Author Topic: Intermittent fasting  (Read 21218 times)

Offline Sanchiaza

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2010, 10:21:33 PM »
Hi everyone

I've become more and more interested in IF the more I read about it and I just have some (really) random thoughts and questions.

I know that fasting is technically defined using calorie restriction, but I have been wondering whether an additional component is insulin response restriction. Actually, what I've been wondering is whether it would still be considered a fast, with all the benefits of fasting, if I were to have a "snack" that did not produce an insulin response at all (i.e. oil - I'm an SLDer). Any ideas/research that anyone knows of?

I'm also wondering about the fast/feed windows - I know that there are various windows "out there", but the one thing they all have in common is a continuous fast for more than 12 hours and then a continuous feed window. Are there any benefits to an intermittent IF - i.e. eat, fast for 6-8 hours, eat, fast for 6-8 hours?

In between looking at the research around CR and IF, I can't help thinking about the Ancel Keys study on the effects of starvation and wondering about a whole lot of stuff - here's a link if anyone's interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment

And then I've been ruminating on the nature of what constitutes "common knowledge" and how something makes it into the public domain and suddenly everyone is doing it. Of course, what I'm talking about here is the meal-snack-meal-snack-meal-snack way of eating that has been punted for at least my lifetime. "Common knowledge" would have us believe that fasting is dangerous and bad for a person and those of us practising IF could perhaps be considered somewhat, umm... eccentric in our beliefs. Of course I know that different people will respond better to different things, but if I think about my path to SLD, IF and, finally, here, it was the result of an offhand remark made by one of my lecturers - serendipitous at best.

I like to think, of course, that we are the groundswell of a revolution rather than the lunatic fringe  :D

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2010, 11:18:44 AM »
What a great series of questions, Sanchiazza -- from the physiological to the sociological!  I'll chime in here with my thoughts:

I've been wondering is whether it would still be considered a fast, with all the benefits of fasting, if I were to have a "snack" that did not produce an insulin response at all (i.e. oil - I'm an SLDer). Any ideas/research that anyone knows of? I'm also wondering about the fast/feed windows - I know that there are various windows "out there", but the one thing they all have in common is a continuous fast for more than 12 hours and then a continuous feed window. Are there any benefits to an intermittent IF - i.e. eat, fast for 6-8 hours, eat, fast for 6-8 hours?

Strictly speaking, a "fast" means no food, only water.  But there are many less stringent versions of fasts, for various purposes.  For example, many "cleansing" or "detox" fasts allow fruit or vegetable juices, which is surprising to me, because these can contain many calories and even sugars. They may have some benefits, but insulin reduction is not among them. So you have to define the purpose of the fast.

For most people practicing IF, the purposes are: weight loss, hunger control, modulation of swings in insulin and blood glucose levels, etc.  For those purposes, I see no problem with small doses of oil, with intervening intervals sufficiently long to prevent significant variation in blood glucose or insulin.  For this purpose, I recommend coconut oil, because it has the unique feature of actually lowering blood glucose, but other oils are typically neutral.  I don't know of research on this -- other than about 4 weeks of self-experimentation I did on myself using a blood glucose monitor and diary about my energy and hunger levels.  You might try it on yourself!

I think that fasting intervals of 6-8 hours are certainly useful.  You don't have to extend the fast to 12-18 hours to get a benefit, although the longer the fasting interval the better.  But especially for a beginner, I would start short and very gradually build up.  Your chances of success are much higher that way, because an episode of reactive hypoglycemia, hunger or weakness can dissuade you from trying IF.  Your metabolism takes days to weeks to upregulate the hormones and enzymes necessary to easily break down stored fat and glycogen reserves. In that respect, occasional small oil doses actually help you adapt to fat burning and glycogen breakdown. With time, you will get better and better at doing this and will eventually experience very even energy levels (as well as very constant blood sugar and fatty acid levels) whether fasting or eating.  But be patient, and approach this gradually!

In between looking at the research around CR and IF, I can't help thinking about the Ancel Keys study on the effects of starvation and wondering about a whole lot of stuff - here's a link if anyone's interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment

The Ancel Keys study is famous for "showing" that a "very low calorie" diet led to intense, raving hunger and behavioral problems.  And it is supposed to be a warning to all of us not to fast or restrict calories significantly. As your Wikipedia reference details, the results were profoundly upsetting:

Quote from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment
Among the many conclusions from the study was the confirmation that prolonged semi-starvation produces significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis as measured using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a standardized test administered during the experimental period. Indeed, most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression. There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally).[1] Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation. The participants reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities, although the standardized tests administered showed no actual signs of diminished capacity. There were marked declines in physiological processes indicative of decreases in each subject’s basal metabolic rate (the energy required by the body in a state of rest) and reflected in reduced body temperature, respiration and heart rate. Some of the subjects exhibited edema (swelling) in the extremities, presumably due to the massive quantities of water the participants consumed attempting to fill their stomachs during the starvation period.

