I’ve been quiet lately. While that may be welcome relief for you, it’s driven me bat-guano crazy. This post gets you caught up on what’s distracted me lately, revisits intermittent fasting and what’s next for me with that hot mess, talks about some new stupid food developments and ends with an important upcoming event in the life of the Karma Sense Eating Plan book. Meanwhile, the Mets keep on bringing it so I better keep my Yogi Berra quote streak going…
I Knew the Record Would Stand Until it was Broken
After sticking to a cadence of about 1.75 blog posts per week, I haven’t posted anything for about 3 weeks. That’s the longest I’ve gone without posting since I started this clusterfluff almost one year ago. During my away time, I let life take over for awhile including some significant challenges in my V1.0 job and some family visits to NJ and Chicago along with a Big Chill weekend with some college roommates and our freshman advisor. The book will eat at major chunks of time I’d usually dedicate to blogging, but more on that later.
90% of Intermittent Fasting is Mental, and the Other Half is Physical
Early in the life of the Live Long Lead Long blog I posted on a wellness protocol that I have some deep experience with called Intermittent Fasting (IF). IF is the extended but occasional skipping of meals beyond the normal fasting period that some people call “sleep”. I’ve been an Intermittent Faster for almost 10 years now. I started off doing weekly 36 hours fasts and did that for one entire year. I decided to try it because some people with autoimmune diseases have had success in keeping inflammation under control via this technique. Alas, I am not one of those people so the heartbreak of psoriasis persists.
But, I am one of those people who lost 30 pounds over the course of the period that I followed the protocol. I decided to dig deeper into the science of fasting and found that the many other benefits were enough for me to continue. But, instead of doing the admittedly challenging once-weekly 36 hour fast, I’d do 20-24 hour fasts 1-2 times a week (i.e every 4 days). I’ve been there for the last several years.
People who learn that I regularly fast usually respond with a reaction of how they themselves could not do it. I don’t disagree. For as long as they believe that, they won’t be able to. When I ask people why they say they can’t do it, they usually refer back to what they conceive as a physical hunger that they just can’t overcome.
Guess what. That hunger most people feel is not physical hunger (also known as starvation). It’s mental hunger. And it’s driven more by habit, emotional cues, and hormonal mojo than it is from the body’s need for nutrition. That doesn’t mean it’s not real. It just means that it can be conquered. The first question you should ask yourself is why engage in IF to begin with? Here are some previously discussed benefits of fasting:
Health Benefits of Fasting
- Increases fat burning and weight loss – Your body has a hierarchy of energy sources. Through fasting your body consumes all of its preferred sources and starts working on fat. And since you’re consuming fewer calories, your body weight goes down.
- Clears your body of bad actors – Your body has a natural garbage collection process during which it removes damaged and potentially harmful cell detritus. As the flotsam and jetsam is removed, your mitochondria work more efficiently. Your mitochondria are what give you energy and are what rev up your metabolism. That is as science-y as I will get.
- Improved Insulin Efficiency and Lowers Blood Sugar – Your body learns to do more with less insulin which leads to lower overall blood sugar. The opposite situation (i.e. doing less with more and high blood sugar) is also known as Type 2 Diabetes.
- Decreases Inflammation – If you haven’t noticed, chronic inflammation is the new super villain in the health and nutrition world. It is a contributing factor to most lifestyle oriented diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Our diets are a significant contributor. IF allows this inflammation to subside and not be chronic.
- Normalized hormone levels – All of those hormones you may have heard of (growth hormone, cortisol) and lots you maybe haven’t heard of (glucagon, ghrelin) that have either desirable or undesirable effects move in the right direction. And the hormones that you don’t want touched (e.g. sexy time hormones) are not affected.
Lifestyle Benefits of Fasting
- It requires no change to your eating habits when you’re not fasting – Of course when you are eating there are always additional things you can do to improve your nutrition. Avoid trans-fats. Make plant-based foods a bigger part of your diet. You don’t need to do these things to achieve the health benefits above. If you add them to your repertoire, all the better. One thing I don’t suggest you do, except in special cases, is to add additional calorie restriction on eating days. Doing so will more than likely lead to the yo-yo weight situation we’re trying to avoid. It also will mess with the hormone balance I just promised would be unaffected.
- It saves you lots of time – You will be amazed, on fast days how much more you can get done. I was shocked at how much of my day is spent in the act of selecting what I will eat, preparing it, consuming it, disposing of it, and traveling for it.
- It saves you money – For example. if you’re fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week, you’re cutting your personal food bill by 14%-28%.
- You can use that saved money to do good – I set aside the money I save and donate it to a hunger based charity.
- It provides other opportunities for good – When you’re not consuming food, you’re lowering your global footprint. It is your small but worthwhile contribution to lowering demand for all of the energy and natural resources that go into the production and disposal of your meals.
- It is the REAL Paleo Diet – Do you believe there are benefits to eating like our prehistoric ancestors? Those cavemen did a lot more hunting and gathering than actual eating. It was feast or famine for them. Our bodies are the evolutionary result of that. IF is a lot more legitimate way to promote a Paleo lifestyle than eating one of the new Paleo-compliant candy bars.
