How Intermittent Fasting can help you live longer
Several years back, I did a three-part series on this blog about Intermittent Fasting.
I covered the following:
Just to brush up on what Intermittent Fasting (IF) is, it's a more intentional way of eating, not a diet. It is eating only at certain times of the day and fasting during the remaining hours. If you think about it, we're already doing it when we sleep.
Usually, people do IF for weight loss as it can help with calorie restriction and creating more mindful eating habits - less snacking!
As I mentioned in this blog, there are many benefits of IF but, by far, the most remarkable advantage is autophagy. Autophagy is the natural way our body "takes out the trash" at the cellular level.
Now, that's just one advantage you get when you do IF, but there are also some disadvantages. Not everyone can do IF because due to eating disorders or medical conditions, while others just really like to eat, like me.
Another thing to consider when doing IF is getting enough nutrients during your eating window - this is important, especially if you're a busy mom going through post-partum. Having a nutritious meal is just as important as following the fasting hours.
In this episode of the Less Stressed life, I mention Volter Longo and his study of how prolonged fasting aids in improving longevity. Valter Longo is the author of the book The Longevity Diet, and his company provides meal kits for those who would like to do prolonged fasting.
If you want to learn more about IF, listen to episode 154 by scrolling down or clicking on this link.
You have to have this wide window, the 16 hours to be considered fasting. So what I'm saying here is that if you're going to skip a meal, you can't skip nutrients. People already don't get enough nutrients. Welcome to the less stressed life podcast, where our only priority is providing those aha moments to Uplevel your life, health and happiness. Your host, integrative dietician, nutritionist, Krista Bigler helps health conscious women reduce the stress and confusion around food fatigue, digestive and skin issues at less stress, nutrition.com. Now onto the show, you know, I've really spent some time reflecting on my own phases of burnout this year and past years. And I know I'm not the only one that has gone through or goes through these peaks and valleys. And while sometimes you need Lowe's to appreciate the highs in life. Some valleys are pretty difficult for both your mind and your body in a very literal physical way. This year, I'm feeling really pulled to help others work through burnout, nourish their adrenals, mind, body, and spirit, and have some incredible things in store to help you feel refreshed and renewed. I invite you to take my quiz. Are you approaching burnout to assess your stress resilience and find out more about how to help you overcome it? Go to christabiegler.com forward slash burnout to take that quiz. And it'll also be in the show notes this morning. And my friend Kim Holmes interviewed me for her podcast from the marriage helper on intermittent fasting. And the context is that in 2017, I worked with a fitness celebrity and I worked on a fasting program. And I feel like at that moment and the year before it was kind of in its heyday. And it's funny because you know, it's been three ish years later and it's still kind of popular, although I don't hear about it that often.
So I want to go over really quickly what some of the types of fasting are the benefits, and then the very common issues that I see people running into where it's absolutely contraindicated. So I actually have like a three-part blog series that was done way back in 2016 or 17 about this, about different types of fasting. And I think there's a lot of minutia. So I'm just going to simplify to the most common things. Fasting is essentially not raising your blood sugar for a certain length of time. It's like not spiking it. So some people would say, Oh, you don't consume anything. Not necessarily. You definitely need to consume water and electrolytes depending on how long you're fasting. And also some people they might say, Oh, I can still like, keep the benefits of a fast if I meet an avocado or if I have tea or coffee or some kind of drink for some people, coffee doesn't work for them because it raises cortisol and it kind of breaks them out of their fast essentially. And I'll get to what that is and why that isn't a moment.
So there are some experts in the fasting industry and maybe we'll get to them, but the most common types of fasts, and I think the most, very, very most popular one is the 16:8. That means it is 16 hours of officially no blood sugar raising food or a caloric intake, essentially. And that's why I like tea or coffee by itself would be fine because there's no energy or calories to that in theory. And if you don't add a bunch of things and then eight hours where the kitchen is open, so what are some potential things that would happen here? Well, first let me go back. What's a normal for most people, for most people, you should build a fast 12 hours overnight without a problem. So you should be able to not eat for 12 hours and then open the kitchen for 12 hours and eat. And so with 16:8, you're just extending that by about four hours. And so it's very common for people to push off their breakfast and to have like some kind of brunch or just start eating at lunch. And that's their 16, eight. And I definitely want to talk about the shortcomings and like things I literally saw this week and things I have done incorrectly with this. So what are some of the obvious benefits that happen? So there some actual physiological benefits, but from a behavior standpoint, sometimes we do a lot of snacking, right? Like we don't have a plan. We just snack snack snack all day. And in theory, what we're supposed to have between meals, if you can handle it is to have breaks between meals.
