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Fasting 101

Fasting 101

Today we answer the following questions when it comes to Fasting:

Who would you recommend water fasts for? What are the potential long-term effects?

How much muscle loss is expected in the 4 day fast?

How do you properly come out of the fast to ensure metabolic stability?

Is there any preparation required? Should exercise intensity be decreased over the course of the fast? Or should one be exerting that much energy at all? Why is 4 days the recommended time frame?

Is intermittent fasting effective and does it do more damage or actually help?

Is fasting ok if you have IBD?

Who is it not appropriate for Does the time of day for your eating window impact results (especially if one of the goals is weight loss)? And is long daily fasting ideal, or would it be better for the metabolism to vary fast time during the week (kind of like carb cycling)? What is the minimum # of hours one should fast? And for how many consecutive days?

Should IF be considered a lifestyle change aka permanent?

How does it affect our hormones? I have read that research on women on this subject is sparse and that there is no real evidence that this is beneficial for women and that it can affect your hormones in a negative way.

Fasting 101

Fasting 101

 

All right, everybody. I want to introduce you to Dr. Nicholas Jensen with divine elements, naturopathic. And what is your other clinic right beside it called?

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
It’s called the longevity lab,

David Turnbull
longevity lab. I’ve been there; you have to see it. But enough about that for a second. We’re going to talk about fasting because we’ve been getting an overloaded amount of questions about fasting. And I thought who best Can I ask them the guy that originally taught me about intermittent fasting and the four-day fast? You know what guys? I was completely against it with my mindset before. And I have so much trust and respect for Dr. Nic that I was like, hey, fine, I will try it out, and I will listen to you. And it ended up being one of my favourite things ever. I have a list of questions. I’ll just jump straight into it if that’s okay with you. Let’s

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
do it.

David Turnbull
Alright, so this is a good one. So who would you recommend water fast to? Yeah,

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
I mean, here’s the thing everyone has a capacity you know; let’s say everyone with the Asterix everyone has capacity to water fast because it’s it’s inherently built into our survival genes within our body it’s just in the modern world that we live in. We were food ubiquitous for most of us that are fortunate to have you know, a paycheck of a home of a refrigerator. Most of us have access to food, you know, non-stop 24 seven elevens open 24 hours a day, you know, there are lots of drive-throughs and have that access, but it’s inherently built into our survival mechanisms. So technically, everyone has the capacity for it. Would I recommend it to everybody not right off the bat you know in your situation, David It was kind of like you’re metabolically prepared you’ve got a good amount of lean muscle you know there was there’s a little bit of fat in your body that we could have tapped into for a fast You see, you’re doing a lot of things to take care of yourself. Generally, people who are, you know, pretty good at taking good and doing an excellent job of taking care of themselves. They’re going to do pretty well in a fast but what we always say is a fast is an accurate indicator of of your metabolic flexibility, your ability to use your other fuel source, which is sugar and then in the case of fasting fat.

David Turnbull
That’s interesting. What do you think the potential long-term effects are about intermittent fasting or long periods of fasting such as a four or five-day fasts?

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
Yeah, it’s, you know, personally, I’ve been doing well, I started my, I guess, my first fastback in naturopathic school, so it must have been in 2003 or four, I did my first fast, and it was three days it was a Master Cleanse, it was like it was maple syrup and lemon water and cayenne pepper. And if anyone’s heard of that one, I wouldn’t recommend that particular fast right now. But what it did for me more than anything gave me this awareness that the body is highly resilient. And, and so you know, when you think about long term benefit, I think about empowerment, when it comes to going through a process like this, just like you said, you know, it’s like we go into an experience like this with a belief system around what’s supposed to happen? Is this good or bad? But what we come out of is this place of like, Wow, my body is incredible. And given known stress, like taking food away, how does my body respond? And so the long term effects Initially, I think, are like the maybe the short term effects or this empowerment, long term effects would be we’re, we’re switching metabolic engines. In the typical North American diet, we’re eating food every couple of hours, we’re dependent on that caloric intake. That’s what we would call a sugar burner, someone dependent on food to survive. And we’ve all been there, right? We’ve, you’ve been there, I’ve been there. We’ve all been in situations where like, I can’t get past like this three or four hours away from food. And what we’re doing so the long-term benefit is to be how to have a mixed metabolic function, fat fuel and sugar fuel.

