We are all culturally wired to consume our food during certain times of the day e.g breakfast at 9, lunch at 1 pm, and dinner at 8pm. The truth of the matter is, there is much controversy surrounding the subject about when we should consume certain meals to facilitate weight loss and health and when we shouldn't. One thing we do know- The typical pattern of 3 meals a day and a large dinner is only making us fatter. So let’s look at why IF may be a smart alternative.
Advantages of fasting:
-Reduced amount of body fat
-Reduced blood sugar levels
-Reduced amounts of insulin and insulin resistance
-Accelerated fat burning and fat oxidation
-Raised levels of Growth Hormone
-Reduced stress related from food
-Reduced chronic inflammation
This looks awesome right? Let’s take a closer look on how fasting helps and affects our bodies in 6 different ways:
No 1: Insulin reduction. Remember insulin is released to bring blood sugar down.
When you eat (especially sugar), insulin levels start to rise up in anticipation of glucose intake. Without this fat storage hormone around, we are more likely to use our own stores for fuel.
No 2: Controls blood sugar. Blood sugar (glucose) is the level of sugar found in our blood. When we consume excessive amounts of food, our systems go on overload trying to catch up with the sudden rises and repeat supply if sugar. It is hard to lose weight with an overabundance of easy fuel present in the blood. We are hard wired to store this fuel source as fat for later use in fasting periods that never come in today’s paradigm.
Fasting fact: Even periods of short fasting e.g 12 hours, enable our systems to control blood glucose. The “low sugar” condition isn’t as frequent as many people think. It takes a medical check-up to be diagnosed and it's called “hypoglycemia”. Studies conducted on the impact of fasting and blood sugar levels demonstrated that blood sugar didn’t drop below normal. Thus, most folks who assume they have a low sugar episode or syndrome are actually not. Most people that assume they are hypoglycemic are actually just experiencing sugar withdrawal from their previous high carbohydrate meal. Remember, sugar is like cocaine to the brain so withdrawals can be severe.
No3. Stimulates fat burning. With a lack of food calories, fatty acids are freed and circulate through the bloodstream to be used as energy sources by your muscle tissue and vital organs. Fasting here enables the system to take a break from depositing fat and burn this fat instead for energy! Fat burn is the highest between 8 and 30 hours after a meal, so no need to fast for longer periods of time (unless doing SIBO protocol in earlier chapters).
Fasting tip: If you fast between 12-14 hours, you will start triggering fat burning as your main energy source. It is commonly said that your burn calories while you sleep. The main reason for this is that you are fasting while you sleep so your body has to burn its own fat for energy. Eating too late at night will make you miss this mechanism.
No 4: Raises Growth Hormone (GH) levels. Fasting also stimulates Growth Hormone release especially when combined with working out and healthy sleep patterns. GH is at its peak during your teenage years (this perhaps explains why most of us have gone through the “bottomless pit” situation). The nice thing about Growth Hormone is that it helps enhance muscle volume, that way you should not lose muscle mass during IF.
No 5: Reduces inflammation. Without chronic insulin release, there are less inflammatory mechanisms activated during IF. Also, being less overweight decreases inflammation. A University of Utah study has found that individuals who fasted even for one day per month, had 40% less risk to experience clogged arteries as opposed to those that didn’t fast.
No 6: Triggers rejuvenation and cleansing on a cellular level. When you are not busy digesting all the time, you allow the body the energy for detoxification. The process of cellular cleansing from junk has caught the attention of cancer researchers who see it as a potential treatment for cancer. Researchers have shown that fasting 2x a week could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In simple words, fasting triggers the death of already damaged and weak immune cells and when the system goes through such a transitional back-up stage, it produces new healthier cells.
TYPICAL QUESTIONS/CONCERNS ABOUT IF:
No1: What about breakfast?
