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Intermittent Fasting Matters (Sometimes): There Is No Such Thing As A “Calorie” To Your Body, Part VIII
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January 19, 2014
6:03 am
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pzo:

I suspect higher FBG on VLC is an adaptation.  A "normal" carby diet will feature substantial periods during which BG is elevated (the post-prandial state).  But since BG never rises meaningfully on VLC, FBG will usually rise to compensate in order to keep the average BG reading close to where it would be on a carby diet.  (This probably has something to do with the fact that gluconeogenesis can't up- or downregulate very quickly.)  It's my current working hypothesis, anyway.

Is this a problem, in the long term?  I don't know. 

It would be interesting to compare A1C levels in the two situations.  But just like the mainstream confusing ketosis with ketoacidosis, I suspect there's a difference between a Type 2 diabetic whose FBG is 110 on a carb-heavy diet that also regularly spikes to 200+, and someone on long-term keto whose BG is always 110, fasting or no.  (See: the difference between "insulin resistance" and "physiological insulin resistance.")

Re: resistant starch, here's the thing about messing with gut flora via PS.  Everyone likes to quote the "more bacteria in your colon than cells in your body", etc.  The corollary to that is that the possible diversity of gut flora is also monumental -- which means that the response to additional resistant starch will be strongly individual. 

For instance, I fart hugely at any more than 1 TBS -- and, more importantly, I start becoming strongly demotivated after 3-4 days at any dosage.  It's not depression, but it's a total lack of motivation to actually do anything, along with a lack of sex drive.  My hypothesis is that the typical bacteria that feed on RS also produce serotonin (something like 2/3 of the serotonin in your body is produced by your gut bacteria).  The observations I've seen, including my own, are consistent with excess serotonin: serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, which would explain the improved sleep some people get, but excess serotonin also results in the same sort of mental and physical state produced by SSRIs: low motivation and zero sex drive.  (Interesting article.)

The responses vary widely.  Some find the BG-lowering effects of RS persist for months, some find they disappear after a few days.  Others notice no effects at all from RS.  And so on.  My point is that RS is being sold as a panacea that everyone is deficient in -- and when the American Gut Project baldly states outrageous bullshit like "6-month-old Hadza kids that are being weaned onto food are getting 100 to 200 grams of dietary fiber a day, every day" (an absurd claim that has gone unchallenged by anyone), I have trouble taking them seriously.

Anyway, yes, IF does very well for some people.  I'm glad you're one of them!

JS

January 19, 2014
1:55 pm
La Frite
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Cool!
I do one meal / day most days (usually work days). Black coffee and 1Tbsp of fermented cod-liver oil in the morning, and that's it. I eat rather big when I come back from work but I don't feel ravenous. Depends whether I work out. During week-ends, for social reasons, the timing is more loose, I can have breakfast, etc. Depends. Sometimes I skip foods for ~ 2 days, like once a month or every 6 weeks.

J, about muscle mass gaining under IF, during last summer, I tried the barstarzz program to increase my number of pull-ups (I could barely do 3 in a row when I started). It not only worked (could do 15 after 6 weeks), but I gained some muscle mass. My wife was shocked! I was on the same eating pattern so I suppose I benefited from the growth hormone bursts happening while fasting (or so I read). Then, too enthused, I started to overdo it with pulls-ups and injured my right elbow. It's been 4 months now that I stopped and I still feel a little pain (almost gone). But amazingly, the muscles stayed and my weight has not changed AT ALL! So thanks IF 🙂

January 19, 2014
5:54 pm
js290
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JS,

Berkhan certainly isn't going to post pictures of the poor responders. One's ability to gain lean muscle mass definitely has more to do with genetics than eating strategy.

High responders to resistance exercise training demonstrate differential regulation of skeletal muscle microRNA expression

January 21, 2014
8:07 pm
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js290:

Yes.  Both the ability to gain mass via strength training, and gain endurance via endurance training, are strongly heritable. 

This is amongst the reasons why one small ethnic group of ~5 million Africans (the Kalenjin) win 40% of Olympic and World Championship races at distances of 800 meters and above...and little else.  (Kenya has won 86 Olympic medals.  76 are from footraces of 800m or more, 3 are at 400m, and 7 are in boxing...and the Kalenjin make up only 12.5% of the Kenyan population.)

JS

January 22, 2014
5:02 pm
Janet
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Thanks JS. Another important piece of the argument against the gross inaccuracies of CICO. My body has proven to me that calorie counting is silly in the extreme. I lost 75 pounds eating MORE calories. The changes I made were simply upping my daily intake of protein and saturated fat while dumping sugar and grains. The further beauty of it was that I wasn't hungry! I was always hungry on the low cal CW torturous plans...and with little results.

January 23, 2014
2:13 am
La Frite
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@Janet

I was always hungry on the low cal CW torturous plans…and with little results.

No wonder, it leads to low chronic starvation ...

January 23, 2014
5:29 am
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There is a strong element of survivorship bias with East African running (something we also see in Caribbean sprinting).  There is a strong cultural pride in running at specific distances, and they have a history of very hard work and ambition.  Those that survive it are close to fulfilling their genetic potential.

