Category Archives: Hormones

PCOD – why it happens, what to do

PCOD  is an increasingly common condition in young women.

When I was a student – almost 40 years ago! – it was rare, seen in significantly overweight ( which was itself uncommon!) women in their 20’s and 30’s. Now we see it in young teens, most of them of normal weight or even thin! What went wrong?

There was a recent report that there are 10 million young ladies with PCOD in India.

PCOD, like any condition, occurs when genetics, lifestyle and nutrition come together to create either wellness or derangement leading to illness. It is very obvious that our lifestyles have changed pretty drastically over the last 40 years, and so have our eating habits. Is it a wonder then, that illness should follow?

 

What happens in PCOD

  1. Increased secretion of Luteinising Hormone by the pituitary leads to impaired maturation of ovarian follicles, so that no single follicle matures and the ovum is not released. This leads to anovulation and infertility.
  2. This also leads to male features like acne, hair loss and facial hair.
  3. There is Insulin Resistance leading to obesity.

If untreated, the high levels of male hormones lead to endothelial dysfunction and high insulin level causes sodium retention which in turn leads to high levels of the hormone angiotensin II. These increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, altered lipids and coronary artery disease.

The Insulin Resistance can lead further to Type II diabetes and obesity.

The altered features can lead to anxiety and depression, and social isolation.

When the patient does conceive, it may end in miscarriage in up to 40% of pregnancies.

The risk of developing endometrial cancer is 3 times higher than in a normal woman.

 

What can be done

All these years I have been advising conventional treatment, consisting of glucose-lowering medications like Metformin, even though there is no prospective randomized double-blind study supporting the use, and cycle regulating hormones like oral contraceptive pills and male hormone antagonists like cyproterone. None of these address the root cause, which is  metabolic disorder. Nor do they prevent progression of disease.

An integrative Medicine approach does address the underlying pathology.

  1. An anti-inflammatory diet which leads to weight loss. Focus on a variety of vegetables and a limited number of fruits. Maintain adequate intake of protein and good fats.
  2. Hormone Balancing using natural, bio-identical hormones, not synthetic chemicals which the body is unable to process safely.
  3. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity.
  4. Supplements such as chromium, vanadium, Vit D, which improve glucose metabolism.
  5. Saw palmetto reduces acne, facial hair and hair loss by reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
  6. Antioxidants such as omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and counter the effects of oxidative chemicals from pollution, pesticides, etc.
  7. Mindfulness, Stress Reduction, Meditation.

 

This approach can improve the quality of life and may restore normal cycles and fertility. Not to mention confidence and wellbeing.

I remember my patient AK, aged 25. She had never had regular cycles since menarche. She was not overweight but had significant facial hair and required regular maintenance. I suggested treatment and advised her to return in a couple of months. I warned her that the hair cycle is 6 months, so she should not expect instant results.

She returned in 3 weeks as she was going out of town. Her face was clean, which was unremarkable; I assumed she had recently taken care. But no, she hadn’t done anything! I was myself pleasantly surprised that she had not needed any care since starting the treatment advice.

 

A lifestyle approach is simple, safe and effective and can give lasting results.

TREATING DIABETES

Your Diabetes didn’t just show up one fine day as Diabetes.

Your illness is your body trying to communicate to you that something is really wrong!

Your Diabetes is like a big, blinking NEON SIGN warning you – LOOK HERE. THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG HERE. This is a WARNING that there is an imbalance or a deficiency in your body that needs to be identified and serviced – just like that red, blinking light on your car’s dashboard when it too needs to be serviced.

In fact, your DIABETES once started as an imbalance or a deficiency which was left unidentified or untreated, and eventually progressed to DIABETES.

Now, here’s the big aha! moment:

Your DIABETES is being treated as a “symptom”. Meaning, the prescription medication, regular insulin injections, constant daily monitoring, etc. are all superficial treatments that treat the symptom itself, and mask the underlying cause which created the symptom, to begin with.

diabetes-777002__180

And, if left untreated, without identifying the underlying imbalance or deficiency, your DIABETES will eventually progress into a disease more acute and damaging than the DIABETES itself. Such as heart disease. Or kidney disease.

The reason I’m clearing this up with you is so you can start to pay attention to these big, blinking NEON SIGNS.

  1. YOUR NUTRITION: Most of us are just throwing junk food into our bodies because we don’t have the time for anything else, or we’re driven by taste and convenience. But our bodies are paying the price.
  2. SLEEP: One day of inadequate sleep is more damaging than six months of inadequate diet.
  3. EXERCISE: Prolonged sitting – which we are all subject to at work – and couch potato-ism at home affects the body’s metabolism and leaves it unable to utilise glucose properly.
  4. STRESS: the stress hormones raise sugar levels. Chronic stress leads to chronically raised sugar levels.
  5. TOXINS: environmental pollution, food additives and even mental pollution damage your systems.

A systematic approach to all these factors, including mind body balance, is the only way the body can achieve balance and regain its lost health.

Natural Ways to Control Your Blood Sugar

It’s Ramzan, time for fasting and also for feasting! Sadly, often time to gain weight!

What if you’re diabetic? Here’s how to eat and still control blood sugar levels.

1.Increase Your Fiber Intake

Try to include both soluble and insoluble fiber in your daily diet. Berries, nuts, vegetables and beans like rajma and chowli are a great way to slip in the fiber daily. Aim to include 40 to 50 grams of fiber in your daily regimen for every 1,000 calories you eat. You may want to start measuring the foods you eat each day until you are able to estimate how much fiber and carbohydrates you are eating.

2.Reduce Your Net Carbs

A low-net-carbohydrate diet reduces the stress on your body, reduces inflammation and reduces the amount insulin required to use the energy from the food you eat. You’ll want to reduce the number of net carbs you eat, for most people this ranges between 50 and 80 grams per day.This is calculated by taking the grams of carbs you’ve eaten and subtracting the number of grams of fiber. In this way a high-fiber diet also helps you to lower the amount of insulin you need to utilize your food for fuel.

3.High-Quality Fats

When you reduce your carbohydrates, what are you going to replace them with? Your best alternative is high quality, healthy fats necessary for heart health, feeding your brain and to modulate genetic regulation and prevent cancer. The idea that fats are bad for you, is OUTDATED.

Healthy fats include:

Avocados Coconut oil Organic butter from organic grass-fed milk
Organic raw nuts Olives and Olive oil Grass-fed meat
Organic pastured eggs Palm oil

4.Exercise

Exercise helps your cells become  sensitive to leptin. This reduces your potential resistance to insulin and therefore your risk of diabetes.

5.Hydration

When you become dehydrated, your liver will secrete a hormone that increases your blood sugar. As you hydrate blood sugar levels lower naturally.