We typically encourage patients to eat breakfast because they are caffeine addicts all morning and binge eat later in the evening. Caffeine inhibits appetite at first but stimulates metabolism to make you hungry later. This becomes a problem because people binge on high carbohydrate and sugary foods once their caffeine wears off. This is a weight gain pattern of behavior. If people eat a high protein/fat meal earlier in the day, they tend to not have these cravings at night. If you are in a ketogenic balance and intermittent fasting, the evening carbohydrate cravings tend not to be an issue. Once your body adapts to intermittent fasting and/or keto, you will be satisfied without all the treats. Your body will be more efficient at creating its own energy and you will hence be less dependant on stereotypical eating patterns such as breakfast. However, if this is your favorite meal or if you are in high amounts of activity in the AM, you may want to bias your fasting so that you can include breakfast. For example, I do Crossfit at 6AM so I fast later in the evening.
No 2: What happens with starvation mode?
Intermittent fasting done correctly should not be starvation mode. It is not a severe calorie reduction diet. It is simply altering the time and frequency that you eat. You may notice you eat less calories than you did before because your body is more efficient at producing energy and less dependent on constant caloric intake for fuel. Starvation mode occurs when your weekly caloric intake is at a 5,000, or perhaps even higher, deficit from your caloric burn. For example: if your weekly calories come out to 700 cal a day, you may be in starvation mode. However, if your cal/day are still above 1,200-2,00 (depending on body type), you will not enter this mode.
No 3: What about fueling the metabolic fire?
The answer is, you are fueling the fire. IF should be done with food lifestyles such as Paleo and Keto. Remember, Fat are logs, protein is kindling, and carbohydrate are the paper. If you put logs on the fire, it will burn for days.
No 4: What if I’m hungry?
This is normal at the very beginning but as we discussed previously, switching your eating patterns is not an overnight process as you need plenty of time, patience, and practice to make it through. You have to remember that you are trying to reset your circadian rhythm here. During the first few days of IF, you may feel hungry during the hours you used to eat previously—after all, you may have followed the same eating pattern for years so change isn't easy. The initial days of IF may feel kind of uncomfortable, as other members have told us but if you are patient enough, your system will get used to it and IF will become a habit. You will be really compensated for your effort. Full adaptation can take 1-3 months depending on your diligence, so do not quit on week 2.
No 5: My exercise capacity sucks.
This is a temporary feeling during adaptation. Once you learn to use fat for fuel, your athletic ability should return. It should improve in the long run because your body will know how to perform without carbohydrate constantly being fed to the muscle.
Intermittent Fasting PLANS:
There are many ways to implement fasting. Choose the plan that fits your lifestyle.
Chirothin is a diet program we utilize in our office to teach safe and effective intermittent fasting techniques. if you would like nutritionist supervised I.F. help Schedule with Erica here for Chirothin
EAT-STOP-EAT (fast for 24 hours once or twice a week).
It’s hard to talk about 24-hour fasting windows without giving credit to Brad Pilon and his writing piece “EAT-STOP-EAT.” The regime calls for 1-2 24-hour fasting periods per week, on days that suit your daily schedule.
16-8 IF plan (16 hours of fasting-8 hours eating normally).
Also called “the lean gains method”, the 16/8 IF plan is probably the most popular. This IF method became famous by Martin Berkhan who initiated the “lean gains” act. This encourages a 16-hour fasting window, followed by 8 hours eating normally. This is a highly versatile IF plan and again, you can choose which 16 hours you’ll be fasting, and which 8 hours you’ll be eating normally. Most people though choose sleeping hours to cover their 16 hour fasting period and eat normally between 11am-7pm. This is probably the best plan for intense athletes. It is my preference.
Warrior mode: (20 hours of fasting window/4 hours of eating).
The warrior style mode calls for fasting for 20 consecutive hours and eating only 4, usually at dinnertime. So all your day calories you will need for the day, will be taken during that 3-5 dinnertime period. This is one of the most aggressive IF methods, many of those that tried this reported saving huge amounts of valuable time.
Supplements that help
Ignite is a high stim fat burner. It will curb appetite during times of fasting.
Burn is a tool to accelerate the bodies fat burning mechanisms and feel less hungry and a fasted state. This is a moderate stim product.
L-Carnitine is a component of the fat burning cycle in your body that can provide fuel during times of fasting. This is a low stim product.
Aminos are a protein component to feed your muscles during missed emal times to prevent muscle loss.