Intermittent Fasting (IF) can be a bit of an ambiguous term but it is basically reducing caloric intake and the frequency in which you eat meals.

There are many different forms of fasting and some of the oldest methods have been practised for centuries in various forms of religion all over the world. (The impact of religious fasting on human health)

  • Islam
    • Ramadan Fast: 28-30 days
      • Can only consume food when sun is down
  • Greek Orthodox Christian ~ Fast 180-200 days out of the year
    • Nativity Fast: 40 days
    • Lent Fast: 48 days
    • Assumption Fast: 15 days
  • Biblical Daniel Fast: 21 days

While the dietary stipulations and timing of the various religious fasts differ many seem to have a positive effects on body composition and blood health.

In addition to the religious studies, there is much more research on intermittent fasting suggesting that it has many positive effects on one’s health and human performance.

First off, everyone wants to know: Is intermittent fasting gonna work for my fat ass?

(Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women)

The short answer is, Yes!

  • Caloric Restriction
    • Fast one day per week
    • Eat 20% less on other six days
    • Lowers body weight and reduces risk of heart disease
    • Too easy!

Alternate Day Fasting or Every Other Day Fasting (EODF) is another system that is showing promise with similar findings to the above mentioned study. Nutrition Reviews published these findings:

  • Population: Normal, overweight, and obese individuals
  • Fast every other day for 3-12 weeks
  • Reduced body fat (3-5.5kg)
  • Improved blood lipids

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine ,“Fasting is characterised (yes, they spell it with an s…) by a coordinated set of metabolic changes designed to spare carbohydrate and increase reliance on fat as a substrate for energy supply”.

This allows us save our valuable on hand carbohydrate fuel for fight or flight situations, while the body more readily utilizes amino acids (protein), glycerol (fat), and ketones (a byproduct of using fat for energy) to produce glycogen to keep us functioning while building/maintaining our structure.

It is important to feed your body the correct fuel when practicing caloric restriction or intermittent fasting as loss of lean muscle can occur with a diet too low in protein.

Furbur et al. reports that a 30% caloric restricted high protein / low carbohydrate diet increases mitochondrial activity and beta oxidation (fat burning) while lowering body weight and maintaining lean muscle mass.

  • 40% Proteins
  • 30% Carbohydrates
  • 30% Fats

While Intermittent fasting has obvious effects on body composition and fat burning ability, it can be a difficult diet to stick to. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  reports that over a three week period of IF the hunger never diminishes durring fasting periods.

Intermittent Fasting and Human Performance

Long term intermittent fasting probably isn’t for those lacking will power but if you can stick with it; you just might turn yourself into one bad mother.

If you work out of the boardroom, the back alley, or the Bat Cave; intermittent fasting can aid you in your quest;. While these advantages are small, they can be the difference between life and death and what puts you one step ahead of the rest.

One of the most interesting enhancements coming out of all this starvation is to one’s cognitive function.

Whether you are a stripper or the Wolverine, you won’t last very long if you are dumb as shit.

Either no one’s gonna want to talk to you long enough for you to convert a flash of your penis into a couple of pineapples or you will be outfoxed on the battlefield and surely slain.

At the end of the day we all have to survive by our witts and you can never have enough brain power no matter how you earn your scratch. Let’s look a bit closer at how intermittent fasting helps us with that.

According to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry intermittent fasting aids cognitive ability through two mechinisms: reduced oxidative damage and increased cellular stress resistance. They go as far to say that the effects of IF have similar effects on the cardiovascular system and brain as to that of regular exercise and it is thought that much of this is controlled by a brain-derived nutropic. (smart drug)

Let me sink this in.

  • Eating less often has the same effect as doing all that stupid cardio. (If you love cardio, by all means…)

Hot body, big brain. At this point the world is basically your oyster; so what’s stopping you from taking the bull by the horns?

“I’m too scared!”

Don’t worry I’ve got you…

Neuropsychopharmacology, reports that while in a state of increased hunger (fasting for 16 hours) subjects were able to “permanently suppress their fear, even under stressful situations”  and “will be prepared to take a higher risk” . This happens through two mechanisms: temporarily shutting down recall of long term memories associated with the fear stimulus and then permanently extincting the memory.

With a high performance body and brain to match, along with your ability to take damage, deal with stress, all the while doing it in a completely fearless state; might lead you into some pretty precarious situations which may require some serious after the fact healing.

It’s all good; you shouldn’t require too many painkillers, medications, or procedures; just keep fasting all the way through retirement! 

It turns out that fasting can help prevent, overcome, and alleviate many of the diseases plaguing mankind.

The University of Pennsylvania reports that while in a state of hunger the body ignores inflammatory pain signals prioritising survival over suffering. It does this in a very elegant way through activating a group of nurons called agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons. Through this mechanism the body is able to shut off or ignore signals caused by chronic pain from past injuries while at the same time alerting you to any acute pain being caused in the heat of the moment.

The University of Southern California (Go Trojans!) says that intermittent fasting can yield a whole host of effects that will help to increase health and longevity.

Some of these effects include…

  • Elevated number of stem cells found in organs
    • Enhances neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.
  • Destroys and replaces auto-immune cells
  • Reduced Inflammatory disease
  • Slowed bone mineral density loss
  • Decreased risk factors and biomarkers for…
    • Aging
    • Cancer
    • Diabetes
    • Cardiovascular disease

I was first turned onto Intermittent fasting by Dr. Rhonda Patrick from foundmyfitness.com. There you will find a large compilation of research on Intermittent Fasting as well as many other concepts on health, nutrition, and fitness.

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Stay Hungry Folks!