Stay well hydrated by monitoring the color of your urine during the day. The color should be light yellow. Sometimes your first indication your body requires more water is the sensation of being hungry. Drink a large glass of water first and wait 20 minutes to determine if you’re really hungry or you were thirsty.

6.Reduce Your Stress

When you become stressed your body secretes cortisol and glucagon, both of which affect your blood sugar levels. Control your stress levels using exercise, meditation, yoga, prayer or relaxation techniques. These techniques may reduce your stress and correct insulin secretion problems. Combined with strategies that reduce your insulin resistance, you may help to prevent diabetes.

7.Sleep

Enough quality sleep is necessary to feel good and experience good health. Poor sleeping habits may reduce insulin sensitivity and promote weight gain.

Diabetes is not a sentence! It’s easily reversed.

How Diabetes can break your Heart

Diabetes is a chronic illness and can cause fear once slapped with the diagnosis. Fear of complications like kidney, eye and limb damage. What is less well known is that diabetes also raises the risk of heart disease by four to five times compared with people without the disease. The treatment goals for people with diabetes are more strict than those for people without diabetes. In a study, out of 20,000 Indian patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, 60% had coronary artery disease .
Even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s because people with diabetes may have the following conditions that contribute to their risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
• High blood pressure
When patients have both hypertension and diabetes, which is a common combination, their risk for cardiovascular disease doubles.
• Abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides
Patients with diabetes often have unhealthy cholesterol levels including high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high triglycerides.
• Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and has been strongly associated with insulin resistance. Obesity and insulin resistance also have been associated with other risk factors, including high blood pressure.
• Lack of physical activity is another major risk factor for insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 min/week.
• Poorly controlled blood sugars (too high) or out of normal range
Diabetes can cause blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels.
• Smoking puts individuals, diabetic or not, at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

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The ABC’s of diabetes control
Having diabetes increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. If you have diabetes, you should pay close attention to the factors which can increase your risk for heart trouble. These are often referred to as the “ABC’s:
• hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) blood sugar test
• Blood pressure
• Cholesterol.
“ABC” Goals
HbA1c Less than 5.5%
Blood pressure Less than 130/80 mm Hg
LDL (bad) cholesterol Less than 100 mg/dL
Triglycerides Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL (good) cholesterol More than 50 mg/dL in men and 60 mg/dL in women
And also
Fasting Serum Insulin 2 – 5 IU/ml

HbA1C above 6% indicates higher risk of Kidney Failure. Above 4.6%, risk of CVD doubles for every 1% rise in HbA1C, which measures blood sugar control over the preceding 3 months. In a French study, people with Diabetic Retinopathy averaged an FBS of 130mg% and HbA1c OF 6.4% over a period of 9 years. While those without eye damage averaged an FBS of 108mg% and an HbA1C of 5.7%.

An Integrative medicine approach will help not just control your diabetes but actually reverse it, so that you are healthy Again. No more diabetes! No more drugs, no more doctors!

How to Reverse Type 2 diabetes

Diabetes rates are skyrocketing. Complications lead to heart attacks, strokes, amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and memory loss. The #1 cause of death for people with diabetes is from cardiovascular disease.

Almost 20% of people over age 65 have type 2 diabetes. Diabetics have a lifestyle that doesn’t match their genetic needs; change their lifestyle and their diabetes problem usually goes away.

I offer programs that have helped patients bring their blood sugar levels back to normal. Even patients on insulin, with advanced diabetic complications have become medication-free and achieved normal blood sugar control.

So What Changes Have Helped Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

There is no single choice and no magic bullet to correct this problem. But the combination of three activities is remarkably helpful:

  1. Add activity daily
  2. Avoid refined carbs and sugars
  3. Eat more smart foods

Activity

Daily activity is essential. You may wonder, why I start with activity instead of food. Let’s start with what causes this problem in the first place.

When you eat food, the food energy is absorbed as sugar (glucose). This becomes stored in your muscle cells as glycogen, available as energy for your next work out. The problem is that if you keep eating, but you don’t burn it, the muscle cells become overloaded with glycogen. Insulin pushes this glucose into muscle cells. When muscle cells shut their doors and don’t respond, your tissues become resistant to insulin’s message to store energy. The energy next travels to your liver and is stored as liver fat, plus converted into artery clogging triglycerides. At some point, blood sugar levels jump into the “high blood sugar zone”, and your body becomes ineffective at lowering blood sugar after you eat. High blood sugar levels accelerate every aspect of aging—your brain shrinks, your arteries grow plaque, your cancer risk grows and your health falls apart.

So if the first step to insulin resistance is excessive glycogen storage in muscle cells, then removing glycogen through exercise is an incredibly effective way to bring blood sugar regulation and your health back to normal. Most people need at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day to deplete sugar stored in muscle tissue.

Avoid Refined Carbs and Sugar

The second treatment is to decrease blood sugar from entering the blood stream. The simple way to do this is to avoid high glycemic load foods. Glycemic load refers to the amount of sugar that reaches your blood stream from one serving of a specific food. The simple way to avoid a jump in blood sugar levels is to eliminate all sugar, grains, and anything made with flour from your eating plan. A few other high glycemic load foods that should be avoided are: potatoes, bananas, dried fruit, and fruit juice.

Eat More Smart Foods

So what should you eat? The focus is to eat every day at least:

  • Five servings of smart fat (avocado, nuts, olive or nut oil, coconut products, dark chocolate, cold water fatty fish)
  • Five servings of clean protein (grass-fed beef, cage-free and organic-fed poultry and eggs, wild fish, beans, organic soy products, and organic yogurt.
  • And ten servings of low-glycemic fiber (from vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and dark chocolate)
  • Plus, add extra spices and herbs for flavor and to lower inflammation.

The reality is that you can prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes and also help your heart, brain, and waistline by adding smart foods and following these simple concepts every day.

What is BPA and Why is it Bad for You?

Woman Inspecting Oil Bottle With Magnifying GlassBPA is an industrial chemical that is added to many products.

These days, BPA-containing plastics are commonly used in food containers, baby bottles and other things.

BPA is also used to make epoxy resins, which are put on the inner lining of canned food containers to keep the metal from corroding and breaking.

 

Canned FoodsCommon products that may contain BPA include:

  • Items packaged in plastic containers.
  • Canned foods.
  • Toiletries.
  • Feminine hygiene products.
  • Thermal printer receipts.
  • CDs and DVDs.
  • Household electronics.
  • Eyeglass lenses.
  • Sports equipment.
  • Dental filling sealants.

Many manufacturers have now switched to BPA-free products, in which BPA has been replaced by bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF),but these may disrupt the function of your cells in a way similar to BPA. Thus, BPA-free bottles may not be the solution.

The main source of BPA exposure is through your diet.

