This blog post accompanies the Evolve Experience Podcast Episode #4: Intermittent Fasting
Today’s post is about a hot topic in the health and fitness world: Intermittent fasting. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you want to try it, but maybe you’re not sure how it would work for you or how to get started.
A lot of patients have inquired with us about fasting, so I asked Dr. Amber Wehrle, a chiropractic physician and the COO of Premier Wellness Centers to help answer some of the basic questions on the topic. Today’s blog post includes some highlights of our interview.
Dr. Bill Jensen: Dr. Wehrle, it’s great to have you as a guest today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and your work, and how you became interested in intermittent fasting?
Dr. Amber Wehrle: Thank you for having me on the show. I went to school, studied anatomy, health, and wellness, and ended up going to chiropractic school. I started treating patients, and as much as I loved that job, I realized my passion was leading me more into biochemistry.
When I was in Birmingham, Michigan, I had a partner whose affiliate group handled bone broth and intermittent fasting. That’s how I got started on this path.
Dr. Jensen: Most people hear “fasting” and think “starvation”. What’s the difference?
Dr. Wehrle: That’s the most common question I get, especially from my family. It seems interchangeable. The big difference between the two is your intention. With a fast, it’s really understanding your biochemistry, understanding why you’re doing it, and knowing when the next meal is coming. If you’re starving and don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you’re going into a fight-or-flight mode, and you can cause your hormones to become disrupted by the anxiety.
It’s interesting, because we’re actually trying to mimic starvation, but hack it. What are the good benefits of being starved from food and how can we get them?
Dr. Jensen: So where did this all start? We talked about fasting and it’s very common. Certain religious groups fast or limit types of food during seasons or holidays. So the act is not uncommon, but at the end of the day, where did this really take off?
Dr. Wehrle: A lot of it is ancestral. This is how our bodies were designed. There’s supposed to be times of not eating and eating. Religion does this pretty well—every religion has it, some time when they go without. And that’s really to give your body time to process what you’ve already had, and also to reflect on the gratitude you should have for those items.
It’s also the circadian rhythm as well. The day and night cycles go with a lot of things, like how your body uses resources like the sun and plants. We know that almost all life forms have two states. They’re either going to be looking for food/fighting/fleeing, or they have food and are building. You can only be in one state at a time, so we’re looking at finding a homeostasis between the two. Not to get too political, but it really started when we began to get research studies that were backed by the wrong people. They were saying “eat all the time,” because there’s more money in that. I think the standard American diet today is to eat every hour. I think when we started going down that path we forgot the importance of the pause in eating.
Here are some of our recommendations for getting your fast started off right.
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Dr. Jensen: You know, a lot of people ask us here at Premier Wellness Centers, do we have a particular diet plan we do here? And what I tell people is you’ll never hear this, because there’s not a lot of money to be made on it, but the best diet plan is just don’t eat at all. I don’t have a shake or supplement to sell you, I just say, if you don’t eat, you’re obviously going to lose weight. So how does intermittent fasting actually work? Why is it so effective for health and weight loss?
Dr. Wehrle: For the most part, intermittent fasting works by letting your body take a break from food to process the food you’ve already consumed, and maybe then some. It literally just means no calories, letting the hormones and everything reset.
Your body is a machine of sorts. It has a couple different fuel sources—one is gasoline and one is a diesel fuel tank. Both of them work but you normally don’t use them at the same time. The most common one people know about is glucose—a fancy word for sugar. Carbohydrates also break down into sugar, and protein as well if it doesn’t get used as an amino acid. That’s one fuel source.
The other fuel source is going to be a ketone party. Your body has fatty acids that it breaks down into ketone bodies.
Your glucose is like your gas and your ketones are the diesel. So if you keep putting gas in your body there’s no need to use the diesel fuel. But the issue comes when you keep having more fuel that you can’t use, so you put the extra gas in gas tanks and put them in the backseat of your car. nd then you run out of gas tanks and have to turn it into a different kind of energy.
So what happens is your glucose is now in the blood. Then it goes into your liver and it uses all the glycogen in your liver that’s stored there. Those are your reserves, so you don’t die every time you fall asleep. One of the issues now is the protein part. Once your body uses all the glycogen in the liver, the next source is going to be protein, or the muscles. The body will go after those proteins while waiting for the diesel tank to kick in, or some of the muscle.
What happens to that broken down protein or muscle? Well, as soon as you start eating again, your body is going to rebuild muscle better with your new fuel. Destroy and repair. Then ketone bodies coming out of the stored areas are going to be used as energy fuel going forward.
One of the easiest ways to get into that is just don’t eat for 36 hours. Another way to do it that isn’t so extreme is ketosis. If you’ve ever heard someone talk about doing the keto diet and losing weight, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Dr. Jensen: That being said, you’d probably say the best way to get started would be a ketogenic diet on an intermittent fasting schedule?
Dr. Wehrle: Yes.
Dr. Jensen: So are there different ways to do fasting? Are there different lengths of fast you can go on? Do different lengths accomplish different things?
Dr. Wehrle: Yes. Again it’s important to know your intention—what is your intention in going without food? What part do you want to maximize for your goal? A lot of people want to do a healthy maintenance. Your last meal is at 8 at night and your next one should be at 8 the next morning, not eating in the middle of the night or when you first wake up. That’s just a normal maintenance fast.
When you start to want to do gut repair, give your body a break, stabilize blood glucose, then I’d go into more of the 18-24 hours. Once you get past 24 to 36, that’s when you get to the cellular repair and fat burning zone. When you get to 72 hours, that’s the sweet zone for fat burning.
I also do a lot of 5-day water fasts. Those are a little more extreme—don’t just jump into that, you won’t like it. But when you work up to it, you get cellular and neural regeneration.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this piece on intermittent fasting. Remember that intermittent fasting should be used in conjunction with other wellness strategies, such as good chiropractic care and massage therapy.
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