Thursday, January 16, 2020

Intermittent Fasting: How It Works, Reasons to Try It & Considerations for Athletes

intermittent fastingIt’s curious how not eating can spark so many questions and debates. A practice born out of necessity for our ancestors, fasting for long stretches happened when weather or circumstance hampered hunting and gathering, or for shorter periods while on the hunt or foraging.

As food has become readily available and abundant in many countries, our near-constant state of food arousal can dull the hormonal drivers that regulate appetite and, ironically, lead us to want to counteract the overabundance with some restriction. When we eat too much too often, we get the natural inclination to push back from the table and vow not to consume another bite for a (possibly long) while.

Fasting, particularly intermittent fasting, is gaining popularity now as a weight loss and weight management tool. As some celebrities proclaim that intermittent fasting is one of their “secrets” to their hard Hollywood-worthy bods, more and more people will be keen to latch on. We compiled a list of our greatest hits on fasting and intermittent fasting to provide education and context around how intermittent fasting works, reasons you may want to try it, reasons you may not want to try it, and considerations for athletes who want to fast.

First, let’s start with the basics. Before making any changes to your eating (or non-eating) habits, it’s important to understand:

  • what it means to fast
  • why people fast
  • how long to fast
  • what benefits or downfalls there could be to fasting
  • whether all of the above can or should apply to you individually

Do the effects of fasting differ for men and women? What are the most common things people get wrong about fasting? Is fasting an effective tool for weight loss? We answer those questions, and more, in the following articles.

Fasting How to

How to Lose Weight with Intermittent Fasting

Fasting can be really beneficial to those who are trying to lose fat. Yes, that’s fat and not weight. Unlike some other kinds of weight-loss methods, which result in loss of water weight or muscle mass, fasting can effectively get rid of fat.

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How to: Intermittent Fasting

There is no one way to do IF. The only real guideline is that, as always, the food you eat should be healthy. (It’s pretty clear how we choose to characterize that.) In addition to the substantial health benefits, the simplicity and flexibility are what draw people to IF.

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Dry Fasting

Dry fasting is going without both food and fluid. That means no coffee, no tea, no broth, and no water or liquid of any kind (except the saliva you manage to produce). It’s an extreme type of fast whose fans and practitioners are adamant that it can resolve serious health issues. But does it? Is it safe? And what kind of research is available on it?

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Fasting vs. Carb Restriction

Both fasting and carb-restriction appear to operate along similar physiological pathways. Both lower carbs. Both increase fat-adaptation. Both have the potential to get you into ketosis. Both lower insulin and blood sugar. But is one better than the other?

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Top 10 Fasting Mistakes

If you’re making fasting mistakes, you might never accomplish the benefits you were hoping for. Before you throw in the towel, I want to help you identify some possible fasting pitfalls you might not be aware of and also help you avoid them.

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The Pros and Cons of Fasting

The Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is one way to have your cake and eat it too. Beyond the already proven benefits of a Primal Blueprint low-carb lifestyle, fasting once in a while seems to offer many of the same benefits of calorie restriction—you know, stuff like increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, some cool effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity, plus more—but without the active, agonizing restriction.

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Intermittent Fasting for Women

With fasting, perhaps the most important variable to consider is your biological sex. This really does make intuitive sense. Biology cares most about your fertility. Can you reproduce? Can you produce healthy offspring that survive to do the same? These things come first. And from that perspective, a woman’s situation is more precarious than a man’s.

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Should You Try Fasting?

Primal folks who are losing weight or looking to lose a bit more, and getting the right lifestyle changes enacted (sleep, exercise, sex, leisure, rest, relaxation, mental stimulation) should definitely try fasting. They will likely flourish.

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When Does Fasting Cross the Line?

How do you know if your fasting regimen may be slipping into the grey area of potential orthorexia or disordered eating? We can’t diagnose anyone in an article, of course, but there are signs to watch out for if you have personal concerns or worries about others.

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14 Reasons to Fast

Anytime you attempt a “radical” health practice like not eating, it helps to have a good reason to do it. That will not only give you something to aim for, but it will ensure you actually have a physiological justification for your experiment. Never go in blind. What are some of the specific scenarios and conditions where fasting makes the most sense?

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Long Fasts: Worth the Risk?

If fasting for more than three days sounds riskier than just skipping breakfast, you’re right. Long fasts can get you into trouble. They’re a big commitment. You shouldn’t just stumble into one because it sounds interesting or some guy on your Twitter feed wrote about it.

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What Breaks a Fast?

 

It’s the nature of many beings—particularly those with weight-loss goals, it seems—to want to know what the “rules” are so they can look for the loopholes to bend them. It’s no surprise that the top-performing article last year on Mark’s Daily Apple was “Does Coffee Break a Fast?” Consequently, we followed up with an article about whether bone broth breaks a fast because we received additional questions. Then people wanted to know about supplements—should they be taken while fasting? We then created a definitive guide to what breaks a fast. If there’s any other liquid, leaf, pill, stone, or twig we neglected to examine, let us know in the comments section.

Does Bone Broth Break a Fast?

Most people aren’t fasting to be able to brag about eating no calories for X number of days. They fast for shorter (often intermittent) periods of time for specific health benefits. It’s entirely possible that bone broth “breaks a fast” but allows many of the benefits we associate with fasting to occur.

