Intermittent fasting is a method, not a diet. It’s the practice of restricting or abstaining from food intake purposefully in order to achieve a specific result.
There are multiple motivations that drive intermittent fasting (or fasting) whether it be religious or health. However, how do you know it’s affecting you in a positive way?
There are multiple approaches and arguments on what works and what doesn’t but simply choosing one based on someone else’s experience is full of faults.
The issue, however, isn’t about the experience or process but about the results you really want to get as an individual.
Management Requires Measurement
Peter Druker, a famed management thinker responsible for the practical foundations of the modern business corporation famously said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
That truth holds strong in all aspects of life, including health.
Ever wonder why those juicing commercials and snake oil supplements rely on so many personal testimonials? As the quote goes…
In God we trust, all others must bring dataAmerican Statistician W. Edwards Deming
Numbers are, at the core, vulnerability. It’s hard to hide in the floodlight of data.
With diets it’s the same as management, it’s the management of you. When you set out to train, become fit, eat better – you either are winning or losing. There isn’t a middle ground.
You either achieved your goal or you failed.
What Happens With 24 Hours Of Intermittent Fasting?
Dr. Benjamin Horne wanted to know the answer.
We wanted to find out if there were any acute changes during a 24-hour fast that could lead to long term effects that could have health benefits.Dr. Benjamin Horne – Director of Cardiovascular and Genetic Epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center and advisor for Lab Me
The study took 30 individuals before and after 24 hours of a water-only fast, as well as before and after they ate normally for 24 hours. The average age of the group was 44 years, and 67% were female.
The researchers included subjects who had not fasted for over 12 hours in the past year and had not restricted the intake of calories in the past two years.
Diabetics, smokers, and cardiac patients were excluded. The researchers looked at a number of cardiac risk factors, general risk factors, and metabolic risk factors.
The Results Were “Significant”
“There were some fairly substantial changes [during the fast] which indicated that the liver stopped taking up cholesterol and excreting it so that you would have it for energy,” said Dr. Horne
What was also interesting was the increases in Human Growth Hormone (HGH). It increased by about 1300% for women and 2000% in men. That’s of interest because one of the roles of HGH is to preserve lean muscle mass so that it isn’t destroyed for energy.
HGH also increases the break down of fat.
Dr. Horne said, “There may be a decrease in enough adipocytes that it has a small effect on insulin resistance so that fasting over a long period of time on a routine periodic basis could have an effect on metabolic risk.”
In other words, intermittent fasting over a longer period of time can have a profoundly positive effect on your health if done right.
Common Methods Of Intermittent Fasting
- 5:2: This method allows you to eat normally five days a week. The other two days are your fasting days, although you do still eat. Just keep it between 500 and 600 calories.
- Eat-stop-eat: With this one, you restrict all food for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
- 16/8: You eat all of your daily calories within a shortened period — typically 6 to 8 hours — and fast for the remaining 14 to 16 hours. You can do this every day, or a few times a week.
Pick one, stick to it, measure it and optimize. Quantify the data according to you and your unique genetics. “It worked great for Susan” isn’t a solid methodology.
But this is…
High Fidelity Metrics To Ensure You Are On The Right Track
If you track steps, calories, sleep, step on a scale, take a measurement – great, but what about your insides. How are you tracking your most important metric?
Traditionally it been expensive and difficult to track blood but Lab Me makes it simple, accurate and affordable.
You are going to want to look at the following before you set out on your journey of peak performance.
Body mass index, glucose, hbA1c, and TSH.
If they are out of balance to start, you should see them reduce gradually, sticking to a plan listed above.
Glucose and hbA1C are excellent biomarkers for screening and monitoring of diabetes. Whereas, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) gives you insight into your metabolism by way of the thyroid.
Symptoms of high TSH? To name a few, constipation, dry skin, bloating, fatigue, feeling cold all the time, and hair loss. Here is a depressing article on how most people approach it rather than trying something alternative first.
However, the author is right about the blood test being your blueprint but you probably agree, it should be a blueprint to a better life, not a blueprint for more or fewer meds.
Looked over time, this blueprint has the power to show you a trend. Trends that are either hurting or helping. Think you “feel fine” and you’ll just wait till you don’t?
By the time symptoms hit – it’s too late.
Many Will Start, Few Will Finish Strong
Tracking your progress can be a very powerful motivator, not to mention fun.
Want to lose weight and decrease your risk of disease?
Start with the 5:2 method.
As stated above, this method allows you to eat normally five days a week. The other two days are your fasting days, although you do still eat.
Just keep it between 500 and 600 calories.
The 5:2 method according to multiple studies might be the best to lose weight while improving all the biomarkers listed above.
Meaning that you are losing weight, reducing the risk of diabetes, improve pre-diabetics, and help insulin-sensitive individuals without the need for pharmaceutical intervention
Don’t want to stop the calories but get the health benefits?
Then start off with the 16/8: eat all of your daily calories within a shortened period — typically 6 to 8 hours — and fast for the remaining 14 to 16 hours. You can do this every day, or a few times a week.
No matter what you choose, stick with it and track it using a lab me executive test (includes all the biomarkers mentioned above). It’s suggested to test every three months but for more motivating results – every month may make you stick with it.