Healthy eating: Intermittent fasting manual

This manual is about healthy eating, how to stay healthy by eating the right foods at the right time. The focus of this essay will be on intermittent fasting, it's benefits, different ways methods of fasting, it's risks if you do it in the wrong way.

The benefits of intermittent fasting

In my article on calorie restriction I detailed the health benefits and how it can extend lifespan I mammals by up to 30%. This article is a bit more practical and is based on a routine I have followed myself and which is a lot easier and safer than calorie restriction while having many of the same benefits. Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase lifespans in rats, the way it works is by reducing the levels insulin and glucose. If a human being is not diabetic then glucose levels reset to a baseline of 70-100 after a period of 8 to 12 hours. This means for the normal individual their fasting glucose levels upon waking up each morning are going to be in the range of 70-100. While you're asleep your body goes into a fasting state and while in this state glucose levels drop first, then insulin levels drop as a response to the low glucose levels. Glucose levels drop typically after liver glycogen stores are depleted, insulin levels stay low when glucose levels remain low generally.

There are exceptions to this rule, diary products have been shown to increase insulin levels without increasing glucose levels. Not every high glucose food is correlated with being a high insulin food. There is a glycemic index and an insulin index and most of the time the consumables which are high on the glycemic index are also high on the insulin index. Glycemic load also has to be taken into account, as well as daily carbohydrate intake because a high carbohydrate diet also increases insulin levels.

The problem of high insulin levels and it's role in cardiovascular disease

High insulin levels are associated with and may in fact be the cause of many diseases. High insulin levels are correlated with insulin resistance and insulin resistance is highly correlated with the negative outcome of diabetes. What this means is that maintaining a low insulin level over a long period of time can reduce the risk of insulin resistance and that is the best method known to prevent diabetes. Exercise alone does not prevent diabetes, diet is even more important than exercise in disease prevention as exercise. Exercise can increase insulin sensitivity, but if and when the exercise routine is no longer followed then the benefits eventually taper off, also as an individual gets older the beneficial impact of exercise drops off and the benefit of diet increases. A 60 year old may benefit more from diet than from exercise, but a 25 year old may benefit more from exercise than diet, and of course genes play a role so always consider there are many factors in disease prevention and combine diet with exercise as much as possible.

How intermittent fasting lowers insulin levels over the long term to reduce disease risk

One of the main benefits of intermittent fasting is lower insulin levels. Lowering insulin levels over the long term can improve insulin sensitivity. High insulin sensitivity means lower insulin levels and lower insulin levels can reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. Intermittent fasting also lowers glucose levels which further reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases because cancer cells feed on glucose, higher insulin and glucose levels combined means the cancer can grow and spread faster. Limiting insulin and glucose levels can be achieved through intermittent fasting.

Weight loss and higher growth hormone levels can be achieved through intermittent fasting

It's possible through intermittent fasting to lose weight, and not loss muscle mass in the process. The reason this happens is because unlike typical diets where the body goes into starvation mode after a few days, with intermittent fasting the fasting is natural with the rhythm of the body and it's a short enough period of time that the body cannot adapt and go into starvation mode. Intermittent fasting avoids starvation mode just so long as the individual does not fast for over 24 hours at a time for consecutive days in a row.

The proper way to do intermittent fasting

The proper way to do intermittent fasting is to fast every other day. This is so the body cannot go into starvation mode. If your goal is to lose weight then only the total amount of calories earned vs calories spent should matter. If you budget your calories by the week, then you'll know how much you need to fast during the week to achieve a lower weight at the end of the week. The calorie budget is one of the most important components of the intermittent fast, as it gives you complete control over your weight if you do it right and with the health benefits of a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and a slowed aging rate if the animal studies can be believed to apply to humans as well.

When doing an intermittent fast I've found the best way to do it is to eat a filling but very low calorie, low sugar, low insulin meals prior to going to sleep that night. This could be something like Shiritaki noodles with pickles, both which are extremely low calorie so you can eat as many as you need to feel full and still maintain a fast. The next step involves making a promise to yourself not to eat for approximately 12 hours from your last meal, so if you go to sleep at 10pm that night then you should not eat until at least 10pm the next day. This would be a 12 hour fast which is the minimum for intermittent fasting to work.

When doing an intermittent 12 hour fast it's important to not do it more than 3 consecutive days. This means if you start your fast on Sunday night then by Wednesday you have to eat normal. In some cases I've found it necessary to surprise myself and eat a bit more calories than I usually would on these days. An alternative to the 12 hour fast is the 24 hour fast, this fast works with the same routine only you must make a promise to yourself not to eat again for approximately 24 hours, and with this fast you really cannot do it for two consecutive days in a row no matter what because 48 hours without eating is almost certain to trigger starvation mode which is something you do not want.

The purpose of the intermittent fast

The purpose of an intermittent fast is to reset the body. It's not all that different from hibernation or a sleep state. When the body does not take in any calories, everything stops and the body begins healing and cleansing itself. This is similar to the state the body is in while it sleeps, different hormones such as insulin drop, other hormones such as growth hormone increase, and the body begins to recover. For the most part this is built into the human genetics, it could be because our ancestors had to fast and could not get frequent meals and the human gene pool evolved to adapt to that hunter gatherer meal frequency.

The wrong way to do intermittent fasting

The absolute wrong way to do intermittent fasting is to do the starvation diet. This is when a person decides they just want to lose weight, not for any health benefit, not to slow aging, and typically this individual does not care what kind of weight or where the weight comes from. The weight loss focused individual is usually obsessed with only one number on the scale and that is total body weight. They typically want to lose as much body weight in the shortest amount of time to reduce that one number to a certain amount based on BMI. This is the wrong way because there are a lot of numbers which are associated with good health which have nothing to do with total body weight.

I'm talking about numbers such as fasting insulin levels or after meal, fasting or after meal glucose levels, LDL cholesterol levels, and many other blood and diagnostic tests which the individual can pay for and conduct themselves or go through a doctor. I recommend a combination of both paying for your own tests and going to a doctor depending on the cost of the test and what health insurance plan you have. Ultimately the focus on aesthetics should not take precedent over the focus on life extension and also when focusing on the aesthetics, numbers like BMI and total body weight are not as valuable as numbers such as body fat percentage so I stress a focus on research, life extension, and if you care about aesthetics then figure out exactly what numbers are associated with the look that you want and go for those numbers and in most cases if you're trying to lose weight for aesthetics your actual goal is a lower body fat percentage and not necessarily a lower body weight.

Safety precautions

In order to be safe it's important to keep your doctor notified about what you're doing. Your doctor should know you're doing intermittent fasting and you should keep a journal of your progress both for yourself so you can know what works and for your doctor to review so your doctor can know if anything you are doing is changing your health vitality numbers in a negative direction. There are web apps and mobile apps which will make it much easier to track activity levels, track diet down to the calories per week. To be safe when budgeting calories it might be wise to prepare meals in advance prior to the fast so you don't have to do much budgeting and of course don't keep certain consumables in the house at all, such as high fructose corn syrup which if consumed increases the risk of diabetes, and actually seems to cause insulin resistance in animal studies. Vitamin supplements should also be taken on the days of the intermittent fast to guarantee that all blood levels remain in the normal range.


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