What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Would you be surprised to learn that you can actually survive for days, weeks, or even months in a fasted state? The world record for fasting went to a 456 lb man who fasted for 382 days, consuming only water and vitamins and losing 276 pounds with no ill effects. While that’s a little extreme, the truth is we’re all carrying fat stores we could be using for fuel. One pound of fat has 3,500 calories! As we age we tend to increase fat stores and decrease our ability to burn fat for fuel. Intermittent fasting can restore our metabolic flexibility.
Why do we store fat instead of burning it?
We are designed to transition easily between fasted and fed states. Our ancestors survived in the fasted state much of their lives. They didn’t eat three meals and a day and certainly didn’t snack all day long on top of meals.
The eating myths we’ve adopted
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
- Hunger throughout the day is normal.
- Three meals a day is ideal. Eating all day overtaxes our pancreas and digestive system.
- Snacking all day is good.
When we eat, the pancreases releases insulin. The amount of insulin depends on what you eat. The more carbs you eat, the more insulin is released. Insulin’s job is to escort the sugar into the muscle tissue and liver. When those stores are full, insulin stores the rest of the glucose as fat.
Over time, with constant eating and insulin stimulation we’ve lost the ability to switch back and forth from glucose to fat for fuel easily. Modern humans live in a constant fed state. Constant insulin stimulation causes oxidative stress, metabolic dysfunction, and eventually insulin resistance. You develop a resistance to the hormone insulin, resulting in increased blood sugar. This is the first step towards diabetes. Not to mention arguments, emotional outbursts, and other “hangry” behavior.
Restore Metabolic Flexibility
The good news is, this is completely reversible and as Cynthia Furlow describes in the video below, the solution is free, simple, and flexible. Of all the things you can do for your health, this is one of the most transformative.
How do I start Intermittent Fasting?
There are so many ways to start a fasting protocol, but the most common and the easiest to adopt is an 18/6 fasting schedule. This involves skipping either breakfast or dinner. Breakfast is usually easier since dinner is generally a social time.
Although the concept of fasting is easy, there are a few tricks that make adjusting to fasting much easier. As your biohacking BFF, I’ve organized the best tips and tricks for you in one place.
Speak with your Physician First
You should always consult with your physician before adopting or changing your diet. Especially for the groups listed below, for whom intermittent fasting may not be a safe option.
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Child or adolescent
- History of kidney or renal issues
- History of a disordered relationship with food
- Low body mass index
- Pregnant or nursing
- Sick or ill
Weight Loss & Caution
Remember, this ability to burn fat for fuel is a natural phenomenon. Our ill-advised, all-day grazing and eating compromised that ability. Fasting can help ‘reboot’ our metabolic flexibility. Don’t be shocked when you start losing weight. That means it’s working.
That said, weight loss isn’t healthy for everyone. Please use this information, and the resources I’ve shared responsibly. Years ago I worked with an eating disorder clinic as a fitness trainer. It would break my heart if someone with disordered eating adopted a fasting protocol after reading this. If you have a disordered relationship with food, please reach out the National Eating Disorders Free Helpline.