Yeah! It’s guest blogger time! My guest blogger for this week is a good friend of mine JC Warren. Since all my guest bloggers have nicknames, he will from here forward be known as “Healthy Harley”. Healthy Harley is one of the smartest humans I have met. Like, scary smart. I have known Harley for many years. Other than driving a beautiful Harley, his knowledge and ability to think outside the box regarding nutrition and health are what makes him super-cool! He is here today to tell us a little about “Intermittent Fasting” a subject about which I am just starting to learn. I have wondered if “intermittent fasting” was more a fad than a concept steeped in science. As usual, like when I read anything from Harley, I got schooled. I did not know there were so many options for IF and several that did not feel extreme!
I hope that you enjoy! Take it away.
Thank you, Mark Sisson, for this photo.
Will You Live Longer If You Eat Less?
You’ve probably heard about calorie restriction (CR) as a way to lose weight and increase longevity. There are studies involving mice indicating that drastic reduction in food intake over extended periods reduces body weight and prolongs life, sometimes significantly, but typically resulted in depression and irritability. Studies involving primates add hostility and violent behavior to that list of detriments. One scary effect of CR is the fact that some of that weight loss apparently comes in the form of reduced bone density. Doesn’t sound like a fun way to live, does it?
What if there was a way to obtain the benefits of calorie restriction without the detriments and enjoy the same amounts of healthy foods that you’re currently eating? (You are eating healthy foods, aren’t you?) What if eating this way significantly improved your health? Fortunately, there is.
Welcome to intermittent fasting (IF)!
Intermittent Fasting is not a diet it’s a lifestyle and is simply the concept of reducing calories entirely or in part on a periodic basis. This concept is totally at odds with the typical dietician dogma of always eating breakfast and small meals every couple of hours throughout the day. Tony the Tiger will not be happy to learn that you’re considering IF.
The Journal of Cell Metabolism recently published research that concluded that IF (they call it time-restricted feeding) can prevent and even reverse obesity as well as reduces the incidence and severity of related metabolic diseases.
Intermittent Fasting has been shown to:
- Help shift your body from burning sugar/carbs to burning fat as its primary fuel
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce LDL cholesterol levels
- Help eliminate sugar cravings
- Reduce blood pressure
- Promote human growth hormone (HGH) production
- Normalize ghrelin, which is your “hunger hormone.”
- Protect against cancer and even reduce the effects of chemotherapy. There are several options when choosing an IF protocol, and some more common ones are outlined below. There are pros and cons to each, and the best plan is the one you with which you will comply. You really should try different protocols to find the one that works the best for you. Remember, IF is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle, just like Paleo/Primal.Before you begin:
Be aware it is best to attempt Intermittent Fasting when you are already eating a healthy diet and are fat adapted.
- Your diet should be filled with lots of vegetables (preferably organic), healthy protein and healthy fats such as butter, eggs, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado
- Your diet should not include processed foods, sugars, and refined grains
- Calories consumed on fast days, < 600 for men and < 500 for women
- Start slowly and let your body adjust to the change in schedule
- Remember to stay hydrated. Thirst sometimes poses as hunger
- ALWAYS listen to your body and review your energy levels
IF Protocol Options
5:2 – Dr. Michael Mosley promotes this plan in his book, The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting. He poses you eat normally five days a week and fast on two non-consecutive days on which you reduce calorie-intake to about one-fourth of your normal intake. It apparently doesn’t matter which days you choose as fasting days.
Alternate Day – Just like it sounds, this protocol is one day of eating and one day of fasting. Rinse, repeat. This type of IF requires that you go to bed hungry every other day. That can be pretty taxing, but if you can tough it out it supposedly gets easier. Calories should be restricted to about 500 on fast days, and best results are obtained when they are all consumed in a single meal instead of spread throughout the day.
One Day a Week – Pick a day, any day, and don’t eat. For example, eat a healthy meal on Friday evening and eat again on Saturday evening. This schedule allows you to fast 24 hours while only being conscious of the fact for 16 (8 hours sleeping). This approach is the one I started with, eventually extending a fast for 37 hours as a test. I found it pretty easy stick to and only had trouble remembering to drink water.
Time Window – This protocol is the most natural for me to maintain. Its structure involves restricting eating to a 6 – 8-hour block of time each day. For example 12:00 – 8:00 PM. You’ll be fasting for 16 hours each day, 8 of which you’ll be (hopefully) sleeping. You just skip breakfast and then eat a healthy lunch and dinner.
Give IF a try and let us know how you do in the comments section below.
Harley, of course, is much better at referencing links his posts than I am.
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JC Warren is a reluctant IT professional, has experienced first-hand the healing benefits of food and was certified as a Health Coach by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York.