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Intermittent Fasting

I’ve been reviewing some exciting research on “intermittent fasting” lately and the impact it can have on fat loss and overall health.

It could be the breakthrough that many people are looking for who have been stuck in a weight loss plateau.

The Primal Blueprint Diet method of eating several small meals a day from lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and omega-3 oils is a great starting point…but it’s not necessarily the fastest way to burn body fat.

I’ve been intrigued with why this strategy works extremely well for some people while others need a little boost to start the fat burning process.

I know that at the end of the day fat loss is 100% predicated by the hormonal systems in your body so it has got to be more than just calories and nutrient ratios.

Fat Loss Is Hormonal But Not Everyone Responds Exactly The Same…

One thing for certain I know to be true…people simply have different hormonal responses to changes in their diet due to genetics and unique bioindividuality.

For example: removing sugar, processed foods, grains, and other starches will lower everybody’s insulin response, just faster for some than others.

Is it fair? No, but we weren’t guaranteed anything in life to be fair. The bottom line is that people just have different metabolic rates and hormonal responses.

The changes in your diet that work to create the optimal hormonal conditions for fat loss will work for everyone, just at different rates. In looking at what really makes people gain or lose weight I’ve found most of the real answers can be found in evolutionary biology.

The human body is designed to store fat under certain conditions and release it in others.

Take A Look Back To How Our Ancestors Ate For The Real Clues…

The concept of “intermittent fasting” was so intriguing to me because it mimics how our ancestors (the “hunter-gatherers”) ate before modern food processing and agricultural techniques.

The idea is two fold: what did our hunter-gather ancestors eat and how did they eat? The first question is important because it addresses the differences in their diet compared to our modern diet that has created an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed what God provided for them on the ground, in the water, and from the land. They ate lean proteins (grass fed animals, not grain-feed), along with fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, roots, fish, etc.

And all this food was nutrient dense, full of vitamins and minerals. It was also free from hormones, chemicals, pesticides and other negative partitioning agents.

There was NO sugar, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, potato chips, cookies…shall I go on? There was also little grain in their diet. Remember, they “gathered” their food and weren’t harvesting and storing it. This brings us to part two on how they ate.

Before Drive-Throughs, Convenience Stores, And Vending Machines…

Because they were “hunter-gatherers” some days they’d have plenty of food, other days not so much. The intermittency of their diets seems to represent life and natural processes far better than any type of steady state model (like eating 4-5 small meals every day).

The times when they went without food allowed their body to lower insulin secretion and ramp up fat oxidation. They remained remarkably lean and muscular because their bodies preserved muscle through the process of ketosis.

The difference being they weren’t trying to go “no-carb” or eat exclusively fats and protein like on an Atkins Diet. No, they ate whatever they found, caught, or killed.

The All Natural “Low-Carb” Way Of Eating….

The big secret in all of this I believe is that the food we’re designed to eat is found close to the ground and in the water. We are designed to eat the Primal Blueprint Diet that uur ancestors ate.

They weren’t counting calories, measuring Zone blocks, counting Weight Watcher points, or anything silly ike that.

They ate what food was available, when it was available, and only as much as they needed to feel full.

Today’s diet is simply too HIGH in carbohydrates along with addictive foods strategically designed with fats and sugars being combined together. The bottom line is we’re being pushed into “insulin overload” due to the foods we’re consuming.

Reducing insulin secretion by naturally reducing carbohyrdates in your diet is an essential component to fat loss success.

Eat Less, Live Longer?

Researchers have long understood the connection between “calorie restriction with adequate nutrition” (we’ll call it CRAN for short) and the effect on total lifespan and overall health. Several studies have been done with primates on (CRAN) diets where they were fed about 60% of what they’d normally eat.

The results have been overwhelmingly consistent with increased lifespan, ability to learn throughout life, significantly reduced bodyweight, improved immune function, and decreased insulin levels.

The researchers concluded the same thing would be true for humans, but there’s just one problem. A (CRAN) diet would pretty much guarantee that one would be skinny and weak. Count me out on signing up for this!

Our Hunter Gatherer Ancestors Weren’t Weak And Skinny…
They Were Lean And Muscular!

But our hunter gatherer ancestors didn’t have calorie restriction all the time and they certainly weren’t weak and skinny. Being weak and skinny in those times meant an increased likelihood of death (remember survival of the fittest).

It was more like feast-fast, feast-fast. This combination allowed them to stay lean but at the same time muscular and strong because every time they feasted after a fast they experienced a surge in the growth hormones and androgens. It’s this spike in hormones that’s the real secret I believe behind “intermittent fasting.”

