The question at hand today is whether alternate-day fasting is a viable, perhaps even preferable, option for folks who want to experiment with intermittent fasting. I’ve written about fasting many times here on the blog because it’s one of my favorite tools for managing insulin, blood sugar, appetite, and (possibly) promoting longevity, but I’ve never dedicated a post to alternate-day fasting per se. Time to remedy that.
I call it a tool, but fasting—having regular, distinct periods of little or no food—is the natural human condition. Or at least it should be. As I like to say, physiologically speaking, some of the best stuff happens when we aren’t eating. Fasting triggers desirable hormonal responses, reduces oxidative damage, promotes autophagy, and offers a mental challenge. Of course, in today’s food-rich environment, most people eat regularly for upwards of 16 or 18 hours every day. Eating in a 6- or 8-hour window, much less going 24 hours or more without food, is rare.
For the most part, I’m agnostic about the optimal fasting schedule. Whether someone prefers time-restricted eating like the popular 16:8 or 18:6 protocols, a weekly 24-hour fast, semi-annual prolonged fasting of three days or longer, or eating WHEN (when hunger ensues naturally) is a matter of personal taste. They each have pros and cons, but none so compelling that I’d say one is clearly best for everyone. Since a lot of people seem inclined to try alternate-day fasting, it deserves a closer look here.
Hey folks! In this week’s Ask a Health Coach, Erin is answering your questions about how to fuel on race day, why overdoing cardio is linked to burnout, and how to squeeze more (effective) exercise into an already busy day. Post your questions over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group or down below in the comments. Dean asked: “I’m walking a 10K a week from today. I can do it fasted, and have so before, but is there any benefit to having some carbs, protein, or fat before my event?” It’s never a good idea to try something different on your event day. This is the day you’re putting all your hard work to the test, so don’t be tempted to introduce anything new. That goes for what you put on your body and what you put in it. Here’s Some Food for Thought Sure, there’s tons of info about fat-adapted athletes who follow the train low, race high school of thought. The difference is, they’ve practiced it before they get up to the starting line. These athletes know how different sources of fuel feel in their stomach, if it makes them nauseous once they start moving, or if it makes them feel energized. They’re definitely not grabbing a few dates or a pack of almond butter on their way out the door, crossing their fingers, and hoping it works. If you typically exercise fasted (and are fat adapted), eating before your race may decrease performance. And really, seeing as you’ll be moving at a low-ish intensity, I’d doubt that any kind of carb-protein-fat mix would move the needle too much anyway. But the bigger question here is, if you’ve trained fasted and with fuel, why wouldn’t you choose the method you’ve found works best for you? Why would you totally discount something you’ve tried — and seen the real-time results — in lieu of advice that may or may not work for your body? Why We Don’t Trust Our Gut Maybe you’ve seen others carb-it-up before a race and constantly crush their goals. Or they swear by slower-burning sources of fat or protein. Deep down, you know what your body requires. You might not think you do, but you do. And usually, when you doubt your own inner knowing, it’s because you’re comparing yourself to other people and questioning your own ability to live up to the challenge at hand. A certain level of self-doubt can be healthy though. It indicates that you understand what you need to improve upon to reach your goal, whether it’s getting a PR on your 10K or moving away from the Standard American Diet. But too much self-doubt can derail you. That’s why it’s important to trust yourself and your decisions. Check the negative self-talk (that we all have, mind you), and start reinforcing your strengths. For instance, here are three things I already know to be true about you: You can complete a 10K You’ve trained fasted You’ve trained with … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Fasted Exercise, Chronic Cardio, and Microworkouts”
