Intermittent Fasting: What’s the Deal?

November 16, 2017

+ Our Version of the Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

 

 

 

THE THEORIES

 

     At some point, I think we've all heard the popular advice to eat five to six small meals a day. The theory there, is that you're never stuffing yourself, and you're never getting really hungry, so blood sugar levels stay stabilized, and you're constantly "revving up" your metabolism. However, now the opposite is also being preached:  We should have less, but more significantly sized meals, and we should periodically go without eating for an extended amount of time in between; aka intermittent fasting, aka IMF. The idea here is that your digestive system can take a break, and your body can reallocate that "saved energy" to other beneficial processes like tissue repair, cell turnover, detoxification, fat burning, and hormone regulation (more on all of this below).

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER

 

    We don't like to completely dismiss or completely preach any particular diet or theory, as things in health and nutrition are always changing, there's always new findings, and often times, these findings conflict with one another. Not to mention, it can be hard to know how reliable a study is and how credible a source is. The key is to not be too extreme or firm in your beliefs when it comes to health practices, as nothing is ever truly PROVEN in science, and what's good for one person may not be good for you. After you've done your own research, should you personally decide to adopt a particular practice, always listen to your own body and assess whether or not it is best for YOU. It's also just as important to remain open minded to potentially changing  practices if something might not be working for you or if stronger, more up-to-date evidence is revealed that reliably supports another health practice. In other words, don't mindlessly jump on the band wagon, and don't stay on the wagon if you're not feelin' it.

 

   With all of that being said, there is robust data and strong evidence supporting intermittent fasting (IMF) as potentially beneficial. Actually, there's now quite a bit of evidence disproving the alleged benefits of eating frequent small meals all day long, as this causes your digestive system to almost constantly be at work. See what we mean by things constantly changing in the nutrition world? Now, maybe intermittent fasting won't be for you, but we think it's worth a try. We'll walk you through why you might want to consider it and a few different ways to do it.

 

 

 

THE WHAT & WHY

 

      When we intake sugar, naturally occurring in most foods and artificially added into many foods, our bodies store that sugar as glycogen in the liver to be used for energy. When maximum storage is reached, the excess or unused sugar gets stored as fat. It is thought that it takes our bodies about 6-10 hours to deplete stored glycogen before we'd start utilizing stored fat for energy. If we eat another meal within that 6-10 hours, and then another after that, and another after that, we're theoretically never reaching the point of tapping into our fat storage for energy. Either that, or we're only allowing our bodies a few hours of fat burning time, with the help of exercise. Intermittent fasting allows our bodies to spend more hours in the fat burning stage, naturally. In addition to this concept, were also allowing our bodies to divert energy from constant digestion to other actives that can increase our overall vitality.

 

     IMF can be done a few different ways, which we'll explain more in depth in the "How To,” but typically it involves either eat-stop-eat (aka alternate day fasting) or fasting and feasting regularly (aka 16:8). Eat-Stop-Eat is going one to two days per week without eating at all and eating normally the rest of the week (alternate day fasting involves eating or fasting every other day). Fasting and Feasting Regularly is going 12-16 hours without eating in a 24 hour period then eating normal for the remaining hours of that 24 hour period and repeating that every day.

 

BENEFITS

 

-Reduced inflammation:

     This is due to reduction in nighttime eating and longer periods of rest for digestive work

 

-Improved brain function:

     IMF can enhance mental clarity, cognition, memory, learning, and alertness

 

-Weight loss or fat reduction: 

     IMF allows your body to spend more time in the fat burning stage, by allowing you to tap into stored fat for energy. In addition, for those who may be over-eating or eating a lot at night, IMF mitigates that. 

 

-Relives IBS Symptoms: 

     Reduction in bloat and intestinal inflammation can occur in those who practice IMF due to less taxing of the digestive system

 

-Increased Energy: 

     When your body begins using fat as an energy source, rather than just carbohydrates, we tend to experience steady, longer lasting energy levels. Fats are digested and processed more slowly, and they serve as more efficient energy sources.

 

-Lowers Cholesterol:

     Many studies show IMF is associated with decreased LDL (bad cholesterol) and increased HDL (good cholesterol)

 

 

HOW TO

 

1. Method One: Eat-Fast-Eat/ Alternate Day Fasting.

     

     Eat-Fast-Eat involves picking one to days a week to fast for a complete 24 hour period and then eating normally the other days. If you're fasting for a 24 hour period, you should abstain from rigorous exercise for that day. The best way to do a 24 hour fast is to, for example, finish dinner at 8pm, skip breakfast and lunch the next day, and then resume by eating dinner around 8pm. Resume a normal eating schedule for the following days of the week after that. This way works for some people, but personally, we think this is unpleasant and difficult (like, we were so hungry we felt distracted and grumpy). If you enjoy doing rigorous exercise daily, you have low body fat, or you suffer from hypoglycemia, this might not be the best option for you. However, if you think this would be a potentially a good option for you, try this method out, and if you feel overwhelmingly hungry or like you just can't go the full 24 hours, end the fast and eat something! You could also try it and find that skipping the two meals is easy for you and that it makes you feel refreshed and recharged. If so, try this method out for a couple of weeks and see if you notice an improvement in energy, digestion, and the way you look and feel overall. If you don't notice any positive changes or this method just doesn't sound good to you, try method two.

