If you are wanting to get off the weight loss/weight gain roller coaster, intermittent fasting just may be your ticket. And it is simple, doable, inexpensive, healthy, time-saving, and even age-old.
Struggling with diabetes or pre-diabetes? Intermittent fasting may be the solution you are looking for.
Plagued by an autoimmune disease? Give intermittent fasting a try.
Americans, as a whole, and many others world wide, eat too much and eat too often. Intermittent fasting can fix both maladies.
Have you ever wondered where did the idea of BREAKFAST, LUNCH, & DINNER and maybe at least 2-3 more snacks even come from? Maybe there is a healthier way to eat.
I believe in root cause healing and have found that intermittent fasting is a powerful tool for promoting weight loss and improving health in multiple ways.
What is Intermittent Fasting
Every one knows that fasting is refraining from eating all or most food, and usually just consuming non-caloric beverages like water, tea, and black coffee, although some fasts omit even water for a short time. I definitely do not recommend the latter. And then there are strict water fasts where you drink water only, juice fasts, partial fasts, and especially at Lent just about any fast version you can think of.
However, intermittent fasting (IF), although it has its various versions, which I will go into detail more below, is a form of alternate eating and not eating for shorter periods of time. In addition, there tends to be a pattern with it, done every day, every other day, twice a week, three times a week, or even during certain months each year.
Why Intermittent Fasting is Beneficial
Intermittent fasting can be very healing and healthful for many compelling reasons.
- Intermittent fasting activates autophagy—A word you want to know if you have not already heard of it. Originating from the Greek, literally it means “self eat”. Old and damaged cells and cell parts are destroyed and removed, or recycled. Trash handling at a cellular level. Autophagy normally happens anyway, especially at night when you sleep, but fasting boosts this activity.
- Intermittent fasting boosts weight loss.
Jason Fung MD, a nephrologist that specializes in diabetes and obesity and is the author of The Obesity Code, asserts that all diets could work short term, but afterwards the body will struggle (and win) to get back to the higher set point weight. It does this mostly by slowing the metabolism down and influencing hunger and satiety with powerful hormones exerting force on your willpower and good intentions. Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase the metabolism, whereas a low calorie diet decreases it.
It also boosts weight loss because without sugar to burn the body dips into its fat stores for energy.
- Intermittent fasting lowers insulin resistance, insulin levels, and blood sugar levels.
Fung contends that obesity is driven by insulin resistance, and that intermittent fasting can fix this. He says that all eating raises insulin levels and all fasting decreases it. Therefore, intermittent fasting is important for healing from diabetes.
In addition, Dr. Daniel Pompa says that studies show IF can cause regeneration of pancreatic cells, which would help with insulin problems.
- Intermittent fasting removes visceral fat thereby promoting healing from metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Fung also points out that diets don’t work in the long run because of their constancy, whereas intermittent fasting removes visceral fat (which causes metabolic syndrome) better and significantly lowers both insulin resistance and insulin levels, and allows for feasting at times too!
- Intermittent fasting allows for feasting times! Guilt free!!!
- Intermittent fasting has anti-cancer effects.
Per Dorothy D. Sears, PhD, high glucose and high insulin levels are great environments for tumor growth. Therefore IF can be effective for cancer prevention and healing because IF improves glucose regulation. Autophagy is also protective against cancer.
- Intermittent fasting produces ketones.
Ketones are the preferred fuel over glucose for the brain. Therefore, improved brain function.
- Intermittent fasting allows for energy shifts.
Thus the time and energy for the body to digest food can be diverted to repair, detoxification, and waste removal, thereby improving healing and cellular cleansing.
- Intermittent fasting is gut healing.
It not only starves out the bad bacteria, but also gives the gut lining time to heal. Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is at the root of so many illnesses.
- Intermittent fasting improves food allergies.
And may suppress an overactive immune system per Dr. Pompa.
In addition to all of the above, intermittent fasting reduces inflammation, optimizes hormone regulation, enhances mood, is anti-aging, and improves proper gene expression.
Pretty doggone compelling stuff. So…
How to do Intermittent Fasting
First choose one of the methods in the next section.
