Editor’s note: The following is offered as a personal story only and is not to be considered as medical or nutritional advice.
I broke my leg, injured my back and got a hernia all in less than 18 months.
(Not bad, huh?)
Since then, I have packed around 75 pounds, couldn`t fit into any of clothes as I reached my heaviest weight ever.
Worse than watching my belly grow was the fact that I couldn`t do anything about it. I couldn`t exercise, diet was boring and since I work on my computer, there was nothing that could really stop me from packing up more pounds. So I searched the internet and it was then when I found out about intermittent fasting.
I watched some videos about Intermittent fasting, read about it then decided to give it a try. And it was one of the best decisions I`ve ever made health-wise. It taught me a lot.
If you’ve been thinking about fasting for a while and still hesitant, here’s my personal review for 171 days of fasting…
1. It prompts weight loss.
There`s a lot of good reasons to why one should fast yet the most important of all is weight loss. And yes, fasting will help you lose weight.
I went from 222 pounds to 183 in 56 days only doing long walks and watching my caloric intake as I ate no more than 1,200 calories in a 4-hour window. I also kept a food log with everything I ate and used MyFitnessPal to count calories.
Intermittent fasting lowers insulin levels giving your body the chance to burn fat for fuel. Studies found that both fasting and ditching nighttime eating have positive metabolic effects.
One study on Ramadan fasting found that body fat percentages of participants dropped significantly during Ramadan. Another study found that participants who fasted alternatively for 22 days lost four percent of their initial fat mass without changing their diet.
2. It’ useful if you hate or can’t exercise.
If you hate exercise, can’t exercise, or are gutted by the amount of weight you have to lose, you can use fasting to ease into a much healthier lifestyle.
I lost those 39 pounds doing nothing but cutting calories. I was injured, I went from doing intense cardio six times a week to no strenuous exercise; the only physical fitness I was allowed to do was walking, which burns very few calories.
3. Fasting is NOT the magic pill.
Just narrowing your feeding window doesn`t guarantee you lose weight. You must eat clean as much as possible to get all the benefits that fasting offers and keep the fat away.
Fasting has such a good rap that I recommend you do it for as long as you live. However, weight loss is and always will be basic math. Only when you eat less than you burn you`ll see that waistline shrinking.
I was in Casablanca a few days after I lost the first 40 pounds, and boy they have some great food. I tried shortening my eating window to four hours a day, but the food was so good I usually ended up packing a dense yet single meal each day. Although I didn`t gain anything, I stuck at the same weight for a month or so.
4. Fasting may be the best solution for maintenance.
For some, food means more than just survival. We use food to celebrate, to skip studying or cope with guilt and anxiety. This is why most people rarely stay in shape for very long. One study found that 14 out of 16 competitors in The Biggest Loser regained between 22 and 158 pounds of their lost weight. This means a possible 87.5 percent of total participants.
Since I was a kid, my weight was fluctuating like the Dow Jones Average on a crazy trading morning. I was either eating too much or eating too little and exercising to burn what I just gained. It was always black or white, never balanced.
It took me a couple of injuries, tons of Oreos and a few months to go from 147 to 222 pounds. I was more like a newly-retired athlete and I didn`t know how to stay in good shape which I believe is worse than losing weight.
Not being able to keep your lost weight is like doing your best to find the perfect partner then spending the rest of your life ruining that relationship cause you didn`t know how to keep them.
Luckily, fasting supports maintenance and can help you stay in shape since you`re less likely to eat 4,000 or 5,000 calories in a short four-hour window.
Even if you binge —which will sometimes happen— you still won`t lose the grip completely as setting limits to when you eat will put you back on track fast.
5. It doesn`t leave you hungry
Leptin —also known as the satiety hormone— is a hormone produced by the fatty cells to inhibit hunger. The moment you feel full, your body will produce Leptin which will travel through the blood and tell your brain to stop eating. Sounds like Leptin is doing you a favor, isn`t it? Yes, it is, but there`s one problem, and it happens as you gain weight.
How you respond to Leptin is usually similar to the way you respond to your morning alarm. If you hit the snooze button every day then go to sleep, soon you`ll get used to it, and the alarm will be as useless as fighting the White Walkers with anything non-Valyrian —Pardon me, I`m a fan.
Over the time, obese people build the habit of eating despite being full and neglecting those “I`m full” messages that Leptin sends to the brain. As a result, the brain will secrete more and more Leptin until it grows numb to it and it becomes hard for you to feel full unless you eat a giant meal.
