Monday, September 29, 2014

The Power of Exercise and Intermittent Fasting

If you're already off to a good start on a healthy fitness plan, and you're looking for ways to take it to the next level, then you might want to consider intermittent fasting. In essence this fitness-enhancing strategy looks at the timing of meals, as opposed to those fad plans where you eat just one or two things for several days in a row.
On intermittent fasting, the longest time you'll ever abstain from food is 36 hours, although 14-18 hours is more common. You can also opt to simply delay eating. For example, skipping breakfast may be just the thing to get you off a plateau in your fitness routine. The issue of fasting is a major shift from my typical recommendations. I've not been a major advocate for it in the past, but as many of you who have been reading this site for years know, I am always learning.

To that end, I've now revised my personal eating schedule to eliminate breakfast and restrict the time I eat food to a period of about six to seven hours each day, which is typically from noon to 6 or 7 pm.

I made this shift several years ago and it was a powerful change.  In the bad old days, though, I also tried this, and just wound up savagely hungry in the morning.  What makes it work is eating the good food when you eat.  

Dr. Mercola's other tips:

  • Don't blindly trust human studies on IF as some of these show misleading results due to major design flaws.
  • Don't even think about intermittent fasting if you eat the typical American portions of high glycemic junk food.
  • When following an IF regimen you need to make it low glycemic and high in protein and fiber. Eat whole foods, possibly high in dairy and whey protein, along with nutrient dense antioxidant foods.
  • Adjust your fuel food according to your specific condition and type of training.
  • Your intermittent fasting regimen must make sense. The length of your fasting intervals should be optimized to yield maximum biological impact. What really counts is your net fasting time (period between meals minus digestion time.) It takes your body roughly 5-8 hours to fully digest a meal and shift into a fasting mode. Three to six hours of "not eating" between meals will not be sufficient to put your body in a fasting mode and therefore will fail to get you the results you're looking for.
  • The female-specific response to fasting or intermittent fasting is no different than the female response to intense exercise. There is indeed a tradeoff between benefits and side effects. And the question "should women fast" raises the same issues as the question "should women exercise intensely".

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