Discover Why Intermittent Fasting is the Secret Gateway to Superior Health

This is a guest post by Matt Gartland of Modern Audacity and Random Acts of Greatness.

Put down the fork. Drop the taco. Whatever you’re eating right now…stop!

If I play the numbers, then seven out of 10 people reading this article are fat. Here are the hardcore inconvenient truths…

  • 74.1% of adult Americans are clinically overweight or obese (1)
  • 25.0% of teenage Americans are clinically overweight or obese (1)
  • 1.6 billion (yes, BILLION) people are overweight or obese globally (2)

It’s a dark and demoralizing reality, one that you likely don’t need me to describe to you. But you likely do need me to share some promising news about a timeless healthy lifestyle strategy that’s making a proud comeback in a big way.

intermittent fasting

I’m talking about intermittent fasting. And it could just be the ace up your sleeve to win the war against unwanted blubber.

Have I tickled your interest and imagination?

I hope so because remarkable health is a must in anyone’s pursuit of a Ridiculously Extraordinary life. The bold don’t acquiesce to fatness. They torch it on their way to elevating their energy levels, self-confidence, self-esteem, and overall abilities.

Sound like the types of results you want? Then your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to learn about and experiment with intermittent fasting.

Let the games begin!

Intermittent Fasting for Rookies

Intermittent fasting isn’t new, complex, or dangerous.

From Wikipedia, “Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting (usually meaning consumption of water only) and non-fasting.” In essence, it’s on-and-off eating. What you eat and how much during feeding times doesn’t matter to the pure definition of IF.

Note that there is no one-size-fits-all intermittent fasting model. Fasting period durations are variable. Frequency of fasting is variable. What you eat (and how much) between your fasting cycles is variable.

Mark Sisson backs me up on this (or I should say I back him up). As Mark says…

“…there is no one way to do IF. The only real guideline is that, as always, the food you eat should be healthy…In addition to the substantial health benefits, the simplicity and flexibility are what draw people to IF.”

Who’s Mark Sisson you ask?

Mark is a leading writer, authority, and influencer on healthy lifestyle strategies. His blog Mark’s Daily Apple is among the most popular health sites online. Even Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame enjoys Mark’s teachings; including Mark in his pinnacle The Ultimate How to Get Lean Guide.

So check out Mark’s site. Look at pictures of him and his fellow Groks. If his science-laden articles (more on that next) and humbling photos don’t impress you then you might not have blood in your veins. Suffice to say, Mark knows his stuff.

But alas, I digress. Moving on…

Intermittent Fasting: So Easy a Caveman Could Do It

Intermittent fasting isn’t hype.

For one thing, our paleolithic ancestors adopted lifestyles deeply imbued with intermittent fasting. Such was life as a hunter-gatherer species for hundreds-of-thousands of years. In retrospect, they really didn’t have any choice.

Friends, this is science. You know, science, the subject of much research, observation, discovery, and truth. Granted, science isn’t always perfect. But the human species has kinda been around for a good while, you know? That’s given scientists a great volume of material to explore. And their findings are impressive…

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states in this article that (1) decreases in blood pressure, (2) reduction in oxidative damage to lipids, protein and DNA, (3) improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, and (4) decreases in fat mass are among the benefits of intermittent fasting.

I discovered that article via another of Mark’s. Read it here. Oh, but there’s more!

Tim Ferriss is another health geek, arguably much more so than Mark. You probably already know Tim, so I’ll forgo the introduction. Tim, being Tim of course, has also ventured into the world of intermittent fasting. Dr. Michael Eades aided him and wrote the following in Real Life Extension, a guest post on Tim’s blog…

“In viewing IF through the lens of natural selection I came to the conclusion that IF was probably the way Paleolithic man ate. We modern humans have become acculturated to the three square meals per day regimen. Animals in the wild, particularly carnivorous animals, don’t eat thrice per day; they eat when they make a kill. I would imagine that Paleolithic man did the same.”

Dr. Eades also conveyed the scientifically-backed benefits of IF…

[Based on a controlled animal study,] “Intermittent fasting (IF) reduced oxidative stress, made the animals more resistant to acute stress in general, reduced blood pressure, reduced blood sugar, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced the incidence of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and improved cognitive ability.”

Martin Berkhan is the final health geek I’ll introduce you to. I do so because you may be doubting some (or all) of this pro-intermittent fasting stuff. You aren’t alone if you are. But thanks to Martin, the top ten fasting myths have been forever debunked. He’s also compiled a thorough Lean Gains Guide that will help you on your intermittent fasting merry way.

Caveman or not, there seems to be a lot to this whole intermittent fasting thing, don’t you think? If you agree and wish to become more well-read on the subject, I highly recommend the following…

Intermittent Fasting: A Universal Antidote of Gluttony

Intermittent fasting is agnostic of any nutrition philosophy. Take Karol and me for example.

Karol is a proud vegan. He’s even gone so far as to show you how to make vegan travel easy. And his path to veganism is based on his remarkable story of overcoming excruciating stomach pains without doctors or medicine.

I am not a vegan. I’m a proud paleo diet devotee in accordance with a primal lifestyle. Curiously, I have a story much like Karol’s. My story is rooted in my epic fight against Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For me, the paleo route has been the best choice.

Here’s the magical part…

Though Karol and I aren’t in harmony with our nutrition philosophies, we can both practice intermittent fasting if we so choose.

