Intermittent Fasting for Beginners: A Flexible Approach to Dieting

Fasting is the first principle of medicine; fast and see the strength of the spirit reveal itself
— Rumi

In today's obtrusive world, where we have an overabundance of calories in the form of packaged food and drinks, the idea of "fasting" just seems unimaginable. But, could intermittent fasting be the key to sustainable fat-loss in a society where processed calories are in AN abundant supply?

Intermittent fasting is simple; you are essentially restricting the window in which you eat to just a couple of hours. In those hours, however, you can eat however many calories (of the right food preferably) as you like.

You Can Intermittent Fast Three Ways:

  1. Plain old fast for 12-48 hours
  2. Bulletproof Intermittent Fast
  3. Fat Fast

The standard fast involves you drinking nothing but water. I have not tried this because the research I have done (and frankly I am too scared to go without coffee) suggests this could have adverse effects if done incorrectly.

The second option, Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting, is what I follow most days. This is similar to normal fasting, but, you substitute the water for Bulletproof Coffee. The high fat content of Bulletproof Coffee will kick you into ketosis which will “mimic” a fast without you having to suffer.

The last option is similar to Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting except you can add more fat like grass-fed bone broth. The calories from the bone broth will “trick” your brain into thinking you are full, this is done by suppressing the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is a powerful hormone that is responsible for those destructive hunger cravings.

 In order to fast without actually fasting, you have to enter ketosis as quickly as possible. Once in ketosis, your body is essentially fueling itself with nutritional fat you have consumed or the flabby goodness under your arms. 

It is hard and expensive to get hold of exogenous ketones here in South Africa (I ordered some 3 months ago from Perfect Keto and they still haven’t arrived), so your next best bet is MCT oil.

I believe, just as a body needs a healthy diet to sustain itself, it needs periodic fasting to purge potentially cancerous cells and rid itself of waste. In fact, some patients that are about to be treated with chemotherapy are put on a fasting protocol.

It can also promote autophagy in your neurons – that’s when they get rid of damaged cells, toxins, and waste. Autophagy is partially responsible for the boost in mental clarity you may experience during intermittent fasting
— Dave Asprey (1)

If we go back to the Bible and religions that still actively practice fasting today, we find out this isn’t a new concept—its part of life. We did not evolve to be continuously shoving doughnuts down our throats. We did not evolve to eat small meals from breakfast to dinner every 2 hours. We are designed to go periods of time without eating. Restricting calories and then refeeding is a healthy practice.

What my intermittent fasting day looks like:

  • First “meal”: Bulletproof Coffee or black coffee (depending on wether I’m working out early) — usually around 7-9am
  • Second meal: Light lunch — usually a salad or an avocado with eggs —around 2-3pm
  • Last meal: I consider this my actual meal. I will often have large meals at dinner to get my calories in. Grass-fed lamb or steak with veggies or sweet potato anywhere from 6-8pm

What benefits have I noticed following an IF protocol?

Increased mental clarity

Have you ever wondered why, after a large meal you feel sluggish and tired? I like to think of a pride of lions after a successful kill. They eat the living **** out of an unsuspecting gazelle, where they immediately rest and often sleep. I honestly believe (there is probably science to back this claim) we are programed the exact same way.

Expecting to study or concentrate when you’ve had a large meal is a difficult task. Your body is digesting the five KFC burgers you’ve eaten and not worrying about the imminent arrival of your exam the next day.

Endurance

I have noticed that when I eat a large breakfast before a workout or run, I can’t perform nearly as well as when I intermittent fast. This is most likely due to the breakfast kicking me out of ketosis. Once in ketosis you can feel your Kenyan running ancestors cheering you on when you run, its that powerful. I ran an 18km race through Joburg city being fueled only by Bulletproof Coffee.

Flexibility

Not exactly in terms of muscular flexibility, more along the lines of scheduling/time management.

Imagine going an entire day without succumbing to the pressure of hunger pains and chronic meat sweats? This is what makes Intermittent Fasting so pleasurably easy to follow.

Josh, Intermittent fasting is interesting, how can I start?

You have two options:

  1. If you are following a paleo-ish diet already and are, what I consider "fat adapted," you can start by simply pushing your first meal of the day further and further until you have found your threshold. Your threshold is where you are not overly hungry or satiated, but you realize that you need to eat in order to function at an optimal state. My threshold is usually around 2pm.
  2.  If you are a compulsive carb devourer, patience will have to be your best friend for the next two weeks. The simple, and counterintuitive approach, is to substitute your breakfast for a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) option. Skip the cereals and fruit—eggs, avocado and bacon will be your new go-to (I know, tough life having to eat bacon to lose weight). If you are vegan, go with avocado and some nuts (not peanuts which are technically legumes) like cashews or almonds. Once you have shifted your breakfast habits to a LCHF option, next is pushing your first meal further into the day. Every 2 days push your first meal an hour further. An example would be if you usually have your first meal around 7am on a Monday, push it to 8am. Then, on Wednesday, push it further to 9am…and onward until you reach your threshold.

Intermittent fasting is not scary if you approach it with the right mindset. The biggest mistake people make (majority are women due to natural tendencies to eat less) is once you have completed your fast, you calorie restrict. I can’t stress this enough, you have to replenish the glycogen storages in your muscles with a wholesome meal post-fast.

Intermittent fasting may not be for everyone. If you find you can’t go without food, then eat! Don’t starve yourself unnecessarily. I have found that after a debaucherous holiday of binge drinking and eating, I have to wean myself back into the intermittent fasting protocol. I start by following precisely the steps I mentioned above.

Give Intermittent Fasting a try, and I would love to hear your feedback. 

Once again, thanks for reading, and I hope you have an awesome week.

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Disclaimer

As a caveat I am obviously not a doctor, nutritionist or expert. I simply have a passion for sharing ideas, content, hacks and knowledge to inspire and motivate individuals. What works for me might not work for you. Consult your doctor before making any drastic dietry changes.

Resources:

(1): https://blog.bulletproof.com/bulletproof-intermittent-fasting-the-definitive-guide/