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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...

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February 22, 2011

Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Try Fasting?

By Mark Sisson
167 Comments

Last week, my post on the “Myriad Benefits of Intermittent Fasting” opened up a can of worms. In it I discussed how fasting can have a positive impact on human longevity, blood lipids, diet compliance and neurological health to name just a few of the potential health benefits. Naturally, many readers wondered if they’ve been missing the boat on IFing, and whether they should start skipping breakfast, lunch and dinner ASAP. In fact, who needs food anymore when you have IF! Not so fast.

Fasting can be an effective lifestyle hack, but is it right for everyone?

Not exactly. Not always. In other words, no. Let’s take a closer look.

Intermittent fasting is a tool that can be used – or misused – in the pursuit of health. As Keith Norris might put it, it’s something to add to the quiver. A tool to be drawn upon when the time is right. You know what? Let’s extend this archery metaphor, possibly to the breaking point (a skill I’m well-known for). Let’s go ahead and butcher Keith’s neat and tidy and effective metaphor with a look at a fictional monster-hunting archer with a quiver full of specially designed arrows. This monster-hunting archer, if he’s any good at what he does (and I’m going to assume that he is well-versed in classical monster lore, including weak points and monster food allergies and heavy metal sensitivities), is going to pick and choose which arrows – which tools – to draw from the quiver based on the context of the situation. Now, does this archer reach for any old arrow when faced with, say, a vampire? No, he goes for the wood-tipped garlic-laced arrow. He’s not going to waste the silver-tipped arrow on the common henchman (being a soft metal, it might not even pierce the armor, let alone kill the guy). He’ll save it for the werewolf. The metaphor is probably mangled beyond recognition now, but my point (shakily) stands: IF is a tool to be used in the right context. Zombies, for example, are particularly vulnerable to fasting because their satiety hormones are all out of whack.

So what’s the right context for fasting?

You might say that the perfect context for fasting was our ancestral past. Industrial food didn’t exist so metabolic dysfunction wasn’t an issue; “exercise” was either intense and brief and infrequent, or low level and drawn out; stress was acute, rather than chronic; and eating one or two large meals was the natural result of having to hunt and gather. We can’t return to those times, so we do what we can with what we’ve got today. Avoid industrial foods, exercise like you’re a hunter-gatherer, and limit chronic stress by sleeping, sunning, doing things that make you happy, and avoiding things that crush your soul. If you’re doing all these things and feeling like you need a final push to lean out or jumpstart the weight loss after a plateau or explore the myriad benefits listed last week, you’re probably in the right place to be experimenting with intermittent fasting. So – Primal folks who are losing weight or looking to lose a bit more, and getting the right lifestyle changes enacted (sleep, exercise, sex, leisure, rest, relaxation, mental stimulation) should definitely try fasting. They will likely flourish.

What are the wrong contexts for fasting?

An insufficiently Primal Blueprint-based diet. You have to have all your dietary ducks in a row. I recommend that anyone new to IF that wants to incorporate IF should be fully Primal for at least three weeks before trying it. That means getting rid of all excess sugar, grains, legumes, and vegetable oils, all of which conflict with satiety, metabolic function, and insulin signaling. If you are overweight, carbs should also be reduced. If lean, reducing carbs isn’t quite as important. Either way, you should be proficient in drawing upon fat as an energy source (since that’s what you’ll want to be running on during a fast), and those who are overweight or obese are efficient at storing, but not burning, fat. IF can be a good tool for speeding up the fat loss process, but it’s best used to supplement an already-strong eating plan. Once the food is dialed in, fasting will be immensely more beneficial and far less difficult.

You should also be in a good place – mentally, physically, and emotionally. Take stock of the negative and positive aspects of your life. Do the former weigh more heavily on you than the latter? Intermittent fasting may not be right, then. Get those things handled, or put them in proper perspective, and perhaps it will one day. Remember: IF is a type of stressor, and adding any new stressor (however potentially beneficial) to a heap of existing stressors will likely compound the problem. Are you the glass half-full type, the bright eyed optimist fully appreciative of just how green your own grass is? If so, you may be able to handle another stressor in the form of fasting.

You should have cortisol under control. Fasting boosts cortisol, which is not a problem in healthy folks, but in those with cortisol disregulation (think belly fat, think the skinny fat look, lack of sleep, overtraining, chronic cardio, the incessant need for coffee to keep eyes open, persistent low-grade stress) it can be disastrous. If you know you have a cortisol issue (that is, you’re actually monitoring it clinically) or even if you just suspect you do (maybe you notice the creep of belly fat accumulation, more so than in other areas), fasting may not be right for you. Get the problem handled (get more sleep, stop overtraining, stop following politics) and you’ll probably be able to reap the benefits of IF.

There’s also the grey areas. Let’s explore a few of them.

Should pregnant women fast?

