call appetite correction.
Dr. Bert Herring pioneered this approach, and over the last two decades, many people have found massive success with his Fast-5 program. Alas, many never reach this state of metabolic harmony and therefore never achieve the totality of desired fat release, even after months or years of effort. I believe that their lack of success is not due to lack of effort, but more importantly, a lack of knowledge. I’m not talking about lack of advice, rather lack of knowing what’s happening metabolically at the time they chose to refeed.
The EDR pilot group is the first cohort of individuals who have committed to verifying the state of ketosis between meals. We’re taking a look under the hood of the mechanics of our metabolism. We eat, then we deplete our glycogen stores as evidenced by the presence of ketones in the urine, blood or breath, and then we repeat or eat again. This is our process, whether the depletion time takes 12 hours or 48 hours.
Think of the glycogen storage capacity of your body as a sand timer. We fill the timer up and wait for all of the grains to fall. Once enough of the carbohydrates are gone the body begins to produce ketone bodies, which can be detected by several easily accessible technologies. Having committed to this cycle, EDR practitioners have learned to balance their activity and carbohydrate intake to achieve the desired meal frequency.
Some people enjoy more carbs, less activity and longer depletion times, whereas others mind their carb intake and are as active as a honey badger and enter the desired state of ketosis by early morning or midday every day. I am finding that practitioners of traditional TRF and IF are held accountable to their own metabolism and are able to make choices that help them achieve success very quickly without having to wait to see if the changes they make will produce the desired weight loss.
The beta test participants often ask questions common to traditional TRF protocols that are more appropriately answered by the process. For instance, I’ve been asked if it’s okay to consume cream with coffee during the depletion phase. My answer is always similar: I am so glad that I don’t have to have the answers for everyone, because everyone is different. I always say, “let your depletion time give you your answer.” If depletion time is increased that day, and ketosis isn’t achieved until late in the evening, then you may consider removing the cream from your coffee.
Other protocols have been successful while maintaining a regular circadian feeding pattern, by either shortening the refeeding time-frame like in One Meal A Day (OMAD) which restricts total caloric and carbohydrate intake; intentionally restricting the carbohydrate intake during the refeeding period like in low-carb 16:8, thereby allowing for longer refeeding times; or by keeping a strict non-insulinogenic fasting period like with "Delay Don't Deny" by Gin Stephens, thereby ensuring that glycogen access is not restricted throughout the day. In the last example, it is important to note the success of the community that maintains a non-insulinogenic fasting period is not just suppressing insulin but conversely, they are not suppressing glucagon excretion from the pancreas. Glucagon is needed to allow your body to access stored fuel like glycogen, and glucagon is suppressed in the presence of insulin. EDR provides the framework for people to make the choices that work for them, and it also validates why many of the TRF variations are successful or not.
Carbs & Ketones!
Now for the other side of the coin. Eat. Deplete. Repeat. offers something to the ketogenic community that many will appreciate… carbs and ketones! Impossible you say? Let's look at the process and see. EDR allows the practitioner of ketogenic nutrition to use their internal glycogen timer to enjoy the foods they've been missing without guilt, as long as they deplete those carbs between meals. It's at the end of the depletion cycle that they enter ketosis and receive the benefits of this state. (More information about how we use ketogenic science to maintain fat adaptation will be available in the Facebook support group. Researchers will be interested to know that since many of us monitor urine and blood ketones along with blood glucose readings, we are able to watch someone make the transition into fat adaptation.)
In nature, infants often live off of glycogen, fat and ketones between birth and the initiation of mothers' nutrition, and athletes are known to have a level of metabolic flexibility that relies on glycogen, fat and ketones for fuel between meals. Ultra-endurance athletes are turning to ketogenic science to take the benefits of metabolic flexibility to improve their performance. Metabolic flexibility means the body becomes fat adapted. In the state of fat adaptation, the body has turned on a switch that tells the DNA to produce more of the hormones, organelles, and enzymes that allow the body to easily use fat for fuel.
Most people who’ve adopted a standard affluent diet consume carbohydrate throughout the day, making it unnecessary for the body to up-regulate the components that make stored glycogen and fat easily accessible. For more information on these epigenetic processes, look up mTOR and AMPK pathways.
