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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

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The Beginner’s Guide To Intermittent Fasting —
And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip
Biohacking Tool
Shannon Terrell  20 hours ago  10,082 views  17 min read

When it comes to the health and tness industry, there are plenty of diet
trends, health fads, and trendy new exercise regimes to choose from.

It’s confusing. And more than that, these “quick tips” and “hacks” might even
mess with your health if they are not applied properly — or if they’re simply
not for your body type.

This is what we’re determined to x at Mindvalley by bringing on the best

experts in Health & Fitness, digging into the science behind physical

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

wellbeing, and sharing

 the knowledge with the world.  
We’re investing a ton of e ort in bringing our community the best, science-
based ideas in health and tness (such as our WildFit Quest with Eric
Edmeades or our last A-Fest that focused on longevity).

Over the coming months, we’ll be developing more transformational

programs and content in this fundamental area of life.

In this article, we’ll cut through the clutter around one of the most hip trends
in the health & tness industry today: intermittent fasting.
Shares Here’s how you can apply this tool and integrate it into your lifestyle to get
the best bene ts out of it.

What Intermittent Fasting Really Means

In short, intermittent fasting means going without food for predetermined

periods of time. But there’s a big di erence between doing it a way that
serves you and in a way that doesn’t.

It’s a biohacking tool and a way of restricting your food intake for the purpose
of weight loss and other added health bene ts. And there are quite a few of

If your goal is fat loss, you might be counting your calorie intake daily right
now as a strategy to eat less than your body needs every day. A lot of people
do and it’s not a bad way to manage your weight — however, studies have
shown that you can achieve the same results with intermittent fasting.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine by the American Medical

Association took a look at the e ects of alternate-day fasting versus calorie
restriction in 100 obese adults.

The participants were divided into two groups: an alternate-fasting group and
a calorie restricting group. Over the course of one year, both groups lost
weight, but the study wasn’t able to nd much of a di erence in overall
weight loss between the groups.

So, in terms of shedding pounds, intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy

is pretty much on par with calorie restriction.

Why not just stick with restricting your calories then?

Because intermittent fasting has a bunch of added health bene ts that simply
restricting your calories doesn’t o er. And it’s easier to maintain too.

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The 7 Biggest Health Benefits You Get From Intermittent

1. You Lose More Weight Than From Dieting
Yeah, no duh. We’ve already touched on this, but we’ll say it again because
gosh darn is it ever a nice perk.

Intermittent fasting is a form of caloric restriction, and restricting your

calories is a reliable method of losing weight.

But while most people might opt to scale back their meals and eat less
throughout the day, intermittent fasting streamlines this with a simpler

You have feast times and fast times. You know when you can eat, and you
know when you can’t. Simple as that. You’re e ectively reducing your caloric
intake just by rede ning your eating periods.

A study done by the University of Illinois observed these bene ts in obese

individuals who ate food between 10a.m. and 6p.m. and did a water fast until
10a.m. the next day.

After 12 weeks, the participants instinctively reduced their daily calorie intake
by 300 calories without counting them.f And as a result, they lost about 3% of
their body weight.

Another study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine took 34 men

and split them into two groups: an intermittent fasting group and a control
group. Both groups had to complete an 8-week long strength-training

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

The results? Both groups of men built strength and muscle mass but the
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intermittent fasting group had the added bonus of a decrease in body fat.

So, try coupling intermittent fasting with exercise for some seriously
respectable results.

3. You Improve Your Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels

Scientists wanted to know whether the bene ts of intermittent fasting could

go beyond just losing weight, so they observed participants going through 16
hours of fasting. Their last meal was at 3p.m. every day but they gave them
63 enough food so that no one would lose weight during the experiment.

After 5 weeks, the participants had better insulin sensitivity, blood pressure,
and less appetite in the evening. So even if your goal is not weight loss, you
can de nitely gain some long-term health bene ts from this method.

4. You Increase Your Human Growth Hormone
Another bene t of intermittent fasting is that it can help increase your HGH
levels. In some cases, fasting has been proved to increase HGH levels by

The bene t to boosted HGH? 

HGH not only helps your body burn excess fat but builds lean muscle tissue,
strengthens bone density, and improves your performance during exercise.

If you’re interested in intermittent fasting to help whip your body into

unbelievable shape, HGH is where it’s at.

5. You Protect Yourself From The Risk Of Cancer

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

A study published in JAMA Oncology collected data from 2413 women with
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breast cancer over the course of four years. During that time, the women
were asked to estimate the amount of time they “fasted” during the night.

