Intermittent Fasting is a Healing Modality:
Intermittent fasting is one of the oldest nutrition practices that dates back to the beginning of mankind. Our ancient ancestors grew up in a world of stress and scarcity. Food was not often not available and intermittent fasting was common. This form of life left a genetic blueprint with key information pertaining to our health and well-being. Intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress, enhances cellular repair processes and appears to be a key strategy for anti-aging and longevity.
Our ancient ancestors lived in a world where food had to be fought and won. Many days went by with little food. Occasionally, a big hunt would score days of food at a time. This was rare. Typically, one or 2 big meals every few days was sufficient to keep our ancestors nourished.
The Benefits of Food Scarcity:
Thousands of years of food scarcity led our bodies to develop a protective mechanism to adapt to alternating phases of food abundance and scarcity. During times of food scarcity our cell membranes become more sensitive to insulin. This is especially important when food is scarce because it ensures that every bit of food be efficiently used or stored.
During times of food abundance the body desensitizes the cells to insulin in an effort to avoid the stress of a heavy calorie intake. This results in elevated insulin levels, increased fat storage and increased oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions in the body. Insulin also enhances cellular division which is a risk factor for cancer formation.
Today, we have a massive abundance of food sources. We can virtually eat anytime we would like. In fact, many health coaches recommend eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day. This process, however, sends the body the signal of surplus that inhibits key tissue repair hormones that have powerful anti-aging effects.
Turning on Genetic Repair Mechanisms
Intermittent fasting acts to turn on certain genetic repair mechanisms that enhance cellular rejuvenation. This adaptation appears to allow certain cells to have a longer lifespan during times of famine. It is energetically less expensive to repair a cell than it is to divide and create new cells. This has a positive effect at shutting down cancer cell formation and proliferation.
These genetic repair mechanisms are turned on through the release of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is known to create physiological changes in metabolism to favor fat burning and protein sparing. The proteins and amino acids are utilized to repair tissue collagen which improves the functionality and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. HGH also improves skin function, reduces wrinkles & heals cuts and burns faster (1, 2, 3, 4).
HGH and insulin are opposites in function. HGH is focused on tissue repair, efficient fuel usage and anti-inflammatory immune activity (5). Insulin is designed for energy storage, cellular division and pro-inflammatory immune activity (6). Insulin is the dominant player in this game. When conditions demand an insulin release (carbohydrate intake) HGH is inhibited (7, 8)
Fasting is a Powerful Healing Modality
Intermittent fasting is one of the most powerful modalities for reducing inflammation, boosting immunity and enhancing tissue healing (9, 10, 11). This is one of the reasons why many people feel nauseated when they have infections. This innate mechanism is the body’s way of influencing us to fast so it can produce the right environment to boost natural immunity.
Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that men who had fasted for 24 hours had a 2000% increase in circulating HGH. Women who were tested had a 1300% increase in HGH (12). The researchers found that the fasting individuals had significantly reduced their triglycerides, boosted their HDL cholesterol and stabilized their blood sugar.
The best way to begin fasting is by giving your body 12 hours between dinner and breakfast every single day. This allows 4 hours to complete digestion and 8 hours for the liver to complete its detoxification cycle. After this is a standard part of lifestyle try taking one day a week and extending the fast to 16-18 hours. Eventually, you may choose to do a full 24 hour fast each week.
Various Fasting Strategies to Incorporate
Simple Fast: Basic fast with water only for 12 hours between dinner and breakfast which gives the liver a chance to complete its cycle.
Example: Finish dinner at 7pm and don’t eat again until 7am the next day.
Brunch Fast: Basic fast with water for 14 hours between dinner and breakfast which pushes the body to begin to have to tap into stored muscle glycogen and body fat for fuel.
Example: Finish dinner at 7pm and don’t eat again until 9am the next day.
Crescendo Fast: Do a 12-14 hour fast on 5 days of the week and take 2, non-consecutive days and do a 16 hour fast.
Example: Do a 16 hour fast where you finish dinner at 7pm and eat again around 11am the next day. Do this on 2 non-consecutive days each week such as Monday and Friday.
Cycle Fast: Three times each week you fast for 16 hours by skipping either breakfast or dinner.
Example: Finish dinner at 7pm and eat again around 11am-12pm at lunch the next day. Do this on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.
Strong Fast: Consume all food in a 6-8 hour eating window each day. You would eat 2 meals per day and fast through either breakfast or dinner.
Example: This would mean fasting in the morning and eating between 12-7pm each day or 8am-3pm each day or whatever 6-8 hour period you like best.
Warrior Fast: Ancient warrior would often march all day and would feast at night. Consume all food in a 3-5 hour eating window each day. This may be from 2-6pm or 3-7pm, etc.
1 Day Food Fast: 24 hours each week with only consuming water, greens powders and herbal tea. Some may have bone broth during this fast.
5:2 Method: Consume 2 meals per day for 5 days and 2 non consecutive days each week, only consume one meal and allow your body to undergo a 24 hour fast.
