Intermittent Fasting: Is it for you?
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser, C.P.D. (Ret.)
Over the years many have struggled with the battle of the bulge. What are so many people doing wrong? Is it the choices of food we consume, a lack of exercise, or both? Could it be a lack of discipline on our part? As a former amateur competitive bodybuilder, I’ve been weight training and dieting for over four decades. I, like many of you, have heard all of the experts talk about eating healthy, becoming vegetarians, or burning ketones, as in the Atkins or ketogenic diet. High glycemic foods like simple carbohydrates and saturated fats are bad, while complex carbs and unsaturated fats, including mono and poly are good. We are to shun white bread and rice, while embracing whole wheat bread and brown rice; however, many of these guidelines can be very confusing.
Now enter, YouTube experts, Dr. Eric Berg, Thomas DeLauer, and Dr. Jason Fung, to name just a few. According to these, and other experts in the field, any type of “fasting” has profound health benefits.
First, an overview of what intermittent fasting is, and the scientific based research that concludes there are many health benefits to this system of eating. Intermittent fasting, which I have been doing for some months now, is an easy “diet” to follow in the sense that you can eat many of the foods you enjoy. The premise of the diet is to limit the hours in a day that you may consume food. For those of you just starting out, I would advise you to eat no more than 8 hours a day, and fast the other 16. This is easily accomplished by eating from 12 noon to 8 p.m. Many of us wake up and only want coffee in the morning anyway, so you’re simply skipping breakfast (black coffee and tea are allowed while fasting). Intermittent fasting is a way to increase human growth hormone, and keep it from shutting down when you eat an early breakfast. Have you ever heard that HGH is highest when we wake up? This is due to the simple fact that you’ve basically been fasting all night while you slept. Introduce food, and bam! HGH shuts down. So why not continue to fast until noontime and allow HGH to work for you a little longer?
There are countless benefits from increased HGH levels and decreased cortizol levels, which is considered the “stress” hormone. High HGH levels cause you to burn fat, while high cortizol levels cause you to store it. According to “Natural Cures” on YouTube, all types of fasting helps you fight off diseases by improving your immune system, wards off heart disease, diabetes, controls high blood pressure, fights cancer, brain degeneration, obesity/belly fat, improves metabolism, and lowers blood sugar levels.
Eating “clean” 90% of the time is also important to derive many of these health benefits. I still wouldn’t recommend two donuts over two eggs, but if you had a donut with your eggs once in a while, it wouldn’t kill you. Stay away from soda, sugary fruit juice, candy, and other obvious bad choices. Feel free to eat a juicy steak or burger, pizza, maybe some nachos; just don’t overdo it. By limiting the window that you are allowed to eat, you are also limiting glycogen spikes when you digest food. When you eat a sugary processed food your body dumps insulin into your bloodstream to counteract the sugar. These spikes in insulin over the years can cause weight gain and even diabetes.
If weight loss or keeping your “goal weight” is your primary reason for trying intermittent fasting, and the health benefits are simply a bonus, try like me, fasting for 17 hours each day. I normally eat from 1-8 p.m. or 2-9 p.m. if I know I’m going out to dinner that night. Don’t forget that drinking wine, beer, or any alcohol is to be eliminated during fasting hours, but feel free to have two beers or a glass of wine with dinner. And don’t forget, if you’re enjoying a night out and eat more hours than this plan calls for, simply start over the next day. I’ve heard of obese individuals allowing themselves to eat just four hours a day, say 2-6 p.m. with remarkable results.
So remember, this article is simply an “overview” of Intermittent Fasting. It is important to do your research and listen to some of the experts I’ve listed, and see if it’s right for you. Good luck!
Pat Ciser is a retired lieutenant from the Clifton Police Department, and a 7th Degree Black Belt. He was a member of 5 U.S. Karate Teams, winning gold medals in South America and Europe. He is the Author of BUDO and the BADGE; Exploits of a Jersey Cop (BN.com/Amazon), and is a guest writer for Official Karate Magazine.