Friday, September 28, 2012

The trials and tribulations of intermittent fasting

IF'ing is generally easy, sometimes too easy, so naturally you can get bored.  Coming from a financial perspective boring is good. You want your long term investments to be safe, reliable, even predictable. I imagine a bad investment is like crash dieting. You throw all your money at a new exciting stock the same way a crash dieter throws themselves on the latest diet. You go up, you go down, but you never really gain health (or wealth). If you are wise you seek out the best mixture of stocks and mutual funds, real estate and tax deferred savings programs.

In health seek out the gold standards.  Exercise regularly.  Be careful of extremes, marathons and crossfit are awesome, but they will wear you down. Practice Intermittent Fasting. The easiest way to give your body a break, and a chance to get on with some autophagy. Stay away from long term fasting.  If you are doing it daily maybe 16-18 hrs.  Incorporate healthy foods like green tea and kale. Reduce your sugar and refined foods intake. Practice Tai Chi or Yoga or Meditation. Brush and floss.

I know, it sounds so mundane.  My guess is the long term benefits will give you an abundance of health, just like safe, boring investments give you an abundance of wealth.

Carnitine perhaps?

Carnitine may also help you oxidize your fat ass...

The effect of l-carnitine on fat oxidation

"increased dietary fat oxidation in slightly overweight subjects was not accompanied by protein catabolism."

That's the good news. This too:

"Essentially, L-carnitine transports the chains of fatty acids into the mitochondrial matrix, thus allowing the cells to break down fat and get energy from the stored fat reserves." 1

This could be in part why people who go on a paleo diet lose fat.  Not only is the insulin response improved, but with all that extra carnitine, the fatty acids are being burned more efficiently.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Coffee and Health!

Here is an interesting study on coffee, and it just so happens the research takes place while subjects are fasted, so bonus points:


In conclusion:

"Drinking 200 mL (1 cup) coffee induces an increase in the resistance of LDL to oxidative modification, probably as a result of the incorporation of coffee's phenolic acids into LDL."  

In other words the thing that makes LDL harmful to your arteries, which is oxidation, is slowed down by coffee consumption. 

This is a very interesting study on my good friend coffee.  Coffee increases metabolic rate, lipolysis, and most important fat oxidation in normal weight subjects.  It is noted that obese subjects did not benefit significantly from coffee.  

Take a Look: COFFEE!!!

In conclusion here:

"A series of four trials was carried out to investigate the effects of caffeine and coffee on the metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. In the first trial 8 mg/kg caffeine was compared with a placebo in normal weight subjects. Metabolic rate increased significantly during the 3 hr after caffeine ingestion. While plasma glucose, insulin, and carbohydrate oxidation did not change significantly, plasma free fatty acid levels rose from 432 +/- 31 to 848 +/- 135 muEq/liter and were accompanied by significant increases in fat oxidation during the last hour of the test. In the second and third trials the effects of coffee providing 4 mg/kg caffeine were studied in control and obese subjects. Metabolic rate increased significantly in both groups; however, significant increases in fat oxidation were only observed in the control group. Plasma free fatty acids did not change in the obese. In the fourth trial, coffee was taken with a 3080 kJ meal. The thermic effect of the meal was significantly greater after coffee than after decaffeinated coffee and again fat oxidation was significantly greater after coffee. In conclusion caffeine/coffee stimulates the metabolic rate in both control and obese individuals; however, this is accompanied by greater oxidation of fat in normal weight subjects."

So yes, coffee is great while fasting, but more importantly, have a strong brew after heavy meals for it's special benefit of greatly increasing thermic effect and fat oxidation.  I'll drink to that!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Intermittent Fasting And Calorie Restriction

Intermittent Fasting has many beneficial health benefits, but if you're looking for weight loss, it seems (at least in rats) you had better combine it with calorie reduction.  In this landmark study scientists note:

"By the end of this study, male C57BL 6 mice subjected to IF [intermittent Fast]
were consuming essentially the same amount of food in a 48-h
period as did those fed AL [Ad Libitum]. On the days they had access to food,
the IF mice ate roughly twice as much as did mice fed AL (Fig.
1a). Mice on the LDF [Limited Daily Feeding] regimen consumed 40% less food as
provided: this was reflected in their body weights, which were
49% lower than those of the AL-fed group. In contrast, at the
end of the study the body weights of mice maintained on the IF
diet or PF on a daily basis were only slightly below those of the
AL-fed group"


But of course most of us practicing intermittent fasting, are not eating double the amount of calories to make up for it.

