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)

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