Another study had participants eat one serving of either fresh or canned soup daily for 5 days. Urine levels of BPA were 1,221% higher in those who consumed the canned soup.

Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that BPA levels in breastfed babies were up to 8 times lower than those measured in babies fed liquid formula from BPA-containing bottles.

Scientist Holding Plastic Water Bottle

BPA’s Biological Mechanisms

1. BPA has a similar structure as the hormone estrogen. It may bind to estrogen receptors and affect the function of your body.

2. Several studies have shown that BPA can negatively affect many aspects of both male and female fertility.

3. BPA exposure during early life may influence birth weight, hormonal development, behavior and cancer risk in later life.

4. Higher BPA levels seem to be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

5. BPA May Raise Your Risk of Obesity

6. BPA May Cause Other Health Problems

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Premature delivery
  • Asthma: Early childhood exposure to BPA was linked to wheezing in later childhood.
  • Liver function: Higher BPA levels were linked to a 29% higher risk of abnormal liver enzyme levels.
  • Immune function: BPA levels may be linked to worse immune function.
  • Thyroid function: Higher BPA levels were linked to abnormal levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Brain function: African green monkeys exposed to BPA levels judged safe by the EPA showed loss of connections between brain cells.
How to Minimize Your Exposure to BPA

Glass Bottles

  • Avoid packaged foods: Eat mostly fresh, whole foods. Stay away from canned foods or foods packaged in plastic containers, especially if labeled with recycling numbers 3, 7 or the letters “PC.”
  • Drink from glass  or metal bottles and use glass baby bottles instead of plastic ones.
  • Stay away from BPA products: As much as possible, limit your contact with receipts, and do not use plastic wrap to store or transport food.
  • Don’t microwave plastic: Microwave and store food in glass rather than plastic.
  • Be careful when washing plastics: Avoid using harsh detergents when washing plastic containers, and do not wash them in the dishwasher.
  • Don’t buy plastic baby toys: Opt for toys made from natural materials rather than plastic, especially for toys that your little one is likely to suck or chew on.
  • Buy powdered infant formula: Some recommend powders over liquids from BPA containers, as liquid is likely to absorb more BPA from the container.
  • Switch to organic toiletries: These include organic shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database is a good resource to help you find products free of BPA or other dangerous chemicals.
  • Purchase safe hygiene products: Replace conventional tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives, such as the organic ones from Natracare.

Adapted from Alina Petre, MS, RD

Be Informed, Stay Healthy.

The Ketogenic Diet 101: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that offers many health benefits.

Over 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve health.Ketogenic diets may even have benefits against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake, and replacing it with fat. The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.

Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits.

Ketogenic Diets Can Help You Lose Weight

Weight Scale

A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and lower risk factors for disease. In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the recommended low-fat diet. What’s more, the diet is so filling that you can lose weight without counting calories.

Ketogenic Diets for Diabetes and Prediabetes

Blood Glucose Meter and Strips

The ketogenic diet can help you lose excess fat, which is closely linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome. One study found that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75%.

Another study in patients with type 2 diabetes found that 7 of the 21 participants were able to stop all diabetes medications.

Other Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet actually originated as a tool for treating neurological diseases, such as epilepsy.

Studies have now shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions:

  • Heart disease: The ketogenic diet can reduce risk factors like body fat, HDL levels, blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Cancer: The diet is currently being used to treat several types of cancer and slow tumor growth.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: The diet may reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s and slow down the disease’s progression.
  • Epilepsy: Research has shown that the ketogenic diet can cause massive reductions in seizures in epileptic children.
  • Parkinson’s disease: One study found that the diet helped improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: The ketogenic diet can help reduce insulin levels, which may play a key role in polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Brain injuries: One animal study found that the diet can reduce concussions and aid recovery after brain injury.
  • Acne: Lower insulin levels and eating less sugar or processed foods may help improve acne.
Foods to Avoid

In short, any food that is high in carbs should be limited.

Here is a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:

  • Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
  • Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
  • Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, zucchini, butternut squash, etc.
  • Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
  • Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
  • Unhealthy fat: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Alcohol: Due to its carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
  • Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Foods to Eat

Thumbs Up Man With Salmon Avocado and Almonds

You should base the majority of your meals around these foods:

  • Meat: Red meat, steak, ham, sausage, bacon, chicken and turkey.
  • Fatty fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel.
  • Eggs: Look for pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
  • Butter and cream: Look for grass-fed when possible.
  • Cheese: Unprocessed cheese (cheddar, goat, cream, blue or mozzarella).
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
  • Avocados: Whole avocados or freshly made guacamole.
  • Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.

Always try to rotate the vegetables and meat over the long term, as each type provides different nutrients and health benefits.

As vegetarians, we can substitute sprouts, paneer, tofu and various beans. However, these cannot provide protein in the desired amounts, without a corresponding increase in the amount of carbs consumed. I have found that supplementation with a good quality protein is essential.

Cheese

 Great snacks for a keto diet include pieces of meat, cheese, olives, boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate.

Just avoid the roti and chawal, and go for dal, sabzi, salad, cheese, meats and curries. That’s what I did and I have lost 12 kg so far.

A Ketogenic Diet is Great, But Not For Everyone

A ketogenic diet can be great for people who are overweight, diabetic or looking to improve their metabolic health. It may be less suitable for elite athletes or those wishing to add large amounts of muscle or weight. And, as with any diet, it will only work if you are consistent and stick with it in the long-term.

That being said, few things are as well proven in nutrition as the powerful health and weight loss benefits of a ketogenic diet.

From Rudy Mawer, BSc, CISSN |

21 Nutrition Myths, Debunked by Science

Woman Using a Banana as a TelephoneMainstream nutrition is full of nonsense.

Despite clear advancements in nutrition science, the old myths don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Here are 20 mainstream nutrition myths that have been debunked by scientific research.

Myth 1: The Healthiest Diet is a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet With Lots of Grains

Several decades ago, the entire population was advised to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet. At the time, not a single study had demonstrated that this diet could actually prevent disease. Since then, many high quality studies have been done, including the Women’s Health Initiative, which is the largest nutrition study in history.

The results were clear… this diet does not cause weight loss, prevent cancer OR reduce the risk of heart disease.

Myth 2: Salt Should be Restricted in Order to Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes

Salt Shaker and Pile

The salt myth is still alive and kicking, even though there has never been any good scientific support for it. Although lowering salt can reduce blood pressure by 1-5 mm/Hg on average, it doesn’t have any effect on heart attacks, strokes or death.

Myth 3: It is Best to Eat Many, Small Meals Throughout The Day to “Stoke The Metabolic Flame”

Studies clearly disagree with this. Eating 2-3 meals per day has the exact same effect on total calories burned as eating 5-6 (or more) smaller meals.