It’s vital to understand this point and not miss the forrest from the trees. Intermittent fasting is a strategy that can fit into any nutritional philosophy. Even if you’re on an all Cheez-It diet (not recommended), you can still employ intermittent fasting to your benefit.

Kapeesh?!

Your Ridiculously Simple Action Plan

If you’re in the statistics that I mentioned in the lead – and even if you aren’t – you’d be wise to consider trying intermittent fasting. What’s there to loose, except possibly your love handles?

This article was never meant to be a “how to guide” to intermittent fasting. If you fancy such an article, then consider yet another piece by Mark Sission aptly titled How To: Intermittent Fasting.

That there is your ridiculously simple action plan. I’m assuming in good faith that you’ve read this article in full. So the next step in your mission – again, if you choose to accept it – is to get educated on the “how to” part.

You may now resume eating…if you want to.

Sources:

  1. Obesity in the United States | Wikipedia
  2. World’s Fattest Countries | Forbes

Matt GartlandThe following is a guest post from Matt Gartland. Matt is an instigator who inspires others to access their innate power. He shares his perspectives on health, ambition, and creativity at his Modern Audacity blog. He’s also a savvy editor helping authors and entrepreneurs improve their content’s quality and charisma for standout attention.

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{ 10 comments }

Meghan

I’ve been intermittent fasting for a few months now. I love it. It makes my mornings really convenient (not having to deal with making/eating/packing breakfast AND lunch) and I like getting to eat a larger meal in one sitting.

Also, it’s a nice sense of control to know that no, I don’t need to respond to every hunger pang by stuffing my mouth with food. It’s just hunger. I’m not going to die.

Great post!

Chris Parsons

Tim Ferriss’ articles are not exactly Pro-IF. In fact, they are very inconclusive.

Further, in his recent book The 4 Hour Body, there is only one tiny bit about fasting and it’s at the very back with the appendix. And it doesn’t recommend IF, but instead protein-only fasting…

I believe IF has health benefits, but it’s a bit misleading to use Tim’s articles as support for the argument for it.

Abhishek

I tried the Master Cleanse for a day and a half, quickly realizing that it is not my thing. Darya Pino (Summertomato.com) pointed me towards intermittent fasting. I had made up my mind to fast every Tuesday with only juices from my friend’s Raw Juice Company (http://rawjuicecompany.com/) and eventually venture into a week long alternating day fasting.

Coincidently, you posted this article today. I am even more motivated :)

Shanna Mann

I would be interested to know your views on the philosophical differences between dietary preferences of “eat-to-live” versus “live-to-eat” people. I have no problem with IF, but in my husband’s opinion, if you’re going to eschew food you might as well just kill yourself rather than suffer through it. A rather melodramatic reaction, to my way of thinking, but then it seems to me that people are very attached to their food choices.

Are you (Matt or Karol) foodies in other ways, or is this just a way to maximize the benefits from an otherwise mundane chore?

Nicky Spur

Wow, coincidentally just finished a 36 hour fast yesterday because of Mark Sisson’s advice. I’m in the same shoes here, made the switch to paleo and then got curious about fasting and decided to give it a try, had some interesting effects (some good and bag). But yea, you’ve done even more research than I have into the positive effects. The day after I woke up feeling fantastic, it’s definitely worth a go.

mike crosby

Fasting is a subject very dear to me. I don’t think there is anything better we can do than to allow our bodies a chance to rest and heal itself.

Dr Joel Fuhrman, who wrote Fasting and Eating for Health, and I’ll paraphrase, said–if you body can take two cells and create you, don’t you think your body if given the opportunity, can heal itself?.

I’ve always have been a fan of long term fasting. Just last week, I mentioned to an Indian friend that I was going to start a fast, and she said she has a relative in India that is 95 and fasts every year for the duration of 10 days.

For some reason though, I’ve either lost the discipline or the patience for long term fasting and short fasting makes a lot of sense. I’m going to give it a try, and if it’s something I could incorporate in my life, it would make me very happy.

Thanks Karol for the excellent post. But I do agree with a previous comment in that I think Tim Ferriss detracts from your post.

David Taylor

You should check out Brad Pilon’s book Eat Stop Eat. He has been a driving force for the health benefits of intermittent fasting for a long time.

Rosa

This article seems confusing.. or maybe I am just hungry :)

Toffler

I’m a huge proponent of fasting; been doing juice/broth or total water fasts at random intervals for about 6 years now, for anywhere from 36hours to 10days. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the term Intermittent Fasting just seems like a fancy way of saying you fast occasionally.

Its disappointing the medical establishment doesn’t support fasting more, because like Mike paraphrased, the body can heal itself. But I guess if they did, they’d all be out of jobs.

Thanks for sharing the benefits and the flexibility of IF and advocating for it. We need more people embracing and pushing for natural healthier lifestyles.

Tanja

Hi Matt,

I’m one of those “7 out of 10 people reading this” who are fat. But I keep making strides and I know I’ll get there eventually. I’ve tried basic one day fasts dozens of times over many years. I have yet to make it through a whole day though, so I guess my will power ain’t all it’s cracked up to be! Even with my failure at it I do believe in the power of short fasts. I’ve had too many friends and even my honey who have really enjoyed the experience. They all talk about feeling vibrant and renewed from the experience, though when one of my friends did a 15 day fast I was a little concerned for her. She came through it great though! Great post Matt!

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