The study found that the longer the women fasted, the lower their risk of
breast cancer recurrence was.

One of the possible explanations for this is that after a long period of time
without eating, the body starts to “eat” its own cells as a source of energy.

And those cells are the weakest and malfunctioning ones, which will then be
replaced with new, healthier cells. This way the potential cancer cells can be
used as an energy source so that healthier cells can be born instead of
multiplying themselves as the time passes by.
Hopefully we’ll see more research about this in the coming years, but there’s
a lot to be optimistic about.

6. You Focus Better
Our bodies are meant to scavenge and look for food. It wasn’t until the last
century that we could e ectively and systematically preserve our food.
Throughout our history, we’ve had to hunt, stalk, and sh for our food while
being hungry.

Our bodies have become developed to function at their peak while in a fasted
state. In fact, studies show that reaction time and accuracy increase
when an individual is hungry.

Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine says

clearer thinking and more energy are evolutionary advantages of the fasted

“From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense your brain should be

functioning well when you haven’t been able to obtain food for a while,”
explains Mattson.

7. You Live Longer
This study from Harvard University published in Cell Metabolism found that
intermittent fasting a ects your mitochondrial network.

It rebuilds pathways in your mitochondria for more fatty acid oxidization. So

what does that mean in English?

The mitochondria are little powerhouses inside your cell. They are the agents
that transform the nutrients you get from food into energy your body can
use. If mitochondrion (plural for mitochondria) gets damaged or stops
working, cells start to die.

So this study proves that intermittent fasting helps keep the mitochondria
“young and well”, which promotes healthy aging.
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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

That means intermittent

 fasting might help you live longer.
 
What’s even better is that many studies show the health bene ts of speci c
calorie-restricted diets and their direct bene ts on the human body.

These diets are called “Blue Zone Diets” for the area of the world where these
types of diets are mainly consumed. It is not uncommon for individuals in
these “Blue Zones” to surpass the age of 90.

Who Is Intermittent Fasting For?

Intermittent fasting is an e ective weight loss tool that comes with plenty
of other cool health perks that we now know — but it’s also not for everyone.

61 A review conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found
that certain health conditions pose a higher risk for intermittent fasting than

If you identify with any of the following, you should not jump into intermittent
fasting without talking to your nutritionist or doctor:

People with a history of anorexia or bulimia

Children and teenagers
Pregnant or breastfeeding women
Those who take medication that requires regular food intake

Also, intermittent fasting a ects men and women di erently.

Ladies and gents can both engage in intermittent fasting but it might a ect
them di erently.

Some studies indicate that intermittent fasting not only isn’t as e ective for
women as it is for men—but may actually have some adverse health e ects.

A study published in the US National Library of Medicine took eight men and
eight women and tested their glucose and insulin after twenty-two days of
intermittent fasting.

The aim of the study was to nd out: can this method maintain one’s glucose
response while reducing their insulin level in the long run? In other words,
does short-term pain bring long-term gain?

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

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Now, here’s what they found…

The men who participated in the study had no change in their glucose
response and even experienced a noticeable reduction in their insulin
response, which is great.

But what about the women? Female participants in the study had worse
glucose response than before and had absolutely no change in their insulin
level. It’s a slight change, but it shows that our bodies are wired di erently.

Intermittent fasting isn’t bringing the same results for women as it does
for men.

Yes, there are women too who say they feel great and are able to lose fat
while fasting for an extended period of time. Ultimately, the best way to
gure out if this is the right thing for you, whether you’re a woman or a man,
is by giving it a try.

On a side note, women who want to try intermittent fasting need to be

mindful of their cycles.

Even though there hasn’t been any speci c study done on this
subject, studies of intermittent fasting in rats demonstrated a disruption in
the females’ menstrual cycles, and in some cases, caused them to miss their
period entirely.

Well, it’s a no-brainer that the right time for fasting is not when your energy
level is already low because of your cycle, being ill, or any other reason. On
days when your body is recovering from other health conditions, you got to
give it everything it needs.

But in any other case, here’s how this biohacking tool really works on the
human body and how it can accelerate your weight loss goals.
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Feasting Vs Fasting: How Your Body Deals With Food

Your body operates in two di erent states: the feasting state and the fasting

The feasting state is what your body enters directly after you eat food —
including snacks and even your WildFit smoothie.

