The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
By now, you should be caught up on all the benefits that fasting offers. By now, you’re likely either intrigued by the practice, strongly considering taking it up, or basking in the smug satisfaction that your longtime breakfast-skipping ways weren’t destroying your metabolism after all. But although I tried to cover just about everything I could in the last six posts of this fasting series (links at the bottom of this article), I apparently didn’t hit every angle, because I received a barrage of questions from readers via email and comments looking for clarifications, answers, and explanations. I can’t quite answer them all, but I did manage to put together a fairly representative selection of the most common and relevant ones, and today I’ll provide answers.
Assuming you’ve been keeping up with the series, you should be saying to yourself “Hey, maybe this fasting thing would be a cool thing to try out, and it might even make me healthier/live longer/lean out/lose weight/etc.,” which is a sufficiently extensive list of benefits, don’t you think? I could probably go on theorizing and speculating about all the reasons why you should consider intermittent fasting, but I’d rather move on to the implementation. Thinking about fasting, reading about fasting, and reciting the benefits of fasting are all pointless if you don’t know how to go about doing it.
First, let’s go over the different variations of fasting. I’ll give a quick rundown. Each involves not eating for a period of time, unsurprisingly.
A couple other rules that apply to all the given methods:
In previous installments, I’ve discussed the powerful effect of fasting on weight loss, particularly with respect to adipose tissue. I’ve explained how intermittent bouts of going without food have been shown to increase cancer survival and resistance and improve patient and tumor response to chemotherapy, and I went over the considerable evidence suggesting that fasting can provide the life extending benefits of caloric restriction without the pain of restricting your calories day in, day out. And last week, I highlighted how fasting may have protective and therapeutic benefits to the brain.
As such you might be thinking that I only recommend fasting to the sedentary, the aged, and the infirm. Surely I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend to the active, the athletic, and the jacked that they engage in vigorous physical activity without having eaten a solid square meal beforehand – right? I mean, no good can come of a fasted training session, as the gym bros with the sweet ‘ceps are so quick to intone.
Pretty much every feature of the human body can be found, in some form or another, on other species. Opposable thumbs? Great for building and using tools, but apes have them, too. Even the giant panda has an opposable sesamoid bone that works like a thumb. Bipedalism? Helped us avoid direct mid-afternoon sun and carry objects while moving around the environment (among other possible benefits), but plenty of other creatures walk upright, like birds and Bigfoot. The human foot? Okay, our feet are quite unique, but every other -ped has feet (just different types), and they all work well for getting around. So, what is it that makes us so different from other animals (because it’s got to be something)?
A few months ago I wrote an article on How to Fuel a Marathon. In this week’s Dear Mark, I answer a reader’s question on how to improve a hydration recipe I recommended in that article. Then I cover a somewhat related topic: muscle cramps, and how to fix them and how to prevent them. Finally, I discuss Dr. Oz’s latest supplement miracle product – raspberry ketones. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Let’s go.
I am in training for my first ever marathon and have read your how to fuel a marathon. I did try the homemade hydration drink on my training run last week of 24km. I had 2 bottles of hydration and 2 bottles of plain water. I found the drink very sweet and you can definitely taste the black slat molasses. Swigging water straight after did help but it wasn’t overly pleasant.
I thought I would give it a try as I plan to use it on my race day which is July 1st. I was thinking of reducing the black slat molasses to just 1 tablespoon to see if it reduces the very sweet taste and perhaps increase the raw honey to 3 tablespoons, to see if it’s more palatable. Would this have any effect on keeping hydrated?
Also what can I use to keep hydrated on my long training runs? I find water is just not enough and I get thirsty and start to hit the wall around 17km. So basically, how do you fuel your training runs?
It would be great if you could give me some advice on this.
A time-honored and research-tested way to extend an animal’s lifespan is to restrict its caloric intake. Studies repeatedly confirm that if, say, a lab mouse normally gets two full bowls of lab chow a day, limiting that mouse to one and a half bowls of lab chow a day will make that mouse live longer than the mouse eating the full two bowls. Cool, cool, a longer life is great and all, but what about the downsides of straight calorie restriction, aside from willfully restricting your food intake, ignoring hunger pangs, relegating yourself to feeling discontent with meals, and counting calories and macronutrients obsessively? Are there any others? Sure:
Loss of muscle mass. Humans undergoing calorie restriction often suffer loss of lean muscle mass and strength, all pretty objectively negative effects (unless you really go for the gaunt “Christian Bale in The Machinist” look and use a super-strong bionic exoskeleton for all your physical tasks).