Im sure by now you have been seeing the trending articles on twitter, facebook and other social media about fasting and fasting mimicking diets. So is that all fasting is? Just a trend? Or is there actual science and studies that prove the benefits of this trend? In this article I will break down the hype, studies and science behind fasting and fasting mimicking diets, like intermittent fasting. I will also explain how I use it everyday and my keys to making it as beneficial as possible!
Fasting has been practiced for thousands of years in many cultures across the globe for various reasons, such as religion. This was all before we had the scientific research and studies to prove whether or not it is beneficial to the body. Luckily we live in the 21st century so we have the benefits of modern science and the internet to our disposal. With these modern tools we now know that putting our bodies in a fasted state and fasting regularly can have great benefits to our health.
One of those benefits your body receives from being in a fasted state is a process called Autophagy. What is this you ask? Well, we all know that the body produces the cells that we are made up of. This is one of the reasons proper nutrition is so important. If we don't give our body's the building blocks of a cell in the form of dietary cholesterol and fatty acids, we can not produce these cells properly. Autophagy aids in that process of cell production. It causes these cells to be produced stronger and denser, as well as playing a role in removing mis-folded or aggregated proteins, clearing damaged organelles, and eliminating intracellular pathogens.
Autophagy also promotes cellular senescence and cell surface antigen presentation, protects against genome instability and prevents necrosis. This gives it a key role in preventing diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and infections.
Why do you need to produce more cells to begin with? These cells are like us, they do not live forever. The number of cells that an adult male loses per minute is roughly 96 million. Luckily, in that exact same minute, about 96 million cells are divided, replacing the ones that died. Like I said earlier, this is way nutrition is key. In order to produce those cells, we have to make sure we are getting the building blocks for them.
So, now that I have given you a bit of a background on what fasting does to benefit your body, I will explain how I use it in my daily routine. You may have seen an article shared on twitter or even an interview on business insider about intermittent fasting. From stars in Hollywood like Hugh Jackman and Terry Crews, to professional athletes, intermittent fasting is taking over and gaining popularity.
The most common type of intermittent fast is a 16 hour fast. This is where you only eat for an 8 hour period and then go without calories for 16 hours. By doing this, it puts your body in that state of autophagy like I mentioned. Another benefit of this fasted state is an increase in the body's production of growth hormone. This hormone is essential for muscle recovery, increased muscle strength, enhanced weight loss, stronger bones, improvement in mood and cognitive function, as well as a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. This is my first key to intermittent fasting, setting up your 16:8 time ratio. I currently eat from 7pm to 3am because I am on a night shift schedule to spend more time with my wife.
My next key is to make sure you are getting your hardest strength training in during that fasted period. The reason for this is the increased growth hormone production in the body during this state like I mentioned. By working out in this state of increased growth hormone production, along with the stronger cell production from autophagy, you will maximize your results in the gym.
Making sure you are drinking enough water is also an important key. Water makes up 75% of bodyweight in infants and 55% in the elderly. Not only is water essential for our organs and other mechanisms of the body. But it can help control hunger cravings while getting used to a fasting diet. I make sure that I drink at least half my body weight in ounces of water a day.
Incorporating branched chain amino acids is also key to appetite control while intermittent fasting. Branched chain amino acids are essential nutrients the body receives from proteins in the foods we eat. These amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Athletes use these amino acids for increased performance during exercise, as well as reducing the protein and muscle breakdown during intense exercise. So not only will these branched chain aminos help you with appetite control, but they will aid in reduction of muscular breakdown and rebuild stronger muscle.
The final key I have to intermittent fasting is to make sure you wait for at least 2 hours after your hard strength training session before breaking your fast. This goes back to the growth hormone production. The muscles will rebuild stronger while in a state of increased growth hormone production. So to utilize this to its fullest, you should still be in that fasted state for at least 2 hours after your workout.
Those are my keys to intermittent fasting, how I plan my schedule around it for maximum results, as well as ways to help control hunger cravings. I know that I have greatly benefited from this diet and lifestyle, just like you can!