Scientific Nutrition Update 5: What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting Book

In this episode we go strongly into my wheelhouse and discuss what is intermittent fasting.  This is obviously something I’m knowledgeable about it so I’m just gonna throw it up here and give you a few links to help you learn more. Episode and script and links are all right below the fold

Guide To Intermittent Fasting

Script I read from:

For today’s episode we are going directly into my wheelhouse.  This is part 1 of my three part beginner series on Intermittent fasting.  This episode is going to be an introduction and tomorrow will be my guide to getting started and progressing in intermittent fasting, and the day after that we will cover frequently asked questions surrounding intermittent fasting.


So what is intermittent fasting? In short it is taking a short break from eating.  Some people will fast for 24 hours a couple times a week, some for 16 hours every single day, there were even some practitioners going a couple days without food.  I was first introduced to it back in High School when one of my friends sang the praises of Martin Berkhan’s site Leangains, which is still arguably the greatest resource available to learn more about intermittent fasting.  As I studied it I became more and more curious about this diet type.  It blew my mind that people were choosing to go 16 or more hours without food.  However, I was intrigued because it intuitively made sense to me.  You were setting a simple rule that eliminated much of the decision making surrounding dieting.  However, as an offensive-linemen this introduction to intermittent fasting would be shelved for the forseeable future.


However, after some serious damage to my brain, knee, ankles, hips, shoulders, and pride I retired from football after my sophomore year of college.  It was time for me to seriously consider how to control my weight without the huge calorie burn of football.  So I started reading about intermittent fasting, and found incredible claims about it.  IT CURED CANCER. HELPED BLOOD PRESSURE. FIXED DIABETES.  ACCELERATED WEIGHT LOSS. GREW HAIR BACK. There were a lot of Internet Health Experts making incredible claims about it, but I was suspicious.  So I started researching.  Reading the literature and I discovered several things.


Now I probably shouldn’t tell you guys this, because it makes it less likely you will buy my book, but the truth needs to come out.  Intermittent fasting is not a magic bullet.  In many respects it appears to perform identically to any other form of calorie restriction.  It will not help you lose weight any faster than a normal calorie restricted diet.  It is no better for your heart than normal calorie restriction.  The studies with cancer require longer fasts than people were using, and even then are not thoroughly studied.  It will not grow your hair back.  It may be slightly better for improving blood sugar and helping with diabetes, but even this has not been conclusively shown.  Intermittent fasting was not a cure-all.  It was not a magical diet.  


So now you my favorite listener are probably wondering why I would write a book about a boring diet with no special benefits that most people find hard?  You’re quite clever asking me exactly the question I need to seque here.  Quite simply because as I read this literature, and studied the underlying biochemistry, I became increasingly convinced there wouldn’t be any magic bullet diet that someone was going to come up with.  That the primary driving factor of weight-loss in any diet available now was calorie deficit.  Let me say that one more time for emphasis.  Every single diet available now all rely solely or nearly solely on calorie deficit to drive weight loss.  So what becomes our determining characteristic in which diet we should follow then?  In my mind two things, 1. How well it integrates into your lifestyle and closely related 2. How long can you continue doing it?


These two questions are what make intermittent fasting a winning diet for me.  I have always struggled with any diet that makes me completely eliminate or restrict certain food groups, with the exception of ketosis.  Because intermittent fasting does not require any food group or type to be eliminated it gets flying colors in that regard.  Now the second one, how long can you keep doing it is what always knocks out diets like the ketogenic diet.  For those who don’t know the ketogenic diet is a high fat low carb diet, that has some interesting physiological effects I’ll talk about on here at some point, but for now what you really need to know is that it allows almost zero carbohydrates.  Once I get what’s called fat-adapted which takes a little bit on this diet, I can basically cruise on it for a while.  However for me the problem became when I finally did falter.  When I was home to see my family and had one of my mom’s cookies, or had a piece of pie, which were things I didn’t want to give up.  Once I did this for myself personally I would rapidly lose all dedication to this diet at all.  However, for me with intermittent fasting, blowing one day does not seem to lead to blowing the next day.  I think the reason this is because I would let myself slide down the slippery slope into oblivion.  I was trying to make myself give up things I didn’t truly want to give up.  With intermittent fasting, you don’t have to give up a single thing.  That was the secret for me.  I allowed myself to eat it and it felt good.  


Now I know some of you are thinking that “Wait a second, doesn’t intermittent fasting sometimes struggle to fit in? What if you have a late night dinner?”  I just want to say thank you again convenient segue listener, because you are right.  That does happen.  But remember the kicker from earlier, all that matters is our calorie deficit.  If you need to break your fast a little early that’s okay, as long as you are under your calorie deficit.  If you need to eat for a little bit later than your window, that’s okay as long as you maintain your calorie deficit.  Intermittent fasting is just a tool to help you do that, it is not an unbreakable law.  That is how intermittent fasting beat out every other diet technique and won my heart.  Although if I am being honest, my heart is still occasionally pulled away by flashy new diets.  It just keeps coming home to intermittent fasting now.  For me, it is the perfect diet, because it is so simple.  Just stop eating for a while, and then later start.


If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting consider checking out my book The Optimized Guide to Intermittent Fasting and if you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review, it helps more than you know.  Thank you for tuning in, and remember live long, live healthy, but most of all live happy


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