It takes the body about 8 hours to completely process the food you’ve eaten,
which includes processing nutrients and extracting energy from it.

Once this is done, your body enters the fasted state, which starts 8-12 hours
after your last meal.

Believe it or not, most of us rarely ever enter a fasted state because we tend
to eat breakfast as soon as we get up.

The di erence is that in a feasting state, your body burns most of its calories from
the food you’ve eaten.

But in a fasted state, the body doesn’t have energy from food to draw on, so it
begins to pull its energy from your fat stores.

For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, that’s what fat stores were for. They were
for times when food was scarce and the body needed a backup energy

Thousands of years ago, we were all well accustomed to living in a fasted

state. It was actually a pretty normal turn of events for us. But these days, our

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bodies rarely see the fasted state. And really, who are we kidding? Most of us
  
can barely go three hours without the munch and crunch.

In a fasted state, our bodies pull fuel from our fat stores. The result? Fat loss.
Along with some other pretty nifty health perks.



The 2 Most Science Backed Types of Intermittent Fasting

If you’re convinced that you want to give the thing a whirl, there are two main
methods to go by: the 16/8 method, and the 5:2 method.

1. The 16/8 Method
The 16/8 method is just what it sounds like: eating for eight hours and fasting
for the other sixteen.

For example, your eight hour eating period might be from 12 p.m.–8 p.m.
What most people do is eat three large, healthy meals at 12 p.m., 4 p.m., and
before 8 p.m. This is your feasting time.

During the rest of the day, you only take water, co ee, or tea — without, of
course, any added milk, cream, or sugar. The point is to stay on zero calories
for the next 16 hours.

This is the easiest timeframe for most people, especially the ones who are not
a fan of big brekkies.

Now, you may adjust those 8 hours to your daily schedule but certain time
windows yield better results, so take note of this.

A study published in Cell Metabolism had a group of men engage in a form of

intermittent fasting which they called early time-restricted feeding (eTRF).

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

What this meant is that

 these men were asked to eat early in the day and fast
 
from 3 p.m. until morning.

What they found out from this study is that the earlier you start and stop
your feeding period, the more likely you are to increase your insulin
sensitivity, lower your blood pressure, curb cravings, facilitate weight loss,
and even improve overall cellular function.

So while abstaining from food in the rst half of your busy day might come
easier for you, stepping into your fasting period after 3 p.m. seems to pay o
in many ways. That, of course, is if you are an early bird and you have time to
63 stack up on nutrients before midday.

That said, while skipping dinner seems to be better for this protocol, it does
61 not mean that skipping breakfast won’t give you any bene ts. Just make sure
not to have your last meal too close to bedtime.

Aim to nish your meal 2-3 hours before sleeping.

2. The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 method involves fasting for 24 hours twice a week. So, ve days of the
week you eat as you normally would. Two days of the week, you fast for a full
24 hours.

One of the popular ways of implementing the 5:2 method is by eating your
last meal at 5 p.m. and not eating again until 5 p.m. the next day.

If you’re planning to execute the 5:2 method for any length of time, an option
is to eat one small meal during your fasting periods.

Why? Because a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

found that when 16 men and women fasted every other day for 22 days, their
bodies reaped many of the health bene ts of intermittent fasting, but their
hunger pains didn’t subside.

The bottom line here is that the 5:2 method is tough. And if you plan to
practice the 5:2 method for a longer period of time, throwing in a small meal
on fasting days will likely help curb your hunger. But small means small,
otherwise it’s not going to be worth it.

So you may wonder, which intermittent fasting method is more e ective?

Statistically speaking, you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck using
the 5:2 method.

A 3–12 week study of alternate-day fasting demonstrated body weight

reductions of up to 7%, body fat reductions of up to 5.5 kg, and cholesterol
reductions of up to 21%.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the 16/8 method isn’t e ective. It is. It’s just that
most of the scienti c evidence we have so far supports the e cacy of the 5:2

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

method.   
That said, the 5:2 method is de nitely the more challenging of the two. If you
do want to give intermittent fasting a try, the 16/8 method is the safest
approach and it’s way easier to maintain.



6 Tips To Help You Master Intermittent Fasting Like A

1. Get Through The Adaptation Period
There is an adaptation phase when implementing intermittent fasting. This is
totally normal.

You may feel sluggish, hungry and dopey at rst, but these symptoms pass
quite quickly. The length of time for these symptoms to pass depends on the
individual, but most people start to feel better after a few days. 

