I recently read an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, called “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease.” In the February 2020 publication it said, “evidence is accumulating that limiting when you can eat can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of disease, including cancer and obesity.” This got me thinking about how my own practice of fasting has morphed many times over the last two decades as my body ages and changes. In my late thirties, in spite of my lifestyle, my blood chemistry started to change and NOT for the better. I started to do my research (which was not much at the time BTW) and it was then that I discovered the practice of Intermittent Fasting. Thanks to the numerous articles I found published by Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, I WAS SOLD. In 2019, my blood chemistry changed once again... my blood lipids increased, both LDL and HDL. My total cholesterol increased and surprisingly my testosterone began to decrease. The later contributing to my loss of muscle mass and strength. It also made sense that I wasn’t as lean as I had been. And my energy at the time was just “meh." With my doctor’s help (honestly, most physicians are not trained to prescribe specific Intermittent Fasting interventions), we decided I was fasting maybe TOO MUCH?! So, I made the necessary adjustments and over the last 15 months my results have been nothing short of amazing! Improved metrics, leaner and increased muscle mass/strength, and my energy has been fantastic. Does it seem like everyone’s talking about fasting? Do you find yourself a little intimidated by it all? Basically, Intermittent Fasting involves alternating periods of eating with periods of fasting. And, that’s really it!!! ✔️Here’s what I’m currently doing... I’m fasting 3x/week for 20 hrs. The other days are more intuitive...anywhere from 12-16 hours daily, depending on how I feel.
• You can simply start by increasing your fast between your last meal the previous day and your first meal the next day. • Then start to COMFORTABLY increase the time inbetween... 10 hours... 12 hours... 14... 16...18…, etc. • That’s it! Just go by how you feel. You can’t push through. You’ll be MISERABLE. TRUST me:) • You MUST ALLOW YOUR BODY TO ADAPT!!!
With that, here are my EASY STEPS toward fasting:
🥨 Stop Snacking:
Eat three meals a day until you’re full. Each meal should be no longer than 1-hour and you get to choose the mealtimes. You even get to pick the food in the meals:) Snacks include...gum, candy, mints, sugar, food, juice, sweet drinks, broth, smoothies, and/or sports drinks, etc. TIP: Cut out one snack per day, each week until you stop snacking for as many weeks it takes.
This was a BIGGIE for me. I NEVER liked eating breakfast, but thought I had to because like most of us have heard, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” It isn’t, that’s just a great marketing campaign. If you’re like me, this will be easy for you. If not, here’s what I recommend. Understand that you’ll be hungry at first. So, you might find it helpful, at least initially, to eat more healthy fats the night before fasting and see how you feel. TRUST me...there’s A LOT of trial and error here. How often you choose to skip breakfast is up to you...if the first day feels like no big deal, skip it again the next day. If not, do it only once or twice a week until your body adjusts. TIP: Focus on staying hydrated. Drink more water, even carbonated water for a change of pace. Coffee and tea are okay but avoid sugar or sweetener of any kind. I have to have my coffee and I probably drink too much...but whatever. In training or nutrition, remember it’s NOT about perfection. Because in life and in health, IT DOESN'T EXIST! So, if you like it and feel good, drink it. ENJOY IT:) 🥪 Skip Lunch:
Once you’ve cut out snacking and comfortably skipping breakfast on a regular basis, you’re TOTALLY ready to skip lunch. Try it for one day. The following day, you can go back to your normal eating schedule. Again, STAY HYDRATED! TIP: If eating only dinner for a day isn’t that difficult try it again the following week. If the process continues to be easy for you, begin only eating dinner two days a week but NOT on consecutive days. After a period of time (and when you’re comfortable), you can decide if you want to eat only dinner three days a week, non-consecutively.
⏰ SIDE NOTE: I personally have never found 24 or even 36 hour fasts mentally or physically difficult. That being said, it may not have been the best fit for my body and chemistry. But that’s just me. I have settled into this regimen nicely. Cutting out snacks first, then breakfast, and now lunch. 💯 I really enjoy dinner, because it’s the time I get to actually sit down to be with and spend time with my family :) If you’re interested in Intermittent Fasting or more information on extended fasts, reach out and we can discuss strategies for you to be successful. Dedicated to your health and longevity, Mike