How I Do Intermittent Fasting:
I personally like to go 18 hours from dinner to my first meal the next day. I will typically drink 48-60oz of water and herbal tea in the morning during this period. Sometimes, I will do greens powder in water. I usually eat my first meal between 12-2pm and finish my last meal between 5-6:30pm depending upon my schedule. I also practice the 5:2 fasting strategy where I do 2 full day fasts on Sunday and Wednesday where I will only eat one meal on those days.
I will often instruct my clients to do some organic coffee or herbal tea with coconut oil and/or grass-fed butter or ghee in it (1 tsp of each is good). This provides small and medium chain fatty acids that are easy on the digestive system and provide immediate energy in the form of ketones for the brain. This helps to stabilize blood sugar and stress hormones. If someone struggles with hypoglycemia than this is an important step.
I find that doing the 5:2 and a daily 18 hour fast helps me feel strong and full of vigor. It also improves my digestive system, skin health and immune system. Experiment with this and see if you can find the right rhythm for yourself. Here are some additional benefits to fasting:
This is an AMAZING article, i just discovered fasting, its nice to know that it exceeds the benefits you get just from the calorie deficit. Thank you!!!! <3
Yes, the 16-18 hour daily fast is amazing and gives tremendous health benefits!
I was always a big breakfast person! I ate grain free, low carb and was very health minded! After I heard about intermittent fasting I was a bit scared to give up breakfast! I thought I’d at least give it a try. I started by getting up and drinking either raw veggie juice and/or water with a shot of terrain. I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What are we allowed to drink(in addition to water) during a 16-18 hour fast?
Is a cup of organic low-sodium chicken broth ok, to keep from getting hungry? A cup has 20 calories, 2 carbs. Will that ruin the fast?
No that is very good Carolyn. You can use the broth for sure!
Doesn’t broth have have nutrients in it? Meaning….the broth will break the fast??? 20 calories, 2 carbs. Isn’t that ‘food’?
Or…since there’s nothing to chew the body digests it fast enough to let it not disturb the fast? So the body is kind of in an illusion and it keeps the fasting benefits going?
If that’s the case what about juicing? Raw carrots, apples, kale, cabbage, whatever, juice it (nooo pulp or foam) and you drink that. Would THAT break the fast?
If it does, then whats the difference between the raw veggie/fruit juice and the chicken broth?
If there is no difference, then that means….
You can keep the benefits of the Strongman Fast by replacing your meals with juicing? And only eat solid foods in the proper time windows?
I am kinda new to al this so I’m trying to figure things out. Please help, Dr. Jockers!
Most juices are ok for fast but some aren’t. Like tomatoes for ex. Research juice fasting.
Hello Dr. Jockers,
I have short bowel syndrome due to loss of colon to UC 25+ years ago. The small 4″ section that is till left still as ulcers, albiet non-bleeding at last check.
I know that fasting is a huge healing component; however, I crash so easily without protein throughout the day. If I go to long between meals, I get so shaky and weak.
I would love to try this, but how would you suggest easing into it?
Hi Dr. Jockers,
Is there anyway you can add the button for”printer friendly version” so that I am able to print out your articles?
Is it good to fast breakfast if working out?
I also use a splash of homemade nut milk in my organic coffee w/organic coconut oil & organic cinnamon. Is the nut milk ok for a morning fast?
Hey Sandra, the long-chain fats in the nuts are a little tougher for the body to digest and will reduce the benefits of the fasting. I would recommend seeing how you tolerate it without the nut milk in the morning coffee and perhaps add a bit more coconut oil or grass-fed butter which are primarily small and medium chain fats.
Can i use half and half cream in my coffee? or do i need to just drink it black? and thanks for all this great info i am going to start today.
You can have some half and half cream, but I recommend using coconut milk – full fat instead!
Dear Dr David
Interesting article on intermittent fasting. There is some degree of confusion about the things which can consume during fasting period. Like you said you take you 48 – 60 oz water, herbal tea, organic coffee, green powder, coconut oil, grass-fed butter / ghee.
Firstly what do you mean by green powder?
Can we yogurt during fasting period??
Also, please suggest few more alternative things which one can consume during fasting period.
Thanks and regards
Hey Dr Prakash,
Greens powder would be a dried green vegetable powder such as the perfect food I have on my store site.
I don’t recommend yogurt on the fast as the protein and carbs will reduce the HGH effect. However, if you were going to consume something on the fast, doing a liquid fermented food like yogurt wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Tremendous thanks Dr David for my query.
In same context how about the use apple cider vinegar, cinnamon powder during the period of fast ?
What about protein powders during the fast, would that be okay?
Hey Doug, protein would definitely break the fast. I would recommend a pure water fast or a fat fast where you only consume fat with no protein or carbs.
I feel I have been reborn. After struggling horribly with Lyme disease for almost 4 years I began your recommended strong fasting 100 days ago and I literally have had 100 great days in a row. I feel so good I am going to host a Lyme retreat to help others try and feel like this. Don’t pinch me, I think I must be dreaming!
