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Thursday, January 10, 2013

I am not as Cool as Gandhi . . . Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Gandhi was COOL! even though he was a vegetarian.  Ha!  He undertook long fasts as means of both self-purification and political mobilization.  I AM NO GANDHI! that is for sure, but I guess you can say I am fasting for self-purification in a way.   Initially, it was for the so called ‘racing weight’,  but now it goes hand-in-had with my low carb lifestyle change and hunger management.  And I am loving it!!! Now does everyone need to fast while on a low carb diet?  No, but I will explain why I am  . . .

I few weeks ago, I read an article on intermittent fasting, Better Health via Intermittent Fasting and a Low-Carb Diet, and was very intrigued.   Since then I have been slowly experimenting.   I try to always look at pro and cons of everything, so I also read another article debating the benefit, which questions if it could “actually be detrimental?”  -  Not So Fast: The Potential Negatives of Intermittent Fasting, by the Caveman Doctor. 

Today, I just finished a 36 hour fast.  The funny thing was that, I was not hungry the entire time, even hour 34.  I started at night, got up, and went to work.  At work I had two cups of coffee that lasted the day topped off with heavy whipping cream and some SF Carmel flavoring.  After work I performed my strength workout and went home.  At home, I still did not have the desire to eat, but had an additional cup of coffee with more cream.  *Technically, it wasn’t a true fast by adding the cream???  Around 9:30 that night, I jumped on the elliptical for an hour, and felt good – not great.  After the workout, I went to bed.  I woke up around 5:45am and still was not hungry.  Then drove to work, where I had another coffee with cream at about 10am.  At 11am I decided to eat again and had a simple lunch, two sausages,  a cup of chicken broth, and some raspberries with heavy whipping cream; I love heavy whipping cream. (I was lactose intolerant two months ago)   The fast lasted over 34 hours.

Was my experience good?  It was certainly interesting, and I would have no problem doing it again. The question is how beneficial it is.   After more research, I came across, Experiments with Intermittent Fasting by Dr. John M. Berardi with Dr. Krista Scott-Dixon and Nate Green.  It is a free downloadable PDF book and worth checking out.   *Author is not on a ketogenic diet, but plays with an occasional low carb diet.

So are there benefits? The authors state that “intermittent fasting , when done properly, might help extend life, regulate blood glucose,
control blood lipids, manage body weight, gain (or maintain) lean mass, and more.”  Also stating that it might help muscles grow.

New research suggests that a short, periodic fast might actually rev up your fat-burning machinery while helping you control glucose and insulin. Important hormonal changes mean that fasting might even help your muscles grow when the next exercise session (and meal) comes. You might lose more fat and gain more muscle, all by skipping a few meals.  http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting

These are the benefits that they list:

REDUCED
• blood lipids (including decreased triglycerides and LDL cholesterol)
• blood pressure (perhaps through changes in sympathetic/parasympathetic activity)
• markers of inflammation (including CRP, IL-6, TNF, BDNF, and more)
• oxidative stress (using markers of protein, lipid, and DNA damage)
• risk of cancer (through a host of proposed mechanisms; we’ll save them for another review)

INCREASED
• cellular turnover and repair (called autophagocytosis)
• fat burning (increase in fatty acid oxidation later in the fast)
• growth hormone release later in the fast (hormonally mediated)
• metabolic rate later in the fast (stimulated by epinephrine and norepinephrine release)

IMPROVED
• appetite control (perhaps through changes in PPY and ghrelin)
• blood sugar control (by lowering blood glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity)
• cardiovascular function (by offering protection against ischemic injury to the heart)
• effectiveness of chemotherapy (by allowing for higher doses more frequently)
• neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity (by offering protection against neurotoxins)

Overall, it was a good experience.  It certainly kicked me hard into ketosis and I lost a solid pound, probably more – water weight throws everything off.   I plan on maybe doing a 36 hour fast once a week until I get down to my ‘racing weight’ and then keep it up once a month. 

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