The Simplest Way to Use Intermittent Fasting
I first discovered intermittent fasting back in 2014. I am sure that I had heard of it before, but probably like so many others, I poo-pooed it as hogwash.
Small, frequent meals were the way to go. And breakfast was almighty; it was a well-known and widely held belief that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.
Without breakfast, the Earth would cease to rotate on its axis. At least that’s what the experts and gurus would have you believe.
So, what changed my mind? Truth be told, it was not some quest to find out how to live longer or to have superior health.
Nope, it was a quest to lose body fat. I was, at the time, getting ready for another bodybuilding show.
This was to be the first one that Devon (my wife) had ever seen me compete in. I wanted to make sure that I was as lean as humanly possible. I had gotten ripped for contests and ‘for the hell of it’ in the past, but I knew I could get even leaner.
I started to research ways to lose stubborn fat from the areas that just always seemed, ‘stubborn’.
For most men, that is the lower abdominal area, love handles and lower back.
For most women, it is the glutes and thighs.
If you touch these areas of your body, you will find that they are always a bit colder than other areas of your skin. The reason for this is that they have a much poorer blood supply, thus, making them colder to the touch.
The problem is that if you have low blood flow to an area, it means that you can’t get the blood in there as readily to transport the fat out to be used as energy.
If you are ever able to lose your stubborn fat areas, they will be the last to go and trust me, it won’t be comfortable (your body has ZERO interest in being ripped unless you were born that way). Being ripped typically goes against the body’s innate need for survival. You must remember that one of the things about body fat is that it is an energy storage ‘house’.
In times of famine, if you were super lean, you’d have less chance to survive.
Now, this doesn’t give one the excuse to pack on more body fat for the sake of having more body fat. I know how the brain likes to try and twist things aroundJ.
Anyhow, that’s how I came to believe in intermittent fasting and the power of it. What started out as a quest to get ripped lead me to a principle that I recommend to everyone.
Allow me to break down the benefits and how-to’s for you.
When I started intermittent fasting, I was able to experiment with it in an extreme setting. I was 8 weeks out from that bodybuilding show I mentioned a little earlier and I was dieting on just 1,600 calories per day, which is pure misery for a guy my size.
For men, we typically recommend a 16-hour fasted period. For women, we usually recommend a 14-hour fasted period.
This means that if you ate at 8PM, your next meal wouldn’t be until noon the next day at the earliest.
Through fasting, you are going to control insulin levels. Insulin is really the only hormone that we are in control of for the most part. If insulin levels are raised, you can forget about losing body fat.
With a sustained period of fasting, we will also increase Growth Hormone levels dramatically, in some cases by up to 1300% in women and 2000% in men (for a 24-hour fasted period)!!! Growth hormone is profound at mobilizing body fat for energy and keeping us young.
Fasting increases insulin sensitivity, meaning that you will have to produce less insulin to handle the glucose in your blood after eating. As an aside, blood glucose also dramatically goes up during stress, something to be aware of because as we always say, you can put on body fat through stress alone and you can also become pre-diabetic if you are having issues with too much stress.
By increasing insulin sensitivity, you also create a more favorable calorie partitioning effect. This means that the food you eat is more likely to go towards muscle building and fuel for your muscles rather than getting stored as body fat as easily.
Fasting increases blood flow as mentioned to your stubborn fat areas (abdomen for men, thighs and glutes for women).
Fasting will improve concentration by increasing levels of the catecholamine hormones in your body and brain (cortisol, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline). It will also lead to a greater level of productivity when you combine the improved brain function with the fact that you won’t have to stop and eat as often.
Fasting will get the ‘gut’ environment a break, essentially allowing it to rest and reduce inflammation. This will help with the production of digestion enzymes and a better immune system. (Stress once again depletes digestive enzymes).
Lastly, when you reach an extended fast, your body does something known as autophagy, in which it will literally go through and clean up debris and clip off damaged parts of cells!!! Amazing!
The longest fast on recent record was 382 days in which the dude lost 276 pounds, got off all medication and reverse his type 2 diabetes. During this time, he only drank water and took a multi-vitamin.
I also know that the author and podcaster, Tim Ferris, had Lyme’s disease within the past year and he couldn’t kick the symptoms. So, he decided to fast for 7 days and wala, his symptoms disappeared!
Fasting is not a diet, it is a nutritional principle.
It is not for everyone, but I happen to love it for health and productivity reasons.
Do you need to be perfect with it? NO. Progress, not perfection.
If you have a question about fasting, feel free to ask us!
P.S-Coffee, water and tea are all okay during your fast. If you are going after the autophagy effect, then any calories will negate that aspect. If you are purely using it for body composition reasons, then based on the research I’ve seen, you can technically have under 120 calories and still be fine.
P.P.S-Another thing to try would be a 24-hour fast. To do this, I eat dinner and then don’t eat again until dinner the next day. It’s another option and something I would recommend employing if you don’t want to fast every day.