Intermittent & Episodic Fasting


Hi everyone! I you want to tell you a little bit about intermittent fasting versus episodic fasting.  You may not have heard of episodic fasting, but we'll talk about it in just a minute. Intermittent fasting is a paradigm, or a plan in which you eat all your food for the day within about an eight hour eating window. Now, that time can vary depending on your situation, but for our purposes here, we're going to talk about an eight hour eating window. That would mean that there's a 16 hour window where you don't eat. You can have plenty of water and you can have maybe some herbal tea, bone broth, something like that. But generally you don't need anything, just a few clear liquids, nothing that would raise insulin levels. That's an important part of it.

So the idea here is we're supposed to have a mechanism by which we eat, or overeat, and we take the extra and store it as body fat.  Then in times of need, when we don't have enough to eat, we can pull back out of the body fat storage and use that for fuel. That pipeline is supposed to kind of freely run back and forth. We call that metabolic flexibility, being able to live on what goes in your mouth or live on what you've stored for a rainy day. So when you do intermittent fasting the idea is during that eight hour window, your put your food in, maybe your store a little bit, probably not if you're eating the right stuff, if you're not stimulating much of an insulin response, then during the 16 hours that you're not eating, your body lives off what you put in your mouth for a little while and then it switches and pulls out of storage for a little while. And so you're exercising that metabolic flexibility.

You're exercising the ability to either live on what you're eating or live on what you've stored previously. So that's kind of the idea behind intermittent fasting. It works very well. There's a lot of wonderful information about it out there, about what it changes.  Body composition changes, insulin resistance, changes the way your brain works to some degree, gets rid of some of the hunger cravings over time. Food addictions can get broken, and you get out of this thing we've been taught where you're supposed to eat, three full meals, three more snacks and, a shake somewhere in there. So you're constantly putting food in your body. It kind of breaks that a little bit and I think that's important. I think most of the whole, you know, constantly shove food in your face is probably more marketing than it ever was health related science.

So anyway, intermittent fasting; it's easy to find information on it. Everybody is recommending it and doing it. And I don't think it's a bad thing, if your physiology is working well, if you are already metabolically flexible, it's going to do great. If you're not all that metabolically flexible, if you are someone who has insulin resistance or you're significantly overweight certain medications you can be taking that can mess with your blood sugars, steroids, things like that, then intermittent fasting might not be enough.

So here's the analogy I use in the office quite a bit. Think of, well, first of all, think of of your storage mechanism, like a pipeline with a big valve in it. So if I sat down here and ate ten donuts, that's a lot of calories and a lot of sugar or if I drank a couple of Cokes or something like that and it doesn't take that much, but I'm just going to the extreme for the example, my blood sugar would very quickly go up above a level that my body's comfortable with and there are mechanisms that would be triggered that would tell my body, get this blood sugar under control, bring it back down to a normal level.

Under that circumstance, my pancreas creates insulin, insulin goes into my bloodstream, tells my body to scrape off all that excess blood sugar that I don't need. Like if my blood sugar level normally sits in the seventies, let's say I eat all that stuff and all of a sudden my blood sugar is 200. My body wants to get it down close to 70 again. So it dumps a whole bucket load of insulin in there and that takes hopefully everything between 70 and 200 and throws it in storage. Now we all know what storage is, right? That's fat. I point to where I hold mine. So all of that goes into storage. That drops our blood sugar pretty quickly. Well, on the way down like that, our body says, oh my gosh, my blood sugar's getting too low, so now we get a craving to eat something that would raise your blood sugar, another doughnut, a cracker, a Candy Bar, a soda, a piece of bread, toast, something that would quickly raise our blood sugar. And that's a craving.

We don't necessarily have the ability, we don't have the opportunity at that point in many cases to really guide that craving towards something healthy. It's just kind of an instinctual thing. So our blood sugar's coming down like we wanted, but on the way down our body says that's a pretty steep slope there. I don't want that to get too low because blood sugar too low is like, deadly. So you get a craving, you start to eat again, blood sugar starts to come back up, you make more insulin, you throw all that in storage, blood sugar starts to come back down.

