Last Friday night I nearly got into a fight with my Mother.
Have you ever tried arguing with a Jewish Mother? Wait, go back a step. Have you ever tried to argue with a female?
You never win. EVER. Even when you’re right. So, as I was sitting at the dining room table indulging in a beef stew on a cold Friday night, I dropped the bombshell no Jewish Mother ever wants to hear.
“Oh, and by the way, at the moment I’m not eating breakfast. That’s right, I’ve stopped.”
Forks stopped clattering against plates, knives stopped sawing beefy chunks and the only sound was Milo, our Jack Russell, pining for food below the table.
“That’s just ridiculous! I’m sorry, I can’t agree with that!” condescended my Mother, “you need breakfast for concentration, mood, and everything. That’s just stupid.”
Clearly my Mom didn’t agree.
One of my brothers, the voice of reason, asked the more pertinent question, “So why are you doing this? What’s the benefit? I don’t think I could do this, I love my breakfast too much.”
I furrowed my eyebrows and looked seriously at him, “because the more that I read, the more breakfast just seems like the devil spawn of dieticians and over bloated CEO’s shoving lucky charms and coco pops down your throat.”
“Basically, it’s been proven that bouts of what is referred to as intermittent fasting can lead to reduced cardiovascular risk, lower cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels, lower levels of IGF-1, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased cortisol levels, increased testosterone levels, increased mental acuity, among lots of other benefits.”
My brothers’ and mom’s mouths fell open.
“Well I still think it’s stupid,” dismissed my Mom in her typical ‘I know everything’ Jewish Mother manner.
But is intermittent fasting really that stupid?
Think back to when we were cavemen, throttling saber-tooth tigers over the head and competing to see who could grunt the loudest.
Do you think our cavemen and women ancestors stopped midway through beating their chests and drawing on caves to make sure they ate every 2-3 hours? Or ate a breakfast filled with sugars, carbs and starches first thing?
Grok think we not be here today if they did!
Cave people (because we are being politically correct) diets consisted of feast/famine phases. In the mornings, they would hunt. In the afternoons, they would eat what they hunted and gathered. The next day, they’d repeat.
Their diets consisted of daily intermittent fasting periods.
I’d stake my house on the claim that obesity wasn’t such an epidemic back then.
There are multiple methods of fasting, here is a quick summary of them:
Alternate day fasting: Essentially consists of a 24 hour eating day, followed by a 24 hour day of fasting. 1-3 fasting days per week.
20 hour fast: Fast for 20 hours, eat for four hours a day. The ’20 hour fast’ most closely resembles our cavemen ancestors.
16/8 fast: Fast for 16 hours, eat for 4 hours. The fast is broken with a post workout shake consisting of carbs and protein. Then you eat like a beast, filling all your macronutrient needs during your window
Renegade diet: Fast for 14 hours, a 4 hour no carb eating window, 6 hour feed window. The fast is broken with a post workout shake consisting of carbs and protein. Then you eat like a beast, filling all your macronutrient needs during your window.
What do I do?
At the moment I’m embarking on the quest that is the Renegade diet. I eat my last meal by 8pm and fast until 10:30am the next day.
Between 10:30am and 5-6pm (depending if it’s a training day or not) I eat two meals consisting of vegetables, protein, and fats.
After 5-6pm, it’s no holds barred. Vegetables take a back seat to carbs and protein and, for dinner, my vegetarian wife often squirms when I load up my plate with anywhere from 600-700g of dead animal and enough carbs to feed a small country.
(A very, very, very small country- fine it’s a bad euphemism…)
I’ve noticed in the past week that I’m feeling better, more energised throughout the day and have felt stronger and more focused in the gym.
Who should practice intermittent fasting?
Everyone. The health benefits are astounding and fasting regularly can literally improve the quality of your life.
There is one disclaimer here though. I know full well there are a number of my students that read this blog. I do not recommend this to children under the ages of 18. Fasting requires you to have an understanding of what you are putting into your body. You need to ensure you are still eating enough vegetables, supplementing properly, and consuming enough protein and carbs to continue to grow.
Keeping track of all of this is hard enough as an adult, let alone with the limited resources teenagers have.
There are people a lot smarter than me who have talked about this recently. If you are interested, I’d suggest you peruse the following links and use the information in your application of possibly the best decision you’ll ever make.
Michael Mosely’s documentary on fasting
Jason Ferrugia’s ‘Renegade Diet’ (my protocol)
Brad Pilon’s ‘Eat Stop Eat’ is one of the original resources and still one of the best.
Nate Green’s free ebook regarding fasting.
Nate Green’s magnificent interview with Dr. John Berardi.