As you probably know, I’ve been working with Brad Kearns for the past dozen years to promote the Primal Blueprint lifestyle and crank out books, online courses, and even that great binge of PrimalCon retreats from 2010-2014. After we finished books like the updated and expanded Primal Blueprint 4th edition, The Keto Reset Diet, and Keto For Life, we had a sense there was nothing more to say about healthy eating and supportive lifestyle practices. Alas, as the ancestral health movement and the science and user experiences continue to grow and refine, there always seems to be more to say! Even the most devoted primal enthusiasts have room to optimize, and all of us who have taken personal responsibility for our health have more potential to influence and role model for family and friends. Two Meals A Day seems like a true breakthrough because it transcends niche dietary strategies like primal, paleo, keto and even plant-based to expand the focus beyond food choices and macros to simply eating less frequently and allowing stored body fat to become your primary source of energy. The program is simple, sustainable, stress-free, and appealing to anyone regardless of dietary preferences. The timing is great because market research reveals that “intermittent fasting” has surpassed the red hot “keto” as the top search term, and for good reason. You see, a revolution is afoot in the world of diet and metabolism. Emerging science is validating some shocking insights that will once and for all topple the long-standing conventional stupidity of the calories in-calories out model, and the resultant decades of epic fail that has been the mainstream approach to weight loss. As we roll into 2021, a confluence of great work from science leaders like Robb Wolf (author of Wired To Eat), Dr. Satchin Panda (author of The Circadian Code and promoter of the Time Restricted Feeding concept), Dr. Herman Pontzer (author of Burn and promoter of the Total Energy Expenditure theory) and Dr. Jason Fung (author of The Obesity Code, which cites dozens of studies revealing the folly of calories in-calories out), and Dr. Tommy Wood (“eat more healthy food!”) is pointing us in an empowering new direction. We now have an excellent understanding on how the body really works and can finally chart an accurate direction to achieve and maintain ideal body composition and escape from the epidemic disease patterns driven by carbohydrate dependency. Here are some bullet points to summarize the emerging science: Calories in-calories out is a myth. Fat loss is about hormone optimization, mainly through avoiding the epidemic disease pattern of hyperinsulinemia. When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Too many meals and snacks—even when choosing the healthiest foods or following ketogenic macros—will compromise fat reduction goals. Fasting is the centerpiece of a healthy dietary strategy. Immune function, inflammation control, internal antioxidant production, cognitive function, and cell repair (autophagy and apoptosisare all optimized when you are in a fasted state. Eating fewer calories and burning more workout … Continue reading “Two Meals A Day – The Diet Book To End All Diet Books”
I’m a huge fan of fasted training. It feels right, it feels “Primal.” And it jibes with my sense of how life was back in the hunting and gathering days: if you wanted to eat, you had to go hunt, and you had to hunt on an empty stomach (because you didn’t have much food laying around, let alone a refrigerator full of it). This is the natural state of animal life in the wild—get hungry, perform physical tasks to obtain food, eat—and it always made intuitive sense that following that pattern when working out as a modern human would confer special benefits. Our big disconnect nowadays is that food is separate from physical labor. You no longer earn your meal on a visceral, physical level. There are social benefits to this new setup, but there are also metabolic, health, and fitness consequences.
Fasted training could be a way to correct that disconnect and restore the ancient relationship between food and movement. It’s plausible. But what does the research say?
So, you overdid it…or just ate something that doesn’t work with your body. Maybe you didn’t binge per se but you abandoned the original plan and now you’re feeling the pain. You ate, maybe more than you intended, maybe differently than you intended.
Non-Primal foods were consumed – perhaps many of them or just a few in larger than planned quantities. Non-Primal and sub-Primal drinks were imbibed beyond the point of intention. And now the consequences are playing out. You’re stuck in a bloated, sloth-like, catatonic state. You’re nursing a major headache with every shade shut and the covers over your head wishing in a rather non-seasonal mindset that your children would take the noise to some distant corner of the neighborhood. Maybe you’ve taken up residence in the bathroom.
In a less dramatic scenario, perhaps you’re just pushing yourself through the day because you notice your energy is off, your digestion not up to full speed, your mood not quite as equanimous as usual. Whether you feel it was worth it or not, who wouldn’t want to reverse the course of misery itself after the fact?
Think of it this way: with health comes sensitivity to what’s unhealthy.