This cyclical up and down blood sugar with ever elevated levels of insulin is what creates insulin resistance and it turns you a new kind of a storage machine. Every time your blood sugars up you store, everything crashes, you crave everything. You eat everything, it goes up, you store everything. It's just a cycle and the weight just comes on. You're storing for a rainy day, right? We were hunters and gatherers. We used to wander around until we found food then we would eat everything we could, store all the extra and then start wandering again until we found food. That storage pipeline was supposed to pretty easily go either direction.

When we eat a lot and we store it, then for the next couple of days we're wandering around looking for food and we start pulling back out of storage to fuel ourselves. Then we find food, we eat a lot and we store it. Then we wander around for a few days, we pull out of storage, that valve in that pipeline was constantly being switched back and forth. That's what we're designed for. That's a survival mechanism hardwired, built into us.

But we overwhelmed that, we send everything into storage for days, weeks, months, years, sometimes entire lifetimes. We never experience any famine, so we never turned the valve the other way. We never pull back out of storage. That valve ends up getting gummed up and rusty and it just doesn't move. So if you're in that situation and you start to do intermittent fasting, are you really putting enough pressure on that valve to open it up and run the pipe the other direction? Sometimes, yes, but in some people no you don't.

When I get people where I talk about intermittent fasting and the first thing they say is, oh my god, I can't go two hours without eating. I can't go three hours without eating. If I don't eat every meal, I'm a cranky mess. Right? You don't want to be around me. I get headaches, I get jittery, I get grumpy, and I started yelling at people. That's someone whose body says, if you don't eat, I'm going to die, so I'm going to send you every signal I have that you need to eat because that valve in that pipeline doesn't work.

You're the exact person that needs intermittent fasting. If the valve opens, you may not. So in those patients we talk more about episodic fasting to restore that metabolic flexibility that they're supposed to have so that intermittent fasting may do its job, so let's talk episodic fasting. So in episodic fasting you might go two or three days without eating, but then eat normally for another five or six days and then do another two or three days without eating. Then eat normally for five or six days. It's not intermittent fasting like the first one we described, but it's episodes of fasting larger chunks.

Let me explain why we do this, it would seem kind of mean to pick the very patients that have trouble doing a short 16 hour fast and tell him to go two or three days. I'm not that mean I promise, so here's the theory, let's say for a moment that you ended up being a couple hundred dollars short on your mortgage this month, but you have a million dollar retirement account sitting off to the side, but for whatever reason you don't quite have enough to cover the mortgage. Is a $200 short on the mortgage pain level, enough of a problem for you to break into the million dollar retirement account and pay the penalties and do all the paperwork and explain to your accountant why you're getting in there and all that stuff? Probably not, you sell the couch on beg barter bu, or you have a garage sale or you skimp on eating out, you know, for a couple of weeks and then you pay the extra 200 on the mortgage. No big deal.

You just shuffled things around and found another way to get it done. That is more like intermittent fasting in someone who's not metabolically flexible. You put a little bit of pressure on the system, they just find an easy work around it. I'll tamp down the temperature a little bit or I'll quit making new proteins for awhile or I'll stop my immune system from functioning as robustly or I'll just sleep more or something, right? It will back off on something to save that 200 bucks and go ahead and pay the mortgage and leave the retirement account alone, but let's say a couple months later somebody knocks at the door with an eviction notice and says, you know what? You're not only $200 short, you're a couple months behind, we're going to take the house if you don't pay this off.

That level of pain, that amount of pressure, that may well be enough to say, oh, okay, wait a minute, I can't just scrimp and save and come up with two or three months mortgage. I'm going to go ahead and break into the retirement account. So that's a lot of pain. A lot of stress, a lot of trouble. Now you've got to go through a lot of paperwork real quickly, but once you open up that retirement account, you have a million dollars dropped in your lap. You're not worried about mortgage payments anymore, right? You can pay the next year ahead. You could pay the house off if you want it to, but all of a sudden you're flush with cash.

You've got the resources to do what you need to do because there was enough pressure on that valve in the pipeline that it finally opened up and tapped into all that storage. Some of us are carrying a couple of days worth of storage. Some of us are carrying a month's worth of storage, but if your body goes without calories long enough that it finally says, okay, wait a minute the headache didn't work. The jittery didn't work. The grumpy didn't work. The hunger pains didn't work. None of it worked. Obviously you're not going to feed me. I'm going to go break into the retirement account.