David Turnbull
That makes sense. I was one of those people where I was taught and groomed to eat a snack, eat a snack. So my initial reaction was a little bit of fear when I met you. But it did, as you mentioned, have that kind of freeing effect, and that empowerment, and even just knowing, like, with a busy lifestyle, that Oh, shoot, I don’t have time to eat like, Oh, my God, I’m like, I won’t, I won’t just pass away, I won’t. Because you’re like, Oh, no, I didn’t bring a snack with me. So yeah,

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
it’s, it’s those are, there’s a book written called predictive, predictably irrational. And so many of us walk around with irrational belief systems, just based on what we’ve been told, without true investigation around what does that mean for us as individuals? So yeah, we’ve all got caught in those traps. And we still do. And I think this is where you know, self-awareness and becomes a really strong strategy. So we can know ourselves more intimately so that when we’re faced with the challenge, we can look at it from different angles,

David Turnbull
right? So if someone were to do a four-day or a five-day water fast, how much muscle loss do you think would be expected for that?

 

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
this could be a long winded conversation if we wanted to. And you can tell me if we want to get into this or not. Still, on a course that we teach, called the metabolic fix, we walk people through the hormonal changes that happen from day one to five, and or for whatever, what’s happening during this period. And so it might take about five minutes to walk through the explanation is that Do you want to?

David Turnbull
Let’s dig into it.

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
Let’s dig in. Okay. So when we, when we first think of caloric restriction, taking food away, if we took the typical caloric restriction model, which would be, you know, just eating smaller meals throughout the day, so let’s say, you know, someone’s eating around, I don’t know, 2000 calories. And then we start doing caloric restriction, maybe we cut that caloric intake in half, but we’re still eating small meals frequently throughout the day, we haven’t changed when we’re eating, we’ve just changed the amount that we’ve eaten. When we do that, and I’ve measured patients doing this because they’re convinced that this is the way to lose weight, we do a body composition test. And yes, you will lose muscle. If you do that. If you do caloric restriction in the model, you know, that cutting caloric intake down and increasing activity, you know, like the biggest loser was the biggest example of the flopping effect of that not working, because you’re not serving the hormonal system. So now, let’s talk about fasting, for example. For this, the second half is that we’re in that first 24 to 36 hours, essentially what you’re doing and you know, away from food, let’s say you’re doing a water fast, insulin is dropping. And Insulin is a hormone of putting fat on the body; we call it the hibernation hormone. So if you want to put more fat on your body, eat as often as you can, because we want to upregulate insulin to store more fat. So it’s the opposite response. When you take food away, insulin drops, so the first hormonal shift is instant stuff starts to drop. You start burning through your sugar that’s in your blood, and then you start breaking down glycogen which is stored in your muscle and other parts of the body. You start releasing that stored sugar as insulin starts to fall. And so, as it starts to get released, that becomes your primary fuel source. But eventually, you burn through your glycogen like, let’s say, someone who’s got, you know, good muscle build, like you, you probably have, I don’t know anywhere from two to 4000 calories of stored energy in the form of glycogen. So you can sustain yourself over a longer period just because you’ve got better stores. Someone who maybe has a You know, more prone to obesity or has a higher BMI, not let’s not say BMI, because that’s not necessarily valid. But let’s say someone who has a higher fat mass percentage, they’ll probably have a much lower store of glycogen. So they’re going to feel a crash from the going without food a lot more aggressively than, say some in your situation. So the first effect is instant drops, sugar eventually starts to go down, you’re burning through the glycogen. And eventually, you hit this critical mass where you start feeling like crap. Typically, on days two to three, we’re sugar’s low, but your body hasn’t recognized the ability or hasn’t utilized the ability to start using fat as a fuel. And so it says dance of feeling kind of gross and crappy. Now, as insulin drops and your demand or glycogen utilization starts to be used up, your body will start to use some protein. So but when we think of protein, we think of muscle. And that’s just not the reality; our body has a preference for the tissue in the body that’s not serving us. So that stuff, it’s inflamed tissue, it’s burnt out enzymes, it’s scar tissue, it’s, you know, tight areas in our body, you know, wherever there’s a chronic state of inflammation, we’re going to burn through some of those peptides and enzymes and other things that aren’t working for us anymore. scar tissue, nervous 10 cell tissue, that’s, that’s the protein metabolism that’s happening. And that as we burn through that, we’re going to release more glucose, it’s going to get converted into more glucose. And then and then essentially, we get to a place where our body has to manufacture glucose de novo; it’s called gluconeogenesis. That happens from upregulation or increases in epinephrine. So what happens, your metabolism increases on a fast because you’re getting a more steady surge of epinephrine. A more steady surge of epinephrine allows for glucose to be released in the blood because it’s mobilizing fat; it’s mobilizing other thoughts, basically mobilizing fat in the body to be able to be converted and use for sugar. But there’s this tipping point somewhere around a three to four and a five, where growth hormone rises enough. And growth hormone is the opposite of insulin. So growth hormone tells your body to make muscle to burn fat, to repair the body to upregulate immune function. It’s like your conservation healing hormone essentially. And so that starts to rise. And that is the state that allows for ketones to be released or fatty acids to be utilized by your mitochondria. And so it’s this amazing, intricate dance, where you get muscle conservation due to hormone or growth hormone rises. And we saw that in your body composition, you kept working out every day. So you kept getting every time you exercise, you got stimuli of epinephrine and norepinephrine, and some of these, you know, sympathetic hormones, which definitely raise blood sugar. But essentially, the primary fuel source for that blood sugar rise was glucose, or sorry, fat metabolism. And so we saw a drop in your fat conservation. And in fact, I think your muscle mass actually increased, because we were getting rising growth hormone. Well, what follows growth hormone, it’s testosterone.