Intermittent fasting has taken the world by storm. No longer is it the province of fitness freaks. No longer do you get weird looks because you skipped the break room donuts. Now you’ve got grandmothers trying it and doctors recommending it. It’s here, the benefits are legion, and you’re interested. But how should you do it? Are there different types of intermittent fasting? Are there different benefits associated with the various flavors of IF? 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, the most fundamental concept central to all the flavors of intermittent fasting is not eating. Skipping meals, skipping entire days of meals, letting yourself get a little hungry. There’s no getting around that. It will happen. 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: Sleeping hours (provided you don’t sleep-eat) count as fasting hours. Eat well regardless. While some fasting plans tout their adherents’ ability to eat crappy food and still lose weight, I’m not interested in fasting solely as a weight loss method. Keep your food Primal as possible. Okay, on to the variations. Stay on track, no matter where you are! Instantly download your Guide to Dining Out 12:12, 16:8, 18:6, or 20:4 Intermittent Fasting As the names suggest, these breakdowns of intermittent fasting involves fasting for either 12, 16, 18, or 20 hours and taking in all of your food for the day over the remaining window of hours. How to find out which fasting length is the the best one for you? There’s only one way. You have to experiment. You can start with a 12:12 intermittent fast, which comes with the benefits of intermittent fasting and is easy to do for most people. You stop eating a couple of hours before bedtime, and delay breakfast a couple of hours after waking. If that works well, extend your fasting period the next day, and repeat until you find the eating and fasting pattern that feels good. Lots of diets have added more detail to the intermittent fasting model, but bare-bones intermittent fasting is simply a shorter feeding period. If you’ve heard of Leangains, Martin Berkhan’s incredibly popular fasting protocol, you’ve heard of 16:8 intermittent fasting. How does it work? A daily 16 hour fast during which you eat nothing containing calories. Coffee, tea, and other non-caloric fluids are fine. Some people get away with a little cream in their drink. A daily 8 hour eating window. Three days of weight training, ideally performed at the tail end of the fasting period. To improve performance and muscle protein synthesis, you have the option of consuming 10 grams of branched chain amino acids 10 minutes before the workout. Always eat high protein. On training days, eat more carbs and less fat. On rest days, eat … Continue reading “How to Intermittent Fast and Which Type of Fasting Is Right For You”
You’ve been keto for a few months now (or longer). You know what you’re doing. You feel good about where you are. You’re fat-adapted. You’ve got a slew of recipes under your belt, your gym performance has normalized, the keto-flu is a distant memory. And now, you’re looking to explore further. The natural next step is intermittent fasting.
But is it the right move?
Does intermittent fasting work if you’re keto?
The short answer is: Yes. Intermittent fasting works really, really well if you’re on a ketogenic diet.
Hi folks, today’s post comes from my friend Max Lugavere, New York Times best-selling author of Genius Foods and The Genius Life, which will be available for purchase on March 17, 2020. Max is a young guy, but he’s accomplished a lot so far, including an impressive bit of research and writing about longevity and how to age optimally with grace. I know you’ll enjoy Max diving into the weeds a bit about the nutrient sensors, proteins, and catalysts that may help us live long, healthy, thriving lives. This post comes from an excerpt from Max’s newest book The Genius Life.
From now until March 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PST, enter for your chance to win a FREE copy of The Genius Life as well as Primal Kitchen salad dressings and Primal Sun. All you have to do is head over to Instagram, follow @marksdailyapple and @maxlugavere, and tag some friends in the comments of the giveaway post. Three winners will be selected and notified via DM. Good luck, and enjoy the excerpt.
When it comes to slowing down the clock, life extension is indeed possible. The catch? There are two: it involves calorie restriction, and it has only been successfully demonstrated in lab animals. Studying longevity in humans is a bit more challenging. We don’t sleep in labs, we live a lot longer, and we like to eat. (Correction: we love to eat.) So while most of us would happily opt for a 40 percent increase on our life spans like food-deprived lab rats seem to achieve, we need a better route to get there.1
Is intermittent fasting a good idea for people with thyroid issues?
It’s a common question. After all, we know that the thyroid gland is a sensitive barometer of overall caloric sufficiency in the body. If a fast sends a message of caloric insufficiency, and the body thinks “times are tough,” the thyroid may presumably down-regulate its function to slow down the metabolic rate and preserve energy and nutrients. Caution is justifiable.
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating have become popular strategies to lose weight, boost insulin sensitivity, improve blood sugar and blood lipids, and encourage ketosis. But there is still a lot of confusion about how to fasti correctly, avoiding possible pitfalls while maximizing the benefits. One recurring point of confusion is working out while fasting—how much to exercise, whether to stop high-intensity training, and so on.
Before I get into the meat of this post, let’s make one thing clear: You SHOULD continue to work out while fasting. Stay active, don’t just sit around. Yes, even during longer fasts (with some caveats that I’ll discuss below).