There are even studies showing that eating too often can be harmful… a new study came out recently showing that more frequent meals dramatically increased liver and abdominal fat on a high calorie diet.

Myth 4: Egg Yolks Should be Avoided Because They Are High in Cholesterol, Which Drives Heart Disease

Eggs in a Basket

Cholesterol in the diet has remarkably little effect on cholesterol in the blood, at least for the majority of people.

Studies have shown that eggs raise the “good” cholesterol and don’t raise risk of heart disease.

One review of 17 studies with a total of 263,938 participants showed that eating eggs had no effect on the risk of heart disease or stroke in non-diabetic individuals.

Whole eggs really are among the most nutritious foods on the planet and almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks.

Telling people to throw the yolks away may just be the most ridiculous advice in the history of nutrition.

Myth 5: Eat ‘Whole’ Grains

Bread

Wheat has been a part of the diet for a very long time, but it changed due to genetic tampering in the 1960s. The “new” wheat is significantly less nutritious than the older varieties and may increase cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. It also causes symptoms like pain, bloating, tiredness and reduced quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Myth 6: Saturated Fat Raises LDL Cholesterol in The Blood, Increasing Risk of Heart Attacks

Foods High in Saturated Fat

Several massive review studies have recently shown that saturated fat is NOT linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

 

The truth is that saturated fats raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and change the LDL particles from small to Large LDL, which is linked to reduced risk.

For most people, eating reasonable amounts of saturated fat is perfectly safe and downright healthy.

Myth 7: Coffee is Unhealthy and Should be Avoided

Coffee has long been considered unhealthy, mainly because of the caffeine. However, most of the studies actually show that coffee has powerful health benefits.

Man Drinking a Cup of Coffee

This may be due to the fact that coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables… combined.

Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of depression, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s… and some studies even show that they live longer than people who don’t drink coffee).

Myth 8: To Lose Weight,  Eat Less Fat

Bacon

Fat is the stuff that is under our skin, making us look soft and puffy.

Therefore it seems logical that eating fat would give us even more of it.

However, this depends entirely on the context. Diets that are high in fat AND carbs can make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat.

In fact, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets… even when the low-fat groups restrict calories.

Myth 9: A High-Protein Diet Increases Strain on The Kidneys and Raises Your Risk of Kidney Disease

Raw Lamb Chops

Although it is true that people with established kidney disease should cut back on protein, this is absolutely not true of otherwise healthy people.

Numerous studies, even in athletes that eat large amounts of protein, show that a high protein intake is perfectly safe.

In fact, a higher protein intake lowers blood pressure and helps fight type 2 diabetes… which are two of the main risk factors for kidney failure.

Also let’s not forget that protein reduces appetite and supports weight loss, but obesity is another strong risk factor for kidney failure.

Myth 10: Full-Fat Dairy Products Are High in Saturated Fat and Calories… Raising The Risk of Heart Disease and Obesity

Dairy Products

Eating full-fat dairy product is not linked to increased heart disease and is even associated with a lower risk of obesity.

In countries where cows are grass-fed, eating full-fat dairy is actually associated with up to a 69% lower risk of heart disease.

If anything, the main benefits of dairy are due to the fatty components. Therefore, choosing low-fat dairy products is a terrible idea.

Myth 11: All Calories are created equal

Woman With Fruit And Junk Food on The Table

It is simply false that “all calories are created equal.”

Different foods go through different metabolic pathways and have direct effects on fat burning and the hormones and brain centers that regulate appetite.

A high protein diet, for example, can increase the metabolic rate by 80 to 100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite. In one study, such a diet made people automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding protein to their diet.

There are many more examples of different foods having vastly different effects on hunger, hormones and health. Because a calorie is not just a calorie.

Myth 12: Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy

Yogurt

When the low-fat guidelines first came out, the food manufacturers responded with all sorts of low-fat “health foods.”

The problem is… these foods taste horrible when the fat is removed, so the food manufacturers added a whole bunch of sugar instead.

The truth is, excess sugar is incredibly harmful, while the fat naturally present in food is not.

Myth 13: Red Meat Consumption Raises The Risk of All Sorts of Diseases… Including Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Cancer

Meat

We are constantly warned about the “dangers” of eating red meat. It is true that some studies have shown negative effects, but they were usually lumping processed and unprocessed meat together.

The largest studies (one with over 1 million people, the other with over 400 thousand) show that unprocessed red meat is not linked to increased heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

So… don’t be afraid of eating meat. Just make sure to eat unprocessed meat and don’t overcook it, because eating too much burnt meat may be harmful. That means butter chicken is safe, chicken tikka could be harmful.

Myth 14: The Only People Who Should go Gluten-Free Are Patients With Celiac Disease, About 1% of The Population

Young Man Eating Bread

It is often claimed that no one benefits from a gluten-free diet except patients with celiac disease. This is the most severe form of gluten intolerance, affecting under 1% of people. But another condition called gluten sensitivity is much more common and may affect about 6-8% of people. Studies have also shown that gluten-free diets can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy.

Myth 15: Losing Weight is All About Willpower and Eating Less, Exercising More

Woman Standing on The Scale, Frustrated

Weight loss (and gain) is often assumed to be all about willpower and “calories in vs calories out.”

But this is completely inaccurate.

The human body is a highly complex biological system with many hormones and brain centers that regulate when, what and how much we eat.

It is well known that genetics, hormones and various external factors have a huge impact on body weight.

Junk food can also be downright addictive, making people quite literally lose control over their consumption .

Myth 16: Saturated Fats and Trans Fats are Similar… They’re The “Bad” Fats That we Need to Avoid

A Single Butter Curl

The mainstream health organizations often lump saturated and artificial trans fats in the same category… calling them the “bad” fats.

It is true that trans fats are harmful. They are linked to insulin resistance and metabolic problems, drastically raising the risk of heart disease.

However, saturated fat is harmless, so it makes absolutely no sense to group the two together.

Interestingly, these same organizations also advise us to eat vegetable oils like soybean and canola oils. But these oils are actually loaded with unhealthy fats… one study found that 0.56-4.2% of the fatty acids in them are toxic trans fats!

Myth 17: Protein Leaches Calcium From The Bones and Raises The Risk of Osteoporosis

Protein Rich Foods

Although it is true that a high protein intake increases calcium excretion in the short-term, this effect does not persist in the long-term.

The truth is that a high protein intake is linked to a massively reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures in old age.

This is one example of where blindly following the conventional nutritional wisdom will have the exact opposite effect of what was intended!

Myth 18: Low-Carb Diets Are Dangerous and Increase Your Risk of Heart and Kidney Disease

Low-carb diets have been popular for many decades now.