There are a few studies that shed some light on the subject, most of them focused on pregnant women fasting for Ramadan. One study found that in pregnant women fasting during Ramadan, placental growth slowed but grew more efficient; fetal development proceeded as normal, but nutrient reserves were limited and there was less room for error. Assuming fasting mom has steady access to nutrients during the pregnancy, the decreased placental reserves shouldn’t be a problem for fetal development. Another study using healthy pregnant women concluded that fasting during Ramadan had no negative effects on fetal development or maternal health. In another study, LDL/HDL ratio decreased, cortisol increased, and fetal health was unaffected during Ramadan, while another found that fasting had little effect on uterine arterial blood flow (which supplies nutrients to the fetus). All in all, though the studies indicate that fasting doesn’t likely pose any danger to the fetus or to the mother, I lean toward no. I mean, why? I’m sure a fifteen hour fast is safe enough, but I’m just not sure it’s necessary or even beneficial during pregnancy. Just eat when you (and your fetus) are hungry.

Should diabetics fast?

I hesitate to make medical recommendations. In fact, I won’t. But I will point you to an interesting account by a guy who “defeated” type 2 diabetes with intermittent fasting. He didn’t call it that – he called it skipping meals – but it amounted to IF. Lee Shurie began by lowering carbs, exercising, and losing weight, which helped but did not cure him. He noticed that his blood glucose was elevated upon waking so, instead of eating immediately and spiking it further, he waited until it dropped to normal levels before eating. Now, this took a while, sometimes until the early evening, but he found that if he ate only when his blood sugar had normalized, it stayed normal all the time. Shurie was effectively IFing without knowing it, and no longer classifies himself as diabetic. Will the same thing work for every diabetic? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s something to consider. IF does generally improve insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and helps with weight loss – all desirable things for a diabetic – but remember that before he was able to skip meals, Shurie had to reduce carbs and start exercising.

Bottom Line?

Bottom line, there is no concrete, objective law regarding the suitability of intermittent fasting for a particular person.

If you’re truly hungry, eat. Failing to do so will add stress.

If you’re stressed, don’t IF. You don’t need another stressor.

If you’re training six days a week, don’t IF. Unless you’re genetically blessed, you’ll need lots of fuel to prevent overtraining.

If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. If coffee’s enough, skip breakfast.

If life is good, try fasting.

In the end, the prudent path is to simply listen to your body. Don’t let CW grazing propaganda drive you to eat when you aren’t hungry; don’t let the IF dogma make you feel guilty about grabbing a handful of macadamia nuts and jerky in between meals when you are. Try it out, skip a meal, go fourteen hours or so (you already do eight every night) without eating, get a workout in, go for a walk, go about your day and see how you feel. A quick trial is not going to kill you. Remember when Primal eating sounded extreme and even dangerous? When the thought of purposefully consuming animal fat seemed sacrilegious? Exactly.

Are you lightheaded?

Are you weak?

Did your workout suffer?

Then maybe it’s not for you. Maybe you need to fix a few things (Primal eating, sleep, chronic stress) and then try again. In a perfect world, we’d all have untouched, undamaged metabolisms with jobs that we love and plenty of leisure time to spend with friends and family, and intermittent fasting would be the default eating method, but it’s not and we don’t.

How has fasting worked for you? How has it not?

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167 Comments on "Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Try Fasting?"

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Bobby
Bobby
5 years 7 months ago

Good post. Thanks as always for the great information.

FWIW, there is some raw vegan YouTube video out there that is making the Primal/Paleo blogosphere rounds. The guy accuses Devany of being on steroids and you of being on HGH and only using pictures of yourself from years ago and no longer showing yourself in public. Seems quite defamatory to me.

Cory Michael McKenna
Cory Michael McKenna
5 years 7 months ago

Do you have a link to one of the videos or a tagline to search for?

Bobby
Bobby
5 years 7 months ago

Yeah, the guy who posted the video is known TheRawVoice on YouTube, if memory serves. He has posted quite a few defamatory comments, in my opinion.

Cory Michael McKenna
Cory Michael McKenna
5 years 7 months ago

Thanks for the quick response, off to search…

Dave
5 years 7 months ago

youtube.com/watch?v=8L10cNeABbA

I’m the guy arguing with idiots in the comments section. I feel like Reggie Jackson in a slow pitch softball game. Their comments are so feeble-minded or just plain lies that its easy to swat them out of the park.

jesse
jesse
5 years 7 months ago

I watched 5 videos by this young man. He sure likes to neglect basic debate logic. He attacks individuals personally with differing opinion, not the actual point! So maddening! Oh well, I got to get back to my bacon.

jesse
jesse
5 years 7 months ago

Ha Dave! I was lovin’ your comments over there. Great analogy too.

Dave
5 years 7 months ago
It’s all been entertaining in a maddening sort of way. The video is supposed to slam Paleo gurus for being fat, but when I called him out on not showing any pictures of Mark or even mentioning Art De Vany he responds that Mark is a weakling and Art uses steroids. But the point of the video is that Paleo gurus get fat. To an emaciated vegan I suppose Cordain might look slightly overweight, but I thought it was a stretch. Then he goes after people not even in the Paleo movement like Taubes and Dr. Kendrick. They teach a… Read more »
Vispcream
Vispcream
5 years 7 months ago

Its Harley “durianrider” Johnstone that are running the “TheRawvoice”.

Really annoying vegan guy :\

Shawn
Shawn
5 years 7 months ago

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Jen
Jen
5 years 7 months ago

This guy is a complete tool. He hates everyone that doesn’t attempt to OD on bananas every single day. He even trolls raw vegans. lol

Bobby
Bobby
5 years 7 months ago

He shouldn’t be able to make those statements and get away with it. DeVany and Mark could potentially have their reputations harmed by this guy’s BS.