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
Right? So you’re getting surges in these amazing anabolic hormones that are very supportive. And you get this downregulation of insulin. The other hormone that’s tied to insulin is called mTOR, which increases with high protein intake. But again, this is as mTOR drops; now we’re able to mobilize some of the scar tissue and inflamed tissue. And that’s, and that’s essentially the dance that happens. So you increase your metabolic rate when you’re fasting. You conserve muscle, and you mobilize fat. And it’s pretty, pretty cool that our bodies do that.

David Turnbull
It is very remarkable that our bodies do that. And yeah, you’re right. But I was apprehensive so I did my body composition with you, daily. And I even what I tried to do is I did a normal workout intense like I usually would with resistance training. And I finished it off with at that time 100 pushups at the end to see how many like how long it takes me. So day one, two, and three. it took me three minutes to do 100 push-ups. Day four. It took me slightly longer, just slightly. And you know what? It was hard to tell if I was just fatigued from doing all those push-ups constantly daily, and my muscles are sore or anything, but like like you said, the muscle mass seemed to go up body fat, I remember surprisingly went significantly down because I didn’t have too much on me at that time. And I had an abundance of energy. Yeah, it was just a really interesting experience and just reflecting on that still. And that was a couple of years ago. I think I did that long one.

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
Yeah, no, I was impressed. And I think the only reason you stopped was you had a family event. You’re like, Dude, like Yeah, I got it.

David Turnbull
It was exactly

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
it wasn’t because you were about to die or, you know, waste away. It was literally because, man, I gotta I got eating if I got an event that’s coming up. So yeah, I thought I was impressed too, and it was fun to to track your experience.

David Turnbull
Yeah, I’d be interested if I did it slightly longer, like if I would have had more because he said that those other days, the longer around day four or five, and so on, the growth hormone keeps increasing, which then again comes with testosterone. And the appeal, I am heavy resistance training, I’d be super curious to see. So I will

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
do it and how I do yours differently, too. And definitely for those concerned, you know, about muscle wasting, you know, we found that using amino acids, as long as we’re under 20 grams, you know, usually an amino acid scoop is around five grams, protein. But we found that because that moves right into your blood, it doesn’t cause this comment spike in glucose. It’s just; it’s just going right into a repair that, that you’re getting a little bit more sustained. I guess, well, energy as well. But also, you’re getting more conservation of muscle to if there’s any concern, and I’ve, I’ve used it on my last water fast. And it was beneficial.

