What is the one thing you probably haven't tried in your quest to lose body fat? If you ask most people the best way to lose fat, they’ll say to go on a diet. The term, “diet” for most people is synonymous with reducing caloric intake. However a “diet” can have nothing to do with calorie intake and only refer to following a particular eating plan or eating schedule. And in fact, the most effective diets are ones which people don’t have to consciously be concerned with regularly reducing calories.
We’re all familiar with the “yo-yo effect,” where upon losing weight, a person balloons back up again. It’s pretty easy to see how this might happen, since most people lose weight by eating little amounts of boring, unsatiating foods. And after achieving their fat-loss goals their hormones are telling them the famine is over and it’s time to start eating again!
One of the other major concerns with simply reducing daily calories is that the body tends to try to slow down its energy processes (metabolism) with this reduced energy intake, and so it may become seemingly impossible to lose the weight in the first place. This has been termed “starvation mode” by many, and it makes sense intuitively that the body would start to reduce its use for energy as much as possible when it feels it’s in a state of famine. There are a variety of possible mechanisms for how this might happen regarding hormones and specifically thyroid function. We can get more into these details at another time. But what's important to remember is that you want to reduce your energy intake to the point where your body uses your own energy stores, but not in a way that makes you slow down the rate at which you consume energy... How do we do this? What is the one thing you probably haven’t tried in your quest to lose body fat? Well one approach you probably haven’t tried is termed intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the process of expanding your window between meals. IF can be a period of not eating for a short duration, for example missing breakfast, or it can be extended to longer periods without eating, like 24 or even 36 hours. Now one of the key factors in this process is that you want to be in good hormonal and metabolic health before you start. You could end up doing more damage than good if this is not the case, and it will also be much more difficult for you too. This means you should not be adrenally fatigued, i.e., low on sleep with lots of stress in your life, and your body must know how to burn its own fat for energy... You teach your body this ahead of time by regularly eating a clean, nutrient dense, high-healthy-fat diet, low enough in carbohydrates to force conversion of fatty acids to energy throughout the day.
Once you’re here, you can try out skipping breakfast, breakfast and lunch, or even breakfast, lunch and dinner in a given day. Since your body is used to converting fat to energy, and with your body used to getting normal amounts of daily calories in, you will readily shift to pulling your own body fat for energy. You will literally be burning body fat for energy without even exercising. After the IF session, go back to eating your regular healthy diet, and show your body it doesn’t have to be in a state of famine.
In a given week with one or more IF sessions, you will have decreased your total calorie intake by a significant amount, meanwhile maintaining your high level of energy and metabolic health. And in fact, in addition to the fat loss, you will have spurred a variety of other health benefits as well! IF has been shown to have positive effects for increasing longevity through the mechanisms below, just to name a few:
Increasing insulin sensitivity
This is one of the main measures of metabolic health.The less insulin sensitive you are, the more likely you are to store carbohydrates and sugars as body fat, and the closer you are to Type 2 Diabetes.
Clearing out the bad/defective cells in your body (autophagy)
Autophagy is one of your body’s defense mechanisms against cancer, in which dysfunctional or unneeded cells are destroyed. In some cases, autophagy triggers cell death of potentially cancerous cells.
Intermittent fasting can promote detoxification by allowing your body to process its natural detox mechanisms (this is one of the reasons juice fasts and others tend to make people feel better). These processes work much more efficiently when there’s an extended time in which they’re not being flooded by environmental toxins from food!
Stimulation of FOXO3 Proteins
The lower insulin levels means more Foxo3 regulator activity. These regulator proteins are involved in healthy glucose metabolism, the autophagy discussed above, and detoxing and cleaning up oxidative stressors, DNA repair, and even creating new neurons in the brain!
Hormesis is the term used to indicate acute stress that can be beneficial for the body. Refer to the “The Secret to Living Over 100” post for why acute inflammation or acute stress (as opposed to long-term, chronic stress) can help you to live longer and resist disease.
So in addition to being a great tool for losing body fat, IF offers a slew of other health benefits. Give Intermittent Fasting a try when you’re healthy and ready if you haven’t yet, and let us know how it went for you. Did you try 12 hours? 24? Or 36? What did you find was the most manageable, and how did you feel? You’re not only on your way to losing body fat, but better overall health too!
In Excellent Health,
Garrett & Luc