Hey Folks! Welcome to episode number 7 of the higher healths podcast. What is up!? Spring just finally arrived here in Canada, and it's that time again where everyone realizes that they are too fat for summer to start! Today we discuss Intermittent Fasting, or I.F as it is commonly abbreviated to. While the diet has been around for a long time already, it is reaching more and more ears from regular everyday exercisers, dieters, and athletes looking to enhance performance. Everyone that seems to be in their 30's to 50's seems to be taking a crack at this diet, so let's check this diet out and find out exactly what everyone is talking about, and why it might be something you may consider for yourself.
Let's start with what intermittent fasting is. It is a term used just to define fasting slightly longer than the time you are forced to fast during sleep. Basically, Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting, that is extremely popular in health and fitness trends right now, with evidence to back it all up.
There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Most people already "fast" every day, while they sleep. You guys and gals sleepwalking up to the fridge at 3 am are the exception. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer.
You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm.
Then you're technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.
Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time, ultimately, fasting is pretty straightforward and simple. I'm sure you would find it much more comfortable than the bulky meal prep of 4-6 meals ready to go every day. It's almost like a massive weight is lifted off when you initially try it when used to prepping and eating 4-6 meals per day.
No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages with some plans. Others, however, the strict forms would be only water, because, your body does get put to work even when digesting coffee or tea, in the end, you are digesting it.
Some forms of intermittent fasting allow small amounts of low-calorie foods during the fasting period. Cheaters! Like get a grip and just go all in already.
Taking supplements is generally allowed while fasting, as long as there are no calories in them. It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. Meaning, you will typically skip either breakfast or supper to go a more extended period without fueling the body. So, we're just changing up the timing of our eating and shortening that window of time in which we eat.
One of the biggest reasons intermittent fasting has started to catch attention is because of the results achieved for those looking to lose weight, but also for those looking to gain weight. Or, maybe it's because of Hugh Jackman that played the Wolverine in X-men using intermittent fasting that it got its big spotlight breakthrough. Just messing, I don't think his following is quite that big, or maybe it is, not an x-men expert. While one diet or as I would instead say of I.F, a tool, can allow you to both lose weight and gain quality weight might sound a bit strange, there are a few reasons for that, which we'll discuss today. Other reasons to consider using a tool such as intermittent fasting would be to lower body fat percentage, lower cardiovascular disease risk, decrease inflammation, improve the body's healing capacity, decrease neuroinflammation for diseases such as Alzheimer's or mood disorders like depression. Intermittent fasting also helps the body use fat more readily as a source of fuel, alongside increasing insulin sensitivity and increasing growth hormone secretion, thus giving your body the right environment to burn fat and sustain muscle mass. Probably the most popular compliment people mention due to I.F is a clear brain, brain fog dissipates, and you feel a mental clarity start to take over. It's quite a sensation for those that have experienced going from a sugar-fueled brain that is temperamental and hangry at the slightest inconvenience, to one that adapts and allows proper clean thought processes to occur once again.
Doesn't I.F just sound like a damn miracle!?
Well, listen on and let's find out!
Intermittent fasting can be grouped into two different categories. The first one being whole day fasting, and the second being time-restricted feeding.
The first, whole day fasting. There are a few different approaches that can be taken when using this method. Whole day fasting can be used once a month, once a week, or the most aggressive would be the alternate day fasting where you have 24 hours in between fasts.
Time-restricted feeding involves eating over an 8 hour period, so 16 hours you fast and would then fast each day with the same repeating schedule. Time-restricted is a much more popular form of IF in particular, it works for more people, including myself.
