Eat To Thrive: Intermittent Fasting

by Travis Gerhart
Eat To Thrive: Intermittent Fasting

With the ever-growing popularity of intermittent fasting, it seems that just about everyone in the health-sphere is giving it a try. However, most people don't realize that intermittent fasting is a category of different nutritional eating strategies: long-term fasting, short-term fasting, alternating day fasting, and time-restricted eating.

If you're new to the concept of intermittent fasting, you may be wondering if it's right for you or if it's even safe. While it can be challenging at first to regulate your body's hunger cues and blood sugar levels, this eating pattern is one of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy weight, boost energy and support your overall health and fitness.

The concept of eating healthy seems simple, but maintaining it can be difficult. The main obstacle to eating healthily is the amount of time and effort put into planning and preparing meals.

The primary benefit of intermittent fasting is that it simplifies healthy eating. You will have fewer meals to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Therefore, it is trendy among the biohacking crowd, as intermittent fasting improves your health and simplifies your life.

Before starting any new diet or regimen, it is essential to consider how it may affect your current health status. If you suffer from a metabolic disease, are sensitive to blood sugar alterations, or have difficulty staying at a healthy weight. Intermittent fasting may not be for you. Please consult your physician before starting any new food plan.

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?

Intermittent fasting is characterized as fasting for portions of time daily instead of multi-day fasts that are unsustainable for the long term. Intermittent fasting can offer similar benefits to traditional multi-day fasts without the accompanying suffering of fasting.

Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating can teach you how to maximize your energy throughout the day through experimentation with the various methods to help you meet your goals.

Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting has positive effects on your body as a whole and specifically on your mitochondria. It can boost the efficiency of autophagy and provide the space for removing metabolic byproducts, reactive oxygen species, and damaged proteins. [1-3]

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WHAT ARE THE BEST INTERMITTENT FASTING METHODS?

Intermittent fasting can be broken into a few time goals. Still, the basic breakdown is to avoid eating the first meal of the day for as long as possible, then consume all your food for the day during your pre-planned time allotment or eating window.

There is a 'winning by not losing' component to intermittent fasting. Limiting the number of hours you consume food in a day makes it much more likely that you will make healthful choices, almost without effort. As a result, there is a considerable decrease in the desire to overeat or consume junk food.

What is the difference between 18/6, 16/8, or 14/10 Intermittent Fast?

During a 16/8 intermittent fast, you fast for 16 hours and then consume your daily caloric intake during the remaining 8 hours. A good example would be eating your first meal at 12pm and finishing by 8pm.

A 14/10 intermittent fast is similar. There is a 14-hour fast followed by a 10-hour eating window. As you adjust to the new schedule and push your first meal later in the day, this one should be easier to adjust to initially.

An intensive version of the eating schedules would be the 18/6 version. With the 6-hour window, this one is a bit more challenging than the other two, but it can yield even greater results. [4]

Should I start with a 5:2 or 5:1:1 day schedule?

Depending on which daily hour goal you choose, it is typically recommended to perform the intermittent fast for five days followed by two days break of regular eating (5:2) or two 'cheat' days. Alternatively, a more involved version would be 5 days on the intermittent fast, 1 day of a dinner-to-dinner fast (24-hours), followed by one cheat day per week (5:1:1). [5]

When starting any new eating style, the most important thing to remember is listening to your body. After a few days of acclimating, you should ultimately feel good and have increased energy. If fatigue persists, reduce the intensity until you settle into a comfort zone.

HOW DOES INTERMITTENT FASTING AFFECT THE BODY?

Cellular and molecular changes occur in your body when fasting or intermittent fasting. Fasting causes your body to adjust certain levels of hormones to make stored body fat more accessible. Intermittent fasting also causes your cells to initiate repair processes, as well as altering gene expression.

One hormone, in particular, Human Growth Hormone (HGH), can increase as much as 5-fold during fasted states. HGH increase can affect your body's ability to accelerate fat loss and gain muscle. [6-9]

Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:

Insulin: Insulin levels fall dramatically, and insulin sensitivity improves. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible. [10]

Cellular repair: Your cells initiate cellular repair processes in a fasted state. Cells digest and eliminate old and dysfunctional proteins inside them through autophagy. [11-12]

Gene expression: Alterations in the expression of specific genes can be stimulated by fasting. Specifically genes related to longevity and the protection against disease. [13-14]

Several of the health benefits of intermittent fasting are attributed to changes in hormone levels, cell function, and gene expression.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING?

