A month ago I watched a TED talk(listed below) about intermittent fasting, which really ignited my curiosity, I quickly watched with amazement the video(twice, just to make sure that I got everything) and I started searching for more evidence that would eventually destroy my old belief that fasting is just a religious stuff that people do.
First let me tell you what Intermittent fasting is.
Intermittent fasting is a term used in multiple forms. Some of the most famous fasting methods are caloric restriction for a different time period or complete restriction from food and water for a period of time.
The method that is recommended in the book is 24-hour fasting, which at the end of the week it may not involve a day when you haven’t eaten anything.
For an example: in order for you to fast for 24 hours you can have your last meal at 6 PM and have your next meal at 6 PM the next day.
Which I got to admit was not that hard as I imagined it to be, but more about my experience with it later…
What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?(+TED talk)
Mark P. Mattson is Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program National Institute on Aging. He is also Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University(Wikipedia).
I’ve read few reviews of the book Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon(more info about the book here) and there were people who mentioned that they had problems focusing or having foggy mind during fasting.
And compared to what professor Mark Mattson says this should not happen.
Apparently the effects on the brain should be mostly positive(unless you don’t drink water during fasting, more about this later).
Benefits of intermittent fasting on the body
Improved cognitive function
Increased neurotrophic factors
Increased stress resistance
Reduced resting heart rate
Reduced blood presure
Increased stress resistance
Decreased insulin, IGF-1 and leptin, increased ketones, adiponectin and ghrelin.
Increased insulin sensitivity
Ketone body production
Decreased IGF-1 levels
Reduced energy uptake
Reduced cell proliferation
Increased insulin sensitivity
It is okay if you don’t know what most of these words mean, I don’t know too. But the body knows what is happening and it does not need a how-to for it.
In my opinion fasting increases brain power because the brain needs it to find ways how to gather or hunt food. Or in our case to find the closest path to the first junk food drive-through.
When I tried fasting I was mostly interested in the faster thinking boost and also I was very curious how my body will react to a workout during a fasting period.
Enough with the benefits let’s include some seriousness in here.
Enter Mr. Paul Chek
Paul Chek basically says that we should check our overall health before we start any type of fasting.
The toxins in our body are stored in the fat cells. And while we are fasting our body feeds it’s self with the fat cells.
The toxins that are stored in those fat cells are being processed again by the liver. And in case the liver is not in great conditions we may be able to muscle our way through 1-2 fasting days but in the long run the body may have serious consequences.
As you can see from the benefits above, fasting decreases insulin levels and Paul’s take on that is the insulin levels drop really quick.
And to reduce the rapid decrease we can drink some kind of fruit juice mixed with water. A teaspoon of honey is acceptable too. But just make sure that you don’t overdo it.
My experience with Eat Stop Eat method/intermittent fasting
To be honest my expectations with the book were not so high. I thought that this is just another waste of my money.
But Brad Pilon actually proved me wrong. The books is really short but has a lot of value and a lot of proof for every benefit that he mentions.
Brad mentioned that most of the research on food consumption was sponsored by a major food companies(Paul mentions that every time he has the opportunity).
At the end of the book you can find all the researches that back up every word of the author.
It is really a short read but the one thing that Pilon doesn’t mention are the dangers of fasting and that’s why I added Paul’s video in this article.
My experience with intermittent fasting
was somewhat challenging & liberating at the same time.
It is challenging because for 24 hours(minus 8 hours of sleep) it was hard not to think about food.
But my short attention span helped me get through this really easy(thank you Facebook). Working, playing games, reading books really helps in the hard times.
I was really interested in fasting because of the benefits that intermittent fasting has on the brain. And during fasting days I kinda felt that my brain started clicking better.
What I mean is that my brainstorming & idea generation was a different experience for me compared to my fed state. And I meant this in a good way.
I was also really curious how my body will react to my workout during fasting.
Paul Chek recommends fasting on relaxing days(off days). But I was just eager to see if the facts that were listed in Eat Stop Eat are true.
And yes, they are true. I didn’t saw a lack of strength or endurance.
The one thing I noticed for me personally was I need a lot of water when I’m fasting. And even more water when I was working out. My body needed a lot of it so I can function normally.
I did my workouts right before my first meal of the day(6 PM). The first time(first fasting day) I was so happy I got to eat that I ate 2 meals, almost 1 kg(~2lbs) of food.
Which was really out of control for me. But after that I knew what I did wrong and what I should do next time.