Intermittent Fasting - a Well-known "Biohack" in Silicon Valley
How Fasting can Improve your Health, Reverse Disease & Improve Mental Clarity
Fasting can trigger stem cell regeneration, as well as weight loss. It is also one of the oldest known dietary interventions and is still practiced is some of the world’s most ancient religions. Modern science also confirms it can have a profoundly beneficial influence on your health.
Dr. Jason Fung is a nephrologist (kidney specialist) with a thriving practice located in Canada, who has written a comprehensive, well researched and studied book on this topic.
"The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting," details how to implement and fast safely.
The book provides easy-to-follow guidelines for fasting and addresses some of the most common myths and fears that the general public may have from implementing a fasting regimen.
One common myth with men is that fasting will lead to loss of muscle mass, and of course nobody wants that outcome. However, the book clearly describes the process of protein catabolism (metabolic pathways that break down molecules that are oxidized and released as energy or for other anabolic reactions), and details how your body actually decrease protein catabolism and increases growth hormones in response to fasting.
Most people associate fasting with decreased levels of energy, however it’s scientifically proven to be the opposite. If you're overweight and/or continually lethargic, fasting helps unlock all that energy trapped in your body that you previously had no access to. Fasting forces your body to start accessing those stores of energy, and once that happens, your body suddenly has a near unlimited supply of energy.
Understanding the Role of Insulin
Insulin is the primary hormone (followed by cortisol to a lesser degree) that tells your body whether to store energy or burn it. When you eat, you're taking calories in and insulin goes up and the body stores some as energy. When insulin falls (like when you sleep or fasting), it tells your body to release that insulin as energy.
We’ve been sold this idea where we think we need to eat small, more consistent meals a day it will help us lose weight and it doesn’t actually make sense. When you eat or assuming you eat a mix of macro nutrients, your sugar levels go up and tells our body to store some of that food energy.
When you don’t eat insulin falls (like sleeping), the body then pulls it back out what you’ve stored so you can burn it – so there’s a balance. When you eat you store food energy, when you don’t eat you burn food energy – balance the food and you won’t gain weight. Keep eating and it’s going to make you continue to put on weight.
From 1977 – 2004 we went from eating our basic mix of three main meals a day (protein, carbs and fats) to six smaller, but more frequent meals a day, which means we’re eating for longer periods during the day (about 14-15 hours of the day) and causes regular spikes in our insulin, fat storing levels.
Where as in 1977 we only ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, no snacks, that’s it – eating between a 10-hour period and fasting (sleeping) for 14 hours a day. Eating for longer periods is not giving our bodies the time it needs to burn the energy, which turns to fat. So if we want to lose weight, don’t eat high insulin foods and give your body the chance to not eat so your insulin levels can fall and you can burn it.
Below is an extract from one of Dr Fung’s Interviews on “The Complete Guide to Fasting”
“For people who are into athletics, for example, you might do some different fast. There’s something called training in the fasted state, which is becoming very popular, which is again about a 20-, 24-hour fast. Then you exercise, then you eat.
That sounds very strange, but physiologically, there’s a huge number of benefits because what happens is when your adrenaline goes up, your growth hormone goes up.
Those two hormones are considered part of the counter regulatory hormones. That is, they run counter to insulin, so insulin tends to lower blood glucose, noradrenaline or adrenaline, and growth hormone tend to raise blood glucose, so as your insulin falls, you have higher levels noradrenaline and growth hormone.
Now you exercise, and you can exercise harder than you’ve done before because you’re pumped up from all the adrenaline. Then as you eat, your growth hormone levels are high, so you recover faster. So train harder, recover faster. That’s a huge advantage if you’re talking about any athletics. It’s an advantage you can’t ignore. That’s merely from adjusting your timing.
Another advantage of fasting, for example, some people find they have much higher mental clarity. Again, people think, oh I don’t eat, I’m going to not be able to concentrate. It’s actually the exact opposite.
If you think about a time you’re eating a huge meal, like at Thanksgiving or something, you had that huge meal, you’re not really sharp, right? All you can do is kind of sit on the couch and watch football. That’s about it.
Whereas on the other hand, when you think about somebody and you say, “Oh that guy’s really hungry,” you know, he’s hungry for success, he’s hungry for power. Does that mean he’s just sitting on the couch watching TV? No, it means he’s energized and out there getting stuff. That’s what it means when you’re hungry. You don’t have all that blood kind of digesting food, so your brain is sharp. Some people really feel that.
There’s a whole group of people out in Silicon Valley who do this as a sort of a biohack, that is, they’re trying to hack themselves into a higher level of mental performance, not just athletic performance, but mental performance. What they do is they fast and guess what? You’re saving time because you don’t have to eat, you don’t have to shop, you don’t have to clean up, so you get more work done, but the work that you do is on a higher level than you used to do. That’s fantastic because that’s free. It’s like, okay, if you’re in a competition in Silicon Valley, a higher level of mental performance means a lot of money.
It’s the difference between success and failure. For these guys, they’re like, okay, they’re going to hack themselves into a higher level of performance, and that’s terrific.
Then there’s the story of Pythagoras, the ancient Greek mathematician, required his students to fast before they could come to class. All these ancient Greek thinkers actually did a lot of fasting. Socrates, Plato and all those famous scholars. They did it not because they were fat, they did it because they knew that it gave them more mental clarity. We still talk about the classic Greek philosophers, right, the great Greek mathematicians.
Then you can talk about things like cancer prevention, I know we touched on that briefly, but there’s people who feel, and the research is more shady here, that you can actually prevent cancers from developing because cancers need glucose, and what happens when you fast is that you kind of lock down all that glucose and you kind of starve them out. There are people who suggest that you can actually do this in combination with say ketogenic diets and actually help prevent cancers.”
Why you Shouldn’t Fear Fasting with Dave Asprey & Dr. Jason Fung
What do Jesus, The Prophet Mohammed, and Buddha have in common? They all practiced fasting. Dr. Jason Fung and author Jimmy Moore reveal the numerous benefits of fasting. A process that can help people lose weight, improve brain function, promote longevity, speed up the metabolism, strengthen the immune system, and contribute to self-enlightenment. Plus, they'll also address one of the main reasons most people have never attempted to fast. Fear.