 

With regard to ambition, dedication and potential, check out the progression of the 100m world record and birth order (in brackets) - from 'The Talent Code' by Daniel Coyle:

1. Usain Bolt (second of three)
2. Safa Powell (sixth of six)
3. Justin Gatlin (fourth of four)
4. Maurice Greene (fourth of four)
5. Donovan Bailey (third of three)
6. Leroy Burrell (fourth of five)
7. Carl Lewis (third of four)
8. Leroy Burrell (fourth of five)
9. Carl Lewis (third of four)
10. Calvin Smith (sixth of eight)

January 23, 2014
7:24 pm
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Janet:

According to the zealots, you don't exist!

 

La Frite:

As I've said many times (I even began my AHS 2012 presentation with it), people aren't obese because they enjoy being obese — and diets don't fail because people dislike being slim and healthy.  Diets fail because hunger overrides our other motivations.

 

Asclepius:

Yes, cultural bias is a factor.  For instance, I see no reason that black people should be indisposed to the athletic demands of playing hockey…I suspect it's more likely that hockey is far more popular in regions with a low black population.

However, in the case of running, it's not like running (and athletics in general) isn't popular in the USA.  Runners, and marathoners particularly, were American heroes in the 1970s, e.g. Frank Shorter (gold medalist in 1972), Steve Prefontaine, Bill Rodgers.  Then there's Carl Lewis, FloJo…and recall that a Brit first broke the four-minute mile…

…but once the Kalenjin began seriously contesting the long-distance disciplines in the late 1980s, they began dominating the rankings.  See: Olympic medalists in athletics (male, female)

Re: birth order, that's a very interesting chart!  It's difficult to know how much of that is coincidence (small sample size), but there is evidence for birth order correlating to other things…and there is also the correlation between athletic prowess and season of birth.

There's a lot we don't know!

JS

January 24, 2014
3:40 am
La Frite
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J, wasn't it was I was saying ? If you eat low cal and feel hungry all the time, isn't it a low chronic form of starvation ? No wonder you regain all the lost weight and maybe more after such a diet! You cannot sustain a starved state indefinitely when food is so readily available around you. Something's got to give and that's your will to stay starved, hunger will destroy this will eventually.

January 28, 2014
7:47 pm
sylvie
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Great post, but could you please elaborate on why IF isn't such a great idea for reproductive-aged women (presumably regardless of whether they're using hormonal contraceptives)? I came across a link suggesting that on the Paleo for Women site, but I'd really like to hear your rigorous take on it.
Cheers, Sylvie.

February 3, 2014
1:27 pm
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La Frite:

Yep.

sylvie:

Note that I didn't say IF isn't a good idea for reproductive-aged women!  I said that I've observed that a substantial number of them don't seem to do well on the classic 16/8 regimen.  I don't know enough endocrinology to speculate as to why, but I offer the following observations:

1. A good metric for whether IF is a good idea for you is whether you can do it without feeling like you're starving.

2. You don't have to IF every day.

3. Therefore, if you're really hungry for breakfast one day, eat it!

4. Skipping breakfast isn't the only possible plan.  If scheduling permits, I know people who have success with a big, hearty late breakfast once they finally get hungry in the morning (~10 AM), skipping lunch, and then eating dinner normally.

5. A spoonful of coconut oil can sometimes help get you through a rough spot (i.e. you fasted and maybe shouldn't have, but can't get to real food for another few hours).

I think part of the problem might be that women are so used to restrictive diets that always feeling hungry is shrugged off as the price of not being fat.  It's easy to starve yourself into a low thyroid state with that mindset.

JS

February 3, 2014
8:37 pm
P. Winter
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Hello JS,

An alternative theory is the ability to beat pain:- an initiation ceremony, a rite of passage that is all about enduring pain.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/11/01/241895965/how-one-kenyan-tribe-produces-the-worlds-best-runners

February 4, 2014
1:51 pm
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P. Winter:

I'm not sure they're alternative theories: I suspect they all contribute. 

The advantage of even a few ounces less weight on the feet is well-known: thus, racing flats.  So a genetic variation that results in a lighter foot and lower leg would be quite an advantage, especially as distances increase.  Such a build would not generate the most power over short distances, though, which is why we don't see any Kalenjin sprinters.

The article is also correct that mental and physical toughness can create a margin of victory: at the highest levels of any sport, the margin between winning and losing is tiny differences.  Cue the great American distance runner Steve Prefontaine:

"A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more."

"Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it."

There's a lot of interesting discussion to be had about the survival value of initiation ceremonies, but it's well beyond the scope of a single comment!

JS

March 10, 2014
10:20 am
Ana
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Hi J.,

can you please share some thoughts on healing various health problems through raw food diet, detoxification and the consequent melting/reabsorbing of tumors and cancers? I'm not talking about a lifelong diet, but as a healing or preventive, periodic diet. Is it supported by science?

Also, what about the process of autointoxication that may take place, if one doesn't do the enemas everyone's talking about?

I know that this is a different field, but I believe many would really appreciate some thoughts, experiences or any info on this matter, since various diseases are an everyday topic nowadays.