 

2. Method Two: Fast and Feast Regularly/ 16:8.

     

    This is the method that we personally subscribe to. We find it easy to do without feeling hungry, and because of that, we can do this nearly every day, plus we feel and see the benefits. Fasting and Feasting Regularly means going 12-16 hours without eating and then eating normally the rest of the day. 16:8 fasting refers strictly to 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating each day. You can start to experience benefits at the 12 hour mark, but even more around 14 hours, and even more around 16 hours. To give some flexibility and keep things simple, just remember that a good range is 12-16 hours, but keep in mind that 16 hours is optimal with this method. For example, you would finish dinner at 8pm, then eat breakfast no sooner than 8am (reaching 12 hours of fasting), or skip breakfast and have lunch at 11:00 or 12:00 (reaching towards 16 hours of fasting). As mentioned before, although 16 hours is more effective, 12 hours still makes for a successful fasting period, so do what works for you on a day to day basis. Another way things could play out would be a night that maybe you finished dinner earlier, say 7pm, and then the next day you eat breakfast later, around 9am (a great 14 hour fast). Or maybe you ended up late-night dining or snacking at 10pm. Then you would want to fast until at least 10am the next day, or preferably until lunchtime. As you can see, there are many situations that allow for this method to work well without trying too hard. We love this way of fasting, because it gives some flexibility, is easy to fit into regular daily life, and you will still be able to reap all of the benefits.

 

    In a lot of the examples mentioned above, you can see how it would be pretty easy to intermittent fast most days with this method, especially for a 12 hour fasting period. However, if you want to extend your fast for 16 hours, but you think that if you can skip breakfast you won't have the energy and mental clarity to go about your day (aka , you'll be hangry), you could consider drinking Bulletproof Coffee, which you can read more about below. Luckily, the Bulletproof Coffee recipe allows you to stay in a fasted state without feeling starved; a "hack for your hunger," as Dave Asprey of Bulletproof says. For us, we tend to 12 hour fast most days (cause we love to still have our morning smoothies), and do 16 hour fast days two to three times a week with the help of Bulletproof Coffee (typically after one of those late-night snacking nights).

 

 

 

BULLETPROOF COFFEE 

*Disclaimer: this is not sponsored. We just love Bulletproof.

 

     First, let's start by saying Bulletproof Coffee is delicious. It's frothy, creamy, and satisfying, plus you feel alert and energized without the jitter or crash. The Bulletproof website sells the high quality ingredients you'll need for the Bulletproof Coffee recipe. You can also do the recipe with matcha instead of coffee if coffee isn't your thing. Bulletproof also has a blog with tons of great information about where to start if you're new to all of this, why the Bulletproof recipe is beneficial, and how your body is able to stay in a fasted state even when you consume this drink. 

 

   In short, the key ingredient to the recipe is the Bain Octane MCT oil. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. MCTs are highly effective fats that are readily available for your body to almost immediately use for energy, without storing it. When we consume a high-quality, highly-effective fat like this, without consuming carbohydrates or proteins, we are able to remain in a fasted state. Some people try to take the shortcut and replace this with coconut oil, however coconut oil only contains 15% MCTs whereas the Brain Octane is 100% pure MCTs.

 

     Now, what’s up with butter in coffee? The grass-fed butter or ghee (ghee if you’re dairy- free) provides a high quality fat source that helps keep you satisfied while you’re fasting without compromising your fasted state. More importantly, it’s what makes the coffee creamy and delicious. “So, MCT oil aaanddd ghee in my coffee?!” you may be asking. Rest assured, our version of the recipe is properly portioned so that you’re not at all over-doing it on the fats. However, if the idea of MCT oil plus butter/ghee still freaks you out, there’s another option for you, and it’s vegan. Sub the 1 tsp of ghee for 1-2 tsp of hemp seeds. We actually love this option, and do it most of the time, because it seems to be SUPER frothy, even more so than with ghee. They’ll still provide you with high quality fats plus some amino acids, and when blended, they make for a milky texture and nice, nutty flavor. Not sure which you may prefer? Try it both ways or even do half and half (1/2 tsp ghee and 1/2-1 tsp hemp seeds).

 

     An optional ingredient you'll see in our recipe below is collagen. Although collagen is a protein, "if you’re potentially in a catabolic state, meaning that your body is breaking down material to be converted into other material, like after a workout, then adding collagen protein to Bulletproof Coffee in the morning can help prevent muscle loss while NOT affecting insulin sensitivity or interfering much with your fat burning mode," as Asprey explains. For the sake of this blog post, go browse their website further if you're curious to learn more in depth about IMF, MCTs, ketosis, catabolism, and lots of other cool stuff. We give it our stamp of approval as far as credibility goes. Here you can find the official recipe and some additional information. Below you will find our version.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

Coffee

1 tsp- 1 Tbsp Brain Octane MCT oil (start low and work your way up the first few times-- it’s potent.)

1-2 tsp hemp seeds (we typically do this instead of ghee for super frothy- it also makes this vegan)

     * OR 1 tsp UNSALTED grass-fed ghee (we love to use Fourth & Heart vanilla bean ghee) 

 

optional spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom

optional: 1 scoop collagen (Bulletproof and Vital Proteins brands are great quality)

 

Instructions:

1. Brew your coffee, then pour a mug full into your blender.

2. Add MCT oil, ghee/hemp seeds, desired spices, and collagen if you choose.

3. Blend on low then increase to high for 30-40 seconds.

4. Pour it up and enjoy the frothy, creamy goodness.

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