The thought of intermittent fasting is quite radical, unpopular and political incorrect. Not eat? It is generally recommended to make sure you eat well before, sometimes during and specially after exercise. Anything else is considered silly and unwise. In addition, encouraging not eating is considered calling on anorexia and eating disorders.
But to be perfectly honest, I believe it is our food-obsessed and sugar addictive society which encourage eating disorder.
Not too long ago BBC interestingly featured the power of intermittent fasting, see below in this blog post.
One thing is for sure intermittent fasting is not a popular concept among conventional thinking nutritionists or doctors. Intermittent fasting is even less popular within the sports world, dominated by sugar addiction where all forms of exercise conventionally justify an unrestrained overeating of mainly carbohydrates.
I believe our culture is obsessed with food and eating – and to add to that: obsessed with the wrong sort of food. In our society we are so used to eat at least three to five times a day that many people become quite rabid if they miss a meal or if they do not get food in time.
This reaction is surely a result of a sugar-driven physiology and metabolism that are directly dependent on the constant and regular addition of carbohydrates.
Most people seem to live in the belief that if you just miss one single meal you risk becoming seriously ill and malnourished – or at least faint, feeling weak and completely unable to do anything.
Yet, it is obvious that virtually every modern disease today is not caused by malnutrition or starvation, but rather by over-consumption, gluttony and excess of food. Although, people eating often and very regularly they are still tired, weak and energy poor.
Not to forget people who exercise on a fairly regular basis; consuming energy drinks and energy bars to recover after a gym class. This in the belief they’ve emptied their stores and used their muscles to such a degree they must have an intravenous sugar shot and some synthetic protein to have the energy to do a similar gym class a few days later.
How does all this fit together, really? Are we that fragile and inefficient that we need a constant energy re-fuel? Is this approach the right way to optimal health and performance?
I don’t think it is – quite the opposite in fact. I am all in that we should eat and to have a relaxed, enjoyable and insightful relation to food. However in today’s culture of food consumption influenced by advertising and fast-food, often full of mainly refined carbohydrates and industrially produced fats, it’s quite the opposite. That is not relaxed or enjoyable relation to food – at least not beyond the first minutes of sugar rush. The consequences are not either of any pleasure and it’s certainly not insightful.
We do not need to eat as regularly as our modern culture misleads us to do and we actually feel good and better by shorter periods of occasionally intermittent fasting.
As a result of millions of years of evolution, is it really reasonable to believe that today’s accessibility and abundance of food is representative and a realistic model to explain the human’s food evolution? Over times, have we had such an even, frequent and high accessibility of food that we always have been able to eat three to five times per day with a dessert to the coffee? Of course we haven’t. Instead, historically we were often without solid food in one or more days for various reasons. In order to survive the shorter periods of starvation the body developed various defence mechanisms that would ensure our energy supply and vitality. Two of those primarily defence mechanisms are our ability of fat loss and rapid secretion of hGH, which among other things reuses broken down muscle protein into a new protein synthesis.
I have personally a very good experience of implementing shorter periods of intermittent fasting (approximately 24 to 36 hours) every now and then – up to once a week, actually. One such intermittent fasting is defined by simply not eating any solid food or not to drink anything other but water. The purpose of this course is not trigger off any blood sugar rush which is followed by insulin secretion. In my experience, the best and most effective 24-hours intermittent fasting runs from dinner to dinner, as you’ve already completed half the intermittent fast during the night while asleep.
Many may believe that 24 hours without food is pure torture, leaving you on the verge of a physical and mental collapse. Possibly, it may honestly be so the first few times, especially if you are extremely driven by sugar. But as you may know, it is indeed the presence of insulin (which kicks in after eating sugar and carbohydrates) in the blood, which triggers appetite and cravings. However, during the period of intermittent fasting, the insulin doesn’t kick in and appetite or the typical craving is not at all present in the same way. Additionally, living the LCHF lifestyle the blood sugar levels are never very high anyway so the step to intermittent fasting is not that big.
The reasons for intermittent fast and its positive physical effects are many:
- Non-existent insulin levels, which regulate appetite and metabolism.
- An even energy level throughout the day.
- Fat burning increases dramatically, especially in the absence of insulin.
- Weight loss.
- Growth hormone, hGH, is secreted in higher degree than otherwise.
- Breaking any obsessions with food or certain foods.
- You learn to recognize hunger and appetite and to avoid routine eating done automatically regardless of saturation.
- You give digestion a rest and blood flow is diverted to other parts of your body.
- Productivity in your day-to-day life is increased when all is not about food and eating.
I have practiced a 24-hour intermittent fast on and off the last year. Initially I was surely critical to it as I was surrounded by a culture and lifestyle where it is expected always to eat and refill stores after exercise. However, I’ve been very happy with the results.
During the days of intermittent fast I have exercised more or less as usual with 2-4 shorter workouts with a total up to four hours all in all. Not once have I felt low in energy or dropped in blood sugar. Fat loss has been optimized and insulin levels have been very low. In contrast to what you might think I have felt strong and energetic. The only adverse reaction that I have experienced has been a slight emptiness in the stomach time to time. I’ve neither eaten more than usual prior or after the period of intermittent fast. I have actually rather put more thoughts into what I’ve eaten.