Is Intermittent Fasting a Fast Track to Weight Loss or Danger?
So I have spent most of the previous post harping on calorie restriction and starvation. So the next obvious question for some may be “What about intermittent fasting?”
I must be against this practice that seems to be all the rage right? It is still starvation right? 8-16 hours of no eating will only make a negative impact because of negative nitrogen balance right?
Think again grasshopper.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is one area where you can reduce calories for a period of time and get solid results. While we still don’t know a lot about IF, it is still a solid choice if you have few healthy options and are generally living a healthy lifestyle.
If you follow some of these steps, then IF can be a solid asset for you.
How Long Should You Do Intermittent Fasting?
Not only do you need nutrients in your body to help maintain energy and stay healthy, but when you hit 24-48 hours of not eating your body hits a stage called “gluconeogenesis”.
This is a fancy way of saying your liver glycogen storages are up and your body will start turning your lean muscle tissue into glucose to be used for energy or stored as fat. You start to lose energy, lean mass and become cold.
When Should You Do Intermittent Fasting?
A great example of where IF may make sense is while you are traveling and there is nothing to eat, but junk at an airport or candy bars at a hotel. In a way this is a bit of a liberating action you can take.
Don’t feel like you have to eat every three hours or you go into negative nitrogen balance and will lose muscle. You can have more flexibility and get away with 8-16 hours of not eating, instead of going after junk food.
What Lifestyle Aspects Matter for Intermittent Fasting?
There are a few important things that are musts for your lifestyle if you do intermittent fasting.
First, you need to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. Do so in a dark room with cool temperature. This helps to balance hormonal levels and retain less fat.
Avoid grains and sugar. This will jack up your insulin levels and cause you to retain fat and crave more carbs.
Focus on meals that will satiate and give you a ton of energy around the time you go through an IF session. You should eat lean fresh protein, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and healthy fats like animal fats and olive oil.
Make sure you are supplementing with fish oil, magnesium, and vitamin D.
You need to eat a high amount of fat and this includes animal fat. This includes avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, macadamia nuts, and also the natural fat that comes with animal meat. This type of dietary fat is used as major piece of energy when there isn’t as much glucose from the carbs.
Be patient. Give a couple weeks of eating high fat and protein. The fat will accumulate ketones, which in turn your body tissue (brain, liver) and red blood cells will start to use these ketones as energy.
Your major organs (kidney, heart, and intestines) actually work more effectively on ketones than glucose. The glycogen that remains is then left to maintain minimal blood glucose levels. Fat and protein will help you go longer without the need of food because of it’s triggers with hormones like leptin and PYY to tell your brain you are not hungry.
Be happy. You have to be in a positive state of mind. Any stress caused by lack of sleep or life’s struggles can cause an increase in the hormone cortisol, which promotes fat gain. If you are dealing with shift work, a taxing physical or emotional job, or a lot daily working out in your life for over 60 minutes, then I wouldn’t do intermittent fasting.
The important thing is that you do this sparingly and while you are clicking on all cylinders. This isn’t some short cut or a way to make up for crappy eating. This is purely an “ace in the hole” to help you stay healthy and in shape.
A great resource to learn more about IF is through Martin Beckhan’s Lean Gains website. I am not going to lie, Martin seems a bit “toolish”, but he knows his stuff and is ripped. So see what you can get from his site.
Test it out and give us feedback. Just don’t try to cut corners. Nothing will work better than low stress, a healthy diet, exercise, and quality sleep.