Intermittent Fasting: Part One
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If you aren’t a caveman, it’s highly likely you eat 3 meals a day plus some munchies here and there. Hell, lots of nutritionists even promote eating 5-6 small meals a day to give your body a continuous source of ‘energy’ and help with weight loss.
If you jumped on the ‘eat all the damn time’ wagon, you’re definitely not alone, but is it doing good or causing harm? Even 3 meals a day is excessive compared to how our ancestors ate for the last 200,000 years.
You might be thinking… ‘I’m not my ancestors. Modern nutrition is WAY different than that of the ancients’. Touché, but I beg to differ since science has clearly shown we aren’t all that different and the changes our evolved society has made in the last few hundred years or so have done more harm than good in a lot of ways.
Have you ever just not been hungry but felt like you should eat anyways? For years I forced myself to eat breakfast even though the thought of oatmeal with my coffee made me want to gag, I did it anyway.
Why? Because some smart person told me that’s what you’re supposed to do. You know the old adage, breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Well, I’m about to abolish that shit. Get ready to have your world rocked and your fridge better stocked because fasting for health is a hell of a strategy for increasing mental aptitude, lengthening your life, boosting your metabolism and more.
A brief history of fasting
Have you read the book the Autobiography of a Yogi? If you have the name Giri Bala might sound familiar. Also referred to as the ‘Fasting Saint’ she survived on air alone for 50 years because of her spiritual ascension and yogic techniques. So if skipping breakfast or any or the information presented herein sounds extreme, just think of Giri.
Beyond using fasting as a spiritual practice present in practically all religions it’s also long been a way of life. Fasting was always a normal occurrence in hunter-gatherer communities where popping to the grocery store is quite obviously out of the question.
While you and I might see an 18-hour fasting sesh as kind of extreme, our predecessors were used to going for days, even weeks without substantial amounts of food if any.
Fasting was common in coming of age rituals or preparation before going to war. It’s a method of political protest and of showing devotion to any ideology. And it’s long been employed by health practitioners to initiate healing and rid the body of toxins. Even taken to such extremes as Dr. Burfield Hazzard who killed more than 40 people by prescribing them to strict fasts before being convicted of manslaughter and losing her own life from fasting for way too long.
Don’t worry, I’m not promoting this kind of fasting. Instead a much healthier approach is something called intermittent fasting.
So What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF): A pattern of eating that eliminates certain meals on purpose to put the body into a short-term state of fasting.
Example: Skipping breakfast and eating 2 meals per day instead of 3 or more.
So… You’re a Homosapien, right?
If you’re reading this you’re probably a human which means you’ve evolved to eat a certain way. It’s true that our ancestors didn’t exactly plan their fasting rituals but you can take what science has shown along to be true and mould it to suit your modern day needs.
Much easier than following the path of Giri Bala or listening to the crazy ass Doctor but you still might be wondering what the point is?
Doesn’t skipping breakfast cause your blood sugar to drop too low and cause a mad case of the grumpies?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is that intermittent fasting actually increases blood sugar stability and mental focus. If you’re doing it right. I mean if you binge on cheetos and ice cream for your second meal of the day, you’ll probably wake up pretty crashed out and grumpy. But if you’re following along with the principles discussed here, you’ll be just fine. It actually takes about 84-hours before glucose levels are negatively affected by fasting.
Hacking a Hormone Named Ghrelin
Ghrelin is a hormone that’s secreted to stimulate hunger and its production is based on your eating patterns. So ya, it takes awhile before you reestablish when this hormone is released but your body is smart, it won’t take long to get the hint.
What Happened When I Started with IF
Personally I started intermittent fasting without even knowing what I was doing. I decided to listen to my body and stop forcing myself to eat breakfast because it made me feel gross. This resulted in 2 solid meals a day, full of plentiful healthy fats, protein, fermented foods, and nutrient dense veggies. I eat as much as I want and I don’t think twice about it.
The results continue to astound me. Besides a coffee in the morning, I have no appetite until about 1-2pm. Keep in mind I wake up at 6am most days. I’ve trained my body into this fasted state and it’s between these hours I get most of my work done that requires peak mental function.
The next meal of the day is between 7-8pm and it follows the same nutritional principles as the first.
My results from IF have been the ability to maintain a stable healthy weight. Before IF my weight was always fluctuating and I was obsessed with counting calories and macros and all that stuff that eats up precious time and energy I could be using for other endeavors.
It’s also really convenient since I only have to focus on making two high-quality tasty meals per day. Which probably saves me some money too.
The method I follow is basically the Leangain’s method of intermittent fasting. There are others, some people like to fast for one day a week, or fast every second day. But the Leangain’s method is the only one I’ve personally adhered to.
Another easier option would be to just do a 16-hour fast (including sleep time and more like 12 hours for women) once or twice a week. You get the same benefits and some studies have showed that even just fasting once a month is beneficial.