In fact, the IF that I practice might resemble more closely slight calorie restriction plus a small fasting period. I suppose I am hoping to get at least a small dose of the helpful benefits of each method.  Besides I could not imagine fasting 36 hours every other day.  That would be torture!

Alas, there are very similar benefits for insulin sensitivity betweem IF and Calorie Restriction:

"A prominent physiological change that
occurs in mammals maintained on reduced-calorie diets is
increased insulin sensitivity, which often is reflected in decreased fasting plasma levels of glucose and insulin (17). Fasting
serum concentrations of glucose and insulin in mice fed AL in
the current study averaged 150 mg dl and 3,400 pg ml, respectively (Fig. 2 a and b). The concentrations of glucose and insulin
were decreased significantly, to similar amounts, in mice maintained on either LDF or IF regimens with glucose and insulin
concentrations dropping to 100 mg dl and 700–1,100 pg ml,
respectively (Fig. 2). That similar changes are seen in IF and LDF
groups in the current study suggests that despite an overall
calorie intake similar to mice fed AL, IF has similar effects on
circulating glucose and insulin levels."

So that's good news for Rats on IF or CR!

Calorie Restriction    VS     Intermittent Fasting    Both Healthy, but...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Carbs and Sugar still the bad guys

Of course, we have known carbohydrate and sugars dirty little secret for a long time now.  This article kind of puts some of the scientific mechanisms eloquently:

Killer Carbs

I think it is very well known in the health blog community, but yeah, you are much better off getting your carbs and sugar from natural sources.  I love mine in the form of sweet potatoes and grapefruits. One of the coolest effects of Intermittent Fasting is how it regulates your blood sugar.  This doesn't mean you should have a chocolate ice cream orgy everynight, but you definitely can feel a little less of the impact when you go on a desert binge.  And dammit to hell, what fun is life without a desert binge every once in a while (Or Pizza for that matter).

What's the hurry?

So, I've noticed in the last month that my weight loss has just completely stalled. I've been bouncing around the 185-193 range. Intermittent fasting be damned, cannot seem to rid myself of the last layer of belly fat, keeping back the 8 pack.

In the big scheme of things I don't see this as a problem. Weight loss, like weight gain, should be a slow process.  Intermittent fasting is not meant to be a crash diet.  It is meant to be a lifestyle.  That's why 10 months down the road I am still able to continue doing it. I know once you reach the 10-15% bodyfat, your body tends to guard the last resources a bit more.

I wonder if there is anything I should be doing? Perhaps incorporating more walking or biking.  Maybe more calories on a refeed day?  Maybe less calories on non workout days?  You see there is no one out there who can tell me what I need to do.  We must listen to our own bodies, we have to experiment over time and see what works best.  There is no need to make drastic changes, even if I am only losing a pound or month (Even if I gained 2 pounds this month).  At some point it stops being about weight loss, and much more about body composition.

As I've lost weight over the year, things have become a lot more apparent, like how bad my posture really is.  How low my muscle tone is compared to some of the awesome bloggers out there (Martin Berkhan from Leangains or Mark Sisson from Mark's daily apple). It's not like I am new too weight lifting or body toning. I've been active in some form since I was a teenager...

In any case, it gives me motivation to keep up the good fight.  I definitely feel that intermittent fasting has given me a very important tool.  I know how to keep from gaining too much weight.  In addition the daily break from being in the FEED cycle not only gives my digestive cycle a break, but also my brain.

Some Pics From Week 39 Intermittent Fasting Or Dude, Where'd My Abs Go?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Green Tea And Fatty Asses

Green tea, in my mind represents a mystical beverage. It holds a place in my mind, similar to Tai Chi on a misty ancient mountain in China.  Part beverage, part medicine, plus it has a great kick of caffeine.  Most of the time I will still choose coffee before tea, but when I'm feeling sick, or get on a health kick I try to rev up my green tea intake.

Maybe it is just a placebo effect (or caffeine), but it does alter the way I feel. The nice thing about Green Tea is that it is well researched.