Sue
Sue
5 years 7 months ago

He is a dick head Aussie. He put up a picture of Taubes on his blog pointing to his belly. I’m an Aussie so embarrassed by this idiot.

seriouslyawkward
seriouslyawkward
5 years 7 months ago
Ugh, this guy. There are many people in the vegan community that, while I disagree with their viewpoints, I still have a lot of respect for. Durianrider is enough of an aggressive conspiracy theory nuisance that even the raw vegan community GiveItToMeRaw gave him the boot a few years ago. http://www.giveittomeraw.com/forum/topics/removal-notice-durian-rider?id=1407416:Topic:1036626&page=1#comments I hate to hear that he’s taking jabs at Mark’s reputation though, especially the bit about how supposedly commercialized Primal is. There’s products for sale here for sure, but a) there’s also a freaking EPIC amount of free information and an also amazing free community and b) I find… Read more »
Edward
Edward
5 years 7 months ago
Another good write up Mark. I am in the opposite boat now that I have been doing Primal and IF for a good 3 months now. I usually IF for 16-18 hours and eat 2 or 3 meals in the late afternoon and evening. Sometimes I’ll skip a whole day too. *If* I eat breakfast I feel hungry all day long and can’t concentrate on anything except how much I want to eat. My workouts are much better since doing them fasted and I have lost no (none I tell you) strength. IF works for me and I hope more… Read more »
Carnivore
Carnivore
5 years 7 months ago

I fast 16 hours a day and love it. In fact, I’ve added significant muscle and strength while eating this way… and, I’m an endurance athlete, to boot. It’s not an approach I recommend to everyone, but it can work very, very well. If anyone wants to know more, check out http://www.leangains.com... Martin Berkhan runs an excellent website.

Earthspirit
Earthspirit
5 years 7 months ago

I know I fasted in my first trimester but it was definitely NOT something I chose to do!

Sue
Sue
5 years 7 months ago

Nauseus so couldn’t eat!

Gazelle
Gazelle
5 years 7 months ago

I can’t believe those with a history of eating disorders weren’t mentioned. IF can be extremely triggering even if you’ve recovered from the eating disorder and it’s no longer a “stressor” in your life.

denise
denise
5 years 7 months ago

agree – I was really disappointed Mark didn’t even mention this. I for one posted on his last thread about IF saying this.
Makes me feel somehow trivial.
Having said that, I don’t eat til lunchtime cos I don’t get hungry – but call it IFing and my brain goes weird on me and I get cravings.

Michelle
Michelle
5 years 7 months ago

I agree completely — and the omission is pretty common. I haven’t seen any blog posts about IF that mention people with a history of eating disorders. Has anyone else? (I don’t claim to have seen all blogs…)

denise
denise
5 years 7 months ago
I’ve posted in several threads (as well as my own journal) on the forums about it!!!! recently – following Marks article perhaps – there was a glut of people wanting to start IF about 10 days after startuing PB because they had “stalled”. It was like a fad. I voiced over and over again about the ED thing. BUT I guess we are still a small part of the overall community. Many more people, even with disordered eating and relationships with food, do not consider they have an ED or see the way this might be part of their problem.… Read more »
Maryrann
Maryrann
5 years 7 months ago

Denise… I don’t like to call it IF either. I am just a paleo newbie, but the switch was very easy for me to flip, once I made up my mind. I don’t have an eating disorder, but an addictive personality instead.
So, learning to eat only when hungry was an awesome revelation for me! I didn’t have breakfast this morning, and did not sweat the fact that I didn’t have time for lunch until about 1:30 this afternoon.

Grace
Grace
3 years 6 months ago
I turned my eating disorder into a positive thing. I was very good after my children were born, but a few years later felt it creeping back in. An 8 day water fast cured me of that, and IF’s when I feel the need over the past few years have been wonderful. I’m so far removed from that now, I never think about it. IFing is not a trigger, for me at least. It was part of my recovery. I want to be strong, I want to be healthy, and maybe it’s crazy or maybe it’s evolutionary that I sometimes… Read more »
rob
rob
5 years 7 months ago

Maybe these comments can serve as a blanket “If you have an eating disorder you might want to consider not fasting” disclaimer.

Gazelle
Gazelle
5 years 7 months ago

The article is title “Who Should (and Shouldn’t Try Fasting?” so I would think those with either an active eating disorder or history of eating disorders could warrant a section (just like pregnant women, diabetics, etc. do).

The question “should people with eating disoders fast?” is a tricky one. Some claim it cures compulsive overeating, for instance. I would like to see this question addressed in more depth.

Another interesting topic could be “When does paleo eating turn into disordered eating?” Again, a tricky one.

denise
denise
5 years 7 months ago

ok – then the whole thread can stop now as “IF is quite good for some people sometimes covers it all???

Not being funny – but that just feels like you are “shutting people down”. Maybe you weren’t – in which case I apologise.

