Intermittent fasting can provide many important health benefits, including improving your insulin/leptin sensitivity, helping your body more effectively burn fat for fuel, increasing mental clarity and overall energy levels, and more.
For years I agonized over finding the diet, eating schedule, and workout routine that best suited my goals and lifestyle. It took up a ton of mental energy and time. However, it didn’t matter what I tried or how enthusiastic I was about a new plan of attack for my diet and fitness — sooner or later I would fall off track for various reasons, with much disappointment.
I tried the ‘six small meals a day’ plan and I tried a 100% whole-food diet. I blended, I chopped, and I juiced. I tried numerous workout plans as well, but nothing seemed to truly resonate with my body. I found myself lethargic most of the day, sick of always planning my meals, and frustrated that, considering how much effort I was putting into planning my diet and workouts, I still wasn’t seeing or feeling the results I had hoped for.
But this all changed when I discovered intermittent fasting (IF). I had heard a few things about it here and there, but I’d never fully entertained the topic.
After reading about the incredible health benefits of IF, something finally clicked within my brain. Call it my intuition or my ‘aha!’ moment, but something was telling me that this new approach to eating and fitness was the one I had been waiting for.
Why So Many Struggle With Their Weight
The reason so many struggle with their weight (aside from eating processed foods that have been grossly altered from their natural state) is because they’re in continuous feast mode and rarely ever go without a meal.
As a result, their bodies have adapted to burning sugar as its primary fuel, which down-regulates the enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat. Fasting is an excellent way to “reboot” your metabolism so your body can start burning fat as its primary fuel, which will help you shed your unwanted fat stores.
Once your insulin resistance improves and you are normal weight you can start eating more frequently, as by then you will have reestablished your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel—that’s the key to sustained weight management.
The amount of research around fasting, particularly intermittent fasting, is growing exponentially. Let’s explore what the research is saying.
How and Why Intermittent Fasting Works
One 2013 review found a broad range of therapeutic potential in intermittent fasting, even when total calorie intake per day did not change, or was only slightly reduced. Studies included in the review produced evidence that intermittent fasting may:
- Limit inflammation
- Improve circulating glucose and lipid levels
- Reduce blood pressure
- Improve metabolic efficiency and body composition, including significant reductions in body weight in obese individuals
- Reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels
- Help prevent type 2 diabetes, as well as slow its progression
- Reverse type 2 diabetes
- Improve pancreatic function
- Improve insulin levels and insulin sensitivity
- Reproduce some of the cardiovascular benefits associated with physical exercise
- Protect against cardiovascular disease
- Modulate levels of dangerous visceral fat
The reasons for these health benefits relate to the fact that the human body appears to be designed to thrive in a cycle of “feast and famine.” By imitating the ancestral conditions of cyclical nourishment, your body enters into a state of optimal functioning. Three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your health include:
- Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency: Fasting increases insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, thereby retarding aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
- Reduced oxidative stress: Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cells, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
- Increased capacity to resist stress, disease, and aging: Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.
The Benefits of Exercising in a Fasted State
We’ve often been told to make sure we are well fed before a workout, but this notion has been a hot topic of debate in recent years.
When we think about the cyclical eating patterns of our ancestors, we know that there were many cases in which they would perform rigorous physical activity on an empty stomach, such as during their hunt for food. Today, research confirms the biological benefits of this type of eating schedule.
As the Huffington Post summarizes, “Exercisers with weight loss goals might find an advantage in waking up and exercising first thing in the morning before eating breakfast or fasting for a few hours before a mid-day or evening workout.” “The less glucose you have in your system the more fat you will burn,” continues John Rowley, Wellness Director for the International Sports Science Association (ISSA). “However,” Huffington Post continues, “if your goals are performance related (e.g. to improve strength or speed), working out without fueling up probably isn’t your best bet because a lack of available energy might prevent you from putting forth your best effort.”
What About Gaining Muscle While Intermittent Fasting?
For men or women who are looking to stay lean while gaining muscle mass, Martin Berkhan from Leangains.com has the optimal solution for this goal.
His methodical approach to intermittent fasting has helped so many achieve their fitness goals that he can easily be considered the expert in the realm of intermittent fasting and muscle gain.
Berkhan offers various types of fasting schedules so that people can choose which one works best with their lifestyle. Personally, I chose his recommended 12pm-8pm eating window followed by a 16-hour fasting period. So far I’ve found this schedule fantastic for a few reasons.
For one, I don’t have to worry about making breakfast as soon as I wake up which, for me, was becoming a huge hassle. Similarly, I know that my eating window stops after 8pm, which is convenient in that I know exactly when to eat and when not to.
One important note that Berkhan stresses is that if you are going to be lifting heavy weights or training hard, make sure to ingest either a scoop of protein powder or a scoop of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) 5-10 minutes before your workout. Doing this sidesteps the increased protein breakdown of fasted training while still reaping the benefits of the increased anabolic response as seen in this study.
