The Wild Guide To Intermittent Fasting
"The best of all medicines is resting and fasting."
– Benjamin Franklin
I've been fasting for years.
I no longer think about it. It just happens.
I eat when I want and rarely feel "hungry" or "tired."
Returning to my regular eating routine is easy if I decide to have a cheat meal. Just don't eat. Lol.
In this guide, I will share my personal fasting experience with you. By the end, I hope you will consider adding time-restricted eating to your life.
Before we dive into why you should incorporate IF into your life, we need to set a few things straight.
Intermittent = intervals
Intermittent fasting may offer various benefits, including weight loss and improved health.
Most people do it for weight loss, but the benefits go far beyond that—everything from hormone and appetite control to increased longevity.
Weight loss: intermittent fasting may help you lose weight by helping you eat less and burn more calories through exercise.
Inflammation: Intermittent fasting may improve your health by reducing inflammation and oxidation damage.
Blood pressure: Intermittent fasting may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure by reducing stress on the heart.
Hormone control: By controlling feeding windows, your hormones have a better chance of leveling out.
- 16-8 is the most popular and the easiest to start with.
- 12 - 12 is to eat during a 12-hour window, then fast for 12 hours (most of it through the night)
- Alternative day fasting: eat one day, fast another, and may have to work up to this.
My Fasting Journey
To Start, Track Your Feeding Window
I first tracked my feeding window each day to reach my target 16-hour daily fast.
After that, I stopped thinking about it. I just did what works.
I didn't think about it, and my body did the rest.
Nowadays, my appetite tells me when to eat and when not to eat.
Starting now, I suggest you track your feeding and fasting hours. This is just getting started because it helps you build the habit.
Once you get the habit down, not only will you be amazed by how your appetite changes, but your new eating schedule will feel more and more natural as your hormones start to balance out.
When this happens, you'll fall into a natural rhythm, and all you'll have to do at this point is listen to your body. Nowadays, this is what I do—I listen to my appetite and break my fast whenever it works for my day.
It makes food so simple, easy, and enjoyable. But make no mistake about what it took to get here; it took time and patience.
Each person is different, so how hard it is for you will be different from how hard or easy it was for me or anyone else.
Just stick with it, and you'll reap the many rewards.
Fasting makes food simple.
When you are fasting, you will start eating when your body tells you to eat, which usually averages 2 or 3 meals daily.
In the research and empirical data I've seen, women do better on three meals daily. I know females who do well on two meals daily, sometimes one. Experiment!
Fewer meals simplify your food life, so you'll spend less time eating, preparing, and buying food.
Fasting Is Appetite Control
Another primary benefit of fasting, which contributes to helping you lose body fat while fasting, is appetite regulation. When you fast, you balance out your hormones. This, in turn, reduces the amount of food your body craves and, thus, eats.
You are, simply put, less hungry.
This is all you have to do to get the benefits of appetite control while fasting: When you sit down for a meal, eat slowly, and your body will tell you when to stop eating.
Then stop eating.
The human body is a fantastic machine, so listen to it, and it'll show you the way.
Intermittent Fasting Is Hormone Regulation
Regardless of what you've been told, eating more meals does not "spike your metabolism" or help you lose weight or burn fat.
Just the opposite, thanks to a hormone you've probably heard of called insulin.
Insulin's primary job in the human body is maintaining glucose levels. It also manages storing glucose in your liver, glycogen (muscle), and fat cells.
Each time you ingest food, your body releases insulin to help manage the glucose (food converts into glucose in your blood) released in your bloodstream.
Insulin helps your body burn off glucose for energy and shuttle glucose into your liver, muscles, and, if there is extra, into fat cells.
Since most people eat far more than they "burn off" each day, they unknowingly trigger hyperglycemia, in which extra glucose is in their blood. This state results in insulin shuttling excess glucose into fat cells.
In a simplified nutshell, this is how you gain fat—more insulin and glucose in your body equals more fat gain.
Your body releases insulin and glucose every time you eat food (aside from outlier exceptions such as consuming ketones or MCT oil). Not only does this release of hormones make it difficult to burn off unwanted body fat, but more than a couple of health-related problems come with constant and chronically elevated glucose and insulin levels.
