Dr. Jason Fung on Intermittent Fasting

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If you want to know how intermittent fasting works just watch this short 10 minute video. It’s not starvation and is a normal way for your body to work. We were never meant to eat all throughout the day.

New scientific trial shows benefit of Intermittent Fasting

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The trial is small and the conclusion that participants lost weight because they consumed fewer calories misses the mark a little. But, at least scientists are beginning to look at what we’ve known anecdotally for a long time now.

If you’re not eating all the time there are things that happen with your hormones that help you lose weight. It’s not just the calorie reduction but also the reduction of insulin constantly getting pumped through your system. Yes, people tend to eat less if you’re limiting the number of meals per day because you can only eat so much at one sitting. But you’re also stopping the pumping of insulin that begins the process of fat storage. During the times that you’re not eating your body doesn’t have the fuel to use in your stomach so it has to start looking to your fat stores. This is the beginning of becoming fat adapted and has many beneficial health consequences.

In both of the groups that practiced time-restricted fasting, participants consumed an average of 550 fewer calories a day and lost about 3 percent of their body weight. Compared with the controls, both groups had significantly reduced fat mass, reductions in oxidative stress, and reductions in both fasting insulin and insulin resistance, which suggest a reduced risk for diabetes. Blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were unaffected.

New York Times

If you think you can’t do it start with cutting your snacks. Just don’t eat snacks. Next knock out one meal. Most people find breakfast the easiest to cut. Once you do that and get yourself to a eating window of just a few hours you’ll find that it was much easier to get there than you imagined.

Intermittent fasting and your health

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More and more evidence is coming out on the benefits of not eating so many times per day. Prior to modern agriculture and government intervention into our diet what is now called intermittent fasting used to be called existing.

Before modern society people didn’t wake up and make themselves a breakfast. They woke up. They most likely started thinking about gathering or hunting for food and if they were fortunate they ate at most once per day.

Doctors and scientists are finally looking into the physiology behind intermittent fasting and the results are encouraging across the board for the health of your brain and your body.

Within as little as 12 hours of going without food, the body begins to make changes to conserve energy and operate more efficiently, explains Benjamin Horne, PhD, a clinical associate professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University.

With its tank of glucose, or sugar, empty, it starts burning fat and producing chemical byproducts called ketones, which circulate throughout the body, improving insulin sensitivity, dampening inflammation, and feeding the brain. Blood levels of sodium and a compound called TMAO (implicated in heart disease) plummet, while red blood cell counts rise, providing a boost for heart health. And levels of a compound called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein essential for maintaining healthy neurons, spike.


A guy shares his thoughts on 7 years of intermittent fasting

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I’m not a body builder or a fitness guru. I’m just a regular guy. I’ve been intermittent fasting for decades. I fell into it just by chance. You can learn more about that on my about page. My experience is not like his. I never experienced intense hunger because when I changed my eating habits I did it to match up with my hunger.

I found that simply following my levels of hunger I was able to eliminate most meals. I’ve been eating one full meal a day with a small snack later in the evening for a long long time now. I don’t think it’s anything special and if I can do this so can you. In fact, now even when I eat I’m not hungry before I eat. I can go for at least 3 days without feeling hunger.

“While you might feel intense hunger in the beginning, that’s only because you’re snapping your body’s biological rhythm,” he says. “Adrenaline is released when you would usually eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. So it takes around two or three weeks for your body to adjust to the new eating window, and then you tend to get hungry when you’re about to hit that window.”

Men’s Health

Ramadan and dawn to dusk fasting

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It’s intermittent fasting but done during a different time scale. During Ramadan Muslims eat a meal before dawn, called suhoor, and eat a meal again after sunset, called iftar. In essence they have two fasting cycles. One while they sleep and the other during the middle of the day. This is similar to a 20:4 or 22:2 cycle for fasting depending on how long their time is for eating their meals.

I think this shows more and more that the advice we’ve been given for so long regarding eating multiple meals a day is wrong. We are animals at our core and our bodies are designed to eat as we would if we were not civilized. That means most of the time we would not be eating. Wild animals don’t have refrigerators and pantries stocked with food. They have to catch, kill, and/or find what they need to eat.

The timing of these two meals and the fast itself may hold the key to a healthier life, said Mindikoglu, who is board-certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and transplant hepatology.

The study, led by Mindikoglu, found that dawn-to-sunset fasting was associated with proteins protective against cancer, as well as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammation and some neurological disorders.

“Intermittent fasting has become very popular in the treatment of many chronic diseases, including cancer,” said Mindikoglu, who began designing the research in 2014.


