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
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.
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.
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. :)
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!