Friday, October 15, 2010

Berkhan's Lean Gains Getting a Wider Audience
"IF [intermittent fasting] challenges the ubiquitous fitness rule that in order to stay lean, muscular, and healthy, one must eat small, protein-containing meals every two to three hours. I bring this up because to understand why IF works, we need to understand why the ‘eat every two to three hours’ maxim does not work.
"Food costs the body energy to process with different foods costing the body different amounts of energy. This cost, known as the thermic effect of food, or TEF, negates roughly 10% of the calories of a mixed diet. That means in order for the body to process and utilize 2,000 calories across a given day, it will burn about 200 calories.
"Researchers exploring the topic of meal frequency discovered that the consumption of a given meal raises the body’s metabolic rate for a short period of time. Part of the research community then wondered if human subjects could raise their total daily caloric burn by eating more frequently.
"In the tight confines of theory, this sounds swell, but alas, the body’s physiological processes are working along a much lengthier timeline than such theorizing accounts for. What’s missing here is the fact that a given meal’s thermic effect is directly proportional to the size of said meal. In layspeak, a bigger meal merits a bigger thermic effect."

I've enjoyed Martin's blog.  I don't know why he has gone so hard over about low carb - from what I can tell, he's wedded to the 'calorie is a calorie' idea.  No matter.  What he does obviously works regardless of why he recommends it.  His blog posts are rich with information, worth scanning when you are in the mood for more education.  More excerpts:

"Back to IF, which it turns out does more than just help you lose weight (warning:  IF does not work for everyone, and in particular seems to cause more problems with ladies):
"The use of caloric restriction (or CR) as a means toward life extension continues to grow in popularity. CR provides a host of benefits, including improvements in cognition, respiratory health, and inflammation biomarkers. Researchers have also observed increases in insulin sensitivity in CR subjects, meaning that participants showed improved tolerance and usage of dietary carbohydrates. For an athlete, this is ideal because the better an athlete can tolerate dietary carbohydrates, the more likely he or she is to maintain a leaner, more muscular physique.
"The contribution of IF lies in its ability to replicate the bonuses offered with caloric restriction sans the starvation and compromise of athletic prowess. IF studies typically utilize a fasting period of anywhere from 20 to 48 hours and have been shown to provide greater improvement in exototic stress reduction, basal serum glucose levels, and lifespan when compared with CR interventions.
"IF has also has promise when it comes to improving biomarkers in obese individuals.  Decreases in oxidative stress and inflammation were observed in intermittent fasting studies that tested asthmatic patients, and IF appears to also enhance the neuroplasticity of the brain, allowing new neuronal connections to form more readily than might otherwise.
"The most prescient piece of literature for the bodybuilding enthusiast would have to be the IF study performed by Stote, et. al. titled “A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults.” This was the first study to look at IF from a body composition perspective.
"I co-authored a review that looked at this piece of research back in 2007. The study was a breakthrough in the sense that (1) it focused primarily on body composition, and (2) it was the first to control calories between groups. In the article, one study group ate one meal a day while another study group ate three regularly spaced meals a day. Without exercise, the first group lost more bodyweight and body fat and gained more lean muscle tissue than the three-meals–a-day group despite identical caloric intakes.
"Crazy, right? Just by dropping meal frequency, one group magically lost body fat and gained muscle. No special pills, no exercise, no diet even…just fewer meals."


  1. I am 53yo female. I fast for fewer hours. 14-15 hours. this allows me to have a piece of toast w honey in the afternoon and so stave off the low carb crazies. otherwise aspiring to paleo principles.

  2. p.s. i think Martin is hot.

  3. how is a piece of toast even remotely paleo?

  4. OTHERWISE. ASPIRING. CRAZIES. ahem, when you are postmenopausal you will get it. not anywhere claiming attainment of paleo. just saying IF can help. Martin eats cheesecakes.

  5. Hi Anon, thanks for stopping by. Would recommend you include some protein with that afternoon snack - and eventually replace the toast with protein/fat combo. But if the toast/honey combo is getting you what you want, stay with what works! Paul