Dan Wells' Adventure with Intermittent Fasting
As a former competitive wrestler, when I heard about intermittent fasting my first thought was, “No way, never!” Too many years of starvation had trained me to avoid food deprivation at all costs. When it came to weight management through nutrition, my sole focus was quality over quantity. So as long as I stuck to fresh vegetables, high-quality meats and fats, minimal starches, and little to no sugars, I would be fine.
The thing about nutrition though, is that one size does not fit all.
A few months ago, my good buddy Dave, showed up at my front door. I hadn't seen him for a few months, and I was shocked to see a much smaller version of my friend standing in the doorway. Thirty pounds lighter, even his head looked smaller! We sat down for a bite and he told me that he accomplished it by eating whatever he wanted… but the eating had to happen between the hours of noon and 6 pm each day.
That’s when my research started. It wasn’t so much about calorie restriction (at all!), it was more about giving your body (your machine) a nice long break every once in a while; so it can repair its various systems, improve its cellular structure, and burn off unnecessary fat.
I thought, wait a minute, isn’t calorie restriction the quickest path to slowing down the metabolic rate, which eventually means loading on more fat and stripping off more muscle than when you started? (Much like all of the Biggest Loser contestants, who yo-yo’d back to their starting point and beyond.)
A research study I came across, changed the way I looked at things. The study compared people who simply restricted calories, to people who did intermittent fasting. Folks in the study who deprived themselves of significant calories (i.e. cutting 2000 calories down to 1400) but snacked all day, did in fact, slow down their resting metabolic rates. On the flip side, the people who fasted for a period of time, and then ate their normal caloric intake without restricting or adjusting the amount (i.e. 2000 calories), saw their metabolism essentially maintained. Here’s the thing though: since the body was given this big break from working all the time, the systems of the body began functioning better.
The result? Fewer pre-cancerous cells. Excess brown fat burned off for fuel. Digestive systems improved dramatically. As well as energy and concentration levels that shot through the moon!
Here is the extended list of proposed benefits of fasting:
Boost metabolism for fat loss
Lower insulin levels, increasing human growth hormone
Reduce waste and oxidative damage from cells
Reduce leptin levels, increasing testosterone
Reduce the risk of heart disease
Reduce cholesterol levels
Improved brain function (focus)
Wow! I had to try it. Since I don’t like to do things half-assed, I decided to go for the full 24 hours fast right out the gate. And because I know how grumpy I can get when I’m hungry, I selected a Sunday so I could minimize my interactions with, well… people.
At 5:30 Saturday night, I threw a pile of vegetables, a sweet potato, and a grass-fed t-bone steak on the grill… and then wolfed it all down. When the clock struck 6 pm, it was game-on for this rookie. (Needless to say at that point, I was looking forward to hunger because I ate way too much thinking about what was ahead.) Sure enough, around 9:30 I started craving a snack- even just a glass of milk- but I powered through and fell asleep.
Up at 6 am, I was already hungry because I’m used to eating breakfast. The good news was: I was already halfway through the fast. 12 hours to go. More good news: coffee has no calories, so (unless you’re a “purist”), you can drink up. So I did.
Right around 10 am however, I started to feel a solid wave of hunger. Not fun, but also not the end of the world. And after about a half-hour or so, it faded away. For the next few hours, I started feeling good- alert, lean… efficient. As if my body was accomplishing something important with each minute. I kept myself busy working, organizing, and binge-watching “Inside Bill’s Brain” on Netflix (a winner in case you haven’t yet seen it).
Another wave of hunger hit me at around 2 pm. It was definitely uncomfortable, but I simply recognized it for what it was, visualized my internal cells healing, and sure enough, it too passed.
With about an hour left, I started to get hungry. But with 23 down, there was no way I was throwing in the towel. An hour later, I found myself standing in line at Chop Stop for one of my favorite meals on earth: The Santa Fe Chop made with half kale, half spinach. This salad is already like crack to me, but after that fast, it was straight-up heaven on earth.
I figured maybe I would need to get something at the grocery store to eat afterward, but when I finished the meal, I was stuffed! And I felt great.
Since that time, I’ve done a fasting ratio of 16:8 (16 hours on, 8 hours off, stopping eating at 6 pm and resuming eating again at 10 am), and a couple of 18:6 fasts (6 pm-2 pm). Every time I do, I feel amazing… and the skin around my midline tightens up noticeably. I can only imagine what’s going on inside my body.
The best part about Intermittent Fasting is that it’s a tool that you don’t necessarily have to employ every day. It’s there whenever you need a boost to your health and wellness. And if ever want to lose a significant amount of weight… then you can do it more consistently and simply make it a habit.
Never thought I’d say this but the final word on intermittent fasting: thumbs up.