This particular study was illuminating.  Researchers found that on average FAT OXIDATION was 17% higher during exercise for subjects amped up on Green Tea Extract! That is substantial in my book.  Add that curve to all the extra Lipolysis going on in during fasted training and you have yourself a triple threat!

Study On Green Tea

Friday, September 14, 2012

How Long To Fast? 16-36 hrs, The Benefits?

Here is something that pisses me off.  When I hear fasting is not normal, it goes against nature, or your starving yourself.  Mind you more often than not these are people with large bellies and brains full of misinformation.

Besides the point, can we really consider 16-20 hours a fast?  In my mind it is merely a break from eating, a chance to do something other than eat, drink and poop. Not to mention in a 4-8 hour eating window, one can easily consume twice the amount of calories needed in a day.  One could also gain weight while practicing intermittent fasting.  Although as research has shown, you would still be less likely to gain weight, and you would be less likely to suffer from diabetes, and other maladies (perhaps even cancer).

Let's consider the 16 hour fast.  This is so easy to do, even the most ravenous could pull it off without any mental or physical preparation.  There is a plethora of anecdotal evidence that 16 hours is all that is needed to acquire a year round level of leanness, In fact Martin Berkhan has dedicated his whole website to this practice Leangains.  I think this is the best starting point, and ultimately the most productive IF lifestyle.  He combines a simple 16 hr fast with simple bodybuilding, and nutrition cycling (more carbs after workouts, less on non workout days, and in general a whole lot of protein and cheesecake {with a deent amount of booze too!}).

I would say Berkhan's lifestyle and routine would be adaptable to almost anyone in their 20's and onward.  My personal thought is that bodybuilding to that extreme is unattractive, and eating that much protein is unnecessary. Nonetheless it works, and his website is awe inspiring and humorous.

The 18-20 hour fast, is my personal preference.  It just gives me a little more time to hang out in that sweet zone, where you actually start to feel hunger. It is not uncomfortable, but psychological.  There have been many times where I am in this zone, and confronted with foods like pizza or cookies.  It is like walking over hot coals resisting, but I like the psychological challenge.  It usually ends up with me surrendering control, and letting go of my urges.  This is akin to letting go of thoughts in zen meditation.  Only those thoughts have become smells and near carnal desires.  From time to time I will reward myself with the food I was tempted by when I break the fast.

20 hours is well documented in "The Warrior Diet" by Ori Hofmekler. He recommends a daily 20/4 hour eating window.  I consider 20 hours tricky but not too difficult.  I will do this on average 1 or 2 times a week, usually out of convenience.  The problem with the longer fasts is a tendency to crave and reward myself with sugary treats.  Not sure why, but this is sometimes the case.

24 hour fast is made famous by Brad Pilon in "Eat Stop Eat".  Just like Brad recommends I usually do this once, sometimes twice a week.  In my mind, eat stop eat, when combined with Leangains 16-18 hour fast is the most succesful path.  The 24 hour lets you take a day off of eating, and reset yourself.  Whilst the rest of the time you are getting a good break, and a fasted workout.  If you do strength training, there is much evidence you can actually gain muscle while losing fat.  Year round.  It's also much easier than dieting.  You don't have to do Paleo, or Zone. You should eat healthy, but, it can work even if you eat some junk.

Brad Pilon (disclaimer: the 24 hour fast will not put hair on your head!)

Ori Hefmekler

Martin Berkhan (disclaimer: fasting won't make you ugly, but bodybuilding might.)

ME! (Fasting won't grow hair on your head! Also you don't have to be a bodybuilder)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fat Oxidation Increases In Alternate Day Fasting

One of the reasons we fast is to cleanse our body and mind.  If you think about from a scientific perspective, we are also cleansing ourselves of old cells through autophagy and fat oxidation.  Since fat cells are so stubborn, some are literally stored away for years, this is significant.  If we want to renew and revitalize our whole body, than it is a necessity, whether obese or healthy weight.  Intermittent fasting should be considered hygienic, like brushing your teeth.

This article is reassuring:

Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bad News For Beefy Women

Plowing through some articles on lipolysis while fasted I came upon this bad news for women.

