§13 – Intermittent Fasting

(Part 8 of 8 in ~ Changes and Results)

Intermittent Fasting (IF)

With any form of IF, you can get the same physiological benefits. The key is to find a form/style of fasting that works for you and which yields the results you want. No matter what you do, it requires [what may be] a whole new level of paying attention to your body; how you feel, how much you weigh, how strong you feel, how sharp your mind seems, etc. IF is putting your food consumption and internal eating-related systems on manual. That can be great, or it can be a car crash.

I’ve come to realize that the style of fasting I do is not actually me “doing something”, but rather me living in tune with my body. The way I ate previously was automated and not healthy. I started IF as a project, and now it’s simply more normal and healthy than they way I used to eat.

Misinformation

“Starvation mode” is not something you have to worry about with any of these short-term fasts. You’re not going to lose muscle (especially if you continue training or weight lifting). You certainly can exercise in the fasted state; I do just that all the time. I don’t eat until Noon and I’ve done all sort of ranges of activity in the fasted state.

Oversimplified

Cells prefer to run on glucose. Things like muscles store some glucose internally and use that initially because it’s readily available. Some cells (notably, your brain cells) don’t store glucose and must have glucose from the blood. The liver stores glucose and releases it into the blood when glucose levels drop. When the liver runs low on stored glucose, it creates glucose from fat. In that process, the liver also create ketones (small, simple, alcohol-like molecules) which get dumped into the blood and will be removed by the kidneys or expelled in the breath.

Counterintuitively, some processes in your body (e.g., your heart muscle) operate more efficiently in the fasted state. When the liver adds ketones to the blood, your brain and heart prefer ketones as an energy source, which reduces your need for glucose to be produced by the liver. (If you do the deep dive on the biochemistry, it turns out that per joule stored in glucose versus in ketones, the heart can do more work per joule when using the ketones.) There is also a pronounced mental “feeling” of thinking sharper when your brain is using ketones. “ketone hacking” is an entire universe of people, information, podcasts…

What to Eat

Fasting is all about WHEN or HOW MUCH to eat. What to eat is a whole additional discussion. Some of the things you’ll read talk about what to eat, but I recommend initially focusing only on the when and how-much of eating. Then on subsequent reading and study, you could look at what you are eating and adjust that within the framework you’re settling on.

Types of IF

Aside from the various religious fasting prescriptions, there are two main variations: “eat, stop, eat” (ESE) and “16/8”. ESE is where you fast for a 24 hour period, once or twice per week. With “16/8” you fast 16 hours every day and have an 8 hour eating window.

I prefer the 16/8 because I like the regular schedule and I can always have lunch/dinner with people. (Most people don’t even notice I’m actually fasting in the morning.)

Ready?

So that’s my overly-simplified introduction to the actual introductions to IF. I suggest starting here:

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/01/25/intermittent-fasting/

https://constantine.name/tag/intermittent-fasting/

http://www.hilbertslibrary.com/topic/intermittent-fasting/

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Intermittent Fasting: A Beginner’s Guide

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/01/25/intermittent-fasting/

Beyond vanity, the reported health effects of an intelligently designed Intermittent Fasting program read like a laundry list of live longer, live better benefits including: reduced blood lipids, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cancer. Increased cell turnover and repair, fat burning, growth hormone release, and metabolic rate. And improved appetite control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neuronal plasticity.

This is a terrific overview. It’s writen by a physician and is intended to get you thinking about how you eat; As opposed to trying to talk you into trying it.

How often should we eat?

(Part 12 of 14 in John Briffa's "A Good Look at Good Health")

http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/08/31/how-often-should-we-eat-2/

When I started experimenting with intermittent fasting a year or so ago, it occurred to me that my previous beliefs about our ‘need’ to eat three times a day were just wide of the mark for me and, as it turns out, a lot of other people now. I now encourage a much more fluid approach based on the two guidelines above. One thing it’s done for me and others is to liberate us from the supposed need to eat by the clock. The benefits can be huge. In general, taking a more fluid approach seems to lead to people eating less, having more time, and being less preoccupied with food. These are usually big pluses for people.

