As Dr. Peter Attia has described in his nutritional framework, there are three levers you can pull: consumption quantity (how much you eat), elements of diet (what you eat), and time restriction (when you eat). All three levers are important and should be “pulled” at different times. Attia says “always pull one, often two, occasionally three”. When you eat is just as important as how much & what you eat.
The practice of time restriction, though centuries old in many religious cultures & a matter of necessity for our ancestors, is relatively young in the research sphere. This post is not designed to be comprehensive, nor advice, but will share some of my key takeaways from a brief study on the topic (primary resources: Andrew Huberman + Two Meals a Day) along with personal experience over two years on-and-off practicing time restricted feeding.
Too Long, Didn’t Read: What do I need to know about intermittent fasting? My 5 takeaways
- At the very least, to get the benefits one would want to fast an hour after waking (black coffee + tea is acceptable, but no sugar) and 2-3 hours before bed. Assuming an 8 hour sleep this would give you a 12/12 hour feeding/fasting window in a 24 hour cycle. Many of the benefits from fasting come during sleep, so entering your sleep cycle with your last meal digested is critical.
- Certain hormones are triggered during fed and fasted states. Insulin (produced by the pancreas) spikes to manage increased blood sugar during fed states. High resting blood glucose levels are linked to a higher mortality rate, and fasting can help reduce resting blood glucose levels. In a constantly fed state, especially one high in processed carbohydrates & sugars, individuals are at risk of developing insulin resistance (cells not responding to insulin) which leads to higher blood glucose levels.
- Autophagy is the bodies method of cleaning out dead cells which happens primarily during sleep and is enhanced when fasting. Routine fasting has profound anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects as it signals to your body to produce glutathione known as the “master antioxidant”.
- Setting the circadian rhythm is primarily influenced by timing of light and food intake (other factors like time of exercise play a major role as well). Just as it is important to maintain a regular sleep schedule – it is also important to try to stick to a regular feeding window. This will help optimize fat metabolism, insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial functioning, immune functioning, gut microbiome diversity, inflammation control, and disease protection.
- What about my gains? Time restricted feeding / intermittent fasting is not optimal for those trying to put the COVID-20 in their biceps, but from my experience it is still possible to maintain the same muscle mass while doing routine fasting. Having a serving of protein early in your day (~10am-12pm) will help with maintaining muscle mass. For me, a typical day will include a “break-fast” between 10-12 and a final meal being finished around 8pm before heading to bed at 10pm to wake at 5:30am.
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