Being hungry is a bad thing right?
As soon as you feel that belly of yours rumbling it’s a sign that you should eat.
At least that is what you probably think on your current calisthenics diet.
The opposite is true.
Being hungry every now and then is a good thing!
So why does everyone think it’s bad?
Simply because our increased wealth has allowed us to eat during the entire day.
Our bodies on the other hand are still working based on a different way of life.
Let’s travel back in the past and meet one of your ancestors.
Funny enough 10.000 years ago your great-great-great grandfather did not have a refrigerator.
Neither did he have a grocery store and he would usually be without food for the biggest part of the day.
”But that’s really unhealthy!”, you might think.
Is it? Really?
Your Diet Used To Be Different
What you consider a ‘normal diet’, hasn’t been natural for a very long period.
Not just what and how much you eat, but also when you eat.
Biologically your body was designed in a completely different world.
It has been pre-programmed for periods of fasting and feasting, long before you saw the light of day.
Let’s say a few million years or so.
And found a way to adapt to that world.
That’s why it’s really difficult for you to lose those last kilos of fat.
Right now you are using a body with a genetic code which has developed itself over more than 400.000 years in scarcity, while consuming only real -largely unprocessed- foods.
That body is experiencing a world which has started to have an abundance of food less than 10.000 years ago.
And which has witnessed an explosion of highly processed foods in the past 60 years.
Believe it or not, but when you are eating highly processed foods the entire day, you are actually doing something which is not beneficial to your health perse.
Yes, you actually read that your body was not programmed to eat processed food the entire day.
If you do, it starts to break down rapidly. Getting lazy and inefficient.
That’s exactly why those last percentages of fat don’t burn away without resorting to extreme dietary measures.
There is simply too much of the bad stuff coming in.
“But haven’t we developed as a species?”, you might ask.
Yes, culturally we have, but biologically…not so much.
Your body still works in pretty much the same way and as a result only thrives on the foods it was originally intended to digest.
So what determines the major differences between our ancestors and us?
While the seemingly initial cause might be simply eating too much, the real cause is how our modern dietary patterns influence our hormones.
These ‘hormones’ are the chemical messengers that determine: basic needs, hunger, emotion and mood.
You could say they are the GPS coordinates of your body, that steer you in certain directions.
Whatever you do, there is a hormonal system driving that behaviour.
When it comes to diet and getting below 10% body fat there are two useful ones to elaborate upon: Insulin and testosterone.
For your insulin levels a typical day looks like the top line on the figure below.
Source: The Obesity Code
Every time you are spiking that insulin you are setting yourself up for a situation where you are going to store fat.
Try to imagine your body as a sponge.
(I know it takes a lot of imagination, but bare with me).
The water in the sponge is your level of blood sugar, which is based upon the foods you eat.
The sponge is your body.
What happens when you keep throwing water on that sponge?
It stops absorbing the water and the non-absorbed water ends up in small pools next to it.
That excess water can be compared to what happens when you eat constantly.
Your blood sugar goes up.
Your body is unable to absorb it all.
And the coordinates in your GPS tell your body to take a left turn to ‘fat storage mode’.
In a more ideal situation enough time passes for the sponge to dry up again.
This happens only if you wait long enough in between meals.
This is done through the messenger called ‘insulin’.
It allows your body to lower and manage it’s blood sugar levels to maintain a certain threshold.
If you manage this messenger well, your food does not get stored into fat, but is more effectively transformed into muscle and reserve energy.
Because there is no excess and the sponge absorbs the water even better when it’s dry.
More, when the sponge realizes it’s empty, it starts developing the muscle building messenger, which is called ‘testosterone’.
And it starts directing your body towards muscular growth.
This same muscle will eventually use up more glucose, making the sponge bigger and give it a higher absorption rate.
With more muscle you’ll have a less difficult time staying lean.
The famine your body is preparing itself for never comes, but is followed by another snack.
This means you never really dry up that sponge.
And your GPS keeps pointing you into the direction of ‘fat storage’.
Another third hormone called ‘leptin’ which tells your body you are full is blocked as a result of your high insulin levels.
So you stay hungry throughout the day, even if you keep eating.
You actually stay hungry because of it paradoxically enough.
And we’ve now finally uncovered why eating a box of Pop Tart chips always leaves you hungry even if you have gorged down 2 boxes already.
It’s a repetitive cycle of hormonal imbalances that lead to increased caloric intake, which fires up obesity and not to a six pack.
So what can you do to make those hormones work for you?