Let's talk about weight loss, and how I.F helps you to achieve a goal you are shooting for. Increased insulin resistance, one way I like to describe insulin is that it is a master hormone for weight gain. Pre-diabetics and diabetics have low insulin resistance as opposed to someone on the other end of the scale that has high insulin sensitivity, meaning they only need a small amount of insulin to keep blood glucose levels in a normal range. When fasting, insulin resistance is increased, allowing the glucose to be used by the muscles for energy and little to no glycogen then gets stored as fat. Also, growth hormone secretion increases during a fasted state, which is why you secrete the majority of it when you sleep, so by increasing this fasted state you not only get the benefits of increased insulin resistance to not store fat, you also have increased growth hormone to build lean muscle mass.
So this is why you can use intermittent fasting as an incredible weight loss tool, as well as a fantastic weight gain tool by increasing your body's ability to gain muscle mass. Also, just to specify weight loss, we really should think of it from a different perspective. I feel like when we say weight loss we denigrate fat loss, because ultimately what intermittent fasting is really great at is fat loss, and as a result for many that equates to weight loss.
One caveat with the weight gain, however, doing regular I.F can make this extremely difficult when you are trying to gain strength. Insulin is also tied to testosterone. So for those of you that have strength gain goals, I.F, is of course not a one size fits all tool, and you may struggle with it, it is much more common to find people leaning out, or achieving weight loss goals as opposed to strength or weight gain goals.
That being said, try it out, how your body reacts towards fasting can be very different from the results of another person, and data has shown that overall, intermittent fasting provides a positive shift in metabolism to preserve muscle. Keep in mind that when you do a diet change, and in this case intermittent fasting you may go through a 3 week period of not having the same energy levels, so taking on a task of strength training is going to take a hit. However, tough it out, reach that point and there are a lot of positives that can come your way regarding better hormone function, so increased ability to secrete quality testosterone and therefore provide the body with a better environment for strength gain.
But, what really blows me away about intermittent fasting, and what I love is the effects it has on our body's ability to heal, to decrease inflammation, and neuroinflammation. The fact that introducing a regular fasting period for your body will reduce cholesterol to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, but also decrease inflammation all over your body including your brain to lower incidences of Alzheimers and depression is powerful.
A study performed at Harvard uncovers fastings ability to increase your lifespan. The research shows that fasting works miracles on mitochondria, the power plants inside of our cells that keep us youthful. What it has proven to do is increase the plasticity of our cells, causing us to slow the ageing process. Fasting allows the mitochondria to achieve a balance or homeostasis, so essentially, the better environment we can create through diet for our mitochondria, the power plants for each of our cells, the longer we can live.
Another huge plus is you can relax a bit more on meal prep; you don't have to focus on having 4-6 meals prepared every day. You don't have to worry about waking up extra early to ensure you have breakfast before you run off to work. Instead, you can skip breakfast, and just start eating later on after your 16 hours of fasting is over. For example, you stop eating at 8 pm the night before, so your first meal can be at 12 pm. Or perhaps you make it later and start your 16 hours fast at 10 pm, then your first meal the next day is at 2 pm. There is a lot of flexibility here, and I encourage you to discover what times work best for you. The most common is probably the 16 hours fast where your first meal is set for 12 pm, and your last meal is set for 8 pm because it is one of the easiest to do and immediately you are no longer worrying about making breakfast. You can have your coffee and get your day started.
Make sure that if you are going to try intermittent fasting that you approach it wisely. Don't just jump in and expect everything to go correctly, don't expect your body to react perfectly, and don't expect to have energy in the same way as every other day you have had before. If you are used to having breakfast and have had it your whole life as soon as you wake up your body is going to be hungry, and probably demanding breakfast. Allow time for your body to adapt, after 2-3 weeks of I.F you should start to enjoy how you feel if it's right for you. Side note with this as well, cut out carbohydrates a bit, having carbs might increase your hunger, so by cutting them out you can calm any sugar crashes and maintain satiety much easier, again, remember, no one likes anyone that is hangry, and in most cases, we dislike ourselves the most were a complete a-hole.
Here are most of the options created right now for you to explore when looking at intermittent fasting. As mentioned before the 16/8 method. The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men and 14-15 hours for women. On each day, you restrict your eating to an 8-10 hour “eating window” where you can fit in 2-3 or more meals.
