Do Not Try This at Home
In 1967, a 27-year-old man named Angus Barbieri showed up at a Scottish hospital at 207 kg (456 lbs). He was in need of a major lifestyle change to get back to a healthy weight. He told the staff that he would like to try fasting and cut food out all together. Under the supervision of doctors, he began his journey. None of the staff believed it would last longer than a week or so with no more than multivitamins.
A week turned into a month, and then a month turned into a year! 382 days later he called it quits, weighing in at his goal weight of 81 kg (180 lbs).
This remarkable transformation was even more baffling as Angus did not suffer any negative physiological effects, only consuming a small amount of sugar with his tea towards the last few months due to his low blood sugar. Five years later he kept the weight off, weighing in at 89 kg (196 lbs).
Is There a Way You Can Do This Safely?
While an incredible story, this is absolutely a DO NOT TRY AT HOME scenario. It’s one of the most fascinating and fortunately rare examples of extreme fasting. There is a way you can work this concept into your diet safely and effectively though, called intermittent fasting. You may have heard this term before and wondered if it was just another diet fad. Unlike many other programs, it’s very well studied. New information from this year has given us new insight into just how to implement it for the best results.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves cycles between fasting and eating. It’s not about what foods you should eat, but when you eat them. It makes sense intuitively and is rooted in a deep history of human evolution.
Access to food for much of humans’ existence was scarce, and there were long periods of time in between meals. Carbohydrates like sugars and refined grains are quickly broken down into glucose our cells use for energy, and anything our body doesn’t use is stored in fat cells. Our body breaks down the stored sugar to be used as energy as insulin levels fall during fasting, meaning you lose fat. This is why Angus Barbieri was able to live without food for so long!
There are many benefits to this type of diet strategy. Some include decreased inflammation, better heart health, increased brain health, increased insulin resistance, and of course, weight loss.
How it Affects Your Cells and Hormones
In order to burn fat cells, your brain needs to send signals for a hormonal response. These are some changes that can benefit you when you fast:
- Insulin: Fasting increases insulin sensitivity, making your fat cells deplete reserves of glucose for more energy.
- HGH (Human Growth Hormone): Growth hormones can increase as much as five times, leading to more muscle and less fat.
- Cellular Repair: Cells can digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells. It also helps repair damaged tissue helping heal injuries.
- Gene Expression: There is some evidence that intermittent fasting could lead to changes in genes that increase longevity and protect against disease.
Here are Some Intermittent Fasting Strategies
There are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting, so feel free to choose the right one that fits in with your schedule. During fasting periods, it’s important to consume very little or nothing at all. Each of the plans involves splitting up either your day or week into fasting and eating cycles.
- The 16/8 method: This involves restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. or 10 a.m. – 6 p.m if that suits your schedule better. You then fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example, by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
These are the Key Things You Should Know
While all of the studies involving rats have shown effects as great as reduced cancer risk and anti-aging, there was very little evidence that intermittent fasting is any more effective than just eating less. That is until very recently! Studies at Harvard Medical School have shown that starting your meals earlier in the day and extending your overnight fasting (7 am to 3 pm) greatly increases weight loss and, even better, significantly reduced appetite. It also significantly benefited metabolism in individuals of the study. Certainly, something to consider if you decide to take up this plan.
Another thing to remember about this technique is that it can have different results for men and women. There have been cases when women experience worsened blood sugar control and menstrual cycle interruptions, so be careful and pay attention to your body if you decide to take up this plan.
Health Comes First: Make Sure You’re Still Fueling Your Body
Whatever your strategy may be, remember to add exercise and healthy foods to get the best results possible. Make sure to consume plenty of protein, vitamins, and avoid refined or processed foods for maximum results. We look forward to continuing to help you with your fitness goals here at Velocity!