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Does Coffee Break a Fast?

Does black coffee break a fast? Put another way… Does coffee interfere with the benefits we’re seeking from a fast? Depends on the benefits you’re seeking (and what you put in the coffee).
Let’s look at some of the most common benefits first and if/how coffee affects them.

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Do Supplements Break a Fast?

Does fish oil break a fast? What about my multivitamin, protein powder, collagen, or melatonin? Mark delves into the research to provide definitive answers.

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Definitive Guide to What Breaks a Fast

One of the most common questions I get is “Does [x] break a fast?”
What they’re really inquiring about is: “Does this interfere with, negate, or nullify the benefits of fasting?” Let’s go through the most popular queries one by one and figure out how each one affects an intermittent fast.

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Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Athletes?

Does fasting before and during workouts confer any performance perks or additional fat-burning benefits? Should athletes fast before every session, or only specific types of workouts? What are the potential drawbacks to fasting for athletes? Let’s go.

Intermittent Fasting Tips for Athletes

What are my specific recommendations for athletes who wish to explore intermittent fasting? I’ve got 12… plus some details about my own fasting and workout routine.

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Benefits & Concerns Fasting for Athletes

Sometimes, high stress is exactly what we need to progress—a few heavy sets of squats, some rounds on the Airdyne, a killer CrossFit workout—as long as you can recover from it. A major modulator of our stress is the amount of food we have coming in. At least in theory, exercising in a fasted state could provoke a powerful adaptive response that athletes would find helpful. So, does it stack up? What exactly can intermittent fasting offer athletes?

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Fasted Workouts

To some, the idea of working out without “carbing up” or doing the pre-workout protein shake is unthinkable. To others, fasted workouts are sacred tools, the perfect antidote to modern decrepitude. Where does the truth lie?

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That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading, take care, and leave a comment below if there are more questions you have about IF!

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Zucchini Fritters Recipe

These zucchini fritters are definitely not your traditional zucchini fritter. They are lighter (both in calories and in fat), but still really fill you up and keep you going until lunch.

This recipe is a simple twist I did on my protein pancake recipe.

A stack of zucchini fritters sit on a wooden plate. There is an oil bottle and salt and pepper shaker sitting behind the plate. Fresh herbs top the fritters.

While I love protein pancakes (I eat them nearly every morning now), sometimes a little variety is in order to keep things interesting. If there’s one thing I can’t stand in life, it’s being bored. Drives me nuts. And when boredom applies to the food I’m eating, I know I’m in for a downfall pretty quickly. So I rely on variety to keep me on track.

I think I’ll be trying more variations on this recipe in the future. I just love my protein pancakes. Nothing starts my day better!

WHAT IS A ZUCCHINI FRITTER?

Fritters are typically a fried pastry that can be made sweet or savory using sugar and fruit or meats and vegetables. But a zucchini fritter is something a little different (although you can certainly add zucchini to a regular fritter). Zucchini fritters are basically a savory pancake. They are slightly thick, often egg based and filled with grated zucchini. They are delicious with hummus or guacamole.

WHY ARE MY FRITTERS SOGGY OR FALLING APART WITH TOO MUCH MOISTURE?

It's critical to squeeze as much water from the zucchini as possible. A mesh bag or cheese cloth usually works best. Wring out as much of the water as possible before adding it to your recipe. Zucchini has a ton of water in it that you don't want in your fritter. If you don't have a mesh bag or cheese cloth, you can put the grated zucchini into a fine-meshed sieve and press the zucchini with your hands to let the water fall out the bottom into the sink or a bowl.

CAN YOU FREEZE ZUCCHINI FRITTERS?

Absolutely!! Zucchini fritters freeze really well for up to 3 or 4 months. I recommend putting a small piece of parchment between each fritter before freezing, but even that isn't truly necessary. To thaw, let them sit in the fridge overnight. To crisp them up again, simply warm them in a skillet with a very small amount of oil just to keep things from burning.

MORE FRITTER RECIPES:

Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS RECIPE:

Zucchini Fritters Recipe

A delicious breakfast or dinner with plenty of protein and veg!

Course: Breakfast

Cuisine: American

Yield: 4 fritters

Calories: 164 kcal

Author: The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup raw quick oats
  • 1 smal zucchini (grated)
  • oil as needed for cooking

Instructions

  1. Combine the egg whites, oats and zucchini in a mixing bowl and mix until well combines.

  2. Spray or coat a non-stick pan with a light layer of oil and ladle the pancake mix onto the pan as you would a regular pancake.

  3. Note: Watch the heat on these. You may need to keep it closer to medium and allow these to cook longer. You want the eggs to cook completely without letting the pancake burn. Adjust accordingly.

  4. Remove pancakes from the pan when cooked through and top with a bit of hummus (guacamole is a nice topping as well!).

Recipe Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible. Data does not include oil used for cooking.

Nutrition Facts

Zucchini Fritters Recipe

Amount Per Serving (1 fritter)

Calories 164 Calories from Fat 81

% Daily Value*

Fat 9g14%

Saturated Fat 3g19%

Cholesterol 316mg105%

Sodium 123mg5%

Potassium 230mg7%

Carbohydrates 8g3%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 12g24%

Vitamin A 518IU10%

Vitamin C 5mg6%

Calcium 57mg6%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

From the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted 9/8/11.


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