After three years of trying to figure out the right dietary approach, I think I have figured it out and for the last half a year I follow a regiment that made me stronger, more energetic, more alert and made me calmer.
For several years prior I have been struggling with severe brain fog, severe fatigue, hypoglycemia, blood pressure fluctuations, indigestion, severe PMS, muscle aches, fluctuating weight and water retention, insomnia, irritability, heart aches and headaches.
In summer 2010, my family and I became vegan (no junk food, home prepared meals, raw for sometime). That completely didn't work for us. It made us weak, aggressive, hostile, we lost sleep and stamina, I started having panic attacks.
Summer 2011 we went lacto-vegetarian and that was even worse.
June 2012 we started GAPS diet protocol, it worked wonderfully and slowly brought us back to normal life.
Then, in recent months I have noticed real improvement when I tried Warrior diet meal schedule, or basically nocturnal eating. I was on GAPS diet for a few months by then, my blood Sugar was pretty stable through out the day and I had some energy to try it.
Concept of nocturnal eating is totally contradicting to Ayurveda, or any Western approach, where lunch is the main meal of the day. But, honestly, I believe Ori Hofmekler (founder of the Warrior Diet) maybe be so right about it. Though at first, I didn't take him seriously. Nocturnal eating maybe much more than just a trendy diet by some aggressive athlete. I believe it really may be the way we are supposed to eat.
I always disliked breakfast, so that wasn't a problem. Giving up lunch was a bit challenging in the beginning, but in a about a weak, I didn't notice any feelings of deprivation and my energy level significantly improved and my brain fog just disappeared. No more fatigue in the afternoon!
I don't agree with other aspects of Warrior diet, especially anti-estrogenic part, but the schedule is great and I can say it worked for me. My husband was the first one to try it. He always said that breakfast was evil :). When he found out about the Warrior diet, he started it immediately and he says he is much more focused, energetic and productive at work now and can exercise more. He either skips lunch completely, or eats something like some greek yogurt, or small salad, or couple of fruit.
Around 6-7 p.m. we eat a generous amount of dinner. Full GAPS diet meals - meat dish cooked with butter, ghee or coconut oil, cooked veggies, fresh veggies, fermented cooked grains, full fat dairy, and even sometimes desert (sweetened with raw honey or maple syrup). We eat lots of butter - about couple pounds a week. He eats lots of cheese, I don't.
I skip both breakfast and lunch, though I used to drink bone broth with butter and egg yolks throughout the day in the beginning, now I sometimes can eat a spoon of raw honey with water, or drink fruit compote (water left after boiling dry fruit in it).
I have noticed that I get really hungry only after 4 p.m. anyway. I mean real hunger, when you cannot concentrate on anything, you just want to go and eat. So, I usually have a protein snack around 4.30 - 5 p.m., like a cup of bone broth with 3-4 oz piece of chicken, or a couple boiled eggs and then, eat full size dinner after 6.
Another thing that really helped with brain fog and fatigue was Triphala. It's Ayurvedic herbal treatment for overall cleansing and is a mild laxative as well. 1 tsp of Triphala mixed in fruit compote or just water for lunch (or before sleep) is a great way to detoxify.
Please, note, that to follow nocturnal diet regiment, you should preferably be of Kapha type, or at least have some Kapha traits, Vata types do better just on GAPS, or variations of it. Check out Ayurvedic typing and find out your type. Kapha types have slow digestion anyway and it's good for them to take longer breaks between meals.
When we eat a meal while the previous food is not fully digested, we usually get a brain fog. Please, google "ama", it's an Ayurvedic concept that describes how our undigested food becomes toxic waste and how it affect our clarity of mind.
Please, be careful with nocturnal eating if you are underweight, emaciated, feeling cold, have hypoglycemia, or low blood pressure. You may need some hearty fatty salty snacks in that case, like rich broth, eggs, some meat in case you want to try nocturnal eating.
My husband and I have also noticed before this regiment, that grains for lunch are the worst. They make us very sleepy and tired. Broccoli and cabbage (cooked or raw) are the same way.
I have also noticed that when before the Warrior schedule, I ate dairy or grains for lunch, I got really bad fatigue and indigestion in addition to brain fog and I had to lay down. But if I eat dairy and grains for dinner, I have absolutely no brain fog, no fatigue and no indigestion after dinner and can sit and watch a movie or read and be very alert. And all the rich foods give a restful sleep.
So, my typical dinner is:
a cup of bone broth with 1/2oz butter and about 3 egg yolks
about 1/2 to 3/4 lb meat dish, usually turkey or chicken cooked with butter, ghee or coconut oil and lots of herbs and spices
2 cups cooked veggies, like carrots, beets, broccoli (no nightshades or alliums)
about 2-3 times a week I eat about 1 cup cooked fermented rice, millet or buckwheat with butter.
1 cup of fresh leafy greens
1 avocado (very often)
sometimes 1 cup of cooked mushrooms
dessert (About 2 hours after dinner) 1 apple, or a couple soaked dried apricots, or sometimes 1 cup yogurt sweetened with raw honey or maple syrup.
My husband eats a very large bowl of grains everyday and about 3/4 lb meat dish, about 3-4oz cheese after dinner, and the rest is the same as my dinner.
Our weight: very stable.
I'm 5'7 and weigh 125 lb for the last year (that was my weight when I was 17 y.o., I am now 32)
hubby weighs 165lb, height 5'10". He was 30lb heavier on standard diet, I was 20lb heavier.
On vegan diet, he lost weight dramatically, down to 145 and was seriously weak, I weighed 128-132. My weight fluctuated on standard and vegan diet about 5 lb heavier during PMS.
We gained some weight on lacto-vegetarian diet, mine was about 135lb, his was about 175lb, both felt heavy, tired, sleepy and had brain fog.
I am Pitta-Kapha type, he is Pitta type.
On GAPS diet our weight stabilized and stays the same no matter what. I got a thinner waist line than I ever had before and cellulite has dramatically decreased. My arms and legs look leaner, muscles are more visible even with no exercise (slight yoga). On standard diet I was chubby, even though I ran about 10 miles a week. On vegan and lacto-vegetarian diet I still had fat around abdomen, arms and thighs.
PMS symptoms are almost non-existent now comparing to severe couple years ago. I think Dong Quai helped me a lot with other herbs.
So, GAPS with nocturnal eating has been great for both of us. Mental acuity is great, so is energy level, very stable mood, sleep is very sound. I recovered from non-functional, staying in bed most of the day to pretty functional and now have energy all day long. Additionally we did colon cleanse, liver cleanse and take herbal treatments. Supplements now - B vitamins and some cod liver oil.
I find nocturnal eating on GAPS was the right balance between fasting/cleansing and being fully nourished.