Why Fasting May Be Making You Fat – Mind Pump

Check out the Mind Pump Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • The single most black and white thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer is to incorporate regular prolonged fasts
  • If you’re healthy, regular fasts are one of one of the best things you can do for your body
  • Before you think about jumping on the intermittent fasting bandwagon, first consider all the nutrients you’re missing out on from the foods you do consume (protein, fiber, micronutrients, fiber, vegetables)
    • Add these foods into your diet before starting to skip meals
  • Do NOT look at fasting as an easy way to lose weight
  • The best way to fast is to lead into it with a low-carbohydrate/ketogenic type diet that’s relatively low-calorie
  • When breaking a fast, eat easily digestible foods in small portions (otherwise you’re in for a horrible stomach ache and diarrhea)
  • If you’re relatively healthy, long fasts seem to not have any negative side effects

Fasting Has Gone Mainstream (but it’s something humans have been doing forever)

  • “Because fasting has been around for so long it’s natural that our bodies would evolve to derive benefit from it”
    • Fasting has been around since the dawn of time – mainly because food was scarce
    • Humans have only had plenty and readily available food for a brief period on the evolutionary timescale

The Benefits of Prolonged Fasts

  • After ~48 hours of fasting, the body’s older/unhealthy cells start to self-destruct
    • (This is up for debate, it’s not measurable. Some people estimate it takes 72 hours.)
  • Fasting weakens cancer cells, making them more likely to be killed during chemo. It also allows healthy cells to become more resilient to cancer treatment.
    • “If you look at studies across the board, the single most black and white thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer is to incorporate regular prolonged fasts”
  • Fasting changes your relationship with food
    • “Fasting showed me that I could go 24 hours without food and not lose muscle… it got me to work on my relationship with food quite a bit”
    • “We live in a society today where we are so used to getting everything we want right away that we’ve actually trained ourselves to believe that when you feel this grumbling in your stomach or you feel like you really want pizza or whatever… you’re starving” – And it’s not true!
  • Fasting serves as a good way to reset your palate
    • Many people are so used to sweetened/processed foods that natural fruits and vegetables just can’t compete taste wise
    • When you reintroduce whole, natural foods after a longer (48 hour) fast – many people report a totally different taste profile
  • Fasting increases neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells and neuron connections)
  • Many people report an increase of mental clarity while fasting due to the fact the brain starts running on ketones
    • (How? – This happens once your liver glycogen levels are depleted)
  • While in the fasted state, you experience a spike in growth hormone
    • Insulin and growth hormone tend to be inversely related (so by not eating, your insulin levels drop)
  • In summary… 
    • “If you’re healthy, regular fasts are one of one of the best things you can do for your body”

Are there any negative effects of prolonged fasting?

  • “If you’re relatively healthy, long fasts seem to not have any negative effects, which is so counter to what a lot of people believe”

Intermittent Fasting

  • Intermittent fasting day after day can cause your metabolism to slow (which can hinder weight loss)
    • To prevent your metabolism from slowing during if you intermittent fast every day, make sure you’re always hitting your calorie goal for the day
  • DON’T use intermittent fasting as an excuse to eat like shit during your eating window (no matter how small it is)
    • The calories in calories out model still applies – if you’re intermittent fasting, you’re not free to eat McDonald’s every night for dinner
  • Before you think about jumping on the intermittent fasting bandwagon, first consider all the nutrients you’re missing out on from the food you do consume (protein, fiber, micronutrients, fiber, vegetables)

DON’T Look at Fasting as an Easy Way to Lose Weight

  • “Fasting is a terrible way to lose fat”
    • “If your primary goal for fasting is fat loss, I’m gonna tell you this right now… bad idea … for anybody”
    • “People who fast for fat loss end up getting fatter over time” – due to binging 
  • If you take someone who’s always been afraid of being overweight and tell them to start skipping meals – it’s just a recipe for making their relationship with food TERRIBLE
    • “You will NOT gain a better relationship with food if you walk into fasting with the idea of losing body fat”

Who is fasting right for?

  • “The person who I think fasting is perfect for is somebody who’s already fit and healthy, somebody who has a good relationship with food”
  • “The only people that benefit from fasting in a positive way are the people going into it not to lose body fat, not to change body composition, and not to become more fit, but rather for the spiritual and health benefits… to feel better and become healthier”

What should you eat leading up to a fast?

  • The best way to fast is to lead into it with a low-carbohydrate/ketogenic type diet that’s relatively low-calorie
  • Do NOT lead into a fast by bingeing on carbs or tons of calories
    • This just leads to a VERY rough fast

Fasting Tips

  • Your blood pressure tends to drop during a prolonged fast, which might make you dizzy when standing up/sitting down
    • To aid these symptoms, add a little bit of salt to your water (or drink mineral water)
  • Get adequate sleep – your body needs it (and it makes the hours your awake much easier)
  • Don’t do any high-intensity workouts

How should you break a fast?

  • Eat something small and light – a bowl of cooked vegetables with bone broth
    • Aim to eat easily digestible foods in small portions (otherwise you’re in for a horrible stomach ache)
  • Just know – It’s common that the first bowel movement that you have when you refeed after a fast is going to be diarrhea

Additional Notes

  • You’ll probably get more overall benefit from fasting by doing less frequent/longer duration fasts (compared to intermittent fasting every single day)
    • So doing a monthly  2-3 day fast or a twice monthly 1-day fast > intermittent fasting every single day
    • Why is this the case? – Our bodies are smart and learn to adapt
      • If you intermittent fast every single day, it’s very likely the benefits diminish over time
  • Women are more sensitive to fasting than men
    • Why? – Women evolved to procreate and when they go without food for a longer period of time, the body starts adjusting to prevent this (they lose their periods and their hormones go out of whack)
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