You’re counting calories, cutting carbohydrates or fat, exercising regularly and you haven’t lost a pound in weeks or months. It makes no sense, right? I’ve seen this over-and-over. Getting lean requires four things:
healthy nutritious food, good sleep, low stress, and regular activity.
So I tell my clients to quit counting calories and quit working out every day. That craziness is self-defeating. It’s cortisol-inducing! But I know it’s hard. It goes against everything you grew up believing. It seems logical, right? Yes, it does, but that’s because you haven’t heard about the carbohydrate-insulin theory and intermittent fasting.
Here’s an excellent video that explains the science and research behind IF as the key to how we evolved. This video series can answer many of your other questions as well. (The full series HERE)
You probably lost some weight by cutting calories, but then you stalled or even added it back. Calorie counting is a losing battle. Why? Let’s call it what it is: calorie restriction is chronic starvation, something your body fights against. “Burning” calories during exercise is a misleading activity, as well. You are not losing pounds by your hours in the gym. All the diet and exercise advice you grew up with is short-term thinking refuted by research that has not reached mainstream media yet.
Why aren’t you hearing more about this when the research has been going on for decades and is absolutely not controversial among scientists? Because media outlets are funded by companies who aren’t interested in telling you to buy less. Every company wants you to buy more: they tell you their product is the game changer.
Your fatness is all about your hormones (insulin, adrenline, ghrelin, leptin, and hGH) not your calories. You need to get your hormones working well and working together. The things I mentioned above:
healthy nutritious food, good sleep, low stress, and regular activity all help these hormones. And you can help them even more with intermittent fasting (IF).
Don’t We All Fast All the Time?
We all fast while we sleep. You may fast for 8-12 hours between your night meal and your morning meal. That’s not very long. The more fat you want to lose, the more energy you want to feel, the more hours you need to fast. Humans are not grazing animals. We evolved as feast-or-famine animals.
No, it’s not starvation. Starvation is when you chronically cut food intake (via calorie counting) over weeks and months. IF is acute, only hours or days without food followed by eating a lot within a window. IF is different from nightly fasting in that you extend it longer. That is, not only have we as a nation added more food to our diets, we’ve added more eating periods, too. We eat from 8am to 8pm or 10pm or later with meals and snacks every 2-3 hours. We eat more hours out of the day than we fast. We eat ALL. THE. TIME. Think about the office snacks, the drinks, the piece of candy, the latte. We now graze, so our natural fasting periods are shorter than they were 40 years ago.
IF taps your stored fat for energy while stimulating adrenaline and human growth hormone. IF is anti-aging and life-extending because it spurs autophagy — your body eats its own dysfunctional and dead cells. You lose and gain at the same time. Autophagy also protects against infections and cancer. IF has been shown to improve recovery from surgery, chronic illness, insulin sensitivity, and mood disorders. IF preserves lean muscle.
There are many ways to start — extend your nightly fast to 14-18 hours or skip eating one day a week, for example. There are also different foods to consider. I’m a Primal eater, and a low-carb, high fat, moderate protein way of eating (woe) is extremely easy for me to fast on. I lost 8 pounds of fat — only fat — in two months on IF, despite my increase in actual calories and despite that I was already at a “healthy” weight. I can’t tell you how much my energy (already abundant with my Primal lifestyle) increased.
Go ahead. Do the research. Google “intermittent fasting” and you’ll find much more information and communities who fast with different woes — vegans, carnivores, even religious. Search PubMed and watch the video above.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. IF is magic. This video explains why. It’s long, so you can start at minute 56. Then you’ll want to go back and watch the entire series.