In both animals and humans, intermittent fasting has been studied extensively. While animal studies do not directly correlate with real-world results in humans. The indirect relationship of animal studies can offer insight into how this could be perceived if the study was repeated in a human population. Certain perspectives are simply not possible to test in humans. However, our animal counterparts give us a clue about how we might react if the conditions were similar.

These studies show powerful benefits for weight control, healthy body and brain aging, and longevity.

Intermittent fasting is associated with various health benefits, including:

Weight loss: When you fast intermittently, you can lose weight and belly fat without restricting your caloric intake daily. [15, 16]

Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%. [15]

Inflammation: Intermittent fasting has shown reductions in markers of inflammation. [17-19]

Heart health: Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance. [15, 20, 21]

Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer. [22-25]

Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormones BDNF and NGF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. Intermittent fasting may also prevent the cognitive decline typically associated with aging. [26-29]

Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting extends lifespan in rats. Researchers found that fasted rats lived 36% to 83% longer. [30, 31]

It is important to remember that research is in its early stages. A large number of the studies were small, short-term, or animal-based. There are still many questions that need to be answered in high-quality human studies. [32]​

WHO SHOULD AVOID INTERMITTENT FASTING?

The main side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. In addition, you may feel weak, and your brain may not work as well as it usually does. It may only be temporary, as your body needs time to adjust to the new meal schedule.

You should consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting if you suffer from a medical condition. This is particularly important if you have diabetes or problems with blood sugar regulation, have low blood pressure, take medications, are underweight or have a history of eating disorders, are a woman who is trying to conceive, or a woman with a history of amenorrhea, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

All things considered, intermittent fasting has an excellent safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if you are healthy and well-nourished.

EIGHT WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR INTERMITTENT FASTING EXPERIENCE.

Does intermittent fasting really work as well as it sounds? From my own personal experience, I will say that I prefer it to any other eating plan that I have tried. I have more energy throughout the day and can stick to my health goals better than eating, evenly spaced, throughout the day. My goal isn't to lose weight but to improve fitness and promote healthy aging and longevity. Intermittent fasting has been an important part of that process.

Eight ways to get the most out of your intermittent fast:

1. Avoid sugars and refined grains. Instead, eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (a sensible, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet).

2. Eat Healthy Fats. Mitochondria will function better off healthy fats of the Mediterranean variety. Foods like olive oil, sardines, walnuts, avocado, coconut oil, and MCT oil. MCT oil is a component of coconut oil comprised of medium-chain triglycerides only. MCT Oil is typically made of 100% caprylic acid (C8), 100% capric acid (C10), or a combination of the two. Medium-chain triglycerides are metabolized differently than their more common counterparts, long-chain triglycerides. Due to the reduced number of carbon chains, MCTs are efficiently used and rapidly broken down and absorbed by the body, making them less likely to be stored as fat in adipose tissue. [33] Efficient metabolism of fats promotes a thriving mitochondrial environment and improved sense of well-being with less free radical formation than an excess of carbohydrates as fuel.

3. Get Plenty of Colorful Veggies and Fruit. Additionally, eating the rainbow spectrum (reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, and violets) when it refers to vegetables and fruit provides nourishment in the form of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that will support your mitochondria with the cleanest fuel possible.

4. Focus on the Cruciferous. One additional nutritional powerhouse category to mention is the cruciferous vegetable family famously rich in sulfur: brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, turnip, radish, kohlrabi, watercress, rutabaga, kale, and maca. Cruciferous vegetables and mushrooms, interestingly enough, are loaded with the mitochondrial antioxidant glutathione that stimulates natural antioxidant support within the body.

5. Let your body burn fat between meals. Don't snack. Be active throughout your day. Build muscle tone, and most of all, have fun!

6. Exercise in a fasted state once you've acclimated. Exercising in a fasted state promotes using stored fat as an energy source. Waiting for your first meal until after you've exercised for the day can stimulate the metabolic switch from sugar burning to fat burning. As time goes on, this improves and becomes more efficient.

7. Absolutely enjoy your cheat days without guilt. Avoid snacking or eating at nighttime, during your 5 days on the intermittent fast, and stick to your goals for being done for the day. Give yourself complete freedom during your two cheat days, and don't focus too hard on goals. Just enjoy these off-days. The freedom allows you to get more out of the stringent days, and ultimately, your results will follow. 