When you finally reached that pressure point where it opens the valve, you're on easy street, you've got access to all that storage that you've been saving for a rainy day for all these years. The episode of fasting was enough pressure on the system to open up that valve. Intermittent fasting was just 50 bucks short on the mortgage or $100 short on the mortgage. You sell something, you cut back on something. Your body just kind of changes the metabolic rate a little bit so that you can now pay the bill, in an episode. You build up enough pressure it says, okay, wait a minute. This is beyond saving a few pennies, I'm tapping into the retirement account, and let's face it, that's what you want it to do. You want it to tap into the retirement account. None of us wants to walk around with a three month retirement account hanging around our waist.

So that's the difference between intermittent fasting and episodic fasting. Who gets what in my office? Well, many times we'll try intermittent fasting or patients have already tried it on their own and sometimes they say, oh my gosh, I do intermittent fasting, I feel great, I have energy, my brain works, I don't have cravings. I'm fine. Great. That's a patient that can handle intermittent fasting. That valve opens and closes. They've got metabolic flexibility, life is good.

But then we have patients where they do intermittent fasting and they're miserable. They can't even make it. They go all night, they eat dinner, go all night long. They can't even skip breakfast. Right? They get to 10:00 in the morning and they're like tackling coworkers and stealing bagels and stuff like that. That's someone that needs episodic fasting, but then how do you manage that if they can't even go one meal?

Well you do eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours, 14 hours, 16 hours, 18 hours, 20, 22. You just build it up over time and you give yourself the flexibility to say, look, I'm aiming for three day fast, but I have every right to cut it off at a day and a half. If I can't do it and I'll wait three or four days and I'll start again and maybe I'll get a couple hours further and I'll wait a couple days and I'll start again. If you're aiming for three days on your first one, that's great and that's what we recommend. You will fail repeatedly before you finally hit three days and that's fine.

Every time you fail, you're wiggling that valve. You're starting to break it loose. You're starting to work the rust off of that valve, and so each time you put pressure on it, you're getting closer to that valve just opening up and releasing that retirement account for you. So episodic fasting. For many people, you've got to take several runs at it, over and over again before you finally get through that barrier. Now, here's the cool part. Many times when you finally open that valve, I have patients that will come back and say, well, I didn't do three days. I got to day two about halfway through and it's like the lights came on. I hit my stride, alright, I was in my zone. I went five or six days because I didn't feel the need to eat. That's fine.

Your body will tell you when it's time to eat. The people that have trouble are the people that are not metabolically flexible and they forced the issue. They're going to go three days, come hell or high water, and they are miserable. They don't feel right. Their blood sugar is getting too low. Their body's mechanisms to handle this or not working and they won't break their fast and I admire their courage. I admire their stubbornness, but you got to listen to your body.

So if you start to go two or three days, four days and you realize not feeling it, it's not working. I'm not seeing that cash from the retirement account show up in my lap. Right? I'm just starving. Break the fast, wait a couple of days. Do it again. Okay? Don't torture yourself for the sake of torturing yourself. Let's talk breaking the fast. Typically you break a fast by eating first of all, good food. Don't break the fast with trash pizza. Don't break a fast with donuts, cereal, things like that. You break a fast with something. For me anyway, salty, protein, fatty. So a lot of times and people laugh at me, but this is the honest truth, at the end of a fast. I crave taco meat, and you guys have seen my videos. I do butcher box, ground beef and I add primal palate seasonings to it. They make a great taco seasoning that doesn't add all the trash in it that the ones with the grocery store do, but it tastes the same.

So I've got this big bowl of steaming taco meat in front of me and I'll take a couple spoonfuls of it and I'll walk away. I'll just let my stomach get used to having something in there because let's face it, sometimes this is five days, no food. I can't just throw a whole bowl of Taco meat in there. It's just going to run right through. A couple of spoons of it, walk Away, give it 20, 30 minutes. Of course by then I'm like, I'm ready to eat. So then I go back, get a lettuce leaf, put some taco meat in it and have a small little lettuce wrap. Walk away again, come back later. Probably finish off the bowl at that point.