David Turnbull
I would do that. And actually, I think we don’t know if we did it the first couple of days. But we for sure. I did it afterwards. I guess you have some of that. I was like, yeah, let’s just get this just in case. I know the numbers are saying my muscles bind, but I worked hard.

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
I totally worked hard for these things, man. Yeah, exactly.

David Turnbull
Okay, so then here’s another great one. How do you properly come out of the fast to ensure your metabolic stability? Yeah,

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
this is this is the part that I think a lot of people struggle with. Because once you open the floodgates, it’s like how we apply some conscious control over how much we consume. And you know, to be fair, we screwed up or screwed up, we we weigh over eight on our first fast that we did we Sony and I went to the Philippines to make this detox retreat and end up fasting for 12 days. And the refeed I stuffed myself it was Lebanese food. I think Sony went in for a second round of Indian food later that she’s cheesy Cindy, and it’s like, it’s your comfort food, she went out away from her comfort food for two weeks, and she just stuffed herself. And we were a mess for a couple of days, digestive Lee and whatnot. So there’s an art to refeeding. And so what we usually do, and this is we teach this in our course as well. But you won’t really simple foods, you know, steamed veggies, maybe some avocado, some oils, we usually say vegetarian only for a couple of days, don’t bring in the meat just yet. Because really what we’re doing, we’re re inoculating your microbiome, and we’re giving the proper nourishment to plant seeds in the garden of your gut. And so if we start plugging in processed foods, and you know, heavy meats, and you know, a bunch of, you know, gluten or whatever, we’re setting up a tone for a garden, that’s not it’s going to be more likely to drive inflammation and create more digestive discomfort as you come off. Because if you remember, you’re waking up your digestive system, again, you want to do it in the most gentle, nourishing way. And you, like I said, you want to plant seeds for a healthy garden. So you want to do it in a very conscious way. Without overeating. Yeah.

David Turnbull
So I don’t think you could overeat veggies either. But let’s say with somebody, let’s just take a random number. Let’s say I’m eating 2000 calories a day. Do a five-day fast. Is there a certain amount of calories? Am I aiming to not go over? Like, don’t go over 2000? But is it? Should I be at 1000?

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
Yeah, we usually recommend what’s called a partial fast. So we would be around 500 to 800 calories of vegetarian-only foods. Yeah, that’s the target. So it’s, it’s a reduced, that’s a reduced caloric intake. But again, how we do it is we get people again, don’t spread that food up through the day, have one meal, you know, you’re refeed, and you have that one meal, and then and then you go to the next day, maybe the next day, you have two, two dinners, you’re doing your intermittent fasting protocol again, perhaps you’ve increased it to like 1200 calories. And then day three, maybe you’ve introduced some meat again, and perhaps you’re closer to like 15 1600 calories, and you split up over two meals. And then perhaps day four, day five, day seven, you’re reintroducing food and the same kind of way that you’re eating before, and that’s that would be, you know, getting back up to that 2000 calories Save as an example.

David Turnbull
Right. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So before, if you were before you start intermittent fasting or before you do a prolonged fast, like a four or five-day fast. Is there any preparation required? Like do you have to change your diet for it? Can I just like tomorrow, jump straight in?

Dr. Nicholas Jensen
Yeah, I mean, we’re all welcome to do to just jump right in, of course, but just like you did, I mean, you started with intermittent fasting. You know, you started off priming the metabolic muscle, the mitochondria, you started to learn that you were. I think we even tested you for ketone production before going to the fast, so we we prefer that we prefer that people prepare themselves, you know, build up their mineral stores, build up their amino acids, build up their fatty acids, get the body primed for this experience, you know, have a couple of experiences of a 24 hour fast, maybe even experience of eating every other day for a little bit, and then and then move into one. And so I think that, even in my experience, how I like to move into a fast, I’ll eat one meal a day for about three to four days before going into full water fast. Then it come out in the same kind of fashion so that my body’s already producing and utilizing ketones or fatty acids for energy. Right. Okay, that makes sense. And some people like to follow the ketogenic diet or more of a carnivore style of eating, you know, leading into the fast and anything that’s going to support mitochondrial utilization of fat is going to be a good segue into a fast.

 

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