And I think Gazelle has an interesting point – when are any of us getting “disordered” in our eating behaviours. Semantics maybe? But there’s room for all these comments….well, except for some of the really offensive ones:)

Kris
Kris
5 years 7 months ago
Gazelle, that would definitely be an interesting article (“When does paleo eating become disordered eating”). And as Mark points out below, the whole area deserves its own post (one I hope he is able to follow up with soon!) I have never had an eating disorder in the sense of anorexia, bulemia, overeating, etc. But I am QUITE rigid when adhering to a diet plan. She has frequently referred to my primal lifestyle choices as “obsessive” (e.g. trying to find flat shoes, or experimenting at not using shampoo). But I get special criticism for being “difficult” when we go out… Read more »
Trudi
Trudi
4 years 4 months ago
Don’t feel bad if fasting doesn’t work for you. I am recovering from an eating disorder/veganism/depression–hard to know which came first, but none helped the others, that’s for sure. Thought with ten years recovery I could try the 16 hour IF program. Nope. Skipped breakfast and by 10AM I was ready to cry or hit somebody. I remember that horrible mental state only too well. Eating a meal only helped about 50 percent. The afternoon was spent trying to decide whether to go to sleep or die. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, count… Read more »
Mallory
5 years 7 months ago

can be equally as rewarding in my experience

Fred
Fred
5 years 7 months ago

Do you think it’s strange you are modeling your nutrition after people who rarely lived past 40?

Bobby
Bobby
5 years 7 months ago

Who are you asking this of and is this the most appropriate place to launch into such a contentious discussion, Fred?

Willow Nyteeyes
Willow Nyteeyes
5 years 7 months ago

Not due to heart attacks, due to animal attacks. We don’t have to fight lions for our meat.

Mary
Mary
5 years 7 months ago
Dave
5 years 7 months ago

Did it ever occur to you that infant mortality plays a huge factor in average life expectancy? In 1900 average life expectancy was 47 but there were plenty of people who lived into their 70s and 80s (and beyond). A simple statistics class might be in order.

jesse
jesse
5 years 7 months ago

Really? Please don’t bring your lack of critical reasoning skills to a place where only the enlightened are welcome. Bad move and worse question.

tess
tess
5 years 7 months ago

“…a place where only the enlightened are welcome”? how is one supposed to become enlightened, unless they come and read and — perhaps — ask “dumb” questions from time to time?

jesse
jesse
5 years 7 months ago

Well… you are right. Perhaps I go about things the wrong way sometimes. I assumed someone would look into the subject before asking that particular question to this particular community. No problem with “dumb” questions at all, they’re needed. My instincts led me to believe it wasn’t exactly innocent by any means.

keithallenlaw
5 years 7 months ago

STOP REGURGITATING MIS-INFORMATION!

Patrícia
5 years 7 months ago

We, the primal supporters, aren’t dogmatic nor narrow minded nor insecure about our beliefs… are we?

I mean, this site is open to public discussion. And I do think the question was pertinent enough.

Louise D.
Louise D.
5 years 7 months ago

But lifespan went DOWN DRAMATICALLY in the Neolithic.

Brian
5 years 7 months ago
Mark, thanks for additional coverage of this very interesting topic. I’ve been eating primal for about 2 months now and am “in a good place,” as you say. I’m currently in the middle of my first ever fast, starting with 24 hours. The biggest difference for me is the type of hunger I experience. Before it was a panicked, “must.eat.NOW!” feeling whereas now it’s more of a low, calm sensation. I’m more aware of my body’s needs, but not controlled by them like a junkie.. Your book and the writings on the site are an invaluable resource, please keep up… Read more »
Graham
Graham
5 years 7 months ago

I love it! Straight up! Great post Mark.

I’m one of those people who can get 2000 calories in a single sitting though, so it makes it easier to fast. I feel fantastic when I fast! And sometimes just the thought of breakfast disgusts me.

I typically go 12-16 hours every day (think dinner to brunch or lunch), and once a week or so its closer to 24 hours (think dinner to dinner).

Its not for everybody, and definitely not for everyday, but I pull the arrow when I need it, and only when it feels good!

normann
5 years 7 months ago
I always work out fasted, and for the first time since I was 9 I can see my abs. No loss of strength. @Fred: my father died of an acute MI two weeks before his 52nd birthday. The best advice I got back then was from a fraternity brother, who said, “The moral of the story is, don’t get fat. Don’t be offended.” I wasn’t. However, easier said than done, especially if you eat “heart healthy”. Thanks to primal/paleo eating, training and “chilling”, I have never looked or felt better. Don’t forget that when they say that “people didn’t live… Read more »
Dan
Dan
5 years 7 months ago

The fasted workout is the number one thing I’ve learned since going Primal. My regular resistance work is done on a 12-15 hour fast, and I’ve had pretty consistently good results. On a 24 hour fast, I can get through the workout, but it probably won’t be my best. But for all exercise, including races/competitions, I love going in with a real hunger in my gut; I feel capable, motivated, light, and ready!

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 years 7 months ago

Since I’ve been eating “primally”, I’ve found that IF’ing comes somewhat naturally. Some days, I eat starting in the morning with my coffee – and I’m fine. Other days, I am not hungry until after noon – and I’m okay with that too. I just eat when I feel the need to eat. What a change for me!

