INTERMITTENT FASTING 101
Having worked with 100s of [busy SUPER]women around the country, the most common misconception is that I religiously practice EVERYTHING I teach. Well here’s the deal- I don’t. But it’s not because I don’t believe in what I teach. Some days, in spite of my best intentions, when I come home from meal planning for everyone and their grandmother [which I do genuinely love] and the refrigerator looks like Somalia, you can only imagine my fresh food crusade falls by the wayside. No this is NOT the norm. But when I do have weeks where “life happens” and I don’t eat food that’s ALIVE [resorting to all sorts of quick and easy crack-laden sugar alternatives] what do I do?
But when I do have weeks where “life happens” and I don’t eat food that’s ALIVE [resorting to all sorts of quick and easy crack-laden sugar alternatives] what do I do?
You heard me.
I take a complete break from everything, giving my gut the chance to rest, my metabolism the chance to renew itself, and my energy the chance to be driven by FAT.
In fact some weeks, I even build fasting into my WEEKLY schedule. It makes me feel THAT good.
A historial perspective on fasting:
The good news is, fasting has been around for centuries. Yes, CENTURIES. With all the NEW scientific data to back up its therapeutic effect on the body, there’s more validation than ever before driving the theory that fasting can be a good thing for both body and brain. If you really think about it, periods of feast followed by famine were a mainstay for humans around the world for millennia. They still are for animals. But now that we live in a society of abundance, fasting has fallen by the wayside [except for some religious practices]. Speaking of which, the clarity of mind, body ,and spirit you get from fasting is #forreal. Why? Because it affects the biochemistry of your body at a DEEP level. Here’s how…
Irrational fears vs [research driven facts] on fasting
Let’s start with the fears shall we?
- fasting puts your body into starvation mode [and BOOM weight sky rockets]
- fasting promotes so much hunger when you actually DO eat that you end up eating a bucket of ice cream- therapeutic but not the therapy I am looking for long term…
- fasting will prevent concentration and turn me into a HANGRY monster
- fasting will prevent me from working out or running
High time for the facts:
- Fasting normalizes the hormones [namely insulin + leptin + ghrelin + CCK] involved in hunger + satiety thereby resetting your body’s internal cues that prompt you to eat [and more importantly- prevent you from OVER eating].
- Fasting increases lifespan [by up to 15%- that’s a LOT if you were wondering] by inhibiting the mTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process.
- Fasting improves cholesterol levels by reducing LDL and blood triglycerides.
- Fasting gently stresses your cells making them more resilient [through the process of hormesis].
- Fasting expedites the process of autophagy [the programed cell death – required to rid the body of damaged cells, toxins, and waste].
- Fasting boosts production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor activating brain stem cells to convert to new neurons [protecting the brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease]. Research conducted by Dr. Mark Mattson [a senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging] found fasting to boost BDNF by anywhere from 50-400% depending on the brain region.
Enough said. Am I right?
My fasting routine in a nutshell:
There are a hundred different ways to go about fasting. And truth be told, I think about 96 of them can be downright damaging to the metabolism. So listen closely… fasting needs to be reframed as an intentional decision to simply decrease the window in which you consume food. It’s NOT a starvation tactic. It’s NOT an act of pure willpower. Fasting is something that needs to be in sync with the rhythms of the body [namely our cortisol secretion patterns throughout the day]. Otherwise, you might find fasting will breed downright hunger, restriction, and worse… withdrawal. I use this shortened window of food consumption to reset my hunger + satiety cues and most importantly, give my gut a REST from continusouly having to work to degrade food and extract nutrients. I also consider it a form of meditation as I have the opportunity to ask myself if I’m TRULY hungry or if I’m craving food out of distraction + avoidance. #thestruggleisreal
I use this shortened window of food consumption to reset my hunger + satiety cues and most importantly, give my gut a REST from continusouly having to work to degrade food and extract nutrients.
My personal recommendation is to engage in a version of intermittent fasting [i.e time restricted eating] that I implement only once – twice per week as follows:
- set a timer for 20 hours [this is the time period you will spend NOT eating]
- start the timer as soon as dinner finishes
- ease your way back into your regularly programed eating schedule when the timer goes off
- during the time frame any of the following drinks may be consumed as often as you’d like:
- a. herbal tea
b. black tea
- blend into whichever drink you choose 1 Tbsp of medium chain triglycerides [MCT]* in the form of C-8 [you’ll find this by looking at the back of the bottle]. My personal favorite is the Brane Octane made by bulletproof but there are others out there.
- enjoy the simplicity of the morning
- break the fast with something small that contains fat [like macadamia nuts or avocado]
- enjoy 2 meals that are simple [i.e 2 cups veg + 20 g protein + 1/2 cup carb] in that hour time frame
*A few notes on mct oil
why the MCT oil? because straight up intermittent fasting CAN lead to hangri-ness if your body is still expecting some form of sugar to enter the system.
how? The hunger hormone ghrelin kicks into gear testing your body’s willpower to say no. By the time you’re feeling downright famished and daydreaming about bacon, the body can start to secret adrenaline + cortisol [to increase blood sugar]. SO much so that you have energy yes, but emotional sanity? NO.
By adding this very special type of fat [derived from coconut oil predominately] you can manipulate your hormone levels strategically to feel full the entire time you fast. Full because your body starts to enter into what is called ketosis. Once in ketosis, your body would PREFER to use fat as energy. Unless you have 5% body fat [which I sure hope you don’t], you have enough fat to live on for way longer than you could really ever fast. So there! The NORMAL way to get into ketosis is to eat zero carbs, moderate protein and LOTS of fat for several days until your body finally succumbs to the torture and switches into burning fat for fuel. Clearly inefficient. By adding some ketogenic acids to your fasting regimen, you can expedite this process.
- will I be hungry?
Perhaps. But it will be an emotional hunger just from not putting something in your mouth and chewing on it like you’re used to. Truly physically hungry though? NO. You’ll only believe me once you try it.
- would I benefit from fasting on water alone?
Yes, but then acknowledge the fact that you WILL be hungry for the first few weeks as you will need to gradually train your body to go into ketosis more slowly.
- how do I know if I’m truly in ketosis?
you pee on a stick. Ketostix are sold online as well as in most pharmacies
I aim to be between .5-1.0 to benefit from all the therapeutic effects listed above
- who benefits from fasting the most?
anyone looking to increase their metabolic flexibility
anyone looking for that oh so infamous RESET button on a weekly basis
- how do I know if I should AVOID fasting?
if you’re hypoglycemic, diabetic, pregnant or nursing
if the rest of your day is infiltrated with … JUNK [don’t confuse the body by asking it to use fat and then taking it to the dumpster]- this is not fairy dust.
if you’re cardio training more than 30 min a day
- will I lose weight by intermittent fasting?
this is NOT a weight loss scheme.
if weight loss is truly why you’re using THIS reset button it’s best to tidy up the rest of your day before taking anything away.
this is NOT a weight loss scheme
ALL in ALL:
Consistency breeds results. In working with me, I teach you FIRST what a perfect day of balanced eating + balanced life looks like and then tailor fasting to YOUR goals in a very strategic way. If it’s sports performance you’re after I teach you a way of fasting tailored to metabolic efficiency out there on your workout. If it’s weight loss you’re after I teach you a way of fasting tailored to weight loss SPECIFICALLY. The fasting method outlined above is the way I personally press the RESET button, break the cycle of “blah” and channel more intentionality into my day. It’s what I see to be the safest and most generalized approach but if you need something specific? You know where to find me. Ok off to go blend some coffee….