Man at a Restaurant Eating Steak

Mainstream nutrition professionals have constantly warned us that these diets will end up clogging our arteries.

However, since the year 2002, over 20 studies have been conducted on the low-carb diet. Low-carb diets actually cause more weight loss and improve most risk factors for heart disease more than the low-fat diet.

Myth 19: Sugar is Mainly Harmful Because it Supplies “Empty” Calories

Glass Full Of Sugar Cubes

When consumed in excess, sugar can cause severe metabolic problems. Many experts now believe that sugar may be driving some of the world’s biggest killers… including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Myth 20: Refined Seed- and Vegetable Oils Like Soybean and Corn Oils Lower Cholesterol and Are Super Healthy

The truth is that several studies have shown that these oils increase the risk of death, from both heart disease and cancer. Even though these oils have been shown to cause heart disease and kill people, the mainstream health organizations are still telling us to eat them.

They just don’t get it… when we replace real foods with processed fake foods, we become fat and sick.

Myth 21: Eating a ‘Healthy Diet’ is enough. Supplements are not necessary

This is a very common belief among the population, and the tragedy is that the medical community contributes to the spreading of this lie. The reason is that as doctors, our teaching of Nutrition during medical studies, is  almost non-existent. So for all practical purposes, your doctor is no better than your grandma when it comes to nutrition. In fact, grandma’s knowledge, backed by tradition and culture, is often accurate.

WHO recommends that all adults take a MultiVitamin supplement daily. Vitamin D levels are inadequate in majority of the population.

We know that micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are part of vital reactions in the body, without which the body cannot function effectively and gradually succumbs to illness.

So targeted supplements can be literally life saving.

Be Informed. Stay Healthy.

From Kris Gunnars, BSc |

How to Do Intermittent Fasting: 17 Popular Questions Answered

Yuri Elkaim


How to Do Intermittent Fasting

If you’ve been wondering how to do intermittent fasting, I’m going to provide you with the ultimate primer on this amazing dietary practice.

You see, intermittent fasting is arguably the least expensive and most powerful healing method we can incorporate into our lives.

Every religion has an element of fasting—whether it’s 30 days of Ramadan or a one day Yum Kippur fast. Our ancient ancestors were definitely on to something.

We humans have been fasting since we first walked the earth. Our paleolithic ancestors didn’t have the luxury of 24/7 convenience stores, a Starbucks on every corner, or even refrigerators to store their food.

Thus, they ate what was freshly available.

But sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat, and their bodies evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. Today, we still have this same biology – we haven’t evolved at all.

And, if anything, fasting from time to time is more “natural” and healthier than constantly eating 3-4 (or more) meals per day. I’ll show you proof further below.

For years, my clients and readers have asked me which is better for weight loss; eating 3-5 meals per day or intermittent fasting, not to mention they also wanted to know how to do intermittent fasting.

So in this post, I’m going to answer 18 of the most common fasting questions I’ve been asked in order to give you a solid understanding of the topic.

Let’s jump in…

1. What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and not eating. It’s not a diet that says “eat this, not that”, but rather you don’t eat any food for a certain length of time – usually 16-24 hours.

There are a number of different types of intermittent fasting (highlighted below), but they all serve the same purpose—to allow your body time without food to spend more of its energy on internal healing and repair—something that cannot happen when you’re constantly in a fed state.

2. Who is Intermittent Fasting For?

Based on the numerous benefits you’re about to discover, intermittent fasting is really meant for anyone who is serious about improving their health and perhaps losing weight without overhauling their diet.

The 10 Best Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting or Exercising

Technically, you don’t need to change anything about your diet to benefit from intermittent fasting, which makes it very appealing to many people.

Intermittent fasting is also for those who want that extra edge to burning fat while maintaining their muscle (shouldn’t we all?).

It’s completely safe to do and provides enormous benefits so it’s really just a matter of committing to it, trying it out, and seeing if it’s something you want to do regularly.

3. What Are Some Intermittent Fasting Benefits?

There are literally dozens of benefits! If you’re wondering how to do intermittent fasting to get the most bang for your buck, check out some of these incredible benefits – all backed by science:

Increased Life Expectancy:

Studies on animals are being done by Dr. Mark Mattson and colleagues at the National Institute on Aging. The findings from these studies suggest that animals age slower and live longer when they consume fewer calories. The research is showing that this effect can be achieved by eating less each day, or by fasting on intermittent days.

Living Longer - The Okinawa Secret to a Long, Lean Life

Improved Hormone Profile:

When fasted, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormone. These all favorable for losing weight, maintaining muscle, and reducing our risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.

Faster Weight Loss:

Most people want to know how to do intermittent fasting because they’ve heard it’s a safe and effective way for losing weight. And they would be correct.

Many studies have shown that both overweight and obese subjects burn more fat and lose weight with intermittent fasting).

Here are a number of other documented benefits of intermittent fasting:
  • Maintenance of skeletal muscle mass
  • Decreased blood glucose levels
  • Decreased insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity
  • Increased lipolysis (breakdown of fats) and fat oxidation
  • Increased uncoupling protein-3 mRNA(important for the production of energy inside the cell)
  • Increased norepinephrine and epinephrine levels, which increases fat breakdown
  • Increased glucagon levels, which breaks down fat
  • Increased growth hormone levels, which preserves muscle mass
4. Why is Intermittent Fasting Effective?

A 2014 review of the literature showed intermittent fasting’s powers come from its impact on adaptive cellular responses that reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, optimize energy metabolism, and improve cellular production.

Basically, that means that it helps your body deal with stress, which includes being able to better cope with fasting (which is a form of stress) itself.

Fasting also triggers the process of autophagy, which breaks down and recycles dysfunctional proteins and cellular debris.

This is  similar to taking out the trash and cleaning up around the house – a process you’d hope would be taking place in your body on a frequent basis.

5. Why Does Intermittent Fasting Burn Fat?

Basically, not eating tells your body to rely more heavily on its fat stores. This is a similar phenomenon experienced with consistent exercise training.

Your body becomes “smarter” and understands that, in order to maintain blood sugar and spare muscle and liver glycogen (stored carbohydrates) for potential immediate use, it’s better off relying on fat, which naturally provides more energy (9 calories per gram) versus carbohydrates or protein (4 calories per gram each).

6. Which Type of Intermittent Fasting is Best?

Here, I’ll explain how to do intermittent fasting through three different methods and I’ll tell you which one I employ on a weekly basis.

Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting:

Alternate day intermittent fasting is basically fasting every other day for a 24-hour period. For instance, you would eat normally on Monday, fast Tuesday, eat Wednesday, fast Thursday, eat Friday, fast Saturday, and so on.

This style of intermittent fasting is the most popular form used in research studies, but from what I have seen it isn’t very popular in the real world. I’ve never tried alternate day fasting myself and I don’t plan to do so.

