Hey all. I’m outside my normal posting window because I stumbled into researching an interesting topic yesterday. I wanted to drop a mini-post on this, to send out some feelers. Is this a topic that I could get some help on?
About 80% of my free time yesterday was spent listening to podcasts, watching videos by doctors, and reading testimonial blogs about intermittent fasting, and general fasting periods for weight loss. I mainly sought out the physiological basis for this to begin with, as I was extremely skeptical, but I kept an open mind… just like I did about science-based alternative diets.
Okay, first of all: when you eat something, your glucose spikes. The extent with which this happens depends on what you eat (check out the glycemic index here). When glucose in the blood rises, so does insulin. Insulin normally helps the glucose make its way into cells so that they can get energy.
Insulin resistance is probably the cause for type-2 diabetes. When your cells are resistant to insulin: A) not as many cells get opened to the glucose, B) your blood sugar stays high, C) the sugar that hangs around in the blood gets turned into more fat than it would if you weren’t insulin resistant. This is why it baffles me that doctors prescribe insulin to type-2 diabetes patients.
The basis behind fasting for weight loss is that when you go long enough without eating, your insulin levels drop low enough that the fat stores become available for use by your body for energy. Before this happens, the fat is locked away, and your body runs off of blood glucose and a glucose polymer stored in your liver. If your liver runs out of storage for excess glucose, your body starts to convert it into fat, we all know that.
In order to get into a fat-burning state, you have to first use up the liver’s stores of glucose polymers. This is because it’s counter-intuitive to both store fat and burn fat at the same time. You can’t do it.
If we eat the usual 3 meals plus 2 or 3 snacks a day, our fat stores are basically inaccessible throughout the day. Depending, of course, on how long we sleep and how soon we eat breakfast. Some people naturally fast for ~12 hours without even realizing it. I actually do this almost every day. We eat dinner around 5:30; if I don’t have an evening snack, I have breakfast at ~6:30 the next morning. That’s 13 hours right there.
So… this idea isn’t as foreign as most people think. The trick seems to be, from what I’ve researched, to get past the 12 hour mark; that’s what pushes most people into a semi-productive fat-burning state.
There’s obviously a lot of factors that play in here, including exercise and what kind of foods we eat through the day. For example, refined sugars and grains will cause a larger insulin spike than, say, greens and starches. So… could we combine a plant based diet with a moderate intermittent fast like 14:10 or 16:8 (fasting:eating)? This, at a cursory glance, has the potential to be a dynamite combination, especially for people with a “chronic” disease we already know can be made better with a WFPB diet. For example: type-2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, kidney disease… etc.
I’m basically just throwing out thoughts here. This is a rambling post!
Here are some things I watched and listened to on YouTube if you are interested:
I would not be researching this if I didn’t already have a solid groundwork in hormone physiology. I majored in human biology in college – that’s not to say I’m a guru, because I’m not. I’m merely saying I can only tell when something is bullshit, and when it’s actually grounded in true science as opposed to fad science.
What I’ve found seems to point towards the fact that women should not do more than 16 hours of fasting if trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding. It can mess with the estrogen/progesterone loop in our bodies and affect Luteinizing Hormone (which is responsible mainly for ovulation). Estrogen and Progesterone levels are important in maintaining adequate lactation as well. You don’t really want to mess with that too much in those scenarios.
Women are naturally programmed to be more sensitive to hunger signalling via hormones like ghrelin due to our ability to nourish a fetus. It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint that our bodies would fight “starvation” more than males.
I shouldn’t need to say this, but people with eating disorders or possible tendencies towards addictive behaviors should not be fasting for extended periods of time. If you don’t actually have real weight to lose, don’t do it.
What are your thoughts? Have you tried a fast? How did you feel during/after? Have you tried intermittent fasting? How has it gone? Did you lose weight? Comment below, and let’s have a conversation.
I’m genuinely curious about this. The science seems to be there 100% but I’m wondering how it works in practice before I jump in.
Sorry for rambling. I ramble when I’m excited.
Until next time,