Intermittent Fasting done correctly is great for weight control and health:
Before I go into the ways to do intermittent fasting, let me chat with you about why you might like to incorporate this practice into your life. Fasting is the established non-fad (fad=essentially no science, non-fad=big science) wave sweeping the anti-aging community. But why are you reading this? Have you read that it is an excellent way to kick off a weight loss program? Check.
Have you also read that it is ideal for long-term weight management? Yep. Do you hear that it’s great for your brain and longevity too? Well, you’re right! I’ll reveal the four best ways to do intermittent fasting including “my way” you haven’t likely heard of—yet. First, though, let’s review a little about the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Why is intermittent fasting now “healthy”? Anti-aging for one thing:
For people who absolutely hate the idea of dieting, intermittent fasting offers a simple alternative that doesn’t involve much calorie counting or any starvation. Intermittent fasting is increasingly thought of as a lifestyle shift rather than simply a diet change. Further, it’s a way of living and eating that can help you live a longer, healthier life without feeling as if you are sacrificing. Intermittent fasting benefits your body, as it extends lifespan and protects against disease, too.
Have you heard of “telomeres”? They are the tips of our DNA (genetic material), and they get shorter with aging. In fact, this is a commonly used marker for “aging.” However, the telomeres shorten more slowly if you incorporate medical fasting into your “routine” whether you need to lose weight or not. I have done it, and I don’t need to lose weight. I’ve had telomere testing and BDNF testing (a marker of brain health), and it does indeed work. The energy increase is incredible too.
What I advocate for a diet plan, in general, is an anti-inflammatory diet plan. I’ll get into the specifics of this in a little bit. If you are trying to lose weight, one of the ways to do intermittent fasting may be the answer for your weight-loss kickoff.
Intermittent Fasting Helps Prevent Disease:
It reduces oxidative stress. Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative free radicals in the cell and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
Recall that oxidative stress is basically the opposite of how many anti-oxidants are stored in your tissues. Everyone has this problem, and it’s quite easy to fix. Oxidative stress relief is as easy as ingesting dried, organic non-GMO fruits and veggies, dissolved in water. This is quicker and less expensive than juicing and a lot more practical than even thinking you will eat 12 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables per day.
Newsflash: Simply taking resveratrol supplements helps mimic the health effects of fasting! (Follow the previous link).
Fasting also increases insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency. In short, increasing insulin sensitivity means you will have a lower blood sugar and therefore less “glycation” or stiffening of your cells. Mitochondrial energy efficiency means more ATP=energy production and fewer mitochondria (cells of respiration within organs) dying off. Lower blood sugar and more ATP both retard aging and help prevent disease. In addition, you will improve the strength of your immune system meaning fewer infections/less cancer.
Further, intermittent fasting increases your capacity to resist stress, disease, and aging. Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging. Recall our discussions of up or down regulating gene expression? Always remember that you are not your genes. A hamburger UP regulates genetic expression of diabetes and heart disease genes while a salad DOWN regulates the genetic expression. Expression means you have “it.” Non expression means you do NOT. Here is the video on that for a reminder.
Other benefits include weight loss and things associated strongly with excess weight:
Intermittent fasting decreases inflammation, blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
It helps to normalize ghrelin levels, known as “one of the hunger hormones.” Intermittent fasting also helps us deal with the hunger and fat storage hormone called leptin. Fasting helps adjust this “other hunger hormone” too. If intermittent fasting doesn’t do the trick for hunger, I always suggest doing things to lower leptin found in the sirtfood diet plan article plus increasing dopamine with l-tyrosine and SAMe.
If you boost dopamine, you will also boost production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), stimulating the release of new brain cells and triggering brain chemicals that protect against changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Accordingly, when you increase BDNF, you help to lower leptin, too. In addition, you can find other ways to amp up BNDF and keep your brain healthy in the brain health guide.
Next up I’ll discuss the how to’s of fasting. A quickie warning before I give you the four ways to do intermittent fasting though, OK? This is not for those with eating disorders or diabetes without a firm blessing from a personal physician.
Intermittent Fasting-the how to’s:
For weight loss:
Studies show that taking day 3 and 5 of a 7 day week and doing caloric restriction to 500 calories for women, 600 calories for men give the best weight loss results.
There is another method that has been studied which might even nudge out the 500 calories on Tuesdays and Thursdays as the leader in pounds dropped. It’s a method where you do the 500-600 calories every OTHER day. I personally think this is just “not sustainable” as a lifetime habit to stabilize weight and optimize health. However, it works great for sugar and carbohydrate cravings. If you have had trouble finding weight loss solutions that work due to having constant cravings, this is quite useful as a start-up weight loss tool.
Understand these first two methods of intermittent fasting involve serious caloric restriction. “Going ketotic” healthfully on these days will suppress your appetite and your cravings. Ketosis is considered a natural appetite suppressant.