In my eyes, it’s a bit excessive and many of the negative effects seen in some women while fasting tend to be related to this type of fasting.

And it makes sense since you’re not eating half the time, which is not advisable, especially for women for whom carbs and caloric intake are important for hormones and fertility.

If this is the first method you try as you figure out how to do intermittent fasting, my fear is that it will be too difficult for you and you’ll give it up altogether.

The truth is, it’s just not sustainable for most people unless you enjoy feeling miserable 50% of your life. As a result, I think you’re better off using either (or a combination) of the following two intermittent fasting methods.

16/8 Daily Fasting:

This type of intermittent fasting was popularized by Martin Berkhan from Leangains.com and has worked really well for him and thousands of his followers.

Basically, you fast for 16 hours and eat during the remaining 8.

His general position on the fasted phase is that it should last through the night and during the morning hours. Ideally, the fast should then be broken at noon or shortly thereafter if you wake up at 6-7 AM like most people. Afternoons and evenings are usually spent in the fed state.

To be quite honest, even though I only do a committed fast once per week, I probably do 16/8 fast – inadvertently – 2-3 times per week mostly because I don’t feel like eating anything until about lunch time.

It doesn’t matter when you start your 8-hour eating period. You can start at 8am and stop at 4pm. Or you start at 2pm and stop at 10pm. Do whatever works for you. Based on my schedule, I tend to eat around 1pm and 5pm most days.

The 1-Day Fast:

As the name implies, this is a 1-day fast – typically 18-24 hours in length.

Here, instead of fasting every day or every other day, you simply fast once per week. I’ve found this to be most realistic and sustainable for most people.

To make it easy on yourself, simply start your fast after dinner so that by the time you wake up the next morning you’ve already completed about 12 hours of your fast. Then, if you can make it on water and/or herbal tea until mid-afternoon or early evening, you’re golden.

Being hard on yourself for not making it the full 24 hours is not a good idea. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’ve fasted 14, 17, 20, or however many hours, just be happy with the fact that you’ve given your body a “breather” to do some much needed cleansing and healing.

Please remember as well that your first 1-day fast will likely be a challenge, especially if you’re used to eating all the time. However, it will also be one of the most rewarding experiences you go through as you’ll a lot about why you eat.

A lot of times you’ll recognize that you’re not hungry but rather anxious, bored, or in a “conditioned” situation (like working at your desk) where you would normally be snacking on food. This awareness alone is worth doing a 1-day fast.

Whichever type of intermittent fasting you choose, the additional benefit it provides you is a little more flexibility with your diet.

You don’t need to be a food nazi and nit pick every single thing you eat as a weekly fast can help clean up some of the junk. But also don’t use that as a hall pass to eat whatever you want at your other meals throughout the week.

7. How to do Intermittent Fasting — Where to Begin

Whether you’re a man or woman, the benefits of fasting are simply too numerous to ignore. So how do you get started?
I’m very aware that the mere mention of the term fasting terrifies many people, conjuring up images of intense suffering and starvation. They picture themselves waking up in the morning and starting their 24-hour timer, anxiously counting down the milliseconds until they can have the first bite of their post-fast meal. Others can’t even fathom the idea of going a full day without food.

It really doesn’t have to be so awful, and there’s an approach that actually makes it quite doable. For example, if you had a big dinner around 7 p.m., your body would be in a “semi-fasted” state by the time 10 p.m. rolls around. Consider that the kickoff of your fast. Hit the sack and sleep for 7 to 8 hours. By the time you wake up, you’ve completed one-third of your day’s fast without batting an eyelash, literally.

If you’re anything like me, you might not feel hungry in the morning. There’s a good chance this will happen considering how much you stuffed yourself the day before. So much for breakfast. If you can make it to lunch on a few glasses of water, then you’ve just knocked out 14 hours of your fast.

And if you can make it to at least 4 p.m., that’s 18 hours. You’re really on fire at this point. Maybe you can have a cup of peppermint tea as a reward. After all, this is when the massive health benefits from your short-term fast really start to kick in.

At this point, if you really can’t take it, you can have a smoothie or smaller meal to break your fast. However, if you really want to win, power through to dinner without taking a bite. Once you reach 10 p.m., you’ve made it. You’ve successfully completed your fast and you can go to bed dreaming about breakfast.

If you can’t wait until morning to eat, I recommend a small high-protein meal or, better yet, a protein shake with a few carbs about an hour before you go to sleep. That way, you provide essential proteins to your muscles, while keeping your tummy satisfied until morning. The 1-Day Fast isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either, and when you stay focused on the benefits, it becomes a lot more doable. Can you do this? I bet you can.

What makes it all a whole lot easier is simply making the decision to do it. Most people have a tough time without food because they’re constantly thinking about what they’ll eat next. In the middle of a stressful day, that just feels like too much to handle, as the satisfaction that comes from a delicious meal—even one that’s not good for you— helps people soothe their blues away. When that food isn’t there, they start panicking.

When you consciously make the decision that tomorrow will be a fast day, you activate a new mechanism inside yourself. You’re forced to let your innards recharge while you reflect on the bad eating habits with which you’ve been self-medicating. Fasting is such a profound tool for deep change. No wonder people have been turning to it for centuries.”
There you go. That’s all you need to start intermittent fasting.

8. How to Do Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?

Although a lot of the research on fasting has used “alternate day” fasting where you basically don’t eat every other day (which is crazy if you ask me), you can still see noticeable fat loss results with just a single day of fasting each week.

So finish dinner and start your fast thereafter. Then, if you can make it through to the next day’s dinner you’re golden. Remember, when your body is in a fasted state is starts to rely more on its fat stores for fuel.

Thus, it helps you become a fat burner instead of sugar burner who is constantly craving food. It’s a very freeing process.

Here’s another strategy you can use to speed your weight loss while intermittent fasting:

At any point of your day, do 5-10 minutes of high intensity interval training to increase your body’s release of catecholamines. These are your fight- or-flight hormones—specifically, epinephrine and norepinephrine—released by the adrenal glands in response to stress like high intensity training.

One of the roles of these hormones is to break down stored fat in your body into free fatty acids that can then be converted into energy. This intense exercise also depletes your glycogen stores much more readily.

As glycogen is depleted, your body must rely further on burning fat for energy.

You do not get this catecholamine response with low-intensity exercise. (If the word intensity scares you, don’t be alarmed. You’ll only be doing 5 to 10-second bouts interspersed with nice and easy recovery.)

And if you want to take your fat burning to the next level, then after you finish your intervals, spend 30 minutes or more going for a nice easy walk or bike ride to burn up those free fatty acids (from broken-down fat) that have flooded into your bloodstream.

Post-workout is when your body, since it’s recovering, really relies on those fats for fuel.

