If you want to take your fitness plan to the next level, you might want to consider doing peak or intermittent fasting. Unlike other fasting diet fads, this fitness-enhancing strategy does not require you to skip meals or eat very little for several days in a row.
Peak fasting encourages strategically timing your meals or delaying eating, as to not burden your body's metabolism while supporting your weight management goals. Generally, fasting is quantified as consuming somewhere between 500 and 800 calories in a day.
Benefits of Peak Fasting
Fasting is actually a major and radical improvement in my previous recommendations. As I looked into this fitness strategy, I've discovered that if properly implemented as part of a healthy lifestyle, it can be a powerful tool for weight management.
Modern science has confirmed the many benefits of peak fasting, such as:
- Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity. This is an important factor for optimal health, as insulin resistance is a primary contributing factor to many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
- Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as "the hunger hormone"
- Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is important for health, fitness, and slowing the aging process
- Lowering triglyceride levels and bad LDL cholesterol levels
- Reducing inflammation and free radical damage1
- Preserving memory functioning and learning
One of the mechanisms that make fasting so effective for weight management is its ability to provoke the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH), which is also a fat-burning hormone. It also plays an important role in muscle building. Fasting also increases catecholamines, which increases resting energy expenditure, while decreasing insulin levels, allowing your body to store fat to be burned for fuel. Together, these and other factors will turn you into an effective fat-burning machine.
There's also plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. A number of mechanisms are responsible for this effect, such as normalizing insulin sensitivity. Fasting's ability to inhibit the mTOR pathway, which plays an important role in accelerating aging if it is stimulated. Fasting also helps improve a number of potent disease markers, which contribute to its beneficial effects on your general health.2
Fasting Protocols You Can Incorporate Into Your Workout Plan
I now recommend a new type of intermittent fasting that I call Peak Fasting, which, unlike other versions of intermittent fasting, is done every day (you can certainly cycle in off days due to your schedule or social commitments, however). The process is simple. Stop eating three hours before bed, eat breakfast when you are hungry and try to finish eating at least three to four hours or longer before you go to bed.
This process will dramatically improve your ability to burn fat as your primary fuel. For most people it takes several weeks to several months to transition to fat burning. This is done along with a low net carb, high-quality fat and moderate protein diet.
Once you are burning fat as your primary fuel you will most likely be free of your cravings for junk food and sugar. It appears likely that there is long-term benefit to continuing Peak Fasting indefinitely, not only to keep food cravings away, but also because it may help slow down the aging process and prevent many chronic degenerative diseases.
Warning: Fasting Is NOT Recommended for Everyone
I believe that fasting is not something you should undertake willy-nilly. You must pay careful attention to your body, your energy levels, and how fasting makes you feel in general. Additionally, fasting for certain groups of people, such as:
- Hypoglycemic individuals
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding moms
- People who live with chronic stress
- Individuals with cortisol dysregulation
If you fit into any of these categories, it would be wise to implement fasting slowly under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner. There are many diseases that would benefit from fasting even if you have these conditions. Please remember that I do not advocate combining starvation with rigorous exercise. Be sensible, and keep in mind that you need to consume sufficient amounts of nutrients, specifically protein, in order to prevent muscle wasting.
Also, while there's more science in support of calorie restriction than any other diet in the world today, there are side effects to chronic calorie restriction, such as decreased thyroid function and decreased testosterone.3