There has not been a more helpful tool for health and wellbeing than intermittent fasting while eating a clean healthy whole foods diet. It has been successful to reverse pre-diabetes, lose weight, reduce aches and inflammation in the body, increase energy and to get control of cravings, that endless need to snack. Also the discipline it takes to do this has helped many in other areas of their life as well.
It is not our fault, we have been brainwashed. The food industry it’s FDA approved processed foods are really not on our side in many ways. Not only do they contain toxins, additives, preservatives, but the perfectly crafted combination of salt, sugar and fat, has many more addicted than if on cocaine. This actually has been proven in lab experiments with rats, they were addicted to cocaine yet preferred the processed food over their drug. Our body is just not made to handle that intensity of chemistry in our food.
Eating clean and intermittent fasting is fantastic for health. I wish I was more open to it sooner! The idea of fasting seemed impossible to me and to my patients, and you might be thinking the same. Like how?! Slowly but surely with the help of some patients and teachers, I realized how powerful it is. I have now seen over the past few years, intermittent fasting has reversed pre-diabetes, insulin resistance, lowered blood pressure, and in a very short amount of time, without complications. I used to recommend the low carb / high protein diet and protein first thing in the morning. I got marginal results, even with supplementation to help control the insulin or blood sugar issues. I hope you come to see the benefits of this and give it a try. If this list does not inspire you, I am not sure what will!
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Promotes fat loss
- Promotes longevity
- Reverses diabetes
- Normalizes blood pressure
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves hunger issues
- Improves brain function
- Improves fatty liver
- Improves cell repair and regeneration
- Decreases allergy symptoms
- Creates a diverse microbiome, and starves bad bacteria in the colon
- Improves immune system function
- Improves metabolism
- Improves lipid levels, including cholesterol and triglycerides
- Fights cancer cells that depend on glucose
- Improves neurological disorders
- Increases growth hormone
Feeding vs. Fasting
Naturally, the body moves in and out of the fasting state, unless we interfere with it. When we are in the feeding state the body uses the incoming fuel to make energy. At this time, insulin increases and is a signal to the body to store extra calories as adipose tissue or fat. The fasting state is when one does not eat for a period of time, the body’s insulin decreases and triggers fat burning for energy, instead of glucose. So one cannot burn fat unless one is in the fasted state or the fasted state can be triggered temporarily by intense exercise.
- Feeding state = insulin high, glucose high, storing fat, burning glucose,
- Fasting state = insulin low, glucose low normal, burning fat
How do I know if intermittent fasting is right for me?
Intermittent fasting is great for most people if you need to or want to lose weight, or if you want to maintain your healthy weight and get leaner. Intermittent fasting is contraindicated for those who have or have had an eating disorder. It is to be used with caution if you have uncontrolled anxiety or bipolar disorder. It is not recommended for children or pregnant or nursing women. It is not recommended if you have hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is caused many times by low cortisol, or low adrenal function. You may want to test for this and correct adrenal imbalance if you have hypoglycemia.
Insulin Resistance: a good reason to do intermittent fasting
So the more often we eat, the more insulin is produced by the pancreas, and the more total hours of the day we eat, the more insulin is increased. This is especially so with higher carb meals and meals eaten late at night before bed. If this happens often enough, the insulin production becomes higher even in the morning after eating nothing for 12 hours. This leads to decreased insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance) which is when the cells no longer listen to insulin and therefore do not bring glucose into the cell, which in turn increases blood sugars which causes to cell damage in the blood vessels and organs. This of course leads to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity and many other inflammatory conditions are also worsened by this.
When one is insulin resistant, they are burning glucose, not fat. They are then hungry often 2 hours or so after a meal. A person who is obese really has enough stores for many days, or weeks. What sense does it make that they are hungry? What happens is the body adapts to only burning glucose and the other faculties are down-regulated. So when those glucose stores are gone, intense hunger for carbohydrates occurs again and again.
How to reverse insulin resistance?
The best way to do this is to eat a low carb diet for an extended timeframe. With intermittent fasting, you will see your insulin come down much quicker than if you eat a low carb diet alone. A low carb diet means eating primarily protein, fats, and vegetables, eliminating grains, sugars, beans and legumes, starchy root vegetables and squashes.
Build muscle. Muscle is your carb burning power. The more you have, the better. Find a way to increase your muscle mass. You can lift weights, or use your body as weight and do squats for example, Whatever you choose, be sure your muscles are sore afterwards, or the next day. When your muscles are sore, that tells you that you will be building more muscle during and after the muscle repair process.
