One of my patients recently brought me a book, and it’s changed my mind on a few things around fasting.
It’s been a fascinating and helpful read. The book is called “Fast. Feast. Repeat.” by Gin Stephens.
By reading this book I realized that I had some things wrong around fasting.
And that’s what I want to talk about today.
I’ve been interested in intermittent fasting for quite some time. I’ve done some of it myself.
One thing this book helped me understand better is the role autophagy plays when you fast.
Autophagy is essentially self eating, and it’s related to fasting. When you’re in a fasted state, it increases the rate that your body chews up it’s own waste product, and recycles things. I talk more in detail on this process in today’s podcast.
Autophagy is a new hit word in medicine.
Not only is it good for weight loss, it’s also really good for healthy aging.
The relationship between autophagy and fasting is really important.
I’ve always liked ketosis type diets, but most people can’t stay in it for long. It’s too hard.
So then I got interested in intermittent fasting, and started doing it myself.
I thought I was doing it right, but there were a few things I was doing wrong.
Let me explain.
For example, I was intermittent fasting and also starting my day off with BulletProof Coffee. Now I just drink black coffee in the morning. Gin Stephens turned my mind around on this and here’s why.
Say you’re eating fat in the morning, and trying to keep your body in ketosis. If you’re eating fat in the morning and trying to keep your body in ketosis with grass fed butter etc., your body is going to use that fat first before it taps into its own body fat stores.
With intermittent fasting, the goal is to get rid of your own stored bank of fat.
The key here is insulin, which is a fat storing hormone.
You’re either going to be in fat burning mode or in fat storing mode. You obviously want it in fat burning mode.
Turns out you have to deplete your stores of glycogen in your liver in order to tap into your own fat.
When you do that you’re going to burn visceral fat, which is the fat around your organs. This is the dangerous type of fat.
Fasting is a way to tap into that fat.
Don’t Let Fasting Intimidate You
Most of people think of fasting as going without food for 2-3 days or even more.
I prefer intermittent fasting because it’s simply less daunting and can be just as powerful.
What you’re trying to do is trick your body into not adapting.
Our bodies have an amazing way of maintaining homeostasis. It’s built to adapt.
With intermittent fasting, you almost trick your body into not adapting.
When intermittent fasting, your body is increasing its own growth hormone which increases muscle. You won’t lose muscle, just fat. It also resets your gut microbiome.
When you have an upset stomach and you stop eating, your gut microbiome can reset itself and your stomach starts to feel better.
With intermittent fasting your gut microbiome is resetting itself regularly.
It also increases body autophagy, the new hit word we talked about above.
No two people are the same with this. You have to find out what works for you.
I used to think that eating small amounts of food all day increased my metabolism. In fact, a fasting state keeps your metabolism going.
No Artificial Sweeteners When You’re Fasting
When you taste something that’s sweet your brain interprets it as sugar. So your pancreas starts pumping out insulin, which as we said above is a fat storing hormone. This happens even when you don’t swallow something sweet, and you only taste it.
The only way intermittent fasting works is that it lowers your insulin level. When your insulin level gets low, your liver puts out glycogen. When that runs out it starts burning it’s own fat.
I’ve found intermittent fasting to be easy. You get more alert and have more energy without eating.
Have you ever noticed when you eat sugar and 30 minutes later you feel sluggish? This is the opposite.
Your brain runs better on ketones than it does on sugar. It also increases neuroplasticity.
Another thing I’ve found to be helpful is light exercise in a fasted state. You build more muscle and have more energy afterwards.
This is not just to lose weight. It’s to get healthier.
Your body has an incredible way of adapting, and fasting is a great way to trick your own body.
The other thing about fasting is that when you do eat, you can eat foods that you maybe wouldn’t normally be able to eat.
This is because your body is becoming more efficient at burning fat.
One thing I’ll leave you with this week: Everybody metabolizes a calorie differently. A calorie isn’t a calorie for everyone. One calorie in one person doesn’t equal one calorie in another person. That’s why calories in calories out is not a good weight loss strategy.
Give intermittent fasting a good try.