Rhys
Rhys
5 years 7 months ago

Mark, fasting doesn’t actually increase Cortisol. Martin Berkhan debunked that myth in this article (myth #8):http://www.leangains.com/2010/10/top-ten-fasting-myths-debunked.html

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 years 7 months ago

My only issue with IF is this.Though I am often not hungry until after noon, my work environment is like a prison for the obese. I find that by the time I am hungry, at say 1:00, someone has layed out Girl Scout cookies and pie. I would rather avoid the temptation by not getting hungry.

MC
MC
4 years 7 months ago

Ha! Prison for the obese! Love it.

Jessica Jane
Jessica Jane
5 years 7 months ago

Curious here… Lately I’ve been eating the bulk of my calories/protein/fat from about 11am-4pm, but won’t eat anything but plain raw/steamed/boiled vegetables after that, occasionally a small piece of fruit. Does this essentially “break the fast”? Or just a replica of one of those trendy vegetable/fruit fasts?

J
J
5 years 7 months ago

I appreciate the excellent Dungeons and Dragon style metaphors. Mm, delicious garlic arrows…

Ashley North
Ashley North
5 years 7 months ago

I usually skip my next meal after going out to eat or if I eat a bit too much. That way it all kind of balances out.

Patrick
Patrick
5 years 7 months ago
IF’ing a la Leangains (16/8 fasting/feeding, respectively — skipping breakfast, basically) has really helped me out in the last 6-8 weeks. That said, I didn’t start doing it until being a good two months into being Primal. Any IF’ing I did prior to that occurred organically, so to speak. I think you took the right approach to this, Mark, and that approach is the same you take throughout the PB: If it feels right and there are no aggravating factors, give it a shot; if you’re hungry eat; if you’re sore, stop training til you feel better; if you’re tired,… Read more »
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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FitnessDoc, marksdailyapple, tedtoal, klandersonctb, Potential bundle and others. Potential bundle said: Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Try Fasting?: Last week, my post on the “Myriad Benefits of Intermittent Fasting” ope… http://bit.ly/eWmLsD […]

Liz Chalmers
5 years 7 months ago

On the forums, I see posts from people who consider a fast after eating the wrong stuff. They view it as “fixer” to offset the damage done and/or as a punishment for their transgressions. Either way, using IF that way seems unhealthy….the double stressor of bingeing followed by starving, and the emotional rollercoaster of using food/no-food as reward/punishment. I wish people would be kinder to their bodies.

Alison Golden
5 years 7 months ago

I found fasting for 24 hours to simply result in a huge binge and loss of control over my diet with the post-fast meal. However, I can happily do 16-18 hours with no ill-effects and do it regularly. Listening to your own personal signals is imperative.

Danielle
5 years 7 months ago

That’s totally me too, Allison. I get grouchy after about 20 hours, and then go nuts when mealtime finally does come.

Pretty sure legumes and cheese may be sabotaging my success at this point.

maba
maba
5 years 7 months ago

Great post Mark! Before I became pregnant, I used to do 2 dinner-to-dinner fasts a week but after I got pregnant, it was usually about 15-16 hours, unintentionally though, as I would end up skipping breakfast most of the time due to lack of time. Now that I’m breast-feeding, I usually don’t IF (CW creeping up?) although I find myself being able to go for long stretches w/o eating. What’s your opinion on IFing while BFing?

Sara
Sara
5 years 7 months ago
I breastfed all three of my children, all for a full year (of course they started solids as well when they were ready, between 4-5 months). The one thing I noticed is that I was never hungry, although I was more thirsty than I ever thought possible! So I used the opportunity to not only tackle the baby weight but also look closely at what I was eating and how it affected my child. Dairy was ABSOLUTELY off the menu for all three. In the end, all three were, and remain, extremely healthy, energetic, smart etc. So I see no… Read more »
maba
maba
5 years 7 months ago

Thanks Sara! Why were you off dairy, was it affecting them or was it because you were primal? I try to go off dairy but succumb to my morning cup of coffee 🙁

Sara
Sara
5 years 7 months ago
Yes, I was off dairy for the sake of the babies. About 3-4 days after having my first child, I decided to splurge on a chocolate-chip cookie dough Blizzard from Dairy Queen. It tasted awesome…but my baby cried on end for days. I thought it might be a fluke, but I watched what I ate anyway, and sure enough, anything dairy did the same thing to my son. So from then on, I avoided it while pregnant or breastfeeding. I don’t think I would worry about your coffee cream, your sanity is more important than any affect a tablespoon of… Read more »
Tamara
Tamara
5 years 7 months ago
I found when I was breast feeding, I could go long stretches without eating, but I tended to lose weight too quickly,(3-4lbs in a week) i changed my habits to little nibbles while feeding the baby which helped me to lose weight still and make sure I was providing enough for the baby without too much loss from my own needs. Even after I stopped breast feeding I tended towards loss of weight during any fasting ( was not prone to bingeing ) but after the third kid fasting was only option to keeping any weight off, seemed that my… Read more »
oliverh
5 years 7 months ago

I fast 16 hours a day at the moment, no problems, just find I can’t train if I am hungry, so have train at the right time. I am thinking of doing cyclic carb loading on weekends to test.