Now, and since your brain doesn`t know you`re full, it will eventually put you on a starvation, low-metabolic, mode and you will burn fewer calories. Your brain will set thyroid glands on starvation and your body will hold on the fat you have to get energy. Even if you don`t need that energy.
The best way you have to reset that Leptin sensitivity is through fasting. According to the International Journal of Obesity, fasting helps bring Leptin back to its normal levels. This will give more value to the one, or two, meals you eat as you fast since they`re more likely to make you full for longer times. This means fewer cravings, fewer calories consumed, and a much better form.
6. It forces you to drink more water and green tea
Drinking water is essential yet many don`t do it —until they fast. Assuming you sleep eight hours and fast for eight or 12 more, fasting will force you to drink plenty of water to beat hunger.
As you fast more often, you will build the habit of drinking unsweetened, healthy beverages like black and green tea and your craving for sugar will plummet.
7. Fasting gives you more energy and bigger muscles
Herschel Walker is an ex-football player, sprinter, and MMA fighter. Walker follows an extreme type of fasting called OMAD —One Meal a Day— and has been doing this since he was 18.
In an interview, Walker said he only ate once every day at 8 p.m. and it never affected his competency. His lifestyle is supported by studies that found intermittent fasting to increases Growth Hormone levels which eventually increases both muscle mass and Basal Metabolic Rate. According to this study, short-term intermittent fasting for 24 hours can promote a 2,000 percent increase in GH levels.
8. It can increase your testosterone levels
Unsurprisingly, fasting also increases Testosterone levels. Scientifically, T levels plummet whenever
you eat regardless of what or how much you ate. This supports fasting against a normal, 6-meal diet since eating frequently will result in frequent T dips.
If you ever heard of Luteinizing Hormone, it`s the hormone that stimulates the secretion of T in the blood by binding to receptors on the Leydig. This study shows that short-term fasting increases LH in obese men by 26 percent and in non-obese by 67 percent.
9. Fasting is inexpensive and practical for travelers and backpackers
Sixteen hours —or more— of not eating is good for both your health and your money. I work while traveling and I`m always on the move. Each month there`s a new city, new hostel/motel and new types of super-delicious, and super-dense food and anyone who travels a lot knows that if you let yourself, you will pack more pounds and waste more money on food than you should.
When you travel, save your health and cash by moving to a shorter eating window. It`s a good way to stay in shape, and on budget while still enjoying new foods. Besides, it`s a good way to avoid going to the bathroom at inconvenient times and places.
10. Fasting helps you focus
“Fasting too often delays long-term memory problems to around 20 years.” That`s According to Mark Mattson, chief of the laboratory of neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging.
“Fasting begun in middle age delayed the onset of memory problems by about six months. This is a large effect, perhaps equivalent to 20 years in humans.” Mattson continues.
According to studies, fasting promotes the production of the Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor. This BDNF protein is found in the Hippocampus, Cerebral cortex and basal forebrain which are the areas responsible for learning, memory and critical thinking and it’s usually produced at lower levels in Alzheimer’s patients.
This study shows another correlation between BDNF and cognitive impairment. When BDNF increases, your cognitive functions improve, and so will your focus and long-term memory. By now you won`t be surprised if I told you that fasting increases BDNF production by 50 to 400 percent.
11. It can detect fatal diseases and reduces chronic inflammation.
There are two types of inflammation a human being can have.
Acute Inflammation: The kind you have when you burn or cut yourself. It’s your body’s own way of fighting harmful bacteria.
Chronic Inflammation: Slow, systematic and dangerous inflammation that covertly damage the tissues of certain organs until they decay. Doctors believe a chronic inflammation is the typical start of every chronic disease and when it shows in scans, it`s usually too late.
The good news? Chronic inflammation is usually caused by low BDNF levels, and with fasting promoting the production of BDNF and reduces oxidative stress, you can minimize the effect of chronic inflammation and live happier and longer.
12. Fasting makes you a badass
You can`t go far in life without self-discipline, life and science have both proven it. Self-discipline is the start of all riches, confidence, and happiness, which are all qualities a man must have.
Fortunately, fasting will improve your persistence and raise your discipline baseline to a level beyond everyone you know. Think about it, not so many people can stay without food for 16 or 20 hours, but you will. When you make a lifestyle around fasting and exercising, it won`t be long until you see a remarkable shift in your self-esteem, work ethic and results in other life areas. You literally become a badass.
Regardless of what you eat, if you restrict your caloric intake and make a lifestyle around it will leverage your discipline in a way you probably haven`t experienced before, and I bet you want that.
Originally published at goodmenproject.com