Thank you very much in advance

March 11, 2014
2:51 am
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Ana:

There is solid literature on fasting improving cancer outcomes.  (Important note: adequate protein intake is generally protective against getting cancer: it's only if you already have it that protein restriction and fasting are helpful.)  Fasting can also improve a host of infectious conditions, which is likely why our appetite usually decreases when we're sick.

I see no evidence for there being any process of "detoxification" beyond the benefits of fasting.  The benefits of "cleanses" and other restrictive diets generally come from the degree to which they approximate fasting -- and you'll receive more benefit from simply not eating than you will from any protocol involving juices, maple syrup, lemons, or any other magic plant extract.

(Note that I don't oppose juicing, if that's how you like to consume vegetables...but there's no need to consume pathological amounts, and they're not a substitute for food.)

Autointoxication, as far as I can determine, is complete quackery.  You can search for pictures of these hypothetical "diseased colons" full of "mucoid plaque" and however many pounds of old poop are supposed to be stuck in there, because colonoscopy is very common now and they ought to be easy to find.  

You won't find them, because they do not exist.  

Frankly, people worry too much about their poop.  If it's brownish, doesn't hurt as it comes out, and is mostly solid, you're probably fine.  The obsession with regular bowel movements has no scientific basis that I can find, and generally traces back to 19th century religious fundamentalism (more).

Caveat: you can't out-cleanse or out-fast a bad diet.  It's much easier to not accumulate fat  and medical issues than it is to get rid of them!  That's why my approach to food is simple: when I'm eating, I eat like a predator.  Otherwise, I don't eat.  

That being said, there are exceptions like candidiasis (for which carb restriction can be helpful), kidney stones (drink more water), gout (avoid fructose and alcohol), and GERD (stop eating grains and fermentable carbs, start drinking a bit of vinegar).  But those are each entire articles in themselves!

JS

April 7, 2014
2:01 pm
Ana
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Just because it is called Intermittent Fasting, it doesn't mean that it is something new and never done before, and therefore its healthiness and safety questioned. Let's just exemplify through some stages in history:
1. The time needed for hunting your meal or finding it and then gathering it from the bushes and trees? Intermittent fasting.
2. Eating and then working hard all day on the farm and then eating again? Intermittent fasting.
3. Waiting for the man of the house to bring the bread and bacon (I don't know the exact expression) after his job has been done for the day? Intermittent fasting.
4. Or let's go back just 3, 2, or even 1 decade ago, remember not having the option to eat whatever snack you want because your mother is preparing lunch and doesn't let you? Or all-day gluttony being a thing we were ashamed of? Or, yes, just less then a decade ago, when eating a whole chocolate was something that we heard or saw rich kids do? Ok, this may not be related solely to IF, but multiply it in the course of a day, change the food item, and there it is. All-day snacking, i.e. FEASTING.
Since when has hunger become a state to be avoided by all means and as quickly as possible? If we don't feel extreme hunger, and feeling like we're getting dizzy or something like that, we can finish that fasting period, and reap the benefits for our health and weight loss.

April 7, 2014
2:04 pm
Ana
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I just saw your answer to my previous question, and I have already posted my new comment 🙂 So, the latter is not a reply to your answer.

However, thank you very much for your answer, I will read it now 🙂

April 10, 2014
2:37 am
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Ana:

I substantially agree with you!  On that subject, you might also find my earlier articles on The Breakfast Myth (Part IPart II) of interest. 

JS

April 24, 2014
12:25 pm
Kiki
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Just found this blog and it's great! On Intermittent Fasting: my grandfather was overweight his whole life. He had joint problems and heart problems, and tried many different ways to lose the weight. Finally, in the eighties, he picked up a book called "The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet." The idea in the book was to restrict all carbs to just one meal a day. The book advocated eating lots of other things all day: eggs, salad, etc., just not carbs. But my grandpa said when he ate anything - anything at all - it made him hungry. So he would fast all day and then eat dinner. He did that every other day (eating a normal American diet on alternate days) and he lost all his extra weight and kept it over for the next thirty years. I never put 2 and 2 together before: he had stumbled upon intermittent fasting!

Regarding Ana's comment just above, I have found that now that I only eat twice a day - a late lunch and a late dinner - I actually look forward to food the way I did when I was a kid. I wasn't allowed to snack between meals. And I remember being REALLY hungry for dinner and the food always tasting so good after a day playing outside, regardless of what we were eating. It's sort of fun to eat like a kid again and look forward to meals like that.

As far as women of reproductive age, I'll say my own experience is that 16/8 works great for me but days of total fasting do not work well for me and sometimes cause night sweats. Hormones. What can you do?

April 25, 2014
11:32 pm
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Kiki:

Like your grandfather, I've also found that, for the most part, eating breakfast makes me hungrier than not eating breakfast.  I usually skip it unless I've worked out recently and am trying to gain muscle mass.

It's also quite true that snacking used to be heavily discouraged.  "Don't eat now or you'll lose your appetite for dinner."  Now it's considered child abuse to not provide your child a muffin or some sugary "fruit juice" every two hours.

Thanks for sharing!

JS

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