One question Dr Jocker would be your thoughts on adding shakeology dense nutrition to my daily kefir shake that I have during my “eating window”.
Hey Bruce, Thanks for sharing, that is powerful stuff!! I do not know a lot about this brand but you can try it. It seems at least halfway decent however they do not specify if the whey protein is grass-fed and cold-processed, which is something I like to see.
I drink my coffee with stevia and heavy cream. Could I drink this during the fasting period? Thank you.
Hey Denise, it depends. Sometimes cream can cause a glycemic response for some individuals. You may be better suited using grass-fed butter or ghee in place of the cream! The best way to know if to use a glucose monitor to see how these things affect your blood sugar.
melatonin secretion at 7:30am?
Hey Kristi, yes many people don’t fully understand this but melatonin formation actually begins in the morning with exposure to AM sunlight!
I just had a 6 centimeter, T2, high grade, Urothelial cancerous tumor taken out of my bladder. After removal they still found some in my bladder wall and muscle. They want to take out the bladder & prostrate and I say no. I want to try going Ketogenic like you are suggesting as well as Dr. Seyfried from Boston College going on the assumption that cancer feeds on sugar. Would you suggest going right to a 16-18 IF with a once or twice a week 24 hour fast thrown in and basically eliminating carbs to get Keto ASAP? Is there a hard core limited diet to try? Thanks for being out there in cyberland to help find a solution as it is a daunting task trying to figure it out on one’s own/Jimmy
Here you go James! https://drjockers.com/fasting-strategies-cancer/
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more in-depth guidance!
So what is the opinion about fasting either before or after surgery? I am currently on a Ketogenic diet and doing some intermittent fasting. I am having an All on 4 procedure done in 3 weeks that will remove my teeth and install implants. I will likely be on a liquid/soft foods diet following this. It occurs to me that it’s not a big step from soft foods to no foods. I was thinking of fasting for a few days post surgery or a few pre-surgery. I have seen some advice not to fast as your body needs protein post surgery but then again it seems like it could use an uptick in HGH to repair as well. Is there anything definitive on this?
during an IF, in the morning waking hours I would sometimes chew raw garlic and have hot h2o with freshly squeezed lemon..will this is anyway compromise the fast please? thanks kindly in advance…oh also, wouldn’t coconut/ mct oil cause an insulin response and thus break a fast?
Yes that would likely interfere with your fast Mike!
Why does bruising occur during fasting?
I did a 48 hour fast and noticed a random bruise on my arm.
Yes it is most likely due to the body breaking down some unneccessary scar tissue or abnormal cell growths and cleaning them up.
Conjecture at best
Thank you for your great info and advice! I noticed that you answered mh’s Question on garlic and lemon juice breaking a fast, but did you mean that coconut and MCT oil would also separately break the fast? Thank you so much for your help.
Yes coconut and MCT oil do break a fast Mary.
My wife and I are starting the Keto diet. Our children, all in their 30’s, have done very well in weight loss and their blood work has come back with good numbers.
My wife is healthy and loves anything green. I’m a meat and potato guy and a sugar addict, with diabetes 2 and heart issues resulting in a couple clogged arteries.
My question is, how does the fat and cholesterol increase affect my coronary heart disease? Why wouldn’t it increase my risk of clogging my arteries?
Thank you, for sharing your knowledge in this area.
Hey Bruce, the fat and cholesterol have nothing to do with “clogging the arteries.” What causes higher blood triglycerides and oxidative stress in the blood vessels is high insulin levels. A ketogenic diet and lifestyle reduces insulin and therefore has a profoundly beneficial impact on cardiovascular health. https://drjockers.com/cholesterol/
Doc … something you said got me confused …you indicated that while on IF we can have organic coffee or tea with grass feed butter, coconut oil or mct oil because is good for the brain. Then in the comments section you are saying coconut oil or mct oil will interfere with the IF…I am confused…please clarify
Yes it will interfere with getting the full benefits but it can be a bridge to help someone fast. It is called a “fat fast” or a partial intermittent fast.
This is a wonderful article and I have learnt alot to enable me improve health and alse cure the health challenge I have. But I would like to know if you can do some little little exercise when fasting. Thank you.
Hey Mary, That is a great question. This article goes into detail about intermittent fasting and the benefits of high intensity exercise. Please feel free to join our closed facebook group on more fasting strategies here!
Since starting the 30-day cleansing fast, I have noticed “skin sores” on the back of both of my thighs. Is this part of “the cleansing process”? Also, I;m having some low back pain, but my doctor says there isn’t anything going on with my lower back, other than some mild arthritis. Is this also a normal side-effect of the fast?
Hey Monica, A skin rash may present during a cleanse because of the release of toxins rapidly leaving the body through the skin. During an extended fast the body will break down old and damaged cells, in some cases, especially when arthritis is present, this can cause more pain, but this is part of the healing process as the body will increase stem cell production and when you begin eating again, you will feed the stem cells and they will help rebuild new, young and healthy tissue cells to replace the old, damaged cells.