Intermittent Fasting – Apparently The Science Doesn’t Matter.

Periodically I engage in email discussions with JC from jcdfitness.com via email. He recently alerted me to a post on a website for someone following a more “Conventional Wisdom” approach to diet and exercise. Based on his own graphs, the gentleman seems to be yo-yo’ing a bit with his weight loss. I wish him the best of luck.

However, he made a post about “eating little” and not losing weight that was rife with the typical small meals/ metabolic fire nonsense. Someone made note of intermittent fasting and how it produces results. This of course was met with all sorts of CW folklore about metabolic shutdown and gorging. Here was my response:At first I asked someone to define the time frame for what they consider to be a “fast.” This question was avoided. I followed up with this nifty thing called “peer reviewed studies:”

I’d like to point out that Uncoupling Protein 3 is significantly elevated 15 hours into a fast, upregulating fat burning potential [1]. Also fatty acid oxidation is up over 50% at the 24 hour mark of a fast [2]. So a person is at least increasing fat burning potential and possibly burning 50% more fat.

My other concern is that individuals view fasting as something only for short term weight loss (Master Cleanse for instance) or exclusively religious. It’s spoken of as if it’s unhealthy and fat isn’t lost. If what I referenced above doesn’t make one at least reconsider their position, there have been every other day fasting studies performed on non-obese individuals who lost fat consistently and without struggle while also increasing biomarkers of longevity [3]. I note the longevity component because fasting has been associated with increased lifespan and health. In fact it’s the component that got left out of the fuss about the Mediterranean Diet: the individuals studied on the Island of Crete (the people the diet is based on) fast much of the year [4]. It’s certainly not hurting their health if their longevity is any indicator [5].

Here’s my point: fasting metabolically prepares your body by increasing all of the hormones necessary to increase fat burning.  Added to that, it creates a large energy deficit, so your body has no choice but to start burning fat for energy.

Fasting might not be for you, or for many people. However short term fasting (16 to 24 hours) is an option for people with the right temperament. I am concerned with people talking down on fasting when the scientific (and anecdotal) evidence suggest that it’s a viable option.

Best,
Skyler

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12051710

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8238506?dopt=Abstract

3.http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/81/1/69

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15333159

5.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12753698

Simple, referenced, attempting to state my points cleanly…and falling totally of deaf ears. Not only does fasting stop our metabolism, but eating a big meal just piles on the fat. I often wonder how we’ve survived this long because if a person had an early dinner (say 6pm) and slept in late (say 8:30am) they’re not going to have breakfast until closer to 9am. A 15 HOUR FAST?! YOUR MUSCLES ARE GONE, YOU’VE LOST ALL FUNCTIONS IN YOUR INTERNAL ORGANS! YOU ARE STARVING TO DEATH! EAT YOUR CREAMED WHEAT YOU ARE WASTING AWAY! WHY ARE WE YELLING?!

We’re still animals, folks. Animals don’t get 3 square; hell my animals get fed once a day and they’re lean and strong. Nobody blinks at this notion for animals but for humans? We’re special so we don’t burn energy like other mammals of a similar weight. We defy the laws of physics.

Consider me amazed.

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18 thoughts on “Intermittent Fasting – Apparently The Science Doesn’t Matter.

  1. D00d, between forced bouts of intermittent fasting, and missing that dag-blame post exercise re-feeding window, how did paleo man ever survive, much less get swole? We’re so much smarter, now! :)

  2. I read the publication about the fasting incidence in the Crete population. That seems rather significant! But because it doesn’t fit into the paradigm, it’s ignored.

    If nothing else in this discussion about nutrition and weight loss that’s been going on in the blogosphere for the past few years, we’ve exposed the really, really awful science that’s been passed off as good science in this are for so long. As Gary Taubes says, nutritional “science” has been acting more like a cult than like science.

    The real benefit of that has been an increase in skepticism among those of us following this discussion. And that has motivated us to look more deeply into what’s actually going on. That’s an extremely…healthy!…trend.

    • The dilemma is that we all fight for what we “know.” I’m as damned guilty of it anyone else. Further, when you recognize how little you know, it’s sometimes hard to be just a little humble. Perhaps it’s just me, but knowing how little I know can stifle my writing efforts because there is so much to take into account and I don’t want to sound like a yelling know-it-all cock. I’ve done this in the past; it was my modus operandi for quite a long while.

      The best we can do, perhaps, is to be humble when presenting evidence whilst leaving the sarcasm and humor for observations independent of data.

      Best,
      Skyler

  3. hey buddy, you beat me to the punch. I’m going to touch on this a bit here soon as well.

    and shame on you for feeding your dogs once per day. you’re going to turn kill their metalobizms. ;)

  4. I’m disappointed with the average person’s unwillingness to, at the very least, investigate further into unconventional information (like intermittent fasting). The information and research regarding IF is really no longer that obscure.

    Great post, Skyler.

    Best,
    Johnny

  5. Thanks for the post. I’m digging the reference to “peer reviewed studies” and how that’s somehow not enough for those that will follow the myths and conjecture the rest of their short, pudgy days ^.^

  6. Skyler,

    Great post. I never heard about the details of the Mediterranean diet. The stuff is so complex that it gets boiled down for us in the masses, and we have no idea how poor the reasoning may be. I like the call for humility in the face of so much unknown and/or complex. Good stuff.

    jeff

  7. Awesome post! With so much available info out there it’s difficult to succinctly explain why something so “weird” is actually not “bad for you”. This post is presented well and the backup is easy to read. You also get credibility with IF being a component of the Mediteranean diet and everyone knows that’s healthy!

    • Eric,

      Thanks for your comment. While not an exhaustive list by any stretch, the mentioned studies point to the mechanisms by which these changes may come about in obese and non-obese alike. These 5 studies also present a range of study design, from intervention to year-long observation and measure. All good things in my opinion.

      Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment!

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