Like if you can wait three to five hours between meals, then you're migrating motor complex, or basically the janitor in your gut can go in and clean up. It's like not having someone in the cafeteria all the time. And if you're eating constantly, your blood sugar is usually constantly elevated, which creates quite a cycle of being hungry all the time. So snacking all the time what's supposed to happen. And you're supposed to have some breaks between eating. So the 12 on 12 off is a good first practice. And then the 16, eight really stops people in their tracks and makes them think about the snacking that's happening now that snacking is bad. And if they eat like mindlessly often, okay, so it can provoke positive or negative emotions or emotions around behaviors or emotions around foods. So I think that can be an interesting for some people just reducing the snacking, reduces the overall energy intake or caloric intake that they're taking in. So for some people that's a beneficial thing for weight loss. Now I'm absolutely not saying weight loss is that simple. But for some people that's like a common thing where we see maybe some benefits now from a physiological standpoint, the primary benefit of fasting is essentially autophagy or program cell death. This is something that naturally happens, but it's kind of like a janitor for like crappy disease cells. So because cells like multiplied by replicating, we don't want to replicate crappy diseased cells. So cancer cells or the cells that create neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's et cetera. We want to clean up that garbage cells and like create better quality cells. So we want to increase the top pudgy and we find that you have to get 16 hours of fasting.
That's kind of where that first starts. Valter with a V Longo is an Italian researcher who grew up between two of the blue zones, blue zones being areas where people have a lot of longevity. He came to the U S to be a rockstar, and then somehow ended up being a doctor in geriatrics. Not really sure how that happened, but he's kind of a cool guy. And he basically had, it's funny, my study and long story short, he realized that like, Oh, you could do this prolonged fast and like, look at what happens with a, a G and how you can improve longevity. So he has kind of a process where you get to eat, but get the benefits of extended fasting. They actually have a kit where you can eat and get the benefits, or like a DIY version in his book, the longevity diet. Now I actually really like to eat. So this doesn't sound super fun to me. And I have some kind of a not funny story about it, which may or may not fit in today's episode. I'm I have to tell you in a subsequent episode. So what's another reason that someone does fasting and has benefits from it. Metabolic flexibility. Usually we use carbohydrates for energy. So my friend who interviewed me today, she's like, Oh, well, this workout guru said to do like change up the way you eat. Because when you eat carbs, it makes you tired. I'm like, I would challenge you to say, why are carbs making you tired? And it's usually to do with poor digestion, like that's the outward sign of it. So carbs are usually one way our body makes energy, but it could also have a backup reserve tank is to use fat, to make energy. And those are ketones. So if you can use fasting to get into ketosis and then out of it and switch back and forth in theory, it approves your metabolic flexibility. And what this feels like is you go from the girl who needs to take like five granola bars in your bag, on the plane to not because you have just more satiety. Now there's a million other reasons your blood sugar is a mess and you should absolutely like work on foundational things first.
Like, can you eat every few hours and get a protein, fat and carb, et cetera. Also like fasting has been shown to increase butyrate production in the gut, which is like the body's natural gut healing mechanism. So sometimes I think this gets over touted for gut healing. And I don't think it's a magical thing, but it is what it is. All right. So let's talk about some common pitfalls. I see with people experimenting with fasting that either their ambition has waned, or they're not sure what they're doing. And at first I'll never forget the guy who says, Hey Krista. Yeah, I was fasting today. And I was like, honey, you're not fasting. You skipped lunch. Like you ate breakfast, skipped lunch. Anyways, that was skipping a meal like that was not fasting. You have to have this wide window, the 16 hours to be considered fasting. So what I'm saying here is that if you're going to skip a meal, you can't skip nutrients. People already don't get enough nutrients. And inherently, as humans, we accidentally get lazy and lazy is not the right word, but like, we're not always prepared and we're not always eating. Like, do you get five cups of fruits and vegetables a day? Go start there.
But this happens actually a lot with vegan diets, you start with a bang and you're like, I feel so good. And you feel community. And that's another thing that's special. Like diet sayings are successful is because it makes people feel like they have a community sometimes, but then we sort of get apathetic. So this week I saw a woman and I'm like, you're under eating. And she's like, Oh yeah, I intermittent fast, blah, blah, blah. So here's what happens. She drinks coffee. And she's got three kids under five. And so I know this situation cause I've been in it. And so what she's doing is she's just like drinking coffee in the morning and then maybe eating lunch. But because she's like, literally three little people need things from her all the time.
She's in pretty much constant reaction mode. And so she doesn't have a necessarily have a proactive lunch plan. So sometimes like the answer is to eat a block of cheese in a box of crackers, which been there, done that. So what tends to happen is sometimes you're under eating and she like feels she has no energy in the afternoon. So she's simply at a foundational level under eating first. We can tweak other things that are creating fatigue, especially if she's postpartum. There's probably some nutrient stuff to really improve. But if you're not getting a protein, fat and carbs at regular intervals, or you're like, if you want to do fasting, but you're not doing it with an intentional, not skipping nutrients approach, then that's where you need to start. And if she's breastfeeding, what she is, her nutrient needs are actually higher than they run more when she was pregnant. So I'm telling you this because it's a common thing. And for some people doing drinking, a lot of coffee increases that cortisol kind of takes them out of that ketosis. So that's all I wanted to tell you about intermittent fasting one Oh one pros and cons today in a subsequent episode, I will tell you about how I totally did this. A stupid thing with a prolonged fast and what happened because it's a good lesson to learn. So stay tuned for that one. One of the best gifts you can give us at the less stress life is your feedback. We are paid in podcast reviews. If you enjoyed this or any other episode, please leave us a review in the iTunes store or from your podcast app, just search for less stressed life.
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