Next is the 5/2 diet. The 5:2 diet, or the Fast diet, involves eating 500-600 calories for two days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days. You can actually combine this with a 16/8 method if you are ready for it as well. Just don't jump the gun on combining though, make sure you have a solid grasp of one, and your body before taking that on.
Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week. This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for a few years.
By fasting from dinner one day, to dinner the next, this amounts to a 24-hour fast. You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch. The end result is the same.
Water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food. The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for many people. So, again, making sure to take things in stride, and ultimately because this one is a bit of a jump for most folks, starting out with a 16/8 method would probably work much better before moving onto the eat-stop-eat intermittent fast.
Next up is the alternate day fasting. Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories. This one can be pretty uncomfortable for folks, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it for beginners. Going to bed hungry a few times a week is the end result, so, you'll need a pretty solid mental game with a fast such as this. I myself have tried it, and can see how it could fit some populations, however, it just was not my cup of tea.
Next is the warrior diet by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler. This diet
involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, then eating one massive meal at night.
Basically, you "fast" all day and "feast" at night within a 4 hour eating window. This diet also emphasizes food choices that are quite similar to a paleo diet - whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature. This particular method of intermittent fasting is one of the most popular, and just like the 16/8 quite easy to adapt to.
But Nigel, I've heard my personal trainer talk smack about IF, I've heard that it causes stress, weight gain, eating disorders, and in some cases ugly face syndrome. Okay, maybe not the ugly face syndrome but the other concerns sure. Back on track! Yes, these are common concerns. Which is why it's important to approach IF the proper way. I recognize that some people have a deep relationship, in fact, I think we all do, however, for some of us that relationship isn't so good. This is also why when discussing IF we so commonly are referring to people interested in losing weight, it attracts many many people looking to lose weight. You might very well be one of those individuals. In such case, it's important that you face any eating problems you have and enter IF with extreme caution, and perhaps if you know that relationship is too shaky then just put it off to the side and stick with a diet that allows balance in your life. As for IF with many, it is balanced. If you notice yourself finding it that hard to use a tool such as IF then perhaps that's a good sign it's not right for you at the moment, and that's okay. We get into trouble when we start thinking diets are a one size fits all tool. So stay away from that thought process. Another key take away with folks that are attracted to IF, and this includes personal trainers, nutritionists, and dieticians, is that they know it mainly for its ability to be useful or ineffective for weight loss. I've yet to have a good conversation with these professions about improved mitochondrial function or steroid hormone balance or lowering inflammation. They focus only on the super hot topic of weight loss, and that's all they truly know of IF, so then, of course, they attach that quickly to eating disorders or an obsession with food. Which is just unfortunate, because, if you just focus on the risks then you don't get any of the rewards. So, fear not of a fantastic tool such as intermittent fasting. If you have a weak relationship with food, any experiences with eating disorders then approach with caution and back away if it seems too risky.
Now, who intermittent fasting is not right for because of course it won't be right for everyone. It should always be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding and should be avoided in times of increased stress to prevent taxing out your adrenal glands which may lead to further issues with your health. If you want to explore a tool such as intermittent fasting, and I highly recommend that you do for health benefits, don't be disappointed if, after a 30 day period of trying it out, it still doesn't feel like the right tool to use. Listen to your body, this is not a one size fits all diet tool, so don't force it. However, I know that for the majority of listeners it might be something that you make long-term. I give it two thumbs all the way up, so if you have not tried intermittent fasting yet, don't have any eating disorders, promise not to binge on junk food during your feast times, then give it a go and make sure to let me know how you feel.
That's all for today folks; I hope you have enjoyed today's information, be sure to like, share, and comment the show, head to higherhealths.com for more details and I appreciate any feedback, so make sure to rate the show and make sure to share with all your bestest pals! Take care; we'll talk to you again very soon!