Intermittent Fasting As A Fat Loss And Wellness Strategy?

Can you mimic the “intermittent fasting” that are ancestors went through to produce the same health and fat loss benefits today? I believe you can and I’m going to test the concept on myself to see how my body responds.

I believe that using one’s own experiences to evaluate the efficacy of any theory is always the best approach. It’s a starting point and surely won’t be the final word on the topic but at least you’ll have an idea from what I’ve found.

Here’s how “intermittent fasting” works. The first rule is there are no rules. Remember it’s about intermittency not consistency. You’re trying to trick your body into not knowing when food will be available and condition it to pull from fat stores in times of restriction. This doesn’t happen with a set plan. Each person will be slightly different.

Do Something Different For A Change- Keep Your Body Guessing…

The ground rules are simple. You eat lean proteins, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, fruits, vegetables, and foods that have NOT been processed or refined along with any grains. Don’t overcomplicate this…if it has a label on it don’t eat it! If God made it, eat it…if He didn’t it leave it alone.

This is not as complicated as you think and the great part is there’s no counting, measuring, food combining, or other tedious tasks. You eat from these choices when you’re hungry and as much as you want to make you satisfied. If you think this is a bland, boring diet you’re wrong. There is rich flavor in these foods but the processed, refined foods you’ve been eating more than likely changed your taste buds.

It’s amazing how after eating “natural” foods for just a couple weeks you’ll start tasting things differently. Your body will actually crave foods with color when before you’d only crave foods with sugar and fat. This is whole topic on itself but trust me on this one.

Why Traditional Diets Will NEVER Work…

Traditional diets don’t work because they work off of you restricting the foods you’re triggered to desire (sugary foods, salty foods, foods high in fat, etc). This can never work unless you CHANGE the trigger. That means you have to replace those foods with other natural foods that make you feel good (and provide an enjoyable experience) when you eat them. This is a huge secret that I hope you pick up on.

Don’t fight the junk foods your brain has been conditioned to crave and desire, you’ll lose every time. Instead, replace them with natural foods that provide a pleasurable taste and experience. Switch the trigger my friend.

Does this happen overnight? Of course not, but give your body a chance and believe me everything will fall into place. It all starts with a simple commitment to pull anything processed or refined out of your diet.

Like I mentioned, there is no set standard on the length, duration, or frequency of your fast. For my test week I’ve decided to use a “day-on, day-off” approach to intermittent fasting.

My Testing With Intermittent Fasting…

I started on Monday with regular eating (only when I was hungry) and only from the natural foods I listed above.

Tuesday, I did a detoxification with a 105 degree hot yoga for 90 minutes in the morning at Birkam Yoga Charleston located in Seaside Farms- Mt. Pleasant (yes, I did yoga….it wasn’t pretty but I sweated a ton and found it to be very beneficial) followed by an all day fast.

If you’ve never done hot yoga before it’s worth checking out. It’s great in part of a detoxification routine.

Today, (Wednesday) I’m eating throughout the day again only from the natural foods listed above. No dairy, no grains, no processed anything. The exception on the dairy can be plain/ unprocessed yogurt which I did have with flax seed oil and blueberries this morning.

I’ll have my last meal this evening around eight o’clock and then fast again all the way through Thursday until seven or eight at night (this will be a 23-24 hour fast).

I’ll eat all through the day on Friday, whenever I’m hungry, and then re-test my body fat and weight on Saturday.

I’ll post more on this subject in the coming days but it will be interesting to see how my body responds. I’ve got a feeling I’ve already lost some weight because I can see a difference already in my stomach.

When I’m done with my test week I’ll give you a report on how my body felt, what happened to things like energy, quality of sleep, strength, etc. And of course what happened on the scale and with my body composition.

I know it’s only a week but I fully expect to see a difference. And this is coming from someone who eats pretty clean to begin with.

I’ve got a few of my clients and friends experimenting with the strategy this week as well and I’ll let you know what they found.

There’s also a shorter version of the intermittent fasting you can do with 15 hour water only fasts followed by a primal diet  re-feed.

You simply have to expermiment to see what works best for your body.

If you decide to try intermittent fasting please let me know how you do. As always feel free to ask me any questions as I’m happy to help in any way.

For more information on “intermittent fasting” click on the links below:

How To: Intermittent Fasting- post by Mark Sisson, author of the Primal Blueprint

Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy? – post by Mark Sisson

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston Personal Trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. You can receive a free, no obligations trail of his Charleston Personal Training Programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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Category: Fat Loss.