But the study was flawed in at least one major respect: It was not so much a low calorie diet as a very high carbohydrate, low protein diet! Take a look at exactly what constituted the 1560 calorie per day "starvation" diet"

Quote from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment
During the 6-month semi-starvation period, each subject’s dietary intake was cut to approximately 1,560 calories per day. Their meals were composed of foods that were expected to typify the diets of people in Europe during the latter stages of the war: potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, bread and macaroni.

(Italics added for emphasis by me).

This is almost pure carbohydrate, very poor in protein or fat.  There is very little in the diet to sustain muscular lean mass, or provide essential fatty acids and other oils needed for cell membrane synthesis, particularly for neural tissues in the brain and CNS.  It is not surprising that the participants had great difficulty adhering and maintaining their sanity. In this way, the design of the study was poor, because it did not merely reduce calories, but simultaneously distorted nutrient composition in an extreme manner.  So it provides no answer to whether cutting back calories, but allowing for adequate nutrition, is healthful or sustainable. The main take-away for me is that if you want to cut calories, be careful what type of nutrients you cut! Contemporary practitioners of caloric restriction are typically much more careful to ensure adequate nutrition, as in the so-called "CRON" diet:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRON-diet

This leads directly to your "sociological" question:

I've been ruminating on the nature of what constitutes "common knowledge" and how something makes it into the public domain and suddenly everyone is doing it. Of course, what I'm talking about here is the meal-snack-meal-snack-meal-snack way of eating that has been punted for at least my lifetime. "Common knowledge" would have us believe that fasting is dangerous and bad for a person and those of us practising IF could perhaps be considered somewhat, umm... eccentric in our beliefs. Of course I know that different people will respond better to different things, but if I think about my path to SLD, IF and, finally, here, it was the result of an offhand remark made by one of my lecturers - serendipitous at best...I like to think, of course, that we are the groundswell of a revolution rather than the lunatic fringe  :D

What is most unfortunate is how the designer of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, Ancel Keys, was able to parlay these results, in combination with grossly misleading interpretation of diet-heart heath relationships in his famous "Seven Countries Study", into a long lasting consensus that promotes high-carbohydrate low-fat diets, as well as other shibboleths such as the advice to eat frequent meals and avoid fasting.

The compounded errors of Keys and his associates are skewered in Chapter 2 ("The Inadequacy of Lesser Evidence") of Gary Taubes' book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.  Taubes' book is as much an investigation of the "sociology of science", of how consensus is often developed on false premises, as it is a recounting of the science itself. It's a great read.  A long book, but it reads like a mystery novel, and the science is explained in terms that an intelligent layperson can grasp.



« Last Edit: September 19, 2010, 07:26:00 AM by Todd Becker »

Offline Sanchiaza

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2010, 11:50:49 PM »
Hmmm, I must get hold of the Taubes book. Been meaning to read it for a while now.

Nutritionally, you're absolutely right about the Keys study - and isn't it funny how it is almost a cousin to the high-carb low-fat way of eating that has been "common knowledge" since forever! Of course, the nutrition is the most significant consideration in the results, but I have also been contemplating the context in which the study was done and wondering how that may also have influenced the eventual behaviour of the participants.

Thank you so much for the info regarding fasting, it is really useful, especially the idea of defining the nature and aim of the fast. My aim is lowered insulin levels and greater insulin sensitivity and having defined this, I now know in which direction to go.
 

Offline jared33

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2010, 08:34:17 PM »
Today I hit my ideal weight (120) on the nose, and it didn't even seem all that exciting because I had quiet confidence that Fast-5 would take me where I wanted to go. It's like I got on the Fast-5 express train and it dropped me off at my destination. All aboard! Seriously, it's really become second nature, not something I have to consciously commit to each day.

Jbird, your experience is very interesting to me.  I tried Eat-Stop-Eat a few years ago, which is a kind of intermittent fasting where you eat some days and don't eat at all other days.  It was interesting, but I couldn't sustain it, because it was too much on-and-off again.  But your fast-5 diet seems more doable because its more of a daily routine.  How long did it take you to get adjusted to it?  I'm thinking of trying it based on your experience.  It might be easier to stick with than Eat-Stop-Eat.

jared

Offline Jbird

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2010, 05:22:40 PM »
Hi Jared: I could never do an Eat-Stop-Eat approach. I like knowing I can look forward to eating every day, just later in the day. I actually didn't suffer through any type of adjustment period. I was originally trying to do a 24-hour fast (I wrote about this under the Challenges section on this site), and I would hit a wall each evening and cave in and eat something. After several days of this, I realized that while I was failing at completing a 24-hour fast, I was succeeding at something I wasn't even trying to do--Fast-5. It's funny because I never even thought about doing Fast-5, but I was aware of it. So I decided that would be my approach, and I adapted to it very quickly and realized how much I preferred that eating pattern when I visited family and ate more regularly spaced meals for 5 days. I couldn't wait to get back on track. It doesn't feel like a diet or deprivation at all to me. It seems to regulate my blood sugar much better than the conventional wisdom about eating small, protein-based meals 5-6 times a day, which is what I'd been told when my reactive hypoglycemia was diagnosed (at age 20). I hope you give it a try and let us know how you're doing!

