By Keith | November 30, 2009
Intermittent fasting [IF] is a way of eating that groups all of your eating into a small window of the day followed by a long period [16-20 hours] of not eating [fasting]. Most carnivores we know eat like this. Carnivores fast until they kill and then they eat until full and then fast until the next kill…[you get the picture]…etc. When you think about the whole process of IF, it was probably the way Paleolithic man ate as well. Since cavemen were hunters for the most part, they probably ate once a day or maybe even once every other day, whatever they could find.
IF is supported by science, not to mention various religious and cultural practices. There are countless studies that show calorie restriction is good for you. Overeating is not! The theory is that this process produces just enough mild stress from calorie restriction to be good. This mild stress stimulates the production of proteins that protect the neurons against more severe stress. This mild stress reduces blood sugar, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces blood pressure, and increases HDL levels. It helps your body get to a healthy body weight and increases your life span.
We have gotten so used to the three square meals a day, we get anxious when there is no food. We plan on having food readily available at all times. While this seems like a good plan, our society has taken it to an all time level where sloth, overeating and obesity are overwhelming us.
If you have seen success with the challenge so far and have a good understanding of what to eat on the Paleolithic diet, then you should probably try the idea of timing your meals like this. Here’s how it works.
Let’s say you pick a day to start. You eat your normal Paleo diet all day, stop eating around 6 pm, then go to bed at your normal time. Wake up in the morning and fast until 12 noon. You eat your day’s worth of food in the next 4 hours and then start the cycle again. With this cycle you would have fasted for 18-20 hours depending on the time you have finished eating your meals. I would recommend that you time your foods around your work out. Fast up until your work out and then start your meal right or soon after, leading up to your next fast.
But be careful. Not all nutrition professionals see the merits of fasting. Some think of it as a recipe for disaster, setting up a person for binge eating and metabolic confusion. Make no mistake about it, you do get hungry, fatigued, and irritable in the short term. Fasting is not comfortable initially. However, over time the opposite effect is reality. You get a sharpened sense of awareness, you become more powerful, and with the reduction in cortisol and other hormone levels you actually become more steady.
Don’t go crazy with hunger. If you feel hungry, have a shorter fast for that day. It’s not about starving yourself. Listen to your body. You can intermittent fast intermittently. You’ll still get the benefits from doing it even once or twice a week. The important thing is to let your body go for some time without any caloric intake – that means no cream in coffee, no protein shakes, no juice…. nothing!
On a similar note, adding more cardio exercise to lose weight while fasting will have the opposite effect of what people think will happen. Because a lot of regular running, cycling, etc., stimulates your fight or flight response, raising Cortisol levels, which raises blood glucose, which stimulates an insulin response, which, of course, is the fat storage hormone. This is actually the opposite of IF. While our ancient ancestors might have had to run from a predator now and then, they probably didn’t do it several times a week for hours and hours. Your just not built for that. Modern hunter-gatherers are noted for the conservation of energy in their activities, with more walking than running, etc. Short powerful explosive exercises are more accurate.
If anyone has any further questions feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.