- Provides a unique opportunity to improve the mind-body connection – Many of the benefits people seek from activities such as meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi, for example, can be supplemented through a regular fasting routine. There is no better way to learn what the true sensation of “hunger” is. My personal experience is that through IF, I can better appreciate when I need to eat vs. when I want to eat. In addition, on fast days I often have a sense of serenity that is harder to achieve on eating days. I realize mind-body connection may not be a consideration for some people. If it is for you, consider Intermittent Fasting.
- It can be a spiritual experience or opportunity to further explore your spirituality – I know this is not a draw for everyone and while I consider myself a spiritual person, this is not a subject I’m an expert on. Spirituality is a very personal thing. But we all know that fasting is a ritual in many of the world’s religions. It serves many purposes in this realm (e.g. a means of atonement, a tool to develop discipline). You can Google fasting’s role in spiritual practice and learn more than I can ever do justice.
If any of those interest you, you may want to consider IF and I’m happy to talk you through it if you want to learn more.
One note to women. Unfortunately, because of the hormonal impacts, IF may not provide the desired results or it may have unintended side effects. You can usually tell by doing one trial fast and seeing how you feel. A single trial will cause no harm. If it works for you, you can try going intermittent. Again if you start feeling “wrong” then that’s your signal to stop. Pregnant women should never do it. Guys, nature is kinder to us on this one.
But enough about you, let’s get into what’s really important…me. In the interests of self-experimentation, I am taking on a different IF protocol. I am going to try daily fasts of 16 hours and confine my daily eating to an 8 hour period. This IF design is espoused by Martin Berkhan as the Lean Gains method. It’s primarily designed for bodybuilding and includes fasted workouts. A few years later the 8-Hour Diet by David Zinczenko and Peter Moore came out. It’s a more flexible version of the 16/8 protocol that is intended as a weight loss technique for anyone, including women. So Leangains is for losing fat AND building muscle and 8-Hour is for general weight loss.
I’m aiming to lose some stubborn layers of fat around my pipik and build a couple of pounds of muscle. This will be tough for a man of my age and physique. It is roughly similar to Popeye’s friend Olive Oyl trying to become a Victoria’s Secret model. This means I’ll aim more for the Leangains style.
But I’m not going to be religious or fret about it because I’m less concerned with the result than I am with the method. By trying all these things on myself, it puts me in a better position to be knowledgeable when I work with you. I’ll provide some additional info on the differences between the two 16/8s in an upcoming post and I just might tell you how and what I’m doing too.
If You Can’t Imitate Chips, Don’t Copy Them
What the world wouldn’t give for a healthful snack food? In the never-ending quest to trick us into believing junk food can be healthy, our friends with the Tasty-But-Empty-Calorie Cabal are doing their part to make those calories a little less empty. Consider if you will…
Heaven help us if we ran out of ways to eat meat. In this case, the meat in question is chicken. Although I linked to their site, you won’t get a lot more information than what’s in the picture below. Each 2.6 oz (74 g) bag has 21 grams of protein. At 31 g of carbs, they are not low carb but pack a respectable 7 grams of fiber. If you’re going to eat chips, I suppose these might be better than Doritos but I can’t be sure since there’s no ingredient list on the website. And if Meat Chips don’t scare you, what about…
With nothing to hide, Chirps are made with cricket flour. Crickets are the new hot protein source. They’re low in fat, sustainable and, I’m going to guess, taste like chicken. Nutritionally, Chirps don’t pack quite the same protein punch as Meat Chips but otherwise, it’s a wash. Also, the people at Six Foods who make Chirps are a little more upfront about ingredients and other than the aforementioned crickets, they don’t seem to contain anything highly objectionable. But note the warning at the bottom of the image below, “If you have crustacean shellfish allergies, you also may be sensitive to crickets.” Conversely, if you’re already eating shrimp, lobster, or crawfish, insects are really a minor adjustment to your pallet.
Thank You For Making This Day Necessary
Within the next week, I expect to be launching an Indiegogo campaign for the Karma Sense Eating Plan book. Essentially, this is an opportunity for you to preorder the book as I target a release this winter. Everything you need to know to decide whether you want to help me out will be on the campaign page. Also included will be an absolutely horrible video of me playing pitchman a la Billy Mays or Ron Popeil.
The main benefits to funding now instead of waiting for the book’s release are:
- The book will be available at a discount through the campaign. Since the book will definitely be published even if it is 100% funded by me, the risk of putting money in now is low.
- The Indiegogo campaign will offer other perks such as health coaching at a significant discount.
- By having a more accurate view of interest at this stage, I can better manage expenses. Keep in mind that all profits from the book are donated to charities that fight poverty and hunger. I can drive this to profitability sooner if I can count on your support.
Even if you are unable to support me at this stage, I would appreciate if you’d help me spread the word. Meanwhile, watch for the announcement coming soon.