Sometimes I'll break a fast with scrambled eggs or a fried egg. Sometimes I'll break it with a couple of pieces of bacon and then work my way into a bigger meal of maybe a chicken breast or something like that. Salad, to me, salad's not an awesome way to break the fast. It just doesn't provide much. So not my first choice. Some people may crave it, that's fine. But you want to break it with something relatively light, something you can put in, in small increments and increase over time and something that doesn't immediately raise your insulin levels. You have now been burning fat for a period of time. Why do you want to slam the door shut on that by raising your insulin levels? So let's say you break your fast with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Your insulin is going to go sky high because you haven't had blood sugar like that in days. So your insulin goes high, that slams that valve shut and says, oh my gosh, we've got to put this stuff in storage.

So my advice would be break your fast with at least something Paleo if not something more keto friendly. Now you don't have to break your fast with a lot of fat if you don't want to, although that would be fine, but something protein and fat. Maybe you have a couple pieces of clean lunch meat and you know, a quarter of an avocado. That would be a decent way to break your fast, breaking your fast with, you know, caramel popcorn, probably not the best idea.

So hopefully that helps you understand the difference between intermittent fasting and episodic fasting. They both have their place. The goal would be to be able to use intermittent fasting and enjoy all the benefits of it. It may just take you awhile to get there. if you aren't one of those people that said, I can't go two or three hours without eating, I just can't. It's not me. You're broken, Your metabolism isn't working. You shouldn't be in that situation. That is inappropriate. It's wrong. It's not the way we're designed. It's not just you. It's not a quirky thing about you. It's not your individuality, it's not right. So if that describes you, find a functional medicine doctor, find a health coach. Health coaches are great for this. Find a functional medicine doctor, find a health coach, call my office if you're a patient of mine, come on in and see me and we'll talk about your metabolism. I'll do another video later on, probably my next one on how to look at your lab work and know if you're insulin resistant.

And that way you can look at that before and after some fasting. You can look at it before and after doing a cleanse or before and after changing how you eat, before and after losing weight, but you'll know how to judge on your own if you're becoming insulin resistant or if you're already there. There are definitely ways to tell from some very simple lab work whether or not you're insulin resistant. So we'll go over that in a future video.

Hope that helps you out. Please ask questions. I know you guys are gonna have questions, this will be on my blog, but you'll see bits of it on Facebook and other places. If you watch it on the blog, just go to Facebook and ask a few questions and I'll answer them, if I get enough questions, I'll do another video to answer them. But I wanted to get this out there, answer some questions for you guys. Hopefully I've answered more questions than I've created.

A book you can look into that is also helpful for this, there are several, Jason Fung, F-U-N-G, did a book called The Obesity Code. He and another author also did a book called the Complete Guide to Fasting, both of those are good resources. And Mark Sisson, S-I-S-S-O-N, has a book out now fairly recently, I think it's called the Keto reset diet or something about Keto reset diet.  I think he named it Keto because if you put Keto in the title, you'll sell a lot more books all of a sudden. But basically it's about building metabolic flexibility. It explains the concept of it, the dynamics surrounding it and a lot of what I told you right here, but it has recipes and techniques and timelines and things like that.

And that may be really helpful for those of you that like a structure to this. Obviously if you're taking insulin, if you take diabetic medications, be very careful when you fast, alright, your blood sugar can get too low. A lot of times those medications are kind of calibrated for your normal diet. When you cut off that diet, your blood sugar can really plummet. So do watch your blood sugar carefully. Obviously if you want to talk to your prescribing doctor before you do this, that would make a lot of sense. But if you are someone who has blood sugar issues, get someone to guide you through this, health coach, functional medicine doctor, a regular doctor, although they're not usually into fasting, some of them are so talk to them and take advantage of those resources.

But that's it for today on intermittent and episodic fasting. Probably more to come because I'm guessing you guys are going to have questions and I'll just clear them up in another video. Maybe we'll do a Q&A on Facebook. I think that would be fun. So whatever you want to see, let me know, give me some feedback and we'll set it up for you. Okay?

So as usual, until we talk next time, eat for your health or don't eat at all. Train for performance and live the life you love today.

Thanks for watching.



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