People consuming the standard affluent diet of their culture will often feel "hangry” between meals, because their bodies have little capacity to utilize stored fuel. The practice of snacking all day every day is responsible for this phenomenon. My advice? Don't reach for the Snickers, Marsha! Just don't do it! Cyclic, Glycogen-Depletion-Dependent Refeeding carbohydrate to start the refeeding timer, but it also ensures that the practitioner conditions the body to become accustomed to the process of using glycogen and fat between meals. By cycling this metabolic pathway, the practitioner strengthens the process much like a muscle builder gains strength through repetition of resistance training. The metabolism is repeatedly stressed as it converts from sugar burning to fat burning mode. This stress, like the stress that’s introduced by the ketogenic diet and that of the muscle of the body builder during training, is what tells the DNA to upregulate mitochondrial biosynthesis and the other processes mentioned above.
What I believe I have found is a way to enjoy carbs while achieving the benefits of the ketogenic diet. The pilot group has welcomed keto practitioners who are elated that they are now able to eat the foods they love without guilt. I will always be a proponent of methods that allow for this level of freedom. People trying to reverse certain diseases may not be able to enjoy this level of freedom early on and may want do adopt a more strict regimen, but once they've healed themselves, EDR is a great way to maintain their health and weight loss without fear of relapse.
Depriving oneself of any particular macro-nutrient or particular foods should be reserved for the management of specific diseases. In the case of persons with celiac disease, gluten should be avoided, in the case of diabetics, carbohydrate, especially processed carbohydrate, should be drastically reduced, and in the case of persons with an anaphylactic allergy to dairy, all dairy products should be keenly avoided. For EDR in general, however, we don’t restrict anything.
Watching people who’ve maintained ketosis for months and years rejoice in this newfound freedom is a testimony that EDR has massive potential to change the way we view ketogenic nutrition. After all, our bodies wouldn’t have the capacity to store and utilize glycogen if it wasn’t important. In fact, we've actually had people who'd abandoned their ketogenic lifestyle lose pounds or inches within weeks of starting EDR. This tells me that there is something about the practice that was missing in their ketogenic way of eating. While we don’t restrict, we are mindful of the role carbs will play in the depletion process, and therefore each practitioner must answer to their own process. We make choices and we live with those choices. Our depletion time holds us accountable. It is a thing of beauty to watch this unfold.
A point of interest and opportunity for study in the future involving EDR is to look at the glycogen storage capacity of the human body as a protective mechanism. Upon eating carbohydrate, the body immediately seeks to remove it from the bloodstream. Why is that? I hope most of us reading this are familiar with the toxic effects of sugar on the components of the blood. What about the inflammatory nature of sugar on the tissues of the body? This is why many people in our communities, IF and Keto, see sugar as an enemy. What about that glycogen storage space though? The question I’m hoping to answer at some point in my career is, "Does the glycogen storage capacity of the body mitigate the damage and inflammatory process of carbohydrate on the tissues?" It seems to me that most of the research done on the subject has not looked at it from this perspective.
A Unique Process & Why it Works
As we demonstrate this process in the pilot group, we have more confidence in the theory. Two things are happening that I believe make this unique. The first way it is unique is that the practice ensures that the glycogen carrying capacity of the body (the glycogen tank/reservoir) is mostly empty before refueling. When this happens, excess carbohydrate doesn't overflow, wreaking havoc on other organs or tissues. At the very least, the body isn’t forced to do something with the sugar overflow, namely, use complex hormonal pathways to increase metabolism and burn it or store it through a process called De Novo Lipogenesis. Those of you familiar with body-weight set-point theory understand this concept.
The second way this method is unique is that we measure the time for the practitioner to convert from sugar burning to fat burning. The total depletion time (TDT) says a lot about the contents of the previous meal, the rate of metabolism, and the activity level of the practitioner. If the meal was heavy on carbs, depletion time can take longer. If basal metabolic rate decreases or increases, TDT will be affected. Our voluntary actions to exercise will decrease TDT, based on effort applied and the fuel needed to expend such an effort. It will be said over and over again that EDR will hold you accountable to your own metabolism. If you go to the gym and put in a wimpy workout, your calorie counting app might let you lie but, your TDT will tell the full story. If you eat the whole pizza, don't hold your breath until you are in ketosis again. If you learn from the process, you will find a balance that is uniquely yours.
Much more will be said about this method as the pilot group participants and I hash out the details. This is a learning, growing and evolving process that I expect will have a lasting impact on the world of nutrition, health and exercise science.
Resources and Links
To join the pilot group and add your data to the pool, join us at www.facebook.com/groups/eatdepleterepeat or click the link below.
Updates and EDR focused content and media can be found on Instagram and Facebook @eatdepleterepeat
This document and future EDR book sales on Amazon and www.eatdepleterepeat.com