T Nation

Intermittent Fasting

What are your thoughts on this?

Drop that fork (or pair of chopsticks, or piece of meat, or handful of nuts) and pay attention. Today, you’re going to skip your next meal. Skip your next two, if you want, but make sure you at least miss the next meal. Consider this a Primal Directive, the nudge in the right direction toward Intermittent Fasting that you’ve probably been mulling over but have yet to fully embrace. I talk about it enough in the blog, but actually fasting can be a difficult thing to try. For one, food is awesome. Food tastes good, especially good Primal food. It’s natural to want to eat it, but it’s also natural to avoid it for relatively long stretches of time in order to capitalize on the metabolic benefits

In an evolutionary context, the idea that there are benefits to fasting makes perfect sense. Grok experienced times of plenty and times of scarcity. Sometimes the hunt didn’t go well. Sometimes he might only get one big meal in a two-day span of time. Now, conventional nutrition “experts” would suggest that a fasting Grok would experience a slowed metabolism, cannibalized lean body mass, and increased body fat. But would that make evolutionary sense? Why would our bodies develop a response to scarcity that promoted physical infirmity, weakness, and decreased mobility? If we were without food, wouldn’t it make sense for our bodies to conserve strength and burn fat for energy, rather than reduce it and burn muscle? In a tight spot like possible starvation, we needed that strength more than ever. And so, on a purely theoretical, logical level, the Conventional Dietary Wisdom regarding skipping meals doesn’t add up.

The actual research tells a different story, too. In past MDA posts like this one, this one, and this one, I touched on some of the science behind Intermittent Fasting. There have been some pretty comprehensive reports on fasting, including this one which looked at a variety of animal and human studies and found it improved insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake (important for fat loss), increased resistance to lipid oxidation damage, and ! it incre ased fat loss, while providing protection for certain diseases. Another study noticed that fasting significantly increased longevity in rats. We aren’t rats, but we are mammals, and several other studies suggest similar benefits in fasting mammals, including this one that looked at the effects of Intermittent Fasting on elderly, otherwise healthy hominids; Dr. Eades discussed the same study some time ago, noting that the fasting scientists experienced “health benefits… in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin (viral URI, recurrent bacterial tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, periodontal disease), autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, symptoms due to CNS inflammatory lesions (Tourette’s, Meniere’s) cardiac arrhythmias (PVCs, atrial fibrillation), menopause related hot flashes.” Quite a laundry list, and it’s largely anecdotal, but interesting nonetheless.

Of course, just skipping a single meal won’t result in all the benefits of fasting, but it will get you on the right track. Consider this an order, rather than a tip. Skip your next meal, no questions asked. If you feel okay, skip two. Hopefully, you can use this as motivation to more fully explore the world of IF.

I’m bumping this as it is a topic that I may be interesting in the future.

That being said, I eat too much right now. If it is all solid food, even if I only have 2 meals the digestion of that much food would be slow enough to barely put me into a ‘fasted’ state. And having everything as fast digested liquids in order to achieve a fasted state’s benefits is the worse of the two options.

I used to do an occasional 24 hour fast. It made me fill better. I was also fat and ate lots of crap, so it might have just been the detox that left me feeling a little better.

This is a very interesting idea, with people on both sides of the fence. I am still unsure of what to think. I mean I know that fasting is HEALTHY and can have ALOT of heath benefits. I studied Water fasting when I was doing my Bio Chem undergrad degree. And there was reshearch shown that the body can repair itself while fasting (Eye sight even, tho this was a long term water fast, 20 days) I know this is not what we are discussing here but I was just pointing out that there are many health benefits.

What I am curious about is how this would help in our quest to be more muscular and Leaner? this is what I want evidence of before I start skipping meals. I mean, I’ll try skipping a couple and see how it goes but I’m not sold yet.

As Ghost in theory it makes sense especially when we look back at evolution. However when these individuals broke their fast they weren’t eating processed carbs or any of the other Crap we eat today! (I know ghost is talking about primal food) I think there could be benefits in this fasting if we eat like we actually where cave men and if we worked hard for as many hours a day as they did. If you think about it they would pretty much be in a state of Ketosis at almost all times would they not?

Anyways Im getting off topic this is VERY interesting and I can’t wait to hear what others think about this idea.

I have tried it a couple of times, and it was pretty rough. I have only done 24hr ones, drinking only water, and have read that they are great for detoxing and “cleaning” out your systems. Felt great after, but no miracles happened.

I have no expert advice on them, however, and only did them as a sort of challenge to myself.

http://www.leangains.com

The guy (Martin Berkhan) preaches a 16:8 IF protocol where you fast for 16 hours and then eat all your food in an 8 hour window (it’s not that simple, but that’s IF on a high level). Apparently, it’s pretty effective for fat loss.

Note: this isn’t the only form of IF.

has worked great for me from a fat loss standpoint without a drop in performance, and you feel much better. used protocol similar to leangains.com 16/8

resources:
eat stop eat is a good book about the topic and Berkhans website will direct you to other great sources.

some discussion on elitefts q and a and logs from Marc Bartley who tried warrior diet, and Landon Evans who calls BS to meal frequency if you would like to search over there

nice to see this discussed on this thread as i would like to learn more about it,especially from a standpoint of gaining muscle. in the past bringing this up would have gotten some bad feedback but as people get results from it i think it will open peoples minds. plus when you look at the research there is actually more to back it then eating multiple times per day.

