Intermittent Fasting 101: An Introduction

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Who here has heard the term intermittent fasting?  Who here practices intermittent fasting already?  Who here that’s already practicing I.F. (intermittent fasting) is 100% confident they are actually doing it the right way?

Intermittent fasting is just that, intermittent.  It’s basically rotating back and forth between periods of eating and fasting.  Although it used to be just a buzz word a couple years back, now you can’t even go a day without seeing a Facebook post about this topic, or an Instagram ad for the next fasting guru’s program. Google Trends indicates that the search volume for the phrase ‘intermittent fasting’ has increased 100x (10,000%) in the last 10 years. [1]

If performed consistently and correctly, intermittent fasting can be an amazing tool to support maintaining optimal long-term health.  Lose weight, alleviate the symptoms of certain chronic diseases, increase your focus and confidence, and decrease stress..  In other words, by addressing the physical, intermittent fasting also positively affects the mental.

Intermittent fasting doesn’t have one single “order of operations”, rather, there are many variants mostly hinging on length of time the fasting is performed.  For example, some people choose to fast between dinner and “break-fast” (no pun intended) the next day.  Others choose to skip dinner altogether.  Still others, myself included, confine the eating window to the evening (in my case the hours of 5pm-9pm constitute my eating window), and other than that consume no calories.  The eating window you choose will have a lot to do with your lifestyle, your schedule, your willpower and of course your end goals.

    This is essentially what happens when we eat food [1]:

However, the fat produced as a result of eating is not completely stored in the liver, rather, additional fat is stored in various areas of the body.  When we fast, however, the opposite effect is triggered [1]:

The sugar we have stored is easiest for the body to access, and therefore it gets burned first.  After about a day or so, though, the stored sugar is completely depleted and the body begins to burn excess fat for energy.  This reversal effect during fasting also allows for us to maintain a certain body weight when we consistently fast, as we are able to more efficiently cycle through the stored sugar and some of the fat that would normally just be compounding if we were constantly eating.  Warning – the first couple times you intermittent fast, water fast or do any type of elimination diet, it will be a bit challenging.  For example, when you cut sugar and dairy, and while you are eliminating the byproducts you already have stored in your fat cells, you can get something called the “keto flu” (I’ve experienced this personally).  It’s not a real flu in the sense of a virus, but due to the heavy detox that the body isn’t used to, it causes symptoms of a flu.  My own experience lasted about 2 weeks.  I had no energy to the point of not even wanting to leave the bed, I was hungry all the time and I had massive headaches.  Don’t let this deter you though.  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!  Once you get over the initial detox period this will not happen again even if you take a break from intermittent fasting, as I have done on occasion.  So, push through the pain!  Combine intermittent fasting with additional calorie restriction (eating less) during the times you do eat and the weight loss benefits will compound even faster, although you should always make sure you are getting the minimum required vitamin/mineral doses each day from your food or from supplements.

The  list below shows of some of the most common benefits experienced through I.F. [1]:

  • Weight loss / fat loss
  • Increased metabolism
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Reversal of type 2 diabetes
  • Improved mental clarity
  • Increased energy
  • Short term increase in growth hormone (GH) production
  • Improved blood cholesterol
  • Longer life
  • Cellular cleaning is enhanced (autophagy)
  • Inflammation is reduced

Before you jump in and try this, though, please remember that not all people should be doing this, and you need to find out what works for you personally.  For example, if you already have diabetes, liver/kidney disease, IBS/Crohn’s, or are routinely taking prescription drugs, it would be advisable for you to consult your physician before changing your dietary regimen.  There are also ways you can ease into this so that your body isn’t so shocked when you do begin the routine.  For example, start by cutting out dairy and refined sugar from your diet for a month.  Focus on getting 70% of your calories from vegetables, and the other 30% from meat/fish, starchy foods like sweet potatoes, and also drinking 2L of water/day, and not only will you find that you will begin to lose weight immediately, even before beginning I.F., but also your body will be closer to a state of ketosis consistently so that when you do fast, you feel fewer negative “shock to the body” side effects like headaches, intense hunger, etc.  Once you have done this elimination diet for a month, and practiced I.F. for 1 month thereafter, it will be a piece of cake to continue and you will most likely never go back to a normal “always on” eating routine again.  Coming from someone who has been practicing I.F. and also long term water fasts for the better part of the past decade, I can tell you this one practice alone is literally life-changing.

So, good luck!  Until next time, biohackers…

– Leon Kurita-Goudlock

Sources 
[1] : https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting

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