8. Sticking with your morning coffee or tea can accelerate your results and keep you on track. 
My favorite is 'MCT Coffee,' which can be consumed while fasting because it contains healthy fats that keep you full for longer. 

DOES MCT COFFEE BREAK AN INTERMITTENT FAST?

Intermittent fasting and drinking coffee can offer mutual benefits. Many similarities between the two may amplify one another's benefits. Drinking coffee while intermittent fasting is still a relatively new field of study, but what we do know is promising. [34]

MCT Coffee contains a high content of healthy fats that promote satiety. The main ingredients you need to prepare this beverage are MCT oils from coconut and organic coffee or tea. When your body isn't constantly digesting, it has the chance to carry out cleaning and repair processes that make you healthier. This process is known as autophagy. You interrupt autophagy less during your fasting period if you consume fat only rather than protein or carbohydrates. [35]

But what if I don't drink coffee?

No problem! Substitute tea instead or even just hot water if you prefer. This beverage is made with quality fats using MCT oils from coconut and organic coffee or tea. Additionally, increasing medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) supports autophagy in mice. [36]

Drinking MCT Coffee also helps keep you in the fat-burning zone by lowering insulin levels. Protein and carbohydrates require insulin for digestion. In contrast, fats such as coconut oil and MCT oil do not affect insulin levels in the same way or as dramatically.

To recap:

  • During the fasting window of your intermittent fast, your body cleanses via a process called autophagy.
  • MCT Coffee keeps you satisfied and full without switching on digestion.
  • Follow a high-fat, low-carb eating plan to reap more of the brain-boosting, fat-burning benefits during your eating window.

A MINDFUL APPROACH TO INTERMITTENT FASTING.

Intermittent fasting can be adapted to mindful eating and is a technique for managing eating habits. To find a way to eat that works for you, rather than following rigid rules or counting calories or points, you're encouraged to listen to your body's signals of hunger and satiety. Although it can be challenging and even frightening at first, you will eventually be able to select the types and amounts of food you need to feel satisfied, nourished, and nurtured.

A mindful approach to eating is based on the ancient Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which involves being attentive to one's thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environment in a nurturing, gentle, nonjudgmental way.

Practicing mindfulness involves paying attention to what you're experiencing as you experience it. You can achieve mindful awareness by paying attention to the present moment and remaining non-judgemental about your experience from moment to moment.

While eating, you should slow down, remove distractions, and pay attention to what you're eating rather than blasting through meals and eating while driving, working, watching television, or scanning your phone. Stay present while eating and engage your senses by noticing the smells, tastes, sounds, colors, and textures of food. Rather than berating and judging yourself for not eating "perfectly" or "cleanly," let go of the guilt, fear, and worry. Embracing acceptance being kind and compassionate to yourself and your body are the main points.

FINAL THOUGHTS.

Decide on the schedule that works best for you in the beginning. Typically a 14/10 intermittent fast intensifies to a 16/8 when acclimated on a 5:2 or 5:1:1 day per week schedule. Remembering to pay mindful attention to the eight ways to get the most out of your intermittent fast:

Eight ways to get the most out of your Intermittent Fast:

  • Avoid sugars and refined grains.
  • Eat healthy fats, including olive oil, fish oil (specifically DHA), sardines, walnuts, avocado, coconut oil, MCT oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter.
  • Get plenty of colorful veggies and fruit.
  • Focus on the cruciferous: brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, turnip, radish, kohlrabi, watercress, rutabaga, kale, and maca. 
  • Let your body burn fat between meals.
  • Exercise in a fasted state once you've acclimated. 
  • Absolutely enjoy your cheat days without guilt.
  • Sticking with your morning coffee or tea can accelerate your results and keep you on track.

THRIVE & BESUPERVITAL®

We are huge fans of optimizing what we interact with daily: physical, mental, and emotional in the pursuit of Supervital Active Longevity. We control what we apply to our body, what we consume, and our well-being approach. Our strategy for life can set us up to exceed our goals or exponentially get in the way of where we are going and what we are trying to accomplish. Follow along with us in The Supervital for more. Thrive & Besupervital®​

Travis Gerhart, DC, RYT-500

Travis Gerhart, DC, RYT-500

Founder of Best Health Co & The Supervital Journal. Topics focus on the mind, body, & soul aspects of Supervital Active Longevity. Dr. Gerhart enjoys studying the latest developments in biochemistry, phytochemistry, epigenetics, & aging.
@traviswgerhart • @besthealthco

*Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for individual medical advice.

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