Beyond Weight Loss
“Intermittent Fasting is as old as the human race.”
Nothing really new, nothing special, but still very exciting!
Historically humans had to fast because there was not enough food to go around. Interestingly enough, fasting also continued to be part of many religions. Since the 1940’s there has been a scientific side to Intermittent Fasting when researchers discovered astonishing results.
Fasting is reaching full ketosis = burning body fat only
The key with Intermittent Fasting is to reach the body’s state of full ketosis where ketone levels are greater than 1.5 mmol/L and do not exceed 3.0 mmol/L. In this stage of full ketosis the body’s energy source is fat only, simply magical. The 3 phases to reach ketosis are important to understand, especially for beginners. After the last meal it can take up to 8 hours until the body has digested it and moves from stage 1 (insulinemic) to stage 2 (glucose depleting of liver and gluconeogenesis). For novices, stage 2 can last 20 hours and more. For the experienced faster it may go down to only a few hours.
daily calorie restriction without ketosis is counter productive
There are many recommendations about how to fast. The daily fast with Intermittent Fasting windows is very popular. While fasting with fasting windows stretched over some hours might sound easier than fasting in full days, beginners might have problems reaching the appropriate ketone levels, aka full ketosis. The result of such a regime is a simple, daily energy restriction with no weight loss effect. However, there can be plenty of unpleasant side-effects such as bad mood, fatigue, hunger, anger, dizziness and sometimes weight-gain because of overeating in the eating windows. Additionally, for women, this can cause alert reactions and hormone imbalances like negative influence on fertility, irregular periods and outbreaks etc.
This can be a dangerous beginner trap and makes the entire effort pointless.
Many dieters constantly live (unintentionally) in the transition phase
Many of these symptoms are reported with Intermittent Fasting, but in most cases this is due to a “false” daily fast, i.e. it is very likely most of these individuals never entered full ketosis. The same symptoms are reported with Keto diets like Atkins.
As long as you are in full ketosis, a keto diet can be supportive of losing weight but has not the rejuvenating and recovery effects of Intermittent Fasting. One cheat meal and your body has to go through that unwanted transition phase, back to reach ketosis. Depending on how strict a keto diet is kept, people might be, the majority of the time, in the transition phase which cannot be the goal for a healthy life.
In addition, full ketosis can be seen as medicine. It can be used to support the treatment of certain types of epilepsy in children. What is known so far, ketosis is an emergency stage for the body, a full keto phase longer than 72 hours is not recommended. Furthermore, active people and athletes with healthy body fat content around 15% (10% for men) will find it hard to reach full ketone levels.
Constant calorie restriction without reaching full ketosis is not effective, is counter-productive and might jeopardize health, especially in women. Fasting is reaching full ketosis, a temporary, natural fat burning stage.
Give your body time to adapt to reaching full ketosis. Don’t rush. Be patient and start with Intermittent Fasting in full days first before entering a daily fasting regime.
Fat loss is one effect with Intermittent Fasting, but it also has more to offer. The liver, one of the most important organs, receives major relieve through Intermittent Fasting. Having food on a regular basis is relatively new in the span of human’s history. The human body is not yet fully adapted to this. The liver is especially overwhelmed with breaking down all the daily intake of protein and alcohol, but the liver has many more important functions with regards to repair and cleansing the body. During a 2 day fast the liver is better able to conduct the repair of the body. Intermittent Fasting is even a hot topic in cancer treatment and, more importantly, in potential cancer prevention.
This is the major difference between being in full ketosis through Intermittent Fasting and being in ketosis through a very low carb diet (aka keto diet) where the liver is kept busy with breaking down food, especially proteins.
The liver can rejuvenate the body with its 500 functions
Intermittent Fasting for women - a controversial topic
Always pay attention to the sensitive female body
As mentioned above, Intermittent Fasting for women is a very special topic. A woman’s body is very sensitive. Let’s draw a simple picture: historically, men are born to hunt and die, women are born to reproduce (ok, we give men a 5 minute participation on that). Therefore, female bodies are much more responsive to changes in the environment and the surrounding circumstances.
Intermittent Fasting can be an amazing turbo booster to get you jump started on reaching your individual health goals.
We, however, recommend Intermittent Fasting only for women who aren’t pregnant or who aren’t planning of getting pregnant in the future. Although it is a sensitive topic, there are many women who are convinced about Intermittent Fasting.
Check out the different weight loss programs, they are designed to get started either with Intermittent Fasting or without.
How to fast
It is highly recommend that Intermittent Fasting beginners start with a full days’ fast. Full day Intermittent Fasting might be harder than going for daily fast windows, but the body has to get used producing sufficient ketone levels first. Over time the body adapts and is able to reach full ketosis within a few hours. This is another example that ketosis is a natural stage and that Intermittent Fasting can do wonders if implemented properly.
A 2 day fast works as follows: Let’s assume the fast is on Monday and Tuesday. The last meal is dinner on Sunday evening. Monday and Tuesdays are the fasting days. You break the fast on Wednesday morning with breakfast.
It is important that you keep your body hydrated and drink plenty of water and/or tea. Drink coffee in moderation. Coffee might help you mentally, at the beginning, but experienced fasters try to stay caffeine-free during Intermittent Fasting.
Some Intermittent Fasting enthusiasts, like Michael Mosley (enjoy his documentary which started a huge Intermittent Fasting wave in UK), are recommending small amounts of food intake during the fast. This might be helpful, especially, for individuals who cannot sleep on an empty stomach. The down side of this is the liver is, again, busy and one wrong meal easily kicks you out of ketosis and the entire effort is heavily jeopardized.
The body will adapt quickly to fasting. The recommendation is to fast 2 days per week on water/tea only.
The body produces more endorphins: you will be happy!