Breaking the Fast
It’s pretty simple, break your fast with high protein, nutrient dense foods and I like to throw in some sauerkraut or kimchi for the healthy gut bacteria boost they offer. Don’t go breaking your fast with a slurpee and a piece of pizza. In fact, if you’re still on the sugar and processed junk food train then don’t even bother.
Here’s What Happens to Your Body in a Fasting State
- You burn fat
It’s really hard for your body to burn fat when insulin levels are high and your organs are working to process and digest food.
But when you’re in a fasting state, burning fat is easy and requires very little work on your end besides changing your eating habits!
No worries about counting calories or obsessing on how much fat you’re eating. Way easier and more sustainable than any diet I’ve ever heard of. And since intermittent fasting is more of a way of life than a short term solution, your risk of gaining the weight back becomes a lot less prevalent.
- Your body removes nasty toxins
Autophagy: the beautiful process of your body’s innate ability to cleanse itself. What’s not to love? We do nothing and our bodies get rid of junk and toxins. Pretty sweet right? It’s like having a house cleaner 24/7 who just follows behind picking everything up after you.
So how do you hack autophagy for greater efficiency? You guessed it: intermittent fasting!
Intermittent Fasting promotes autophagy in your neurons which has benefits like improving cognitive function and brain plasticity. This helps create sharper mental acuity and promotes better focus. Major wins if you’re a self-motivated entrepreneur or just trying to get better results in your life in general.
Dr. Sarah Ballantyne puts it nicely, “Autophagy plays a crucial role in immunity and inflammation, balancing the beneficial and detrimental effects of immunity and inflammation, and thereby may protect against infectious, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”
Relax! Nobody is trying to get you to convert to anything but did they know something we didnt?
Download the PDF to find out how religions see fasting and why it was necessary by clicking here
- You become more resilient
Who doesn’t want to be more resilient? I know I do, just stubbing my toe can bring tears to my eyes. But seriously, as entrepreneurs it’s especially important to be resilient because you’re constantly being challenged to grow and learn more.
All change in our bodies starts at the cellular level and intermittent fasting has been shown to stress our cells just enough to make them slightly more resilient, which over time is the basic equivalent to strength training for your cells.
Intermittent fasting isn’t about calories, it’s about optimizing your brain and body
Where the hell did we go wrong in our diet, calorie counting and low-fat society? It’s pretty evident that we’re not getting far following this sort of dogma. So why not just let it go altogether?
Ditch the fear of eating too much or not enough. You can use IF to optimize your body and mind and simplify your life.
Let me count the ways IF can help you optimize your life…
- Growth hormone increases 2000% in men after a 24-hour fast and close to the 1300% in women. Wanna know another name for GH? Fountain of freaking youth.
- Lower risk of diabetes and heart disease
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Decreased insulin production and increased sensitivity aka. No more blood sugar rollercoaster and WAY easier to gain muscle.
- Extended lifespan
- Boosts immune health
- Appetite control by reducing the hormone ghrelin
- Increased dopamine production resulting in improved moods
- Reduce sugar cravings
Give Your Organs a Break
This is the same underlying premise that advocates of long term cleanses, juice fasts or the raw food diet hold fast to. Our organs are overworked and underpaid, baby. They’re bombarded with toxins from food and the increasing pollutants in our environments. Beyond the toxin talk, it’s just plain hard work to be constantly processing, breaking down, absorbing nutrients, and getting rid of junk for all our waking hours.
Practicing intermittent fasting is a great way to give your body a break and let your organs rejuvenate before their next big shift.
Mars and Venus Abide by Different Rules: Why Men and Women Have Their Own Sets of Fasting Guidelines
Ladies, the quick and dirty version of this is that you can get similar benefits of intermittent fasting while fasting for shorter periods. So instead of the 16-hours between meals, many sources recommend closer to 12 hours. That said, there’s scattered data and a lack of any really in depth studies comparing men and women’s reactions to IF.
Just listen to your body and feel it out. IF doesn’t work for everyone and men and women are incredibly different so here’s hoping future studies put more emphasis on the mixed results for each individual sex. I would caution women trying to conceive or who are premenopausal to proceed with caution and do more research on the topic.
Will IF Work for Me?
Maybe, and maybe not, but it’s worth a trial run for most. If you have any existing issues with diabetes or hypoglycemia you should probably talk to your Doc first. And you know the old saying, different strokes for different folks.
If you’re not sleeping well or just under a ton of stress in general, maybe save it for a calmer period in your life. Because ultimately, it does stress the body, albeit in a mostly positive way.
IF isn’t the end all be all, but it does have some really cool benefits when it comes to hacking your life for more productivity and greater health.
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This article is part of a monthly series all about hacking your diet.
If you like this post check out How the Establishment Destroyed Your Health and How You Can Get it Back and How to Optimize The Time You Spend Buying and Preparing Meals.
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