Intermittent fasting – WTF?

19 Oct

So many of the fantastic and effective primal means of keeping fit and healthy fly in the face of conventional wisdom when it comes to diet and nutrition. I grew up being told breakfast is the most important meal of the day,  that you should breakfast like a king, lunch like a … whatever, and have dinner like a pauper. Political correctness aside, this way of thinking is totally wrong! All my life I have detested eating breakfast – I just don’t feel hungry in the mornings. And I LIKE having a large dinner.

A delicious IF breakfast

So, I was more than VERY pleased to find out that ‘intermittent fasting’ is a normal part of the paleo lifestyle and is very effective for weightloss and weight management.

Here is some more info about it from Leangains’ Martin Berkhan:

“There’s a range of mental and physiological benefits unique to fasting such as improved insulin sensitivity, increased growth hormone output, and increased mental alertness as well as cardiovascular and neuro-protective benefits. The nutrient partitioning benefits of eating most of your calories in the post-workout period should also be emphasized.”

“Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you alternate between periods of fasting and feeding. Fasting in this context basically means no calorie consumption. Water, coffee, and other non-caloric beverages are allowed in unlimited amounts. I’m also not the type to be too obsessive about this, so I use about 40–50 kcal worth of milk for my coffee. On my regimen, the fast is 16 hours and the feeding window is eight hours. Look around and you’ll find a few other approaches. Some suggest a 19-hour fast while others suggest two, 24-hour fasts twice weekly. The Leangains approach was developed with the athlete and weight trainer in mind. The eight-hour feeding window allows proper pre- and post-workout nutrition and it’s easy to adhere to. In practical terms, you might break the fast with a pre-workout meal at 1:00–2:00 p.m., train a few hours later, have a big post-workout meal, and then have a final meal at 9:00–10:00 p.m.”

Mark’s Daily Apple also discusses the benefits of intermittent fasting:

“Beyond the already proven benefits of a Primal Blueprint low-carb lifestyle, fasting once in a while seems to offer many of the same benefits of calorie restriction – you know, stuff like increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, some cool effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity, plus more – but without the active, agonizing restriction. You just eat Primally, focusing on meat and vegetables with plenty of animal fat, and skip meals on occasion. A sixteen-hour fast is on the low-but-still-effective end (you could easily maintain a daily sixteen hour IF regimen, giving you an eight hour eating window, a la Leangains), or you could opt for longer, more intermittent fasts – say, a full twenty-four hours once or twice a week. When you’re done with the fast, eat as much as you want (which usually isn’t an issue, once you’re PB-adapted). It essentially turns into “eat when you’re hungry,” because let’s face it: eating the types of foods we evolved eating induces powerful satiety and makes eating the right amount of food a subconscious act. Fasting becomes a whole lot easier (and intuitive) when you’ve got your food quality dialed in.”

So, I basically fast from 8pm to around 10am-1pm, depending on what I have on that day (and how hungry I get!). I don’t really have to force myself, it just feels very natural. And no more force-feeding myself oats or yoghurt or whatever at the crack of dawn! So, my ‘feeding window’ (could they think of a less ladylike term?) is around 7-10 hours long, rather than what it would be if I forced myself to breakfast at 7am every day (13hr feeding window).


Leangains’ Top 10 Fasting Myths Debunked

2 Responses to “Intermittent fasting – WTF?”

  1. Mary Sunshine October 19, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    During the mid 1960’s and early 70’s, my mother taught high school. Every week, she fasted on Saturdays, consuming only juice and tea.

    She just stumbled upon this practice to avoid migraine headaches. She told me that it also served to help her to de-stress from the previous week, and also to keep her weight under control. I visualize her organism resting and recovering during that 24-hour period, even though Saturday was full of household tasks which she had to mentally and physically accomplish. But they were repetitive tasks that didn’t involve facing a classroom of 40 baby boomers for 6 hours.

    A woman discovering intuitively that intermittent-fasting survival strategy.

    • cavelesbian October 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

      Great story, Mary! My grandmother has similar intuitive wisdom from times gone by (such as not eating a bread roll with dinner to watch her weight), which has unfortunately been beaten out if her by today’s ‘conventional wisdom’ – the same wisdom force feeding us 6 meals per day, mostly grains! Grandma is 83!

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