For instance, a 2008 study showed that even though carbohydrates were the predominant fuel source during the actual workout, for more than 3 hours afterwards, fats became the main contributor to energy.

Basically, the most fat was burned post-workout. But again, workout intensity sets the stage for this to happen.

So, to really take advantage of this fat-burning window, I strongly recommend following your high intensity intervals with 30 minutes (or more) of low-intensity cardio like walking.

This will help shuttle those free fatty acids floating around in your bloodstream into your muscles to be burned as fuel.

9. What Should I Eat After My Intermittent Fast?

One of the most important steps in learning how to do intermittent fasting is figuring out how to ease back into eating.

When you finish your fast you need to pretend that your fast never happened. No compensation, no reward, no special way of eating, and no all-out binges.

The minute you decide to stop fasting, simply wipe the fast from your memory, and eat the exact way you would normally eat at that specific time of the day (while eating responsibly of course).

If you end your fast at dinnertime, have dinner. If you end your fast at 4:00 PM and you don’t typically have dinner until 6:00 or 7:00 PM, then have a light snack… but nothing larger than you would normally have at that time.

There is no magic way to end your fast. The absolute best thing you can do is simply pretend your fast never happened and begin eating in the exact way you would normally eat at that specific time of day.

One thing I have noticed though with many clients is that they tend to “crave” healthier foods at the end of their fast.

As a result, they end up choosing a green smoothie or a healthy snack instead of devouring a large pizza (as you might think would happen after not eating anything all day).

10. Is Intermittent Fasting Bad for My Blood Sugar?

The truth about having low blood sugar is that it is not nearly as common as we are often led to believe. But obviously check with your doctor if you’re uncertain.

For the vast majority of the healthy population, we are easily able to maintain healthy blood sugars that are neither too-high nor too-low in a whole range of different situations, including fasting and intense exercise.

In research examining the effects of a 24 hour fast, it was found that fasting did not cause blood sugar levels to dip below 65mg%, meaning that during the entire 24 fast, blood sugar slowly lowered itself, but remained at normal non-hypoglycemic levels.

11. Can I Exercise When Intermittent Fasting?

I absolutely encourage you to practice as many different types of exercise as possible. Just like nutrition, I think variety is the key to exercise and both yoga and mountain biking are excellent examples of exercises that complement intermittent fasting.

As long as you are doing some form of resistance training at least two or three times a week you will not lose muscle since intermittent fasting actually increases growth hormone, which helps preserve muscle.

One thing you may notice is if you work out on day in which you’re fasting, your energy levels may be a little lower. That’s because the workout will be tapping into lowered glycogen reserves, which means you may fatigue sooner than on a traditional “eating” day.

However, exercising, especially for short durations at high intensity, in a fasted state is a secret weapon I would strongly encourage you to explore as it will accelerate fat loss tremendously (more on that below).

12. Why Do I Get Hungry When Intermittent Fasting?

Well, you’re not eating any food so naturally your stomach might experience the odd growl here and there.

Additionally, your hunger hormone ghrelin responds to a lack of food in the stomach, which will naturally have it firing on all cylinders, making your brain think you’re starving.

Hunger pangs usually dissipate after your first 2-3 fasts as your body adjusts.

13. Why Do I Get a Headache When Intermittent Fasting?

First of all, not everyone does.

But there has been a lot of research on Ramadan fasting and headaches.  It seems that women are particularly susceptible to headaches while fasting.

This is not due to dehydration and may actually be similar to withdrawal symptoms, similar to the headaches you experience when you quit drinking coffee cold-turkey.

From my experience, if you experience headaches they do tend to go away after your first couple of fasts. If needed, you can treat your headache as you normally would when not fasting. Just remember to drink lots of water and get some fresh air during your fast (and in general).

14. Can I Drink When Intermittent Fasting?

Yes you can but make sure there are no calories.

That also doesn’t mean drinking diet soda is ok, because it’s not. Just drink water or herbal tea.

Some people tell you that black coffee is ok to drink during a fast but I wouldn’t advise that. Yes, the caffeine in the coffee will skyrocket your epinephrine which can assist with fat loss, but since I don’t advise drinking coffee in general, you’re better off without it, especially when its caffeine isn’t buffered by food.

Instead, focus on drinking plenty of water and/or any herbal teas that you enjoy without the use of milk, sugar, or sweeteners. Remember, this is a day of “rest” for your body so that means no calories of any kind.

15. How Often Should I Do Intermittent Fasting?

This really depends on the type you’re using but if you’re following my 1-day fast, then once per week is plenty. Some people choose to do TWO 24-hour fasts per week and have seen great results doing so, but I would say that’s the maximum.

But if you’re doing the 16/8 fast, you can do it as often as you like. In fact this is a good way to deal with travel or work, not having to worry about eating out.

16. Will Intermittent Fasting Slow Down My Metabolism?

In spite of all the fat burning benefits I’ve already mentioned, you might still be wondering whether or not intermittent fasting will slow your metabolism to a halt.

After all, you’ve probably been told that you have to eat every 2-3 hours or your metabolism will shut down and you’ll store fat. Thankfully, that couldn’t be more untrue.

In a 2000 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects went through 4 days of fasting to determine the impact on their resting energy expenditure, which is the amount of energy your body needs to carry out all of its basic functions when you’re resting.

The findings would surprise most people: for the first 3 days, the subjects all saw their resting energy expenditure (metabolism) increase!

In another study by a different group of researchers, people who even fasted every other day (alternate day fasting) for 22 days had no decrease in their resting metabolic rate.

In addition, people who were on very-low-calorie diets and on a resistance exercise program (i.e., lifting weights) did not see a decrease in resting metabolic rate, and these people were eating only 800 calories a day for 12 weeks!

In still more studies, there was no change in the metabolic rate of people who skipped breakfast, or people who ate two meals a day compared to seven meals per day.

The bottom line is that food, or the lack thereof (at least in the short term), has virtually nothing to do with your metabolism.

In fact, your metabolism is much more closely tied to your body weight, and specifically your muscle mass. If your body fat (and thus your lean mass) goes up or down, so does your metabolism.

It is prolonged fasting which slows metabolism. What we are doinh here, however, if alternate fasting and ‘feasting’ (normal eating).

Slow Metabolism - The Number One Cause

The #1 cause of slow metabolism is low muscle mass.

Bringing a few of these studies to your attention has hopefully shown you that short-term fasting can provide incredible benefits without worrying about it sabotaging your metabolism.

There’s nothing to be scared of, and hopefully, I’ve eased any misconceptions you’ve had about how to do intermittent fasting and its impact on your metabolism.

17. Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Women?

Ah, I’ve saved the best for last.

This is the biggest area of controversy when it comes to how to do intermittent fasting.

