Intermittent Fasting – The Best Strategy for Weight Loss
Recently my wife, Merily, and I enjoyed a night out at one of my favorite restaurants, VENETO in Salt Lake City. VENETO specializes in using authentic ingredients, including handmade, non-GMO pasta, made from ancient grain shipped in from Italy, allowing Merily and I to indulge in the occasional pasta dish, something we would never touch unless it was glyphosate-free. Plus, friends who are gluten sensitive can eat the pasta served there too (an example for those who travel to Europe and are able to enjoy grains without issue). I love when restaurants behave with integrity, making it easier for us to dine out without ruining our weight loss goals, healthy diet, or adding significantly to our toxic burden.
This is why it is harder and harder to lose weight ?-yes I have an answer that will surprise you....This is a "dinner talk" at my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake City...VENETO!!Posted by Dr. Daniel Pompa on Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Think you can’t dine out without ruining your healthy diet? Try these biohacks for maintaining your health goals while on the road!
While at VENETO, we were joined by the owners, married couple Amy and Marco. Amy posed such an interesting weight loss question that we immediately recorded my answer on Facebook Live. Her problem is a classic for many Americans who are trying to meet their weight loss goals or maintain their current weight.
Both Marco and Amy had concerns about how to maintain a healthy weight, which seemed to them has become harder as they grow older. A debate had popped up between their differing ideas of HOW to achieve and maintain their desired weight, and I was asked to give my perspective.
Here’s the interesting thing: Marco and Amy were raised to eat very differently. Marco, a native of Italy, approached eating in a more European way. He tended to eat little to nothing for most of the day, and a big meal in the evening. Pasta was a big part of his childhood, and he doesn’t shy away from eating it now. Amy, born and raised in Utah, was convinced that this wasn’t going to be a good method for weight loss. Everything that she learned about achieving a healthy weight involved a restrictive diet, counting calories, watching macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein). Amy eats small meals frequently throughout the day. She has a long list of foods that she completely avoids. So their question for me was, “Who has the better approach to eating?”
Well, Amy, I’m sorry, but this time I have to give Marco the gold star. His approach to eating is a healthier way to eat, and better for weight loss in the long run. In some countries in Europe, this is simply how one eats. For the rest of us, we gave it a name. This style of eating less often is called intermittent fasting, and it’s an effective tool for addressing so many health problems, including excess weight.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It sounds complicated, but intermittent fasting is actually a very simple concept. The idea is to do a short daily fast, only eating during certain hours of the day. So, for example, you might stop all food intake after 8pm, sleep, wake up the next morning, and, except for non-sugary drinks (pure water, organic coffee, tea, etc), you continue the fast until mid-day, or even that evening. Food for that day is consumed between the hours of 2 and 8pm. As you grow accustomed to intermittent fasting, you can push that window of time to be even more compressed. Some prefer to eat earlier in the day instead of the evening hours, i.e. 9AM to 3PM, and that works too. The key is consistency and finding what works for your schedule and lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that we see historically and archaeologically all over the world. I personally eat this way, and have coached many of my clients through it, who have experienced tremendous benefits and increase in health and weight loss. The standard American diet has strayed very far from this approach with disastrous results. Chronic inflammation is on the rise, leading to problems like immune disorders, hormone dysfunction, thyroid disease, cancer, and even weight loss resistance. Intermittent fasting1 is known to be a fantastic tool for managing these issues, but here are a few reasons why it’s specifically beneficial for weight loss.
Efficient Fat Burning for Weight Loss
Let’s take a closer look at Amy’s diet, which involved eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. Now, she’s hardly alone in thinking this is the way to lose weight. We’ve been told by our family doctors and health organizations for decades that the way to lose weight is to restrict caloric intake, and to eat smaller meals more often. But ask yourself this: In weight loss, you’re trying to shed excess fat stores. You want your body to burn through its own fat, right? If Amy is eating throughout the day – even if they’re small meals – when is her body getting the opportunity to burn her stored body fat? Your body will use the energy from the food that you eat before it starts tapping into your fat stores. So, if you’re eating frequently throughout the day, there’s no need to burn stored fat for energy. Your body will simply use the energy from the food you eat, and leave its fat stores relatively untouched. Intermittent fasting solves this problem by forcing your body to burn its own fat. In other words, intermittent fasting helps to push your body into ketosis, or fat burning mode, using fat as cellular fuel.
If you’re only eating within a compressed window of time in the day, your body will switch to using its own fat stores as an energy source until you eat. It will tap into the very fat that you’re looking to burn. In addition, over time you become very efficient at burning fat for fuel. This is one of the healthiest ways to promote true and lasting weight loss, and it can help maintain weight once you’ve reached your desired goal.
