Becoming a Master of Fasting
So you are comfortable with intermittent fasting and following a schedule similar to 16/8 or even an 18/6 protocol. This is now part of your life and you are enjoying benefits. Fat loss, more energy, mind clarity and less cravings. Congratulations, this is a great achievement!
Incorporating a schedule like 16/8 will greatly help weight loss and improve every day quality but extending the fasting window ever so slightly is where some of the potent health benefits real come from.
Let’s recap what can be reasonably achieved by a 16-18 hour fast.
- Deplete your glycogen store, which is the glucose mainly stored in the liver. This will allow to start tapping in your own fat for energy and where you should have seen great results in your weight.
- Be more efficient to use ketones for fuel, and as a result have reduced cravings.
- More stable blood sugar, insulin and blood pressure and as a result more energy through-out the day.
- Digestion is complete and your gut should be relaxing.
- Raised levels of human-growth hormone (HGH) which has many great benefits and helps with muscle building.
In addition there is no down-side to it apart from social reasons. But once you are used to intermittent fasting having once in a while breakfast with friends or a late dinner is quite ok.
Intermittent fasting is “easy” to apply with little amount of effort and there is no muscle loss. Read here on how to get started.
What does the research state
Fasting is a well researched area and the benefits are well established. For example a 2016 paper Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes states
Numerous physiological indicators of health are improved on IF diets. Among such responses to IF are:
- Reduced levels of insulin and leptin which parallel increases in insulin and leptin sensitivity.
- Reduced body fat, elevated ketone levels
- Reduced resting heart rate and blood pressure, and increased heart rate variability (resulting from increased parasympathetic tone)
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased resistance of the brain and heart to stress (e.g., reduced tissue damage and improved functional outcome in models of stroke and myocardial infarction)
- Delay onset and slow the progression of neuronal dysfunction and degeneration in animal models of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.
- Emerging findings are revealing cellular and molecular mechanisms by which IF increases the resistance of cells, tissues and organs to stress and common diseases associated with aging and sedentary, overindulgent lifestyles. The results of human studies in which various health indicators are measured at baseline and after periods of IF of 2–6 months or more, suggest that IF can protect against the metabolic syndrome and associated disorders including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Recent small trials of IF in patients with cancer or multiple sclerosis have generated promising results that provide a strong rationale for moving forward with larger clinical trials in patients with a range of chronic age- and obesity-related disorders.
That is pretty amazing. So how can we get all those benefits?
Going a further step forward
Doing a 16-18 hour fast is already quite phenomenal, but are there reasons to push further and consider shortening your feeding window even more? Let’s look into some of the reasons closer.
Fasting and Feasting is a normal cycle of life. Although this way of eating is not promoted by the current society lifestyle it has been practised by many cultures for thousands of years. Our bodies need nutrition to grow a change but equally time to rest and digest. So once we feast with a big nutritious meal full digestion can take up to 8 hours. If we eat 5-6 meals a day then we never give ourselves a chance to rest.
From a science perspective we are balancing between an anabolic state where we are growing and building tissue and a catabolic state where we are resting, recycling and cleaning up. Very few of us clean up our closet and our closet is now full of trash. This is not healthy and potentially a cause for decease. Instead of doing pro-longed fasts of 3+ days which require a lot of effort and attention we can achieve similar effects by shortening our daily eating window. This allows to:
- Trigger autophagy, and recycling of dead cells for use of energy.
- Go deeper into ketosis and you remove cravings all together.
- Continue to raise HGH up to 1000%
- Absorb nutrients from food a lot better since you will be very insulin sensitive.
Of course you need to be careful about:
- Your diet being on the point to ensure that you can still trigger the anabolic processes and build muscle.
- Being wary of over eating to avoid feeling bloated and stuffed
- Already needing to be comfortable with shorter fasting windows to avoid blood sugar crushes.
How to extend your fasting window
- At the start, try going for a 20/4 window once a week. This is also known as the warrior diet. You can even try having one-meal-a-day known as OMAD.
- If at some point you feel you cant get your mind off food, then break your fast sooner. Fasting is also a stress factor, so don’t go overboard.
The real reason to try extending your fast
- Take electrolytes and salt during the day.
- Coffee will also help but don’t over do it.
- Try having a Bulletproof coffee for immediate energy, but still keep all the benefits of fasting, since you will not raise insulin or mTor.
- Another approach to get most of the fasting benefit is break your fast with a low protein meal (e.g salad with around 10grams of protein) which also not trigger insulin or mTor.
- There are great health benefits from extending your fasting window. Give it a try but take it slowly and only to your limit.
- Liberating yourself from food by fasting!
- The Longevity Solution: Rediscovering Centuries-Old Secrets to a Healthy, Long Life ( by James DiNicolantonio and Jason Fung )