Have you ever heard of “tinkering” used in a sentence about how to eat? Tinkering is all about learning how to eat to best meat your personal needs. Every day is an experiment of feeling my best and most recently, among all of the great paleo research I have been obtaining, I have been finding myself reading about Intermittent Fasting (IF).
Rather than rewriting some points of what IF and how it benefits one’s health, I have found a well-written article on Calorie Lab and have pasted the copy below. Please provide input if you have had luck with IF. I would love to hear personal experiences.
Cheers to you and good health!
Contributor: “Dr. J”
Dr. J offers his irreverent, slightly irrelevant, but possibly useful opinions on health and fitness. A Florida surgeon and fitness freak with a black belt in karate, he runs 50 miles a week and flies a Cherokee Arrow 200.
I’d like to present a concept of fasting for weight loss or even as a lifestyle choice. Fasting as I understand it means voluntarily going for a length of time without food. I suppose that for someone that eats six meals a day, only eating five could be considered a fast. What I mean by “fasting” is going at least 16 to 20 hours between meals. Some refer to this as a type of intermittent fasting.
What Are the Downsides of Intermittent Fasting?
In my opinion, almost any eating style is an acquired taste. What I mean by this is that we can adapt and get used to eating in a wide variety of ways. Unless you have some type of condition that prohibits doing this, the only major downside to eating less frequently is social. It just does not fit in to the constant feeding style to which society has habituated itself.
One of the biggest challenges faced by someone on a diet can be hunger. Once individuals have adapted to eating less frequently, they will usually find that they are not as hungry during the fasting period, provided that they are consistent with their activity level and eating behavior as to amount and timing.
Another concern with less frequent eating is the so-called “starvation mode” or “starvation response.” This is where your metabolism slows down as a survival response to no food. This is not a problem with less frequent eating because any decrease in our metabolism from intermittent fasting does not occur unless we have continually fasted for days, and actually, a fast less than two to three days can increase our metabolic rate.
One other concern is that we will catabolize our muscle when fasting. This does not happen to any significant degree with less frequent eating. As long as we have adequate protein when we do eat, the body will burn carbohydrates and fat stores before turning to muscle for an energy source, especially if you make sure to use your muscles with some aerobic and strength training exercises several times a week. In fact, fasting will lead to a higher use of fat for energy, as that is what the body stores fat for primarily in the first place.
As for fasting leading to the body storing fat as a conditioned response to starvation, that simply does not happen unless you are in a calorie excess with your “fasting.”
What Are the Upsides of Intermittent Fasting?
Proponents of daily intermittent fasting suggest, among other things, the following:
- Intermittent fasting can make it easier to be in negative caloric state because eating less frequently makes it harder to overeat.
- It can be easier for you to lose body fat because you are in a fat-burning metabolic state for more hours per day.
- You can have an increased metabolism due to your short-term fasting.
- You will probably notice an increased energy to be active rather than feeling tired during the day from your body always having to use energy for the digestion of food.
If you think in terms of the autonomic nervous system, there are two divisions, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic is involved with a fight-or-flight response, corresponding with arousal and energy generation, and the inhibition of digestion; the parasympathetic is involved with a rest-and-digest response, promoting calming and conservation of energy, and digestion enhancement.
This concept of daily intermittent fasting suggests that we have evolved to be more dominated by our sympathetic nervous system during the day, and by our parasympathetic nervous system at night. Simply put, the goal of daily intermittent fasting is to undereat and be overactive during the day, and overeat and be underactive at night.
Intermittent fasting does not mean that it’s alright to eat unhealthy foods. The basic dietary recommendations as to the nutritional quality of your food choices still apply.
If you are interested in learning more about the concept of intermittent fasting, there are several web sources that can give you additional information and allow you to make a more informed choice as to whether it can be of benefit to you and your health and fitness goals.
Other articles on fasting, which may be of interest: