It has been quite a while since I wrote any posts for this blog, but I haven’t forgotten about it. Might I share a video I made on my 53rd birthday featuring some of my workout to demonstrate the awesome results of IF? Enjoy.
Recently, I read one enthusiastic blogger and intermittent faster who passionately declared, “Before I start, i (sic) just want to tell you, this way of life [intermittent fasting] can be used for and by everyone” (emphasis mine). Though I agree with her enthusiasm for the IF lifestyle, I think she has been doing it for one month, I absolutely disagree with her IF-is-for-everyone mantra, and anyone who says so puts many lives in danger. So please allow me, with the help of many experts, to clarify this issue; so no harm comes to anyone trying this beneficial and healthy lifestyle.
To Fast or Not to Fast: Is That Even a Question?
Before I start, I just want to tell you, this way of life can be used for and by MOSTLY everyone. Two medical professionals, giants in the fasting field, verified this fact. In a video interview with Dr. Jason Feng, Dr. Joseph Mercola says, “The vast majority of people watching this probably would benefit from it [fasting] I would suggest maybe 80%…” I agree with the “vast majority,” but I think Dr. Mercola is being conservative with his “80%” guesstimate. Far more than 80% could certainly benefit from IF.
Who Can Safely Practice Intermittent Fasting?
People who are sick and tired of being sick and tired: Me, me, me…When I happened upon the articles about IF, I knew I had found something special, a key in a golden box, a key that people would tell me not to touch. I decided to try the key in the lock and amazing things started to happen as soon as I placed the key in the keyhole. It has not stopped being an amazing journey. Three words I would use to describe Mark before IF: fat, ill, and exhausted. IF changed my very being. I went from preparing for death (maybe a few years off) to preparing and looking forward to a long healthy life, a change that people constantly notice in various ways. I have already written a post on improved immune function with IF. My health improves everyday, and I have more energy than I did as a teenager.
People with chronic yet manageable disease: Two diseases plague my body, ravaged before IF, irritate after IF: colitis and osteoarthritis. Both these diseases, and according to some experts most of the modern diseases, are caused and or exacerbated by inflammation. Intermittent fasting reduces, without drugs, inflammation throughout the body. Dr. Jason Feng has cured and taken many patients with diabetes off their insulin with water fasts and intermittent fasting. It would certainly not be wise to wait until one gets Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cancer, etc…all prevented, reduced, or put off for a long while with IF. Which brings us to our next category of people who can safely practice IF.
Healthy people who want to stay that way and avoid diabetes, cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and just want to stay on earth a lot longer: Already suffering from two diseases, I cannot help but rejoice for having found IF when I did. Most if not all of these diseases awaited me, patiently. I have happily delayed their arrival, at the very least. Heart disease and skin cancer run in my family. Heredity, ain’t it grand! Studies suggest that I may avoid these diseases, too, with intermittent fasting.
People who want to look and feel younger: In another post, I will explain how good my skin feels. Let me just say that a baby’s butt has nothing on my skin. It has been decades since my skin felt and looked this good. Speaking of feeling…I have not felt this young and energetic in decades. Fasting, it does a body good. Have I found the fountain of youth? So far it feels like it.
People who want to lose weight to be healthy and who are committed to this lifestyle: I say this with a huge caveat. One should not start intermittent fasting if the only goal has to do with fitting into a dress or attaining a summer body. Both these things happen as a bonus for the effort of intermittent fasting; however, health should be the number one concern. Good health mandates a lower body weight than most Westerners maintain, so for most, weight loss serves the greater general health of the individual. Maintaining a lower weight for life also must remain a high priority for the intermittent faster. Scammers push many weird and unhealthy ways to lose weight; even “experts” purport unhealthy eating as “healthy.” This is why 66% of Americans are overweight and why 33% are obese. Extra weight and obesity cause disease, specifically cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Therefore, health and weight loss should go together, but once the faster reaches a healthy weight, a less aggressive form of intermittent fasting should be continued. I am free to answer any questions that you might have. Just ask.
If you fit into one of the above categories, IF may be for you. In part two of this post, I will explore who should not attempt intermittent fasting. Leave your comments where they belong, follow my blog, and until next time…stay fast and fit!
Roughly two years ago my wife went on a cheap-exercise-equipment-buying binge. One can obtain any item on Tao Bao, the Chinese equivalent (though much better version, if you know Chinese) of Amazon with a touch of Ebay. She found the Ab Wheel.
“Is a roller a good exercise to do?” she asked me.
“Absolutely, but it is very difficult. Definitely not as easy as it seems,” I replied.
Within a week a courier delivered our new roller/abdominal (ab) wheel. My daughter had been visiting us to attend our wedding. Excitement filled the air as the desire to try the new exercise equipment escalated. I demonstrated how to use the roller; I started from a kneeling position for two reasons: 1) I knew that neither my wife nor my daughter could successfully complete the exercise from the standing position, and 2) I knew that I could not successfully complete the exercise from the standing position. Each of us would fall flat on our faces if we attempted the standing roller exercise. We placed a folded up towel on the ground to cushion our knees during the exercise. I struggled to complete ten reps fully extended with only my knees and the roller touching the ground, but I did not fall flat on my face.
My wife tried the basic exercise. “Roll the roller out farther,” I encouraged. “You look more like an arch than a board. Your body has to be more like a board…flat.”
“I’ll fall if I do that!” She said.
“Try,” I encouraged a little bit more enthusiastically.
She tried and her whole body thumped on the ground. We all had a really good laugh.
I show them the exercise one last time. I luckily did not fall this eleventh and final time.
My daughter tried the exercise with the same result as my wife: she got to a certain point and fell with a thump. It showed us just how difficult this exercise truly is. Here I am demonstrating the ab wheel from the kneeling position.
Incorporating The Ab Wheel into Our Program
We used it on and off for the next two years. My wife got to where she could do ten reps with pretty good form in the kneeling position. I got to where I could do three sets of ten reps with good form. We never stuck to it, and each time we picked the ab wheel back up resulted in very sore abdominal muscles for the first week.
Every time we decide on an exercise regimen, we get our ab wheel out, dust it off, and give it a whirl. Last April, when we started to exercise and intermittent fast, provided us with another opportunity to use our inexpensive yet beneficial wheel.
A Rose is a Rose by Any Other Name
Perhaps, “The Core Wheel” would be a better moniker for this piece of equipment, seeing as how it exercises and strengthens the entire set of core muscles like no other machine, not even far more expensive ones come close to exercising the entire core as well.
The core muscles consist of all the muscles that keep one upright and balanced: abdominals (stomach), obliques (love handles), thighs, the gluteus maximus (buttocks), and lower back.
After about six months of working out, I successfully performed one standing roller exercise. Here I am three months later demonstrating a standing roller exercise. I now do thirty of these a week (ten per day/ three days a week).
A note of caution on this exercise: it puts an immense amount of pressure on the back muscles, especially at first. Caution should be taken when attempting this exercise. Go slow. Don’t try too much at one time. If you are not sure about correct form, get professional coaching before trying this form of training. And as always, consult your physician before starting any exercise program.
During an all-too-frequent 3am urine liquidation, a lifestyle outcome of trying to stay hydrated for better health, I noticed a slight sniffle from a semi-clogged sinus and a discomfort in the bowel area. As my stomach churned and gurgled, I wondered how I might have come down with an illness that resembled food poisoning. Urine flowed as my mind skimmed back over my day…back to my last snack…a couple of bananas and an orange…back to buying said bananas…My muscles tensed and the urine stopped as I recalled the fruit vendor chopping up a chicken for another customer before handling and weighing my bananas …CROSS CONTAMINATION!!! Welcome back to China. I imagined that by my 8pm snack that night, the salmonella covered the bananas. The germs clung for dear life to my hands as I peeled the various fruits. They found a temporary home on my orange slices, and then a permanent home in my intestines…until death do us part. The vernacular expletive for “feces” spewed from my mouth as the urine started to stream again.
One cannot eliminate food contamination from one’s life. It seems the human condition requires it. As a matter of fact, the more we over-medicate with antibiotics the more susceptible to super-bacteria we become. (That is a story for another post.) Given the circumstances and direct entrance to my system the salmonella received, I mentally prepared myself for a painful and runny next week or so. Upon returning to my nice warm bed, I placed the hot water bottle on my stomach to sooth the storm within. I force myself to see the silver lining: I could afford a week in bed, and it would be nice being waited on by my Chinese family. Recalling devastation and pain of past episodes of food poisoning, it did not seem like much of a silver lining.
The attack occurred in the middle of a four day eating spree. It would still be two days until I fasted. The hot water bottle warmed my torso, and I thought about the foods that would be best for a bout of food poisoning. My percolating bowels sucked the heat out of the hot water bottle. It hit the mattress when I rolled over to drift off to sleep to the sounds of a boiling, festering, burbling midsection.
The following morning, whilst daylight pried my eyelids open, I felt noticeably uncomfortable but not incapacitated. Compared to what I thought I would experience, food-borne salmonella square dancing in my colon, I felt pretty darn good. How could this be?
Nine months of intermittent fasting (IF) has had a miraculous effect on my body, especially my digestive system, which is one of the main reasons I decided to take on this lifestyle. IF improves digestion in many ways that may help to alleviate the bugs that cause food poisoning. According to Medical Daily, “[Intermittent fasting] can help speed up the metabolism and improve bowel movements by giving your digestive system a rest. Periods without food boost the metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently — in a way reminding the body how healthy digestion is done.” Resting the digestive system and speeding up the metabolism means healthier bowels that fight off infection better.
Intermittent fasting improves conditions such as autoimmune diseases of the intestines, like my ulcerative colitis (it’s not gone but improving slowly); reduces inflammation in the body, which would help the immune system to be freer and better able to identify invading bacteria and viruses; through autophagy cleanses the body of weak, dying, and dead cells so as to improve the functioning of the immune system; bolsters, conditions, and strengthens the white blood cells to better fight invaders. Over nine months of IF has prepared me for this game of chicken.
The moment a germ hits our stomach, we start to fight it. According to LiveStrong, “Stomach acids can inactivate bacteria.” And IF can help in the stomach acid area. “intermittent fasting allows your GI tract to rest and can help balance out stomach acid,” says the Gut Health Project. In other words, IF can raise stomach acid if it is too low and lower stomach acid if it is too high. My more-in-balance stomach acid started killing those little buggers as soon as the orange slices hit my stomach.
We all want perfect gut flora in just the right amounts, right? Well, IF helps in this area, too. “Another phenomenal benefit that occurs [with intermittent fasting] is that you will radically improve the beneficial bacteria in your gut, as occurs with calorie restriction…[a]long with improving your immune system,” claims Dr. Joseph Mercola. The good gut bacteria crowds out and starves the bad bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.
The dangers of food poisoning cannot be discarded. HealthyCanadians warns, “Food poisoning sometimes causes serious complications, including death. This is the case for people who are more at risk for both food poisoning and related health complications, like those with a weakened immune system.” I hypothesize that all 3-meal-a-day eaters have a weakened immune system due to the onslaught of sugar, salt, and oil, bad fats, and processed-low-nutrition foods.
Intermittent fasting improves one’s overall health. No wonder after two days of mild discomfort, my fight with salmonella infused orange slices, from my unwitting meat/fruit vendor, ended with me victorious and as healthy as ever. This anecdotal narrative proves nothing, but I feel like my improved health and healthy lifestyle have benefited me in this particular struggle. By the way, no matter how healthy I become, my wife and I will no longer be patronizing that particular unhygienic vendor.
Leave me a comment below, follow my blog to keep updated on IF, and until next time, stay fast and fit!
Yesterday, I covered why fasting is stigmatized as “starving” by science, and several definitions of fasting and starvation. Today, I shall look at the myths and realities of this extremely beneficial lifestyle. For sure, more scientists and institutions like Mark Mattson at the National Institute of Health need to study fasting to shed light on and de-stigmatize the practice, and people interested in their health should view all research done by food and pharmaceutical companies and propagated by its lackeys, witting and unwitting, as suspect.
Myth #1: Starvation mode is automatically bad because it has “starvation” in the name!
Actually, the body goes through a process when its energy supplies are curtailed. Whether we intentionally fast or unintentionally starve, our body conducts the same procedures to keep it performing at an optimal level. Truth be told, our bodies perform at a higher level without a sufficient energy source. A mechanism evolved in our species over millions of years in order to make us better food searchers and finders. Scientists dubbed this bodily progression the “starvation mode” because at the time they were studying the effects of starvation on the human body. Dubious peoples and ignorant peoples use the name to deceive the public into thinking that fasting harms us. The starvation mode has other names, fat adaptation, adaptive thermogenesis, metabolic adaptation, but there is no better way to scare a person than to call it “starvation mode.” This moniker ensures that you will never skip a meal.
In the beginning phases of energy deprivation the body simply adapts and starts to clean itself and get rid of toxins and debris. During fat adaptation or metabolic adaptation, the body finds other ways to fuel its metabolic functions. Initially, the body burns through glucose (the main fuel for the body and brain) and has to find alternate sources of fuel. In the absence of glucose, the body uses fatty acids and amino acids to form glucose and ketones as fuel.
One of these fuels is D-beta-hydroxybutyrate: “Recent studies have shown that D-beta-hydroxybutyrate, the principal “ketone”, is not just a fuel, but a “superfuel” more efficiently producing ATP energy than glucose or fatty acid” (Ketoacids? Good medicine?). In other words, the body starts to work more efficiently. One actually has more energy when fasting.
Myth #2: The body will cannibalize itself if we skip a meal, and within 1-2 weeks of fasting many people will die!!
Within the first 72 hours of energy deprivation, whether fasting or starving, the body turns to adipose tissue (fat cells) for fatty acids and the muscles for amino acids to make glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis (gluco=sugar, neo=new, genesis=make). And the fasting naysayers yell, “So the body is eating its muscles, OMG! Don’t skip a meal, or you will die!” This is absolutely false.
Without getting too scientific, the muscles contain pyruvic acid a molecule, which supplies energy to the cells, and which it uses, in the absence of glucose, to make alinine, an amino acid. The alinine along with glutamine, a free amino acid which the body uses to grow new muscle fiber, go to the liver, are transformed into glucose, through gluconeogenesis, and the newly made glucose goes back to the muscles to supply them with energy. Both pyruvic acid and glutamine sit around in the muscle just waiting to be used, during feast and during famine. This process only lasts for a short time during the first 72 hours.
You see, your body does not begin to cannibalize itself in the beginning stages of fasting or starvation. According to Sarah C. Couch, an Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Cincinnati, “As long as water is available, a normal weight person can fast for one month maintaining relatively normal system and immune function.” After four weeks of food deprivation, the human body turns to the consumption of actual muscle fiber to fuel vital systems and keep the person alive. Only people intent on you not fasting and being healthier tell you myth #2, that the body eats its own muscles as soon as you stop eating. Now, you know better. (NOTE #1: Here at Fast and Fit with Mark and Jacie, we do not recommend a long-term fast of longer than three days without coaching by someone who has gone through the process and can help you cope, and we do not recommend a prolonged fast of longer than seven days without the supervision of a medical professional well versed in the practice of fasting.)
If I see a starving person, I will say that his body must be in starvation mode. A person’s body, which belongs to a person who suffers from anorexia nervosa, manorexia, or bulimia, is in starvation mode; however, when I describe my body when I fast, I shall refer to fat adaptation or metabolic adaptation.
Myth #3: We lose cognitive functioning when we go on “starvation diets”!!!
This may happen in the later stages of fasting and starvation; however, Mark Mattson of the National Institute of Health discusses the exact opposite, increased cognitive functioning with intermittent fasting, in his TEDx Talk at John Hopkins University entitled Why Fasting Bolsters Brain Power. He examines the complex chemical reactions in the brain, which happens during calorie restriction and intermittent fasting. I feel better physically while I fast and much clearer mentally. There is absolutely no basis in this myth about cognitive decline during short-term fasting.
If people talk about starving or “starvation diets,” be aware that they have probably never skipped a meal ever in their lives. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing everything they say, just be aware that they may have misconceptions about fasting.
Please do your own research about fasting and starvation, and be aware of the difficulties of fasting and the importance of breaking a fast correctly. (NOTE #2: Fasting if done improperly or for too long can result in starvation and death. Please, use caution.)
In a future post, I will discuss exactly what happens to the body during a fast and during starvation.