Fasting Increases Growth Hormone
If you want to age quickly or gain weight, eat sugar and processed carbs throughout the day. I can think of no better way to age yourself2. When you spike glucose levels, it causes oxidative stress to your cells, effectively aging them, speeding up cell death, and sapping you of energy3. Intermittent fasting, or any kind of fast for that matter, has the opposite effect. Growth hormones and testosterone levels rise, stimulating your body to regenerate itself4. In other words you can feel better, look younger, and have more energy by incorporating regular fasting into your lifestyle.
Fasting Can Make You Feel Fuller
Contrary to popular belief, you can feel full and more satisfied with a lifestyle that includes regular intermittent fasting. To show you how, let’s go back to Amy and Marco’s different approaches to eating. In the video, Amy explains her restricted calorie diet, how she has a long list of foods that she feels are forbidden, and how she felt guilty even indulging in some of the dishes that we ordered at the restaurant. On the other hand, Marco doesn’t worry too much about eating rich foods. His philosophy is that since it’s his only meal of the day, he should enjoy it and eat to fullness. While I would never say that it doesn’t matter what you eat, considering how contaminated the standard American diet is with pesticides, glyphosate, GMOs, unhealthy fats, and more, I will say that you have a lot more freedom in what you eat using intermittent fasting as a tool instead of a highly restrictive diet, which only promises to get more restrictive as weight loss plateaus and your metabolism slows down.
Remember that intermittent fasting is not starvation, nor deprivation. You’re not eating less, you’re eating less often. When you do eat, you eat delicious, healthy foods until you feel satisfied. You won’t have to fear healthy fats, grass-fed meats, organic vegetables, or strategic amounts of healthy carbs. You hold off eating to allow your body to burn its own fat, and then eat until you are full. Does that sound like starvation to you?
A Word on Water Fasting
We talked a little bit about water fasting in the video. Both Marco and Amy have tried water fasts. There are a lot of benefits to doing water5 or bone broth fasts, even mini fasts as with the 5:1:1 Rule, including:
- Reduced cellular inflammation
- A boost in hormone sensitivity (Your body becomes more receptive to growth hormones, testosterone, etc)6
- Increased autophagy (Your body has a chance to clear cellular debris and abnormal cells, like cancerous cells)
- Enhanced weight loss via decreased glucose and insulin spikes and ketosis
As I indicated in the video, water fasts really come in handy at the start of a multi-step approach to weight loss. They push your body into ketosis, helping you to adapt more quickly. You’d be surprised how easy water fasts are once you get going…they’re not as intimidating as they sound.
Diet Variation and Weight Loss
I only just touched on diet variation as an additional tool for promoting weight loss, but we dig into the practice in-depth on CHTV Episode 157. It’s important to approach your journey to health and diet change in steps, not only to give your body a chance to adjust in increments along the way, but also to move at a pace that will better ensure changes you make don’t feel so extreme that you get discouraged and stop. Having said that, diet variation in tandem with intermittent fasting has the potential to totally transform health, downregulating inflammation, and helping you to become efficient at both burning fat for energy and burning glucose for energy.
It’s all about having a well-adapted body, able to switch between burning fat and sugar seamlessly. Diet variation most closely resembles how humans ate throughout history with food being plentiful at certain times and scarce during others. The human body is made to handle feast or famine periods and varying foods by season. Contrary to what the markets would have you think, apples for example, don’t grow year round. They’re harvested in the fall and kept warehoused for sale through the year. You wouldn’t believe what gets sprayed onto produce to keep it from rotting.
Combining seasonal eating with feasting and fasting periods is the best way I know to imitate how our ancestors ate. Using these methods, you can become highly adaptable, able to switch from a state of ketosis to burning glucose for fuel with ease.
Bringing It All Together
It’s important to work with a trained practitioner to determine what diet strategies will work best for you. In terms of where intermittent fasting fits in with transforming how you eat, one multi-step plan might look like this:
- Go into ketosis. Work to push your body into fat burning mode. For the high achievers, starting with a water fast can really jump start the shift.
- Introduce intermittent fasting.
- Come in with the diet variation. The 5:1:1 rule I mentioned earlier is a part of this step, as is seasonal eating.
Now, toxins do play a role in weight issues. Build-up of cellular toxins, including heavy metals and other environmental chemicals, drives inflammation, blunts hormone receptivity, and can lead to many chronic disorders, including weight loss resistance. If your toxic burden is high, True Cellular Detox™ is a key piece of the puzzle. This is why having that coach on your team is so vital. Don’t go it alone!
When it comes to weight loss, controlling a chronic disorder, detoxifying cells, or even maintaining the amazing health that you’ve already achieved, there’s never just one answer, no magic pill or protocol that works for everybody. This is why I advocate so strongly for a Multi-Therapeutic Approach, using both the best in modern science and ancient strategies for restoring cellular function. Weight loss is no different. Often a multi-step process is necessary for real and sustainable results.