Warrior Diet; Intermittent Fasting in disguise?

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It really is the same thing under a different name. Your fasting period is slightly longer than more common methods of intermittent fasting.

The diet has actually evolved from its original format since it was first created and the name was coined. More recently, the Warrior Diet has been interpreted as a strict 20-hour food fast and a four-hour fueling window, with various exercise requirements, says Totoro. This is also sometimes referred to simply as a 20:4 diet or 20:4 fasting.

The current version doesn’t have any food restrictions for the fueling period, but you’re not supposed to eat at all during the fasting period. While this might sound similar to the popular IF diet known as the 16:8 diet, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour window, it’s actually very different. First, it’s much easier to fit your daily calorie needs into eight hours instead of four, and in the Warrior Diet, you fast during the majority of the day, which is much more challenging than fasting overnight and into a short portion of the day, like you would with the 16:8 diet.

Woman’s Health

Intermittent fasting and eating disorders

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First we need to dispense with the notion of disordered eating. There is no such thing. The main problem with modern society is that we eat too much and we eat too much of the wrong thing. Humans are animals like any other and if we didn’t have access to modern society we would have to be hunting or gathering our food. It is highly unlikely that humans, in the wild, would wake up and have a big breakfast, followed by a lunch a few hours later, and a dinner a few hours after that. Instead we would be busy all day trying to secure food. Some days we would be more successful than others and I suspect would be lucky to eat a big meal once per day.

If you have an eating disorder, and my definition is an eating pattern that either causes you to lose or gain too much weight where it affects your health negatively, then it is largely a psychological problem rather than a physical problem. We’ve all been trained by government and the media that we need to eat this or eat that so many times per day. That’s the cycle we need to break.

Eat when you’re hungry. Put protein sources first and supplement the rest with fat and carbs.

The line where something moves from a diet that’s not pathological into the realm of a mental health problem is if it’s causing the person significant distress, they feel like their behavior is out of control, or if it’s starting to become impairing, like if they can’t socialize anymore,” says Tiffany Brown, a researcher at the Eating Disorders Center at the University of California, San Diego.


Intermittent Fasting and weight loss

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Whether you follow the calories in calories out (CICO), low carb high fat, or low fat high carb method of dieting it should be easy to see why the act of intermittent fasting will contribute to weight loss. If you’re not eating then you’re not adding things to your body that contribute to weight gain.

This is not at all counter intuitive. The longer you don’t eat the better the possibility that you’ll lose weight. Duh.

For answers, I’m looking at published research and talking to Dr. Krista Varady who researches intermittent fasting at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“Is there a link between intermittent fasting and weight loss?” I asked her.

“Yes, there is a link between intermittent fasting and weight loss,” Varady said.

So, it works. But how well does it work?

Varady co-authored this paper in the Journal of American Medicine/Internal Medicine. It looked at the weight loss associated with alternate-day fasting. Over a year, participants experienced a 6% weight loss.


Intermittent fasting may suppress disease

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I don’t know if any of this can ever be proven since we can’t take a group of people and lock them up for a period of years. Hopefully someday we’ll have proof other than anecdotal evidence from people like me.

It turns out that weight loss may not be the only way that switching to metabolizing ketones from sugars may suppress disease. Ketones apparently have important physiological roles of their own; they “regulate the expression and activity of many proteins and molecules that are known to influence health and aging.” These include proteins and molecules involved in inflammation, cardiovascular and brain function, and glucose utilization. The NEJM review does not discuss any possible harms from high ketone levels and for the most part, these do not seem to be clinically significant for most individuals.

Psychology Today

Intermittent Fasting and heart health

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I’ve been doing what is now called intermittent fasting for a couple decades. Never once did I feel like gorging myself. Your stomach can only fit so much food into it. Skipping one or two meals doesn’t make you more hungry. And if you stay away from sugar and other carbs you will feel full for much longer than if you consumed excess carbohydrates.

Think about eating a big steak or a few pieces of chicken versus a couple scoops of ice cream. You can eat the ice cream and still have room for plenty more. But, not so much after eating a big steak or a few pieces of chicken.

Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist at National Jewish Health, said you can defeat the purpose of intermittent fasting if you’re not careful.

“For the people that are willing and have the willpower that can do intermittent fasting. I’m all for it. But it’s important also that when you do intermittent fasting to not gorge yourself in those four hours or eight hours or six hours, whatever it may be, so really plan your meals appropriately. So that when it is time to eat you’re eating well,” Freeman said.