Another variant of the above:
This next method is used quite a bit for “health” in the anti-aging community, but it is also great for some weight loss or for weight maintenance after weight loss. The way to “do” this intermittent fast is to restrict all of your eating to an 8-hour window. An example of this would be to eat from 11 AM to 7 PM or noon to 8 or 10 AM to 6 PM. The exact schedule depends on YOUR “biorhythm” and nothing else other than not eating for a minimum of 2 hours prior to bedtime.
If you try this method, you will experience some weight loss, and you needn’t restrict calories. In addition, remember that you must eat our anti-inflammatory eating plan found in the book, or this intermittent fast has a woefully dampened effect. Other healthy eating styles include “Paleo” with compensatory omega-3 intake and Mediterranean “eating.” Most anti-aging doctors follow and recommend the basic anti-inflammatory diet so let me review the basics of that for you.
A review of the anti-inflammatory eating plan (synopsis, this is not complete):
Lean meats: As much as desired turkey, fish (only wild caught), chicken, shrimp, soy (organic & GMO-free) and organic, lean beef (only 2-3 times per week)
Full-fat dairy: Meaning Greek yogurt or non-pasteurized cheese (2-3 servings per week only)
Starches: 1-3 servings daily; only sprouted gluten free bread, quinoa, and sprouted brown rice
Vegetables: Minimum of 12 servings per day (avoid vegetables that are high-density carbs such as corn)
Nuts: 1-2 servings per day (particularly almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and brazil nuts)
Oils: Olive oil (dishes) & coconut oil (cooking)
Sweetener: Stevia (no other sweeteners)
Coffee: 3 cups per day max; Unlimited decaf herbal tea
Alcohol: 1 glass of red wine daily is optimal; the small amounts of “hops” in beer is likely anti-inflammatory, so that is fine too; watch for gluten in some brands of beer.
AVOID: Sugar, fruit juice, refined carbs, foods labeled as “low-fat,” high starch vegetables, white potatoes, corn, and all processed meats and processed foods, grilled foods and fried foods. Get the entire plan either on the blog or the ebook.
This is MY way. To emphasize, there are no large studies other than what I’m doing with my own patients and AWS annual consultation members. I have had patients and members who get “stuck” and couldn’t do the above plans because of multiple reasons, so I took all of the “work” out of it.
Everyone reports this is an amazing way to increase energy levels if they have been “sluggish.” I have seen (because I measure) leaps in scan scores for antioxidant levels. In addition, everyone is losing or has lost weight!
This is an easy variant on the 2x/weekly low-calorie intermittent fasting days. Use the AWS reds/greens drink or an equivalent antioxidant powder as your beverage all day. To explain, that is to 2, 16-ounce shaker cups totaling 190 calories alternated with 2 water plus lemon and stevia 16-ounce shakers. This then leaves you with 310 calories to spare, and you need protein for dinner!
To start your dinner and calm hunger pangs so that you won’t overeat, begin your meal with a cup of organic bone broth. To point out, this is great for your immune system, contains 10 grams of protein and is only 40 calories. Add in 4 ounces of cooked wild salmon or chicken (or the equivalent in protein for Greek yogurt if you are a vegetarian) for another (max) 200 calories and approximately 25 grams of protein.
Add a mixed greens salad with a splash of Braggs amino, wine vinegar, herbs, and pepper for another 40 calories. You have about 30 calories left; a little more if you chose the salmon or the yogurt. You can have a 1/2 glass of red wine or a square of dark chocolate. That is all there is to it! Obviously, the goal here is to have the twice weekly daily total equal to 500 calories/women and 600 calories/men. Using the 2x per week schedule tends to be easiest if you do it on Tuesdays/Thursdays.
I actually do this myself 2x per week as I find it easier just to drink my reds/greens than to count calories and make special foods. To point out, this gives you so much energy! Furthermore, a nice “side effect” is a good “clean-out” for a flat tummy and great GI function. Furthermore, here’s a word about cravings which are resistant to intermittent fasting.
Summary of how to stop cravings dead in their tracks:
You should start with the ketotic version of the anti-inflammatory diet done with intermittent fasting if it will “hold you.” If not, try adding some “integratives” first to amp up dopamine (L-tyrosine and SAMe) and then amp up serotonin (5-HTP). If high leptin is the cause of too much hunger, then a leptin lowering supplement such as one that contains forskolin and ECGC (MetaboPrime) will help with that.
A summary of how to use fasting for health/weight control: Pick one of the four methods presented that works in your lifestyle and, by all means, just re-structure your eating around what works best for you. There are many reasons the Tuesday/Thursday “routine” works best. You are less likely to have “dinner plans.” You are also more likely to have weight training scheduled on MWF. I don’t need to point out that weight training is not effective nor safe on “fasting days.”
Tuesdays and Thursdays also tend to be less hectic than Mondays and Wednesdays from a work standpoint which means mentally you’ll tolerate it better on the Tuesday/Thursday schedule.
Questions? I’m always here to help you reach your goals so don’t be shy!