The body was designed to adapt. So, come on, you’ve got this!

2. Start With The 16/8 Method
Although the 5:2 protocol does show more clinical improvements over the
16/8 protocol, the latter is much easier to follow.

If you’re nervous about going 16 hours straight without eating, scale back
your fasting time to 12 hours. Once you’re comfortable with that, step it up to
14 hours. Soon enough, you’ll be able to follow the 16/8 protocol like a

After you’ve mastered the 16/8 routine and feel ready for a challenge, see if
you can tackle the 5:2.

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

3. Stick To Water, Tea, And Coffee While Fasting
  
It is important to remember not to consume any calories during your fasted
period. The only thing that is allowed is water, black co ee, or tea.
Consuming any extra calories will force your body to leave its fasted state and
you’ll totally sabotage your e orts.

Leaving a fasted state will stop any bene t intermittent fasting can produce,
so hold on to your initial purpose and don’t cheat!



4. Don’t Overeat
Do your best not to overeat when you are in your feeding window. You will be
hungry when you nally have a chance to eat but you don’t want to over
consume calories. Why? Because if you overeat, you will actually increase the
likelihood of putting on weight even after fasting the whole day.

In fact, many health professionals believe that the bene ts of intermittent

fasting actually come from the restricted caloric intake, not the actual fasting.

And when you do get the opportunity to eat, make sure you take time to
chew your food. Digestion starts in the mouth, and eating too quickly can
actually cause digestive distress. By mindfully chewing your food, you’re
preparing your digestive system to get the most out of what you eat.

5. Eat A Healthy, Well Balanced Diet
When you hit your eating window, it is imperative that you eat nutrient-
dense foods. Since your body has been deprived of food all day, you need to
consume a healthy balance of all macro and micro nutrients to maintain
proper body function and health. Gorging on junk food will leave you feeling
worse than ever. 

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

Use a cheat day once a week to reward yourself for your hard work, but keep
  
it within reason. You don’t want to sabotage all those fasting bene ts.

6. Stay Hydrated
More important than anything else, it is important to drink a lot of water.
Your body will be processing and releasing all sorts of toxins and minerals
stored in fat, which means your kidneys and liver will need the extra uids to
help cleanse the body.

Not only does water help ush the bad stu from your system but it also
63 helps keep hunger pangs at bay. Aim for 3L of water consumption a day.

Intermittent fasting is an amazing way to detox and go on a nutritional


We hope that these studies and advice will help you implement this powerful
biohacking tool into your lifestyle and reap all the bene ts.

Any personal experience about the art and science of fasting? Do share it with
us in a comment below — or join the discussion on Mindvalley’s Instagram.

Biohacking Food and Dieting Nutrition Weight loss Wellbeing

Shannon Terrell
Shannon Terrell is a writer based in Toronto, Canada. She revels in the thrill
of exploration, whether it be new cultures, new landscapes, or new ways to
bring on the happy. If she’s not hiking or practicing yoga, she probably has
her nose in a book.


3 Common Myths About Yoga That You

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9/20/2018 The Beginner's Guide To Intermittent Fasting — And The Fascinating Science Behind This Hip Biohacking Tool

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8 Comments Sort by Oldest

Add a comment...

David Duchemin
hi super article - thanks-
What about the bullet proff coffee ? Do you recommend it for the breakfast
while fasting ?
Like · Reply · 12h

63 Deb Sax-Russell
How many days do you do this for?
Like · Reply · 12h

61 Kay Broadway
Hi, I would love to try this fasting, but I have been hypothyroid for the last
twenty years and recently warned that I am pre-diabetic. Would fasting be a
good idea for me?
Like · Reply · 11h

Michelle Reynolds
IF combined with Keto was a game changer for me.
Like · Reply · 10h

Ava M. Gray
I'm going to start this tonight! 22 hrs...8pm-8am. Let's see what happens!
Like · Reply · 10h

Astrid Kristina
Great post with great references! Thanks Shannon!
Like · Reply · 7h

Angela Henson
The work by Prof Satchin Panda is amazing, he focuses on time restricted
feeding (very similar to a 16:8 approach) and is looking more at the
circardian clocks in our bodies.
Like · Reply · 7h

Hisham Jenbaz
Such a fantastic article!
I am in love what you guys do.
This is similar to the muslims' fasting, 16/8 or from the beginning of the dawn
till the time of sunset.
Like · Reply · 6h · Edited

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