How Does This Fasting Diet Work In Practice?
The funny thing is, if you follow this diet correctly you do not need to eat less.
If we travel back in time we would see a few simple differences in dietary patterns.
That’s right, your ancestors did not necessarily eat less in terms of total weight, they ate better.
The difference was that they ate two or three big meals over the entire day high in nutrients instead of many small meals low in nutrients and high in refined chemicals.
They were eating nutrient dense foods intermittently, which means they were eating with breaks.
The secret lies in managing those two hormones.
And ‘especially’ not in starving yourself with weightloss shakes or a week of eating cucumbers. Crazy cuts in caloric intake.
Or even more horrible, a diet of sponges.
Dieting? Eating The Right Things At The Right Time
Diet. Diet. Diet.
It’s an abused word, REALLY.
And it’s the last thing you want to do. Instead focus on making it a lifestyle.
The key difference?
A diet approach focuses on quick short term results.
A lifestyle approch focuses on long term permanent results.
By slightly extending your fasting period your body has 16 hours to use up all the excess glucose that is still flowing around.
Your body releases testosterone to prepare you for your next feast.
And as soon as you eat your body starts devouring everything you put into it.
Muscle and energy increase.
Doing this actually has a name, it is called: ‘Intermittent fasting’.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Quite simply put, intermittent means ‘with pauses’ and fasting implies ‘not eating’.
Thus essentially intermittent fasting (IF) stands for eating with pauses of not eating.
Take note, that if you are currently overflowing your body with sugars, you will find it more difficult and have bigger cravings.
It will feel like you are going cold turkey.
My advice would therefore be for you to replace your sugars like cookies and bread for white rice and sweet potatoes or other carbs that do not cause inflammation.
5 Simple Steps To Start With Intermittent Fasting
1. Maintain an 8 hour eating window. Find which specific window works best for you. Just make sure you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. So for example: wake up and eat your first meal at 12:00 and your final meal before 20:00.
Usually it’s manageable to start your window about 4 hours after waking up, beyond that people generally tend to experience too much hunger especially when they start.
2. Skip processed foods as much as possible especially in your first meal and occasionally keep a check on your caloric intake.
You want to keep the insulin low, but not trigger any hunger too much and make it a sustainable practice. Remember: Lifestyle, not diet.
3. Avoid simple carbs in your first meal. Start your eating phase with a big salad, a piece of fruit or a fruit/vegetable smoothie to kickstart your metabolism. Make sure you don’t do any ‘juices’, those lack the fibre which basically turns a healthy juice into sugar water.
4. In your eating phase eat big meals. Don’t be afraid to eat big meals here, your body is primed to receive nutrients now.
5. Allow your body to adapt. It doesn’t take a Masters in Physiology to realize that your body is an adaptation machine, but it needs time to do so.
If you’ve been eating throughout the day for 20+ years, your body will resist, but it will also thank you afterwards.
Now for the million-dollar question.
“How can you combine this with a regular training schedule?”
I’m glad you asked.
Because you don’t just want to eat better.
You also want your training and eating to support each other.
Below you’ll find out how.
The Fasting And Training Schedule
Fasting is a great tool to use in your toolbox.
Just as with any tool, how you use it exactly is up to you.
Customise the ‘time frame’ to what works specifically for you.
So this is what an ordinary fasting day could possibly look like:
Note: Drinking water or non sugary drinks -which usually only leaves you with water as an option- can be done throughout the day.
For more information and specific meal plans, combine this knowledge with the Nutritional System by the official Bar Brothers.
The Intermittent Fasting Plan To Results
Building the body of your dreams. Finding a hormonal balance. Losing skinny fat. Becoming healthier. Getting more muscle.
It’s about finding the right combination of things.
It’s not only about what you eat, or how much you eat, but also about when you eat.
And at the same time finding the unique combination of those things for your body.
Your body is much more complex than a sponge or even a GPS.
And your great-great-great-grandfather lived in a biologically and culturally different world.
Cookies, chocolate bars or hamburgers, didn’t grow from trees back then.
They still don’t grow from trees now, but are readily available.
If you are unlucky, you might even live in an area where there are more fastfood outlets than there are trees.
The low hanging fruit shaped in into the next cookie, cake or chocolate bar is always around the corner.
Still, you can take your health into your own hands, because those determine what you put into your mouth.
So it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
But if you use your hunger for results as fuel.
Those cravings don’t stand a chance.
Beast mode ON!
Now I’d like to hear from you:
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