Raymond
5 years 7 months ago
Fasting has grown so popular in the last few months I wonder if you can call it a ‘fad diet’? I see it every where now! I do fast or skip meals a few meals in a week it’s an easy way to keep my weight under control. But I think my overall health is OK to do it. I wouldn’t recommend fasting to anyone who has a medical condition( diabetes), pregnant or recovering from injury .. it can makes things worse. Also I think the other extreme is fasting can start developing negative association to food which is not… Read more »
Mary
Mary
5 years 7 months ago

Great post…. yet again snaps me out of the idea that I have to be like everyone else! I have a pretty speedy metabolism so I get hungry pretty regularly. I typically get up at 5am and eat my first meal at around 8am, and my last meal at 6 or 7pm… with a lunch and two snacks in between. The point for me is more to get used to eating healthy rather than skipping a meal.

salim
5 years 7 months ago

i fast 3 times a week; play, exercise 6-7 days a week; some hard some easy..at the end of fasting i do sprints and some play..i feel so light and energic..

Kelda
5 years 7 months ago
I like training in the morning, fasted, unless it’s a long bike ride in which case I’ll eat a big breakfast first. I find that I’ve gravitated to fast from bedtime till lunchtime and then eat two meals before sleeping again. However, some days I wake up and feel hungry, so I eat! Simples. Yes, Gazelle, for eating disordered (recovered or not) IF is a sensitive subject. I was eating disordered through athletics and I have to watch that I don’t drift that way again when watching the scales … I really should throw them away. Today I was my… Read more »
Murdock
Murdock
5 years 7 months ago

eat when hungry, if it happens to take 16-20 hours before you’re hungry then you just participated in IF.

Megan
Megan
5 years 7 months ago

Is there any research on, or women who have successfully done IF while breastfeeding? I successfully used IF before pregnancy and wondering if I can continue while nursing. This question definitely comes from my lack of knowledge on actually where breast milk is produced from, daily caloric intake or fat stores?

Kelda
5 years 7 months ago

Both, think Grok’s time, food wouldn’t always be available, that’s what fat stores are for but they only work well in a low carb environment, or at least within a proper metabolism that isn’t chronically overloaded with carb induced insulin.

John Nobel
John Nobel
5 years 7 months ago

What about intermittent fasting for “hard gainers?”

jesse
jesse
5 years 7 months ago

I too have considered myself a hard gainer in the past. Eating paleo and cycling between Lean Gains, 531, and Starting Strength for training protocols has given me great results and changed my opinion. I have naturally come into my own and now feel great being a lean, strong as hell, near 40 male. IF with the Lean Gains approach really dialed it in for me. Fasted training takes everything to another level for me.

Adam
Adam
5 years 7 months ago
I’m a type 2 diabetic and I fast all the time in the mornings. The only thing to watch out for is what medication you’re on, or what size shots of insulin you may be taking to make sure you don’t go low. I routinely fast from about 8pm to 12pm with no problem. Thats 16 hours. I usually tend to try this when my fasting blood glucose is higher, but I’ve never had issues. The best side effect this has had for me is the ability to recognize my hunger and control it, not let it convince me to… Read more »
Lee
Lee
5 years 7 months ago

I’ve been doing the primal thing for about 1.5 years and have lost quite a bit of weight. I tend to be bad about it on weekends though and still have a bit of belly fat I’d like to lose. I’d say about 10 pounds. I’ve been doing IF for awhile and seem to have no problems with it. Should I stop because I still have some belly fat?

Paige
Paige
5 years 7 months ago

Am I the only one in the world who would rather skip dinner? I get up at 4:30 and generally eat breakfast around 6 (meat and veggies usually). If I skip breakfast I usually become ravenous by 8. It’s not that hard for me to come home from work and skip dinner though. Most weekdays it’s the norm. I would assume there is no advantage one way or the other as long as the eating window is about 8 hours, but I just find it interesting everyone skips breakfast.

denise
denise
5 years 7 months ago
whatever “works’ for you. You don’t get hungry for dinner but you do for breakfast. Sounds fine to me. I also skip breakfast because first thing in the morning is when I workout – can’t eat before as it makes me sick – so naturally end up with 1st meal at lunchtime. Doesn’t affect quality of workout – so works for me. No “rule” just what works and you are comfortable with. BUT to reiterate my ED point – I skip a meal cos I don’t want it – but never call it IF even to myself.
DaiaRavi
5 years 7 months ago

funny how we all differ – i have never – since childhood, been able to eat within 2-4 hours of getting up – makes me literally sick (usually) – and so my habit became nothing but coffee/tea in the morning til a very late breakfast or lunch – then i realized – i was fasting! if i dinner at 7 and don’t eat lunch till 12 the next day – that’s basically a daily fast and i “break” my “fast” with lunch some 15 hours or so later–
works for me!

Catt
Catt
5 years 7 months ago

I eat in the AM, maybe as late as 12 or 1, and then thats it. I’m like you.

ASmitty
ASmitty
5 years 7 months ago

In Eat Stop Eat Polin says that he finds a 2 pm to 2 pm fast to be the easiest, and I would tend to agree. You’re asleep during the middle of it, and the end falls during breakfast time, a period where many people simply aren’t hungry.

Personally, I don’t do a lunch to lunch fast because it’s just not practical for my current schedule, but for 24 hour fasts I think lunch to lunch might be psychologically easiest for beginners.

Pat
Pat
5 years 7 months ago

Go Tigers!