Study suggests that, for optimal fat loss, the best thing to eatbefore exercise is nothing at all

(Part 11 of 14 in John Briffa's "A Good Look at Good Health")

http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/11/13/study-suggests-that-for-optimal-fat-loss-the-best-thing-to-eat-before-exercise-is-nothing-at-all/

The concept of endurance athletes stocking up on carbs has, I think, fuelled the notion that we should ideally have some sort of fuel inside of us prior to exercise. However, as I explain here, there is an argument for avoiding spikes in blood sugar is seeking to maximise one’s capacity to utilise fat as a fuel during exercise. I think there’s an argument for consuming little or nothing before exercise unless, perhaps, exercise is to be very prolonged.

Sometimes people don’t believe me when, around 11am in the middle of some crazy physical activity, it comes up that I haven’t yet eaten anything. I usually ask them why they think they must eat every waking hour? Why is “breakfast the most important meal of the day”? Why do you eat what you generally eat? And then I ask them to consider looking into the notions they have about nutrition…

Growth hormone may rise 300 percent with exercise: Acute increases also occur in cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline

(Part 3 of 3 in Ned Kock's "Health Correlator")

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2016/08/growth-hormone-may-rise-300-percent.html

Growth hormone stays flat for about 40 minutes, after which it goes up steeply. At around the 90-minute mark, it reaches a level that is quite high; 300 percent higher than it was prior to the exercise session. Natural elevation of circulating growth hormone through intense exercise, intermittent fasting, and restful sleep, leads to a number of health benefits. It helps burn abdominal fat, often hours after the exercise session, and helps builds muscle (in conjunction with other hormones, such as testosterone). It appears to increase insulin sensitivity in the long run.

What is “intermittent fasting”?

(Part 5 of 14 in John Briffa's "A Good Look at Good Health")

http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/03/01/my-times-piece-on-intermittent-fasting/

Quelling insulin will help protect against these conditions, and will facilitate fat loss too. One way to quell insulin levels is to eat a diet largely devoid of the foods that cause surges in blood sugar such as those [of] added sugar as well as starchy ‘staples’ like bread, potatoes, rice pasta and breakfast cereals. Another way, though, to moderate insulin levels is to extend the time between eating. This, in essence, is what intermittent fasting is about.

~ John Briffa, from My Times piece on intermittent fasting

Restricting your eating times

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/02/05/why-restricting-your-eating-time-period-to-8-hours-will-transform-your-health-fitness/

The reasons for these health benefits relate to the fact that the human body appears to be designed to thrive in a cycle of “feast and famine.” By imitating the ancestral conditions of cyclical nourishment, your body enters into a state of optimal functioning. Three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your health include:

Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency. […] Reduced oxidative stress. […] Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging.

~ Jeff Roberts, from Why Restricting Your Eating Time Period To 8 Hours Will Transform Your Health & Fitness

Muscle loss during short-term fasting

(Part 2 of 3 in Ned Kock's "Health Correlator")

http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/01/muscle-loss-during-short-term-fasting.html

When the body is running short on glycogen, it becomes increasingly reliant on fat as a source of energy, sparing muscle tissue. That is, it burns fat, often in the form of ketone bodies, which are byproducts of fat metabolism. This state is known as ketosis. There is evidence that ketosis is a more efficient state from a metabolic perspective (Taubes, 2007, provides a good summary), which may be why many people feel an increase in energy when they fast.

~ Ned Kock, from Muscle loss during short-term fasting

Inflammation and intermittent fasting

(Part 12 of 25 in M. Eades' Blog)

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/intermittent-fasting/inflammation-and-intermittent-fasting/

These posts, particularly the one on inflammation, inspired a host of questions on whether intermittent fasting decreases inflammation. Based on my knowledge of the medical literature on inflammation and intermittent fasting I’m pretty sure that it does. A recent paper presents data indicating that it indeed does.

The April 2007 issue of Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism includes an article on the positive changes in inflammatory markers brought about by the intermittent fasting Muslims undergo during Ramadan.

~ Michael Eades, from Inflammation and intermittent fasting

Fast way to better health

(Part 8 of 25 in M. Eades' Blog)

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/intermittent-fasting/fast-way-to-better-health/

When researchers restrict the caloric intake of a group of lab animals to about 30 to 40 percent of that of their ad libitum (all they want to eat) fed counterparts, they find that the calorically restricted animals live 30 percent or so longer, don’t develop cancers, diabetes, heart disease, or obesity. These calorically restricted (CR) animals have low blood sugar levels, low insulin levels, good insulin sensitivity, low blood pressure and are, in general, much healthier than the ad lib fed animals.

~ Michael Eades, from Fast Way to Better Health