Those who caution women against intermittent fasting state that studies show that it negatively impacts fertility. And that’s true.

Unfortunately, what most of these people fail to realize is that ALL of these studies use “alternate day” fasting protocols where women are literally eating nothing every other day!

No wonder their hormones get messed up and have fertility issues.

Remember, I’m advising a 1-day fast once per week – which is much, much safer and I’ve yet to see any negative effects in the thousands of women that I’ve helped with intermittent fasting.

There is some research that looked at the effect of short-term fasting on the menstrual cycle of women.

These research studies found that despite the metabolic changes that occur during fasting, even fasts as long as 72 hours do not seem to have an effect on the menstrual cycle of normal cycling women.

Interestingly, even longer fasts have been shown to have little impact on the menstrual cycle of normal weight women.

There is research, however, to suggest that longer fasts (72 hours) can affect the menstrual cycle of exceptionally lean women (body fat levels well below 20%). (18, 19)

Overall, there’s a lot of research (even some of the “alternate day” studies) that show intermittent fasting to be safe, healthy, and effective at burning fat in women of all shapes and sizes. But again, we’re not going crazy with this and only fasting for no longer than 24 hours.

Nonetheless, if you’re a woman and still unsure whether or not intermittent fasting is right for you, then my advice would be to inch yourself into it so that you’re fasting for 8-10 hours at a time. Then gradually increase that length of time as you see fit.

UPDATE: Here are a few more questions that have come across my desk…
What is your opinion on intermittent fasting if a person has hypothyroid?

In general you should be fine if your fast is no longer than 24 hours. Here’s what you should know:

Since the circadian rhythm is affected by both food and light exposure, lifestyle practices can enhance natural circadian rhythms. These practices should optimize the circadian cycle:

Light entrainment: Get daytime sun exposure, and sleep in a totally darkened room.

Daytime feeding: Eat during daylight hours, so that food rhythms and light rhythms are in sync.

Intermittent fasting: Concentrate food intake during an 8-hour window during daylight hours, preferably the afternoon. A 16-hour fast leading to lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and the more intense hormonal response to food that results from concentration of daily calories into a short 8-hour time window, will accentuate the diurnal rhythm.

Adequate carb intake: this will be taken care of on other days where you’re eating plenty of healthy carbs.

I’ve read that it’s not a good idea if you have adrenal fatigue. What’s your thoughts?

It will depend on the individual but if you’ve got full blown AF you may want to do a shorter fast and have something small throughout the day to stabilize your blood sugar.

Hope that helps.

Sta Healthy.

6 Charts That Show How The War On Fat Was A Gigantic Mistake

 

bacon-7.png

The war on fat is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition.

As people have reduced their intake of animal fat and cholesterol, the incidence of many serious diseases has gone up. We are now in the midst of worldwide pandemics of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.

Studies conducted in the past few decades conclusively show that neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol cause harm in humans. Scientists are now beginning to realize that the entire low-fat dogma was based on flawed studies that have since been thoroughly debunked.

Here are six graphs that clearly show how incredibly damaging it has been to advise people to reduce their consumption of animal fat.
1. In Europe, the Countries that Eat the Most Saturated Fat Have the Lowest Risk of Heart Disease

saturated-fat-heart-disease-in-europe
Saturated fat heart disease in europe – Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.

 

The reason for this is simple, actually … the truth is that saturated fat simply has NOTHING to do with cardiovascular disease. There is no paradox. It was a myth all along.

Thanks to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt for the enhanced graph.
2. The Obesity Epidemic in the USA Started at Almost The Exact Same Time the Low-Fat Dietary Guidelines Were Published

low-fat-guidelines

Low fat guidelines – Kris Gunnars – Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

Although this graph doesn’t prove anything (correlation does not equal causation), this does make sense because people started giving up traditional foods like butter in place of processed “low-fat” foods high in sugar.

Since then, many massive studies have been conducted on the low-fat diet. These studies show clearly that the low-fat diet does not cause weight loss and has zero effect on cardiovascular disease in the long term.

Despite the poor results in the studies, this diet is still recommended by nutrition organizations all over the world.
3. Diets that Are High in Fat But Low in Carbohydrates Cause More Weight Loss than Diets that Are Low in Fat

weight-loss-graph-low-carb-vs-low-fat

weight loss graph low carb vs low fatKris GunnarsSource: Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.

If animal fat was as bad as they say, then diets that contain a lot of it should be both fattening and harmful to your health. However, the studies do NOT back this up.

In the study above, women eating a low-carb, high-fat diet until fullness lost more than twice as much weight as women eating a calorie restricted low-fat diet.

The truth is, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to much better results than low-fat, high carb diets.

Not only do they cause more weight loss, but they also lead to big improvements in pretty much all the major risk factors for diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
4. The Diseases of Civilization Increased as Butter and Lard Were Replaced with Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

fat-consumption-in-usa

fat consumption in usa – Kris Gunnars – Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

In the 20th century, several serious diseases became common in humans.

The heart disease epidemic started around 1930, the obesity epidemic started in 1980 and the diabetes epidemic started around 1990.

Even though these diseases were almost unheard of before, they have now become the biggest health problems in the world, killing millions of people per year.

It is clear from the graph above, that these diseases have skyrocketed as animal fats have been replaced with shortening, margarine and processed vegetable oils.
5. The Obesity Epidemic Started as People Reduced Their Intake of Red Meat and High-Fat Dairy Products

fatty-food-consumption-from-1980-1990

fatty food consumption from 1980 to 1990 – Kris GunnarsSource: Hu FB, et al. Trends in the Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease and Changes in Diet and Lifestyle in Women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2000.

It amazes me that some people still blame traditional foods like meat and butter for the diseases of civilization. These foods have sustained humans in good health for a very long time and blaming new diseases on old foods just doesn’t make sense.

All the data shows that people actually reduced their consumption of these foods as these diseases went up.

The graph above, from the Nurses Health Study, shows that Americans were reducing their intake of red meat and full-fat dairy at the same time the obesity epidemic was starting.
6. In the Framingham Heart Study, Heart Disease Goes up as People Replace Heart-Healthy Butter with Toxic Margarine

butter-vs-margarine-stephan-guyenet-larger

butter vs margarine

Stephan Guyenet  Kris GunnarsSource: Gillman MW, et al. Margarine intake and subsequent coronary heart disease in men. Epidemiology, 1997. Photo source: Whole Health Source.

In the graph above, based on the Framingham Heart Study, you can see how heart disease risk goes up as people eat less butter and more margarine instead.

For some very strange reason, many health organizations are still recommending that we avoid heart-healthy butter and replace it with processed margarine.

It’s simple: eat the way grandpa and grandma used to. And you’ll enjoy the health quality they did.

From Kris Gunnars