Emma
Emma
5 years 7 months ago

I was just wondering this myself. I am starving in the mornings too but can easily skip dinner.
I guess the main issue is the benefits one gets from working out fasted. I’m not going to start working out at night-time to get those benefits. Maybe I need to start working out as soon as I wake up and then have breakfast soon after?

Karin
Karin
5 years 7 months ago
I was quite ill last year and on a long waiting list for surgery (Canada’s great medical system). The MO was take painkillers in the meantime. I was fasting simply because 1. I was either in too much pain, or 2. the meds made me too sick to eat. Obviously I lost a good deal of weight, even without exercise. I could barely walk the 1/2 block from the corner to my house with the dog. After I had surgery, I had an enormous amount of energy. Because my stomach was used to not getting food, I continued with the… Read more »
Crunchy Pickle
5 years 7 months ago

My question is related to the proposed health benefits of IF. Is there anyone who has used it and has noted an anti-inflammatory response or the correction of any other condition like high blood pressure?

I have been enjoying IFing for two 24 hr. stretches each week. Sure, I would still love to lose weight but my goal now is to create the best support for my health. I have family members with hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypercholesterolemia so anything anti-inflammatory seems positive to me!

Thoughts?

keithallenlaw
5 years 7 months ago
So whats more important? Holding to your 18/6 IF, or fasting 12 hours before strength training? My eat window is noon until 6pm. It seems impossible to do both if you are doing your strength training in the evening. The only reason it works for me now is because I’m only working 3 days a week and doing morning workouts. If I where to go back full time there would be no way for me to do my current 18/6, and enter my workout 12hrs fasted. I suppose I could cut back to a 6hr fasted pre-workout, but that would… Read more »
ASmitty
ASmitty
5 years 7 months ago

I think a good fasting period is more important than a lengthy pre-workout fast.

If I were you I’d maybe move lunch an hour later, an dinner two hours later. That way you could workout before dinner in a 6-7 hour fasted state and still preserve a 17-18 hour fast between dinner and lunch.

That’s just based off of my personal experience though, your mileage may vary.

Vanessa
Vanessa
5 years 7 months ago
I used to eat an extremely high whole grain, low fat diet. I have always been thin, and I felt the need to eat every 2 hours or else I would feel shaky and weak. I never thought I would be able to fast. After slowly transitioning to a (mostly) primal diet over the last 3 months, I realized it usually takes 6 hours before I even start to feel hungry after breakfast! I am not sure if IF is for me because I am generally under a lot of stress as a law student, but I was intrigued by… Read more »
Bobby
Bobby
5 years 7 months ago

Great, just what the world needs. Another lawyer.

JUST KIDDING. I’m in my 19th year of practice. In a few years, you’re going to look back at law school as the glory days.

Anyway, what you wrote about hunger and how your relationship with food has changed since the big switch really resonates with me. I followed a vegan diet beforehand and was seemingly always really hungry. Not any more.

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
5 years 7 months ago
Megan, When I was breastfeeding, I noticed a quick drop in milk supply whenever I got too busy to eat. Eating more calories and hanging out with the baby always brought it right back. Basically, when you’re preggers, your body acts like the baby is more important than you are;it’ll eat itself, if necessary, to keep baby healthy. Afterwards it’s a different story. Your body treats milk-making like an expensive luxury: in a crunch situation, the milk is the first to go. All of this is a long way of saying, probably IFing will make your supply drop temporarily. On… Read more »
Kristina
Kristina
5 years 7 months ago

if I try to fast/don’t eat enough while breastfeeding, I notice a drop off in milk supply as well as an increase in crankiness! :-p lack of sleep + lack of food = rawr!

doesn’t help that my baby girl is 17lbs at 4mos of age. oh well, more bacon for me!

however i am losing about 1lb a week since going almost completely pb 🙂

Ware C-F
5 years 7 months ago
I love me some IF, which is ironic, since I’m a serious cook and I also love food. For me, though, the bottom line is this: I used to be hypoglycemic…REALLY hypoglycemic. I’m a very active and athletic person, and before adopting a Primal lifestyle, my energy needs caused me to eat a lot of grains, my insulin got out of control, and I found myself feeling faint if I didn’t eat every two or three hours. So, for me, the beauty of IF is simply that I can do it. I love the empowered feeling I get each week… Read more »
Katie
1 year 10 months ago

I had the same issue. Before switching to primal eating, I was SO hypoglycemic I couldn’t work jobs that didn’t allow me small breaks to have a snack every few hours. Now I can easily go without food for extended periods of time and feel absolutely fine.

Rainbow
Rainbow
5 years 7 months ago

Wonderful post, full of nice common sense (in the good sense of the word!), no ideology, no dogma. I really enjoy reading such wonderfully informative and encouraging posts. Thanks a lot Mark!

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george henley
5 years 7 months ago
Excellent post. I,in fact completed some research and did my first IF on Monday. The 16/8 split as advocated in Leangains also fit my schedule the best so that is the model I followed. I skipped breakfast and avoided calories till early afternoon. It was surprisingly easy….probably(in part) due to following a primal WOE.Over the last year I found myself clinging to the “grazing” concept and eating by the clock and not necessarily for hunger. It was then that I discovered IFing and another (supposedly) dietary “truth” was chucked in the dust bin. I was curious about frequency. My initial… Read more »
Peggy
Peggy
5 years 7 months ago

I always understand things better when described with the zombie models 🙂

and, I’m another one that has coffee in the am & then something around 10 or so followed by an afternoon something. Dinner is skipped most nights – not hungry.