Another important factor to remember is to make sure you are eating enough during your eight hour eating window. Starving yourself while also fasting and exercising is a surefire way to achieve exhaustion and nutrient depletion.
Here is how my schedule looks on a heavy workout day (taking into account that my goal is muscle growth):
7:30-8:00 am: Wake up and ingest 10 grams of BCAAs.
8:30 am: Work out.
10:00 am: Another scoop of BCAAs or protein powder. Cup of coffee and then work or errands before I break the fast.
12:00 pm: Post-workout meal/Fast-breaking meal. (Should be the biggest meal of the day. Keep protein and carbs high.)
3:00 pm: 2nd post-workout meal.
7:30 pm: 3rd meal of the day. Again, keeping protein and carbs high.
9:00 pm: Tea and water galore!
*Remember, you can create the type of fasting schedule you want based on your lifestyle. Some people fast for 14 hours, while others fast up to 24+ hours. That is why IF can work for anyone.
Is IF For You?
The results thus far have been very pleasing. I’m finally seeing my abs for the first time in years, I have overall increased muscle definition and composition, my energy levels are through the roof, and my hunger levels have subsided for the most part.
Tea, coffee, and water are allowed as much as you like during the fasting state so long as you don’t exceed 50 calories in sugar or milk.
There is so much more information available regarding intermittent fasting that it is difficult to explore within this single article, so stay tuned for more articles regarding IF in the very near future.
For now, I recommend reading more about the amazing benefits of IF to see if it is right for you.
A quick note from our founder-
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d) Hip Flexors
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To begin, I apologize for the dark nature of today's email.
However I promise what you'll discover today will be completely worth it.
Imagine a rotting corpse draped over your body from head to toe...
...suffocating tissue, restricting blood flow, damaging joints and infecting your healthy cells.
Shockingly, that nightmare is a reality for most:
64% of women and 74% of men carry too much body fat according to the National Institutes of Health.
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You become a metabolic zombie: NO energy to think. NO energy to move. NO energy to motivate.
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The discovery of this "metabolic jumper cable" can now reverse this process:
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In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
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Is Bread Really the Staff of Life… or the Stuff of Disease?
For most us, there are few foods more comforting than bread.
Fluffy biscuits, crusty baguettes, flaky croissants… even a simple slice of toast topped with melted butter can taste like heaven.
And that smell… few scents are quite as pleasant as fresh bread baking in the oven.
But there is a lot of confusion as to where bread fits into a healthy diet.
The Bible practically commands followers to eat it: “Give us this day our daily bread…” The government put it at the base of the food pyramid. And for centuries, it has been called “the staff of life.”
Of course, there are some who disagree…
Well-known cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, calls wheat “the perfect chronic poison.”
And for a poison, we sure eat lots of it…
The average American consumes 55 pounds of wheat flour every year, making refined flour the #1 source of calories in the American Diet – a situation that nutrition expert Chris Kresser describes as, “a public health catastrophe.”
So, what is the truth about bread and wheat?
- Is it the perfect poison… or an essential daily food?
- Is “gluten-free” bread better for you than regular bread?
- And can you still eat bread… while maintaining a lean body and optimal health?
The answers to these questions may surprise you!
Be sure to read #5 – the biggest surprise of all!
Recently, Doctor of Naturopathy, weight-loss expert and best-selling Amazon author Liz Swann Miller, creator of the Red Smoothie Detox Factor, revealed 2 of the secrets to easy, steady weight loss. Secrets the big food corporations do their best to hide from us.
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You probably know most of us eat too much processed food. What you may not know is that it’s full of toxic chemicals and substandard, dirt-cheap ingredients designed to make you eat more…and force you to gain weight.
Here’s how it works.
“That stuff is just a lot of calories your body can’t use,” Liz told me, “Some are poison. And all these foods are stripped of the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that help your body detox. The result? Your body expends huge amounts of calories to eliminate some toxins—the rest, it stores in your fat to protect you. This is why most people are hungry all the time. They’re not getting energy they need.”
“So… what’s going on with me? Why am I losing weight but not going hungry?”
Liz paused, then dropped the bombshell.
Your body is designed to burn fat. You just have to let it.
“What? I thought we were designed to store fat?!?” We were Skyping and I was practically shouting. Then I heard Liz say…
What good is a fat reserve if you can’t burn it?
Liz continued: “You’re drinking smoothies packed with phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that pull toxins out of you like a tractor beam. Allowing your body to burn those toxin-filled fat stores… and releasing tremendous amounts of stored energy.”
So that’s why I’m losing weight without going hungry.
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- Which calories help you lose weight…and which ones help you gain it…
- The “diet” foods…some of them vegetables…that lead to weight gain and diabetes…
- The “low-fat” foods that can dramatically increase your risk of cancer.
- And the superfoods that rescue your body from this assault by detoxing you…
Revitalizing your metabolism so you can Shed pounds as well as toxins, renew your body and reset your internal clock by up to 7 years.
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.