Fasting? You mean not eating for an extended period of time? Why would I ever want to starve myself? You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry!
Before you delete this post, let me give you a few quick reasons why you may want to give intermittent fasting a try.
It’s one of the easiest ways to look great, have more energy, be smarter, and live longer.
Benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- More muscle
- Less fat
- More energy
- Increased longevity
- Better memory / brain function
- Decreased inflammation (the root of all disease)
Caloric restriction is the most scientifically validated way to reliably extend life span. However the problem with caloric restriction is that it’s very hard to stick with. You need to decrease your caloric intake by 20-40% each day and for most of us (I’m guessing 99%) this is not sustainable. As I mentioned before, you wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry!
It turns out you get the same benefits from intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is not dieting per se and you don’t need to limit your daily caloric intake. So you can eat the same amount of food that you normally eat. With intermittent fasting you are just condensing your eating into a 6 to 8 hour window each day.
How does intermittent fasting work?
What happens after you eat is your insulin and fatty acid levels increase and your body uses glucose as fuel and you essentially don’t burn any fat. Intermittent fasting gets your body into fat burning mode, which happens approximately 12 hours after eating and this is where you want to be. Your insulin levels drop and you don’t have the contents of a recent meal for your body to consume, so your body relies on stored fat in your body as fuel.
When you eat 3 meals a day you never really hit the 12 hour mark so your body doesn’t get into the fat burning zone. With intermittent fasting you can either skip breakfast or skip dinner.
So for example, you can skip breakfast and eat between 1pm to 8pm or skip dinner and eat between 8am to 3pm for a 17 hour fast, giving you 5 hours in the fat burning zone. When I fast I skip breakfast and eat between 1pm to 8pm and sometimes I’ll eat between 2pm to 8pm to get an extra hour of fat burning in. I’ll typically fast on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 3 fasts each week and occasionally I’ll push myself a little longer.
This recent study found that alternate day intermittent fasting led to a number of health benefits in as little as 2 weeks including improvements in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, cardiac arrhythmias, and menopause related hot flashes.
Why does this happen?
Intermittent Fasting improves hormones, genetic expression, and cellular function.
- Increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) by up to 500%1 – this means more muscle gain, increased fat burning, higher energy levels, and better memory
- Mitochondrial repair & increased efficiency2 – this means more energy and less disease
- Increased Autophagy3 – this means increased cellular repair, reduction of cellular toxins, reduced stem cell depletion, and removal of bad mitochondria
- Reduced Insulin4 – this means increased fat burning, increased longevity, and decreased risk of Type II Diabetes and other chronic disease
- Reduced Inflammation & Oxidative Stress5 – Inflammation is the root of all disease and causes the symptoms we get from chronic disease. Reduced oxidative stress means less inflammation, decreased aging, and better brain function
- Increased Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)6 – this means better brain function
More benefits are shown in this study, that during a 24-hour fasting period, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men. And this study showed that “short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy.” Autophagy supports brain health and is the process by which cells recycle waste material, down regulate wasteful processes, and repair themselves.
The first few times I tried intermittent fasting it was a little hard but it doesn’t take long to get used to skipping a meal. My food cravings in general went down as well. Just drink plenty of water and if you stay busy it should be a relatively painless process. Experiment and see what works best for you.
For even more fat burning you can do a workout while in a fasted state. Go easy at first because it takes some time for your body to adapt. This is one of the ways I maintain 12-14% body fat, while eating as much as I want, and only working out 3 days a week.
Other benefits that I personally get from intermittent fasting are better thinking, I seem to be more productive, and I save time by eating one less meal.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?
If you’re currently eating a healthy diet and are somewhat fit then intermittent fasting might be what you need to take you to the next level. Just take it slow and listen to your body and eat something if you feel like you’re crashing.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t mean you can eat junk and get the body of your dreams along with the other benefits that I mentioned. You can eat as much as you like during your window, just make sure you’re eating high quality, whole foods. This needs to be the first step.
If you’re hypoglycemic, diabetic, or have adrenal fatigue or anything causing your blood sugar levels to be erratic then you should avoid intermittent fasting until you get your blood sugar under control. Also avoid if you’re pregnant and/or breastfeeding.
Give it a try and let me know how intermittent fasting works for you and let me know if you have questions.