Clint
5 years 7 months ago

Whilst I am a huge advocated for IF, I can easily see where negative food associations can become quite ‘obsessive’ for the minority.
As Mark says, make sure you have everything ‘else’ in check before you attempt to throw something else into the mix.

Nichole
Nichole
5 years 7 months ago

Did anyone see Dr.Oz today? It was about the HCG diet. I am fuming over this episode. This type of diet will NEVER be the answer to the obesity epidemic. To feature it on a high profile show like this seems ridiculous to me. What a load of bull. Urgh!

Elenor
Elenor
5 years 7 months ago

Dr Oz is USUALLY ridiculous and shoveling boatloads of bull! He’s a SUPERB cardiac surgeon — if only we could confine him to the surgical suite! He’s ‘expanded’ his view of himself as a miracle worker (which, apparently he is: IN CARDIAC SURGERY!!) into seeing himself as the god of all-things-medical! Alas, it’s a common problem for docs… His personality (and his good personal genetics) — and the draw of fame — has turned him into a fool.

Kim
Kim
5 years 7 months ago
I usually don’t jump to the defense of any TV doctor, but I saw the episode in question, and I must point out that Dr. Oz said he would NOT recommend anyone follow the HCG diet. While he does follow and endorse CW in eating/exercising, etc., what is really frightening is the impact this show has on a large percentage of the population. It’s like people need someone else to “think” for them, because if a doctor endorses it, well it must be be the right thing to do. Critical thinking skills have fallen by the wayside. I am very… Read more »
ThePrimalBrett
ThePrimalBrett
5 years 7 months ago

I find my IF’s are usually on the low side, maybe 14 hours or so after dinner. I do occasionally pull a 16 hour, but mostly for the ancillary benefits beyond fat loss since the PB took care of that problem area fairly quickly 🙂

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Lars1000
5 years 7 months ago

wow I happened to do a 16 hour IF today.. Felt great and I enjoyed my light lunch. Will be doing a 24 hour one soon. I like the idea of a 2pm to 2pm.

juliemama
juliemama
5 years 7 months ago
Because I work in the restaurant industry, we keep odd hours already! Its actually humorous to see the staff enjoying dinner at midnight! Therefore, if I get home at 1 or 2 AM, there is NO WAY that I have an interest in food in the morning. My husband will comment on my “noisy” tummy in the morning and tell me to “eat already!” but I know my tumm tumm is just finishing up digesting whatever I consumed the night before. I have always enjoyed fasting, and now I just eat when I am hungry. Sometimes I go from dinner… Read more »
juliemama
juliemama
5 years 7 months ago
And to all the preggo and BFing ladies out there, I was ravenously hungry during pregnancy and nursing..I also gave up dairy while nursing, gastro baby distress..it was an immediate relief for both of us! I had not gone Primal or paleo yet, so I am sure my body would have responded differently…I will never know! Ha ha I ate when I was hungry,(gained 50lbs, both kids, I am a healthy weight at 5’1″)My Doc was in a panic over my weight gain!I drank lots of fluids and made enough milk to keep the freezer stocked! Lost all the baby… Read more »
Amelia
Amelia
5 years 7 months ago
I started IF (sort of) when i started eating primal- i would eat twice a day instead of 3 or 4 times- no window i used to jsut mix it up (either breaky and dinner or lunch and dinner ect). I lost 2kg a week and had loads of energy. After 2 weeks I started eating three or four meals a day again (primal) and had a weight loss stall and had less energy. (partly due to the large nut intake). Now that im back doing IF (no breakfast usually) My weight loss has started back up and energy levels… Read more »
Herbwifemama
5 years 7 months ago

I’ve never been a breakfast person, so I’m relieved to find IF! 🙂 Being overweight, I always thought not eating breakfast contributed to it. Now, it seems that all that grain I was eating was what contributed to it. Since going primal, I’ve lost 8 inches off my body. I eat breakfast when I wake up hungry, when I’m not hungry, I wait til lunch. It’s all good. 🙂

Noctiluca
Noctiluca
5 years 7 months ago

I think I’m somewhat of a natural IFer. My life is such that sometimes I just don’t get around to eating until ‘later’. Sometimes much later. My body pretty much handles it without complaint. I find it slight;y harder when I have a plan for IFing rather than it just being something that happens. Maybe just because I am more mentally fixated on food.

Natalia
Natalia
5 years 7 months ago
Coming from someone who has had an eating disorder..I find that eating primally has helped the most of any treatment. Eating fat and protein eases my mind. Carbs are the worst, and if I eat too many of them, that is the most triggering thing. Sometimes I will skip breakfast simply because I don’t have time to eat in the AM before work (which is about an 18hr fast), but I will still eat enough at lunch and dinner so that I don’t lose weight (I wouldn’t want to lose any weight anyway) which is easy with enough meat and… Read more »
Marissa Davidson
Marissa Davidson
5 years 7 months ago

Congrats, Natalia (and thanks for sharing).

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