It seems in Obese women, being fasted for 20 hours does not increase Lipolysis.  The Scientist

conjectures that this may be an effect of "hyposomatotropism", basically a fancy word for not 

producing  growth hormone. I think there must be some way around this snag in intermittent 

fasting for women.  My guess would be to try it over a 16 week period and see if the rate of lipolysis 

picks up (it takes a lot longer than that to become obese right).  Perhaps using different herbs and 

amino acids while fasting could help as well.  Think Carnitine, Leucine and Green Tea (Or perhaps 

a few shots of espresso!).  Definitely doing some fasted workouts too.

Here is the Abstract:
Blunted lipolytic response to fasting in abdominally obese women

Fasted Training, A Great Tool For Fat Burning!

This study is ridiculously confusing to read, but the point is easy enough to understand:

Lipolytic suppression following carbohydrate ingestion limits fat oxidation during exercise

The main point is that Lipolysis, or the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream, slows down after a carb meal.  No Lipolysis = No Fat Burning.


In the fasted control group (overnight fasting, about 14 hours), the rate of lipolysis exceeded the rate of fat oxidation.  In other words Fat is being released into the blood stream faster than the body can burn it for energy!

What this translates to is a fasted workout is a fat burning extravaganza.

So yes, unless your a bodybuilder obsessed with gaining girth on your thighs, workout fasted at leasted 3 times a week.

"Hmm, very interesting Mike."

"Thanks Professor Japhy!"

Fasting Damages Cancer Cells

Sometimes the best medicine is a strong dose of nothing.

Fasting weakens cancer in mice

The article states: "Even fasting on its own effectively treated a majority of cancers tested in animals, including cancers from human cells."

Furthermore:  "without exception, "the combination of fasting cycles plus chemotherapy was either more or much more effective than chemo alone," said senior author Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California.
For example, multiple cycles of fasting combined with chemotherapy cured 20 percent of mice with a highly aggressive type of children's cancer that had spread throughout the organism and 40 percent of mice with a more limited spread of the same cancer."

I like those odds!

Fasting Helps Chemotherapy Reduce Brain Tumors

Fresh New Fasting Research.

It seems that the power of not eating has found itself in the midst of Brain Cancer Therapy.

Brain Tumors are notoriously deadly, but instead of sawing open your head and trying to dissect your

brain, now doctors are relying on chemotherapy, and combined with fasting it is much more potent.

What the article does not mention, but perhaps would be more interesting to me is the possibility of

proactive brain health.

Fasting Makes Brain Tumors More Vulnerable to Radiation Therapy

Going into the archives of Fasting Research

Mice are not men.

However they are mammals, and like human mammals they are omnivorous and prone to eating 24 hours a day if given the choice.  Another shocking article about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting.

Fasting Every Other Day

Excerpt from the article:

"A five percent reduction in calories would be the equivalent of reducing about 100 calories a day in a human diet," said Hellerstein. In other words, for the mice, intermittent feeding seemed to provide similar gain with a bit less pain than a more restrictive diet.
Hellerstein noted that animals in the wild regularly go through cycles of too much and too little food, though not by choice. Major predators, such as lions, may go days without eating and then binge when they make a successful kill. "It may be normal to have periods where we are not eating," said Hellerstein. "But in domestic life, there generally is continuous access to food."

So if you want to truly eat Primal or Paleo, try a little bit of starvation (without actually starving yourself).

Monday, September 10, 2012

This Article Sums Up Why I Practice Daily Fasting

In case you're wondering why I or anyone should fast daily, well I suppose there are a myriad of reasons.

This article from May 2012 Science Daily sums it up pretty nicely for me HERE.  Have your cake and eat it too!

Basically Mice were fed a fatty diet.  One group ate ad libitum 24 hours a day.  The other was restricted to an 8 hour eating window.  Guess who weighed 28% less and did not suffer ill effects of fatty liver, high cholesterol or diabetes?

Daily fasting really comes in handy during vacations, holidays and other uncertain times.  It's can be as easy as skipping breakfast.  When your back home just do a couple 24 hour fasts and you're right back where you started.

Here are a few images from 9 months Jan-Sep 2012 - Daily Fast is like exercise, it is habitual once you get used to it.  After some time you grow not only to love it, but it becomes a part of you.