Leptin resistance: a precaution with intermittent fasting
Leptin is the hormone that controls energy metabolism in the body. It is called the satiety hormone and is produced by fat cells. When one has more fat cells, one has more circulating leptin. Leptin is supposed to decrease our appetite when we are full and increase our cells energy expenditure. To test leptin, we can look at reverse T3 thyroid hormone, high levels or high end normal levels are strongly associated with Leptin resistance. Some studies show that when we are leptin resistant, intermittent fasting does not work as well. Bottom line, if your intermittent fasting is not working well, check your rT3 (reverse T3) levels in a blood test. Next, begin first with a low carb diet, such as the Paleo diet before entering into intermittent fasting.
How to reverse leptin resistance?
- Low carb, high quality protein diet, with healthy fats
- Diet of whole foods, limiting processed foods
- Get good sleep
- Don’t overeat
- Don’t eat late at night
Can I exercise while intermittent fasting?
The wonderful thing about intermittent fasting is it is exercising your body. It is exercising your metabolism! Yes exercise is okay while intermittent fasting. It actually helps you become more adapted to burning fat. Many have said, I just can’t exercise without having food for energy. Well, this has been disproven. Our brain thinks this due to it’s conditioning. Our body has been conditioned by constant feeding. For most if you give it a try, you might find your workout is even more powerful. Now heavy lifting for body building competition, that is a whole other category, that does not apply here.
How to properly eat while intermittent fasting?
Basically, however you do this, if you are gentle with yourself and begin slowly, you will be more likely to have success. Also, if you have already experimented successfully with a low/lower carbohydrate, high quality protein, healthy fat, whole food diet…it will be much easier. Always check with your doctor before you begin, especially if you are on medication such as diabetes or blood pressure medications.
You can begin like this, for example
- Eating time 12 hours, Fasting time 12 hours for a few days or a week, then transition to
- Eating time 10 hours, Fasting time 14 hours, then
- Eating time 8 hours, Fasting time 16 hours, then when you are ready
- Eating time 6 hours, Fasting time 18 hours
Beginning slowly this way, your body gets the chance to adjust and you do not put yourself into survival mode. One other trick is to make your breakfast, but don’t eat it, just keep it with you. You will have more benefit from more time in the fasting state, so keep moving forward. You know you have achieved some success when you are not hungry in the morning, weight loss begins, energy increases, and you become more focused and alert.
Tips for successful intermittent fasting
- If you have coffee, have it black
- Don’t eat 4 hours before sleeping
- Tidy up the diet before you begin. Get the carby junk foods out and bring in the healthy ones into the house.
- If you get hungry, try STRETCHING! Stretching releases the amino acid alanine into circulation and will not ruin your fast but will tell your brain it’s okay, you can continue fasting
- Drink plenty of water. Our body can make us feel hungry, when we are actually thirsty.
- First thing in the morning, do something to get winded. Check out fastercise.com for more info on this. You can run in place, do a few pushups, jumping jacks, only until you are winded.
FAQ regarding intermittent fasting
Is coffee okay?
Coffee is fine first thing, just no cream or sugar, nothing that has any calories, just plain black coffee or tea
What foods do I eat?
Maximize your health by eating nutrient dense foods such as high quality protein, fish/seafood (wild caught), eggs, nuts, some dairy unless intolerant, and plenty of non-starchy veggies.
Minimize eating nutrient poor foods such as refined carb products, grains and starchy veggies
Can I have fruit?
One high antioxidant fruit such as 1/4 cup berries per day is fine. Avocado and coconut are fruit, they are perfect. Obviously you want to avoid the high glycemic fruits such as banana, pineapple, orange, mango and the like.
Will I lose muscle?
You will not lose muscle if you eat enough protein and you exercise your muscles with resistance training of some sort, such as lifting weights.
Do I need to drink more water than usual?
Not more than usual, Water is very important however, if you are burning fat, the toxins stored in that fat will be released into circulation for elimination. Treating any constipation issues prior to beginning is a must. Ideally, one should drink 1/2 your body weight, in ounces, per day. A 150lb person should drink 75 ounces of water daily.
What If I don’t need to lose weight, intermittent fasting good for me?
If you don’t need to lose weight, you can eat 3 meals worth of calories, your normal diet, but eat within the new intermittent fasting eating window. You may lose only a couple of pounds and will notice you will become more lean,
How many hours should I fast?
It is best to go as far as you can into this. Be kind to you and go slowly, trust your body, you will know. You may go to 8 hours of eating time and stop there for a while, then try longer when you are ready. You have to be eating less total hours than your usual to see any benefit.
Will intermittent fasting affect my hormones?
One small study revealed a lowering in DHEA hormone a small percentage, but still remained in the normal range. To me this does not sound alarming or concerning. In my office, I test this frequently in the blood, using DHEA-sulfate. You may want to talk to your doctor about this. Very low levels are associated with adrenal fatigue and very high levels are associated with a stress response either chronically or during the actually blood draw.
Hope this helps!