Intermittent Fasting Vs. Time. How To Optimize Effort & Reward:
The type of thing that we all come to sites like HealthTrekker for is: Improvements.
What are Science’s little tricks that might turn into huge benefits over time?
And part of that question implies the idea of Cost/Benefit.
One example of the strife many people have with Cost/Benefit is the amount of weight & fat they lose for whatever diet & exercise program they’re on.
Well one recent diet-program that’s been getting a lot of attention is Intermittent Fasting/Time-Restricted Feeding.
Given IF’s many benefits, it’s no wonder researchers are trying to optimize costs…
The Short Answer:
- We’re all looking for improvements in our lives, but we want a return on our efforts.
- Researchers are trying to answer that question for Intermittent Fasting (or Time-Restricted Feeding).
- We’ve had lots of crazy diets.
- Intermittent-Fasting hasn’t been popular for very long.
- The Salk Institute found some great results, both for weight-loss and health.
- But they may not have had the optimal eating-schedule.
- Columbia researchers tried 4 experimental plans and only one extended life.
- This was 4 hours on/20 hours off/24 hours on.
- They also found that the non-feeding time must be at night or you don’t get the benefits.
- Our metabolism actually does 2 more things that improve health when it’s not dealing with calorie-intake.
- Zombie-cell destruction & cleanup is a huge part of IF’s benefits.
- IF also increases healthspan and made the test insects much more active.
- But 2,000 calories in 4 hours on your first day is rough.
- IF is hard, and fasting for 20 hours after that would be brutal.
- Right now, the smallest eating-window suggested by researchers seems to be 8 hours.
- It was not discussed much in the paper, but Calorie Restriction can help extend lifespan, too.
- That is over-and-above the benefits of IF/iTRF.
- Serious CR is dangerous and data-intensive.
- At least now, we seem to have a low-end limit of 8 hours without the craziness of a fruit-fly’s schedule.
Read on to find out the details…
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Even though the idea of Fasting has been around forever,
If you read the covers of the checkout-line magazines, you’d think one of modern society’s top-priority pursuits was losing weight & getting great abs.
But Intermittent-Fasting really hasn’t been widely-popular for very long.
Over the decades we’ve had all kinds of crazy weight-loss recommendations; from swapping margarine for butter, eating tons of pasta in the 80s, Alba 77 milkshakes with Aspartame, (probably cocaine-fueled) Jazzercise, all the way up to the sublime insanity of movie-star diets.
Strangely-enough, for those professionals who have to maintain insanely-low levels of bodyfat for their jobs,
Keto and near-zero-carb was certainly popular.
But so was Intermittent-Fasting…
Because anyone who has tried it will tell you, it pretty much works like magic.
That’s been substantiated Science-wise ever since the big study by the Satchin Panda Lab at the Salk Institute,
Despite the fact that it seems like witchcraft that you can eat the same number & type of calories and still either avoid becoming fat or lose a good chunk of the fat you do have.
You also get some pretty amazing health, brain-fitness, and longevity benefits out of it, too.
And unfortunately, just like Keto, another issue IF has is that it can be very hard to do at times.
So then, just like all the long-suffering exercisers, what are you getting in terms of benefits for all those costs?
And more importantly… Can you optimize that?
And that’s where the recent study kicks-in.
Because researchers at Columbia asked the same thing.
Weight & fat-loss are all great, but IF has helped improve so many problems in test animals like lethargy, premature aging, fatty-liver, diabetes, pre-diabetes,
Of course researchers are going to speculate that with all those fixes, it’s got to improve health & lifespan as well.
So Dr. Shirasu-Hiza’s team took a group of fruit-flies to study and ran some tests.
Luckily for them, they don’t have to wait decades for the results.
The team tried 4 plans:
1) Unrestricted eating to a fixed source of calories 24 hours a day.
2) 12-hour daytime access.
3) 24-hour fast followed by 24 hours unrestricted feeding.
4) 20-hour fasts/day followed by 24 hours of unrestricted feeding.
And what they found is that none of the plans helped,
Except for Number 4.
Under that plan, the fruit flies lived an average of 15% longer, with males living 13% longer and females living 18% longer.
Now since the whole program seems to be moderated by clocks, it’s important to get the timing of everything right.
There is a clock in the brain that basically runs off of sunlight.
And there are several others down in our cells, too.
What the team found out is that you can’t just put the fasting-time anywhere.
It has to be at-night.
It also has to be in a being that has a functioning circadian-clock, too.
If the fasting was done in daylight hours, none of the benefits accrued.
You also need the body to go through the three different processes that the metabolism performs.
1) Calorie digestion, usage & storage
2) Cell damage repair
3) Zombie-Cell destruction & cleanup
Especially Autophagy, or Zombie-