Intermittent Fasting

Manipulating Evolutionary Biology For Immortality and Body Redesign Part 2: Intermittent Fasting

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a modified version of the calorie restriction diet that seeks to capitalize on the physiological benefits of human deprivation and survival mechanism. More accurately, what happens to the body when it episodically does not get food and how it responds following the fasted state with that of a well fed state. A true IF consisted of about 14 to18 hour fasts and sometimes an occasional full day or alternating day fast protocol. The benefits owe their success to the human body's ability to adapt to a variety of situations in order to survive in homeostasis. This is the reason you switch up your gym routine every month or so, because we adapt incredibly efficiently and we want to shock the system to keep it (the body) on its heels. 

Research

A recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  gives a great overview of these benefits, which include decreases in blood pressure, reduction in oxidative damage to lipids, protein and DNA, improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, as well as decreases in fat mass. It also suggested higher Superoxide dismutase levels and higher resistance to oxidative stress. Remember in Part 1, oxidative stress = bad = possible shorter life.

My Experience

Intermittent Fasting, it appears, works! Although the research isn't absolute and probably will never be considering no drug companies stand to make money on it and therefore won't back it! The preliminary research results are hard to argue with and better yet, many people (including myself) have experimented with Intermittent Fasting (IF) for our own personal escapades. Does it work? Well, I ate 4200 calories a day for 30 days and dropped by body fat percentage 15.7% to 10.3%. I allotted one (rarely two) IF days a week. Yea, I'd say it works. Besides, even if it only had a small impact, it's not that hard to do and is essentially free, so the question begs: Why not?

Evolutionary Biology vs. Broscience

For those trying to gain muscle, common 'broscience' has been to never have an empty stomach or risk withering away your hard-earned iron. Your body says otherwise. Furthermore, studies have refined that it's not the total calorie consumption but rather the EPISODIC DEPRIVATION that accounts for intermittent fasting's success. Taking the big picture, one can understand this by tying in the built-in survival mechanisms in your body. When you were a caveman, you didn't always have a supermarket on the corner with fresh eggs and hearty protein for your post-workout meal. Often times you went hunting and didn't kill anything. Instead of immediately breaking down muscle for fuel, your body adapts and uses fat, a higher energy molecule than a carb. It also up regulates growth hormone secretion and insulin sensitivity so that when you DO get that prey, your body is in an advantageous hormonal position to induce growth and repair of your muscles so that momentary risk in survival won't happen as easily next time. With that and a host of other favorable effects like those mentioned before in the study, it's fun to see how you can manipulate an evolutionary adaptation of physiology to redesign your body in the modern world.

Christian -Cveman Joke

What Does a Typical Day Look Like?

IF rules state a 14-18 hour fast is optimal to induce positive results without blending in starvation and catabolic states. I take the middle road, 16 hours. What does that look like? Once or twice a week I finish my dinner at 6pm and don't eat again for 16 hours. That's noon the next day. I essentially skip breakfast and then eat my normal calories for the rest of the day. Overfeeding and losing weight? Welcome to utopia. :)

Living Longer?

I believe we have a two-fold mechanism for longevity. First, during periods of fasting the body is better able to repair and heal, which aids the organism. Secondly, you do get a slight reduction in calories (without the fear of losing muscle) and resistance to oxidative stress, which means less chance of DNA and telomere damage and a premature aging process! Long live randomly skipping breakfast twice a week!

Cheers,
CC