Every time you release insulin and glucose into your body, you are making it more challenging to get your body into "fat-burning mode" because you are telling it that you have excess food available, which then triggers your biology to store these extra calories in the form fat for later use.
(That's how our ancestors survived. Their bodies were great at storing fat when they had access to extra calories.)
Furthermore, from the meta-perspective of how your body and brain work together, if you are telling your body that you have food always available, as is the case when you frequently eat throughout the day, your body and mind are trained to keep the cycle going, which manifests in the form of being hungry and tired all the time due to your hormones running amok.
Remember: Our ancestors lived without modern food preservation, so when they were able to kill a mammoth or other large land animal, they'd eat as much as possible so that their body could store those extra calories in fat cells for later.
Fat calories are a hunter gatherers' best friend.
Fasting And Calorie Restriction
Countless studies are showing the longevity benefits of calorie restriction.
Humans are designed to eat fewer calories and less often than we do today.
Our ubiquitous access to food, coupled with the ever-declining quality of our food supply, is why we have an ever-growing obesity epidemic.
The typical Western diet is full of low-quality, empty-calorie foods.
Take our already-poor diets and add the poor lifestyle habits of snacking, lack of movement, sitting too much, not getting enough sun, staying indoors, etc. You end up with a severe mismatch of the environment destroying the human species.
Compare this to our pre-agricultural ancestors that faced an inconsistent food supply due to a lack of refrigeration, farming, and modern food preserving methods, yet lived with excellent health, virtually no current disease, and a lot longer—on average—than people think.
(Our ancestor's low lifespan numbers cited in the media are averages heavily skewed by events such as trauma, for which there was no medicine or 911 to help, and infant mortality, which was very high and significantly brought the numbers down.)
Our ancestors' inconsistent food availability forced them to go long periods without or with very little food. This is one of the reasons that calorie restriction, like fasting, is a "healthy stress" to the human body.
Whether you want to lose weight or not, calorie restriction has many health benefits.
Fasting And Calorie Restriction
There are a few ways to practice intermittent fasting. As we saw above, my preferred method is the 16/8 "lean gains" approach.
There are other methods, though, such as fasting for 24 hours at a time once a week.
Other methods of fasting include multi-day fasts every few months. This is something I plan on doing shortly. Either way, research and consult a doctor before trying anything like that.
From empirical evidence I've seen in myself and others, the daily 16/8 fasting model is the easiest to start with. That said, there is no right or wrong way to fast.
The first thing you want to do is reframe your mental model of food and meal frequency.
Start equating not eating with benefit, with fat loss.
Start prolonging how long you go between meals.
These few changes themselves can have life-changing effects.
It can be hard to get out of the "I have to eat" mindset, but until you feel the other side for yourself, you'll never know what you might be missing out on.
A final note on eating and muscles
You don't have to eat all the time, and you shouldn't. Your muscles won't waste away. The insulin sensitivity you develop and the protein-sparing effects of fasting may help you build muscle, counterintuitive as that sounds.
Numerous studies correlate fasting with growth hormone release.
The improvements in insulin sensitivity you get from fasting, which is one of the most significant overall benefits of fasting, improve the production of muscle-building hormones such as growth hormone and increase your body's general management of hormones—insulin and cortisol being the key players.
Final notes on intermittent fasting
I hope you start reframing your ideas about food, eating, and fasting.
Food is something you should eat only when you are hungry—and also something you should skip eating even when you are hungry to get the benefits.
Get out of an eating mindset and get into a not eating mindset.
Remind yourself that every time you skip food that you typically would have eaten, you have performed a healthy "stress" for your body. And you are now more likely to live longer and one step closer to controlling your appetite rather than it controlling you.
Eat less food less often and watch as your health and results improve like nothing else you've ever done in your life thus far.
It is that amazing.
Now let's look at one last "fasting technique" near and dear to our hearts here at Wild Foods.
I wish you the best on your fasting journey. Please let me know if you have any more questions or comments. I'll pitch in wherever I can.
Disclaimer: Before attempting any new diet or fasting protocol, please consult your doctor. All of these methods are to be used at your own risk.