On Intermittent Fasting

Since we’re at the (furry, white) tail end of Easter weekend, I figured this would be a relevant topic to cover…

You’ve probably heard the term intermittent fasting, right?

If you haven’t, it’s basically a way of eating that includes prolonged periods where you don’t eat any food, versus the traditional approach of eating 3 square meals a day or the “bodybuilder” approach of eating every 2-3 hours.

As with any new dietary protocol, it’s popularity skyrocketed and was probably at its peak when when Rodale, publisher of magazines like Men’s Health, put “The 8 Hour Diet” on the marketplace a few years ago.

Now if you go to Amazon and search for “fasting diet” or “intermittent fasting” you’ll find thousands of books…


Most of these books are written by authors out to cash in on the latest diet craze but don’t give any new or solid info (this book on the other hand was first published in 2007 and has been updated numerous times over the years as new research has been published).

And this is a big reason why I see people get messed up with respect to dieting, nutrition, a “healthy lifestyle”, or whatever term you want to use to refer to the act of putting food into your mouth then swallowing…

It’s that they get caught up in the crossfire between all of these competing expert opinions, which causes confusion and paralysis by analysis.

Once this happens, all hell breaks loose.

Here are 2 keys to success with nutrition
that tend to be forgotten

The 1st key is to understand that we’re all individuals with a biochemistry as unique as our fingerprints.

Science is on a quest to figure out exactly how we work but this will never happen (it’s still a worthy path) because we are way too complex and there are things that we will never be able to explain (nor would we want to) and too many variables interacting.

And food is made up of so many chemicals and enzymes and vitamins and phytonutrients and our bodies have so many systems and cells and cellular reactions that trying to figure out exactly how our bodies are going to react to eating a certain food is impossible.

I’ve learned this lesson with the experience I’m still going through with respect to my daughter’s eczema…

She’s not out of the woods yet but has constantly improved and what we’ve all learned on this journey thus far is that no matter what rules or probabilities exist, an individual can react completely different to a food than those rules state.

For example, we figured that coconut milk would’ve been good for her because it’s touted to carry all sorts of anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, but she flared when drinking it.

Once you realize that there are actually no hard and fast rules, you’re FREE…

You’re FREE to set your own rules and
find what works best for you.

That’s where books and information and advice helps – they inform you of rules to follow and give you a starting point – it’s then up to you to pay attention and tweak as you see fit.

But what typically happens is that people shut their brains off, follow rules blindly and when things go awry, because they weren’t listening and paying attention (and probably only focused on one thing – the # on the scale), they ditch the diet completely and move on to the next one.

Instead of taking the learnings and EVOLVING them in the next phase, they start over.

This is the hamster wheel of dieting.

So how do you get off the wheel?

Follow the 2 keys – the first key we talked about already, which is to drop the notion of finding the perfect diet because no one diet can serve everybody perfectly.

The 2nd key is to come up with a plan, do some research about it that you can to give you the understanding you need to move forward (but don’t go crazy), then commit to it for a period of at least 28 days.

Follow the plan and pay attention to see how you’re responding.

And don’t just limit your attention to a single variable like weight lost but pay attention to everything including your energy, sleep, how your stomach feels, your skin quality, mood, etc because if you lose weight but you feel and look like crap, then it probably won’t work too well for you long-term.

After that, continue or tweak, but don’t totally ditch it unless it was a total failure.

Make sense?

Cool, so let’s talk about FASTING now…

I’ve tried 2 approaches:

1) My buddy Brad’s “Eat Stop Eat” protocol where you basically don’t eat anything for 24 hours once or twice a week.

This experiment didn’t last long as my energy was low and I felt too hungry.

It’s worked for many others but not for me.

However, his book is the single best source of the latest scientific research on fasting available, covering not only research that supports his particular protocol, but also many others.

2) The “LeanGains” approach by Martin Berkhan where you basically don’t eat breakfast and eat only within an 8 hour window (perhaps noon to 8pm).

This worked great for me for a year or 2 until my daughter Livia arrived, then things changed and I felt that eating breakfast worked better for my body and new lifestyle.

Nowadays, I typically eat 3 square meals and 1 or 2 snacks.

I’ll throw in a 16/8 day here or there and if I eat like an absolute hog, like at big family get together, then I’ll probably fast until dinner the following day.

I do think it’s a great idea to give your digestive system a break once in a while regardless of gluttony, so try doing a 24 hour fast in every once in a while.

Outside of the physiological effects, the mental aspect of going without food for a 24 hour period may be just as important…

Being able to feel the sensation of a hungry stomach but not be controlled by it, or get “hangry”, is a skill we all need.

Plus, we have an abundance of food available while not everyone is so lucky, so fasting can help us remember our good fortune and help us add a little Gratitude to our day, which is always a good thing.

That’s all she wrote.

Have a great Monday.



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6 years ago

First time I’ve read an article on IF that I can truly get behind. Thank you