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2010, 06:43:51 PM »
A late congratulations, Jbird.  I have settled into doing something very similar.  I planned on eating only six hours per day, then four, and now it often ends up being less than that, one big meal eaten over an hour's time.  It's hard at first, but once you get used to it, it's actually a very good way to live, and really the way I naturally ate when I was younger but somehow lost the habit.  I think you settle in at your best weight easily too, as you have found.




Offline Jbird

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2010, 07:47:57 PM »
Hey, Moonbeam, glad to see you and Jared posting about your Fast-5 and exercise experiences. It's encouraging to see others experiencing similar benefits from this way of eating. Like you, it was my natural pattern when younger, and I wish I'd just followed my own instincts all along.

Offline JC

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2010, 05:04:36 PM »
Jbird and everyone, I finally had some time in my schedule to ponder making changes to my way of eating, so I tried fast-5 and WOWW!  The first day wasn't even hard, and SOO much energy.  And when I ate around 5:30 p.m. I thought I would pig out, but my appetite was so small. I filled up on less than a normal dinner.  I have done this now for 3 days and I just don't believe it.  Why does eating less REDUCE your appetite.  And I'm just floating all day.  I'm hoping that this is not temporary, because I think I can continue with this way of eating.  Why don't more people know about it.

You learn something new every day. Thanks Jaye for the suggestion.

JC.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2010, 07:24:10 AM by JC »

Offline Jbird

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2010, 07:08:15 PM »
JC, thanks so much for sharing your experience. It makes me really happy to see you and others having the same positive experience
I've had. Don't worry about the good effects wearing off. If anything, it's the opposite. You begin to notice more ways that your life improves as a result of following this approach. It's too bad more people aren't willing to give this a try. Let's hope others who read this blog and discussion board will be sufficiently curious to give it a go and report on their experience. Looking forward to reading more about what you're doing!

Offline JC

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2010, 07:26:44 AM »
Jbird, the fasting experiment is turning into just a normal way of eating.  I think my appetite is permanently less. I haven't lost more than a few pounds, but I didn't really need to.  The most interesting thing is how I go through 2/3 of the day not even thinking about food. Good stuff!  I hope others try it too.  :)  JC

Offline Jbird

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2010, 07:45:47 PM »
That's exactly how I feel about it. It's the new normal!

Offline Micheal Jackson

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2010, 02:20:30 AM »
you should not skip your lunch or breakfast completely , eat some but eat less or eat that what your body needs to run you till next meal , have a search , consult to a personal trainer around you .

Offline BadMonkey

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2010, 04:47:41 PM »
MJ,
Am I reading this correctly that you are saying not to skip breakfast or lunch.   I find that skipping breakfast and lunch has been the secret to my weight loss and return to health!  My position is that breakfast is a relatively recent (last few hundred years) invention started by the upper class and has only contributed to increase in weight and preventable diseases of modern society. 

Offline Jbird

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2011, 01:51:38 PM »
Here's further support for skipping breakfast. The study about breakfast just adding to the day's calories without reducing caloric intake later in the day (as conventional nutritionists would have us believe) has been in the news lately, but for anyone who may have missed it, here's the New York Times report. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/health/research/01diet.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=breakfast&st=cse

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Intermittent fasting
« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2011, 07:22:08 AM »
Here's further support for skipping breakfast. The study about breakfast just adding to the day's calories without reducing caloric intake later in the day (as conventional nutritionists would have us believe) has been in the news lately, but for anyone who may have missed it, here's the New York Times report. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/health/research/01diet.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=breakfast&st=cse

That's a very interesting study, Jbird.  Thanks for posting it. It does resonate with my own experience that on those occassional days I eat breakfast, I don't necessarily cut back on the later meals.

I read the full paper in Nutrition Journal that was linked to the New York Times article.  Their conclusions for the two-week study are pretty compelling.  And yet, the authors are also honest  enough to acknowledge that there are contradictory results found in other studies on breakfast eating and breakfast skipping.  In particular, they suggest that long term effects may be different as body's metabolism adjusts, or that even just a change in dietary habits, in and of itself, might cause weight loss.  I liked this quote from page 13 of the study:

Quote
On the other hand, the only interventional study of the role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity came to mixed results. Baseline breakfast eaters lost more weight when assigned to the no-breakfast treatment group. On the other hand, baseline breakfast skippers lost more weight when assigned to the breakfast-eating treatment group. It should be kept in mind though, that the study population was very small and these very interesting data clearly deserve confirmation in a larger population.

Thanks again for posting this.