Quick question…I’ve read Berkhan’s blog and I own a copy of the Warrior Diet and have read the numerous posts on intermittent fasting at Elite. In the past, I’ve performed 24hr water fasts (only on my days off) and (up to) 5 day “Daniel” fasts (vegetables and fruits). The question is, if you are trying to detoxify your body and possibly live healthier, when performing a fast such as the water fast, would it make sense to use a supplement such as Spike to stay mentally sharp? Anyone ever tried this?

wouldnt think Spike would hurt at all. from what i have read, and the way i feel, the fast will magnify the effects of these supps. i feel mentally sharp on a fast, but even sharper when using things such as chocamine,lcarn,gtea,caffeine,etc.

I’ll stick with protein sparing modified fasts twice per year.

One thing I never understood: most people who use IF fast all day and eat at night. It makes more sense to me for those building a physique eating in the morning and then fasting the rest of the day/night… anyone have any insights as to why the preference for nighttime meals?

to spadesofaces…when you eat doesnt really matter as long as you respect the duration of the fast. if the am meal works better for you then go for it. the reason i think most people skip the am meal is because…

  1. they have already been fasting for the night while they are sleeping so skipping breakfast and lunch is easy for them

  2. they like the feel good/think better effects of the fast and if they do it during the day it will correlate with when they work

  3. they dont think about food as much during the day when they are busy

  4. they can still enjoy a dinner or night out with friends when the time comes

another thing to consider is postworkout meals and the timing of the fast/eating period.

Ori Hofmekler recommends IM too. In his book, The Warrior Diet he goes into detail about the science of it.

I followed it for quite some time. I was eating nutritious foods but not enough of them, this was back in '04 I believe. I did notice that not worrying about meals did improve my clarity of thought as well, and improved energy levels from not having a constantly full stomach.

Another thing, IMO, is if you always eat til you feel full, then your stomach will adapt by getting bigger, makes sense to me, just wanted to throw that out there.

For someone wanting to actually gain muscle on the diet, I would recommend ingesting protein every 3-5 hours(maybe longer depending on the protein chosen) during the fasting portion, it doesn’t have to be much, but just enough to decrease protein breakdown and increase protein synthesis(~20g). Could be BCAAs, EAAs, a Casein based protein would be ideal as well b/c of how slow it digests and keeps AAs circulating in the blood stream.

He also had an interview here at T-Nation awhile ago, here’s the link

Just thinking out loud here, for the 16:8 IF…

8am wake up & do some periworkout nutrition protocol, which could be up to 1200 calories (if you’re doing the Anaconda protocol or something)
9am go to gym
11am come home, shower, eat a big meal, 1000 calories or so
3pm eat another meal of 1000 calories or so

There’s your 8 hours, you just got in roughly 3000 calories. No dinner. Now from 4pm to 8am, don’t eat.

The same could go if you worked out at night. Wake up, eat nothing. Eat lunch at 1pm. Do a peri workout protocol at 5pm. Get home from gym at 7:30. Eat dinner at 8:30.

I don’t think that following in this format would necessarily be hard… but getting in the 1000 calories per meal with all ‘clean calories’ would be…

Oh well, like I said, just thinking out loud. Not for me.

My take: if I worked out in the morning, good chance my metabolism would be revved up for the rest of the day. If I had to fast after 4pm, I’d go insane from hunger, especially after eating all those carbs (since they digest more quickly).

People also tend to get hungrier towards the end of the day (late night munchies?).

[quote]spadesofaces wrote:
One thing I never understood: most people who use IF fast all day and eat at night. It makes more sense to me for those building a physique eating in the morning and then fasting the rest of the day/night… anyone have any insights as to why the preference for nighttime meals?[/quote]

I have been doing a program called Fast-5, you can download a free 65 page ebook from their site.
The idea is that your body switches to a fat burning metabolism in the hours before you awaken and so your body is using fat for fuel. As long as you don’t eat ( and consequently raise your insulin level) you will continue to use fat for fuel. It has worked for me, I have lost 14 pounds in 32 days. And more importantly three inches of my chest and navel. One inch of my neck and shoulders, although as I have felt increasingly better and have been working out more I have gained half an inch back on my shoulders and thighs, other measurements are too small a difference to really tell.

[quote]spadesofaces wrote:
One thing I never understood: most people who use IF fast all day and eat at night. It makes more sense to me for those building a physique eating in the morning and then fasting the rest of the day/night… anyone have any insights as to why the preference for nighttime meals?[/quote]
sympathetic and parasympathetic activity in response to feast and famine cycles

how many calories should one aim to eat when breaking the fast if one is aiming for fat loss?

ie say you are eating 2200 calories a day over 6 meals at the moment. Would you simply do the same except in one meal or can you eat more? less? etc.

I attempted to do a thread on this topic several years back using myself as a guinea pig. Due to a series of events, I didn’t complete my little “experiment” as I had hoped. Some notes though…it is much easier and cheaper to eat clean on this sort of eating pattern, you become much more conscious of your food choices, energy and clarity increase during the day with appropriate parasympathetic activity at night, insulin sensitivity does indeed seem better as evidenced by positive changes in body composition. I would recommend 40-50 g protein and some fiber first thing in the morning to prevent protein catabolism (somewhat similar to the idea in a PSMF.)

[quote]I have been doing a program called Fast-5, you can download a free 65 page ebook from their site.
The idea is that your body switches to a fat burning metabolism in the hours before you awaken and so your body is using fat for fuel. As long as you don’t eat ( and consequently raise your insulin level) you will continue to use fat for fuel. It has worked for me, I have lost 14 pounds in 32 days. And more importantly three inches of my chest and navel. One inch of my neck and shoulders, although as I have felt increasingly better and have been working out more I have gained half an inch back on my shoulders and thighs, other measurements are too small a difference to really tell. [/quote]

What kind of shape are you already in?