Then basically, you abstain from food, and just drink one or more of the below depending on your preferences:
Water (try adding lemon, lime, or cucumber slices, mint, basil or other herbs)
Tea’s — herbal or green or black (try adding a cinnamon stick)
Coffee – Black (try adding butter, coconut oil, MCT oil or Brain Octane Oil)
Know and remember that hunger comes in waves so the trick is to ride it out. Distract yourself. Get busy, drink something, exercise. As fitness expert Jade Teta says, “Surf the urge”!
If this sounds too daunting, you can ease into it. If you are used to snacking before bed, and then eat the minute you wake up in the morning you may be only going 7-8 hours without eating. So just start stretching that out by stopping eating earlier in the evening and then trying to eat later in the morning until you are able to go at least 12 hours, preferably 16 hours between dinner and breakfast or lunch the next day.
Fasting, as with all things, gets easier with practice. Your body will adjust to it. It may seem like a scary idea at first, but is actually very healthy.
Different Types of Intermittent Fasting
Delayed Eating or Shortened Window of Eating: Having the time between dinner one evening and eating the next day, whether it be breakfast or lunch, be 12-16 hours long. This is my favorite way to IF. It is pretty easy and usually does not feel like a hardship.
According to Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet in their book Perfect Health Diet, autophagy tends to be the lowest right after breakfast (or lunch if that is the first meal) and highest at the end of overnight fasting. They are big proponents of fasts between 16-24 hours, with 16 hours being optimal. They contend that such fasts “are long enough to induce the highest rates of autophagy” and maximize healthy effects to the immune system. They state that long fasts tend to make certain infections worse.
Chris Kresser agrees with the Jaminets, recommending in Your Personal Paleo Diet restricting eating food to an eight-hour window, thereby fasting for 16 hours a day. He says he does this about 4 times a week and eats normally the rest of the time.
Because I am pretty much a wimp, and because I like to stick to things that are SIMPLE, EASY, INEXPENSIVE, FUN, and EFFECTIVE I prefer shorter intermittent fasting as outlined above.
But here are some other ways:
Fasted Mornings: Similar to Delayed Eating, Mark Sisson explains in his book The Keto Reset Diet that is this is where you do not eat your first meal of the day until WHEN—When Hunger Ensues Naturally. I recommend eating intuitively like this, and so I must say this I often follow this plan too. It is even less uncomfortable than the one above. One difficulty with this method though is that when hunger ensues you may not be in a place where you can just suddenly eat.
1-Day Water Fast: Pretty self-explanatory. For 24 hours all you consume is water, and some people allow tea and black coffee.
2 or 3 Day Fast: Same as above, just longer.
5:2 Diet (aka The Fast Diet) advised by Dr. Michael Mosley: Five days of the week you eat like you normally would, then on 2 non-consecutive days you consume 500-600 calories.
24-hour and a 36-hour fast: Both protocols are ones that Dr. Fung has his patients follow 2-3 times a week, which he claims produces greater results in weight loss, lower insulin levels, and lower blood sugars than delayed eating, although he admits that some people prefer shorter, daily 16-hour fasts.
Bone broth fasts 2 days a week on non-consecutive days: Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, a naturopathic physician and weight loss expert, in her book Bone Broth Diet, maintains that this version of intermittent fasting diminishes wrinkles, promotes weight loss, heals the gut, and reduces inflammation. Basically, all one is allowed is water, tea, coffee, and up to 6 cups of bone broth on the 2 fasting days. I tried this a while back. Read more about it here.
Seasonal intermittent fasting: One example is Dr. Steven Gundry, renowned cardiothoracic surgeon and author ofThe Plant Paradox eats only during a two-hour time frame daily from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the months of January to May each year for the last 10 years.
Intermittent Fasting and Protein Cycling (IFPC) is a concept espoused by Glow 15 author Naomi Whittel. Adding another dimension to intermittent fasting, protein cycling is where protein is limited on 3 days a week to 5% of the daily calories or less that 25 grams, claiming that PC helps lower insulin levels even more, is anti-aging and enhances autophagy.
Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting: Quite the character, Dave Asprey is a famous biohacker and the author of The Bulletproof Diet. He claims that he lost more fat, had more energy, and built more muscle when he added fat in the form of grass-fed butter and MCT Oil* or Brain Octane Oil* to his coffee (which he named Bulletproof Coffee) while intermittent fasting. He contends that adding Brain Octane oil helps one get into ketosis faster, which provides greater stamina, energy, focus, and fat loss. His version of IF is 18 hours of fasting, although he does advise to play around with the 15-18 hour window to see what works best for each individual.
*MCT Oil is extracted from coconut oil, containing capric and caprylic acid triglycerides. It lacks lauric acid that coconut oil has.
*Brain Octane Oil is pure caprylic acid, and according to Aspry, “converts to ketones within minutes”.
Both are odorless, tasteless, and great at fueling the brain and suppressing hunger, the latter doing all of that the best. Incidentally, I always go to work with either coconut oil, MCT Oil, or Brain Octane Oil in my hot tea for the health benefits they provide.
Another point Asprey advises on is that for certain people like women it might be better to add protein with the Bulletproof coffee for the first two months to help them reset leptin (the satiety hormone) sensitivity. He suggests this can be done by adding grass-fed collagen protein to the coffee.
My guess is that the variations of intermittent fasting could go on and on. But the above is a smattering of the most common ones just to give you an idea, and maybe help you to choose one to try.
When to Avoid Intermittent Fasting
As with everything, wisdom and common sense need to be used with any kind of fasting.
Before attempting intermittent fasting, consult with your doctor if you are on diabetic or blood pressure medications. Your medications may need to be adjusted.
If you are taking medications for diabetes you must frequently monitor your blood sugar levels to make sure you don’t become hypoglycemic. As I hope you know and have already been taught, if your blood sugars drop too low this is a life-threatening medical emergency. However, for those not on diabetic medications, this shouldn’t be a concern.
If you try intermittent fasting and feel dizzy, extreme fatigue, or have any alarming symptoms please discontinue (eat something) and contact your physician. If your symptoms are more minor, try drinking water and salt or electrolytes to see if they quickly resolve.
In addition, I do not, for the most part, recommend IF for pregnant women, children, and those with eating disorders.
I like how Fung put’s it regarding fasting: “This is the ancient secret. This is the cycle of life. Fasting follows feasting. Feasting follows fasting.” Indeed, I am convinced that this is how life was meant to be.
Abel James, author of The Wild Diet, gives the tongue-in-cheek warning to watch out because “fasting might make you super-human”, explaining that he has seen a fascinating correlation with intermittent fasting. He says you might just find that the entire trajectory of your life changes due to the dramatic changes, extra energy, increased health and confidence you gain from it.
Consider giving intermittent fasting a try and if you do, let me know how it goes.
Also, if you think you would like to work with me as your health coach to make some incredible, life altering changes contact me HERE
for a free 20 minute consultation to see if we are a good fit.
See my article for more info: Bone Broth Diet Review
and my Bone Broth Recipe
and Chicken Feet for more info about bone broth
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and this post is not meant to take the place of advise given to you by your own health provider. Please get medical attention if you have any concerns or any alarming symptoms. This post expresses the authors opinion.
Asprey, Dave. (2014). The Bulletproof Diet. USA: Rodale Inc.
Fung, J. (2016). The Obesity Code. Vancouver, Canada: Greystone Books Ltd.
Gundry, S. (2017). The Plant Paradox. New York, NY: Harper Wave.
Jaminet, P. & Jamiet, S. (2012). Perfect Health Diet. New York, NY: Scribner.
Kresser, C. (2013). Your Personal Paleo Code. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company
Mercola, J. (2017). Fat for Fuel. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.
Pompa, D. (2018). The Seven Amazing Benefits of Fasting. Retrieved on 8/31/18 from https://drpompa.com/cellular-health/seven-amazing-benefits-fasting-improving-health/
Sisson, M. (2017). The Keto Reset Diet. New York: Harmony Books.
Watson, J. (2018). Hungry for Health: Fasting’s Medical Benefits. Medscape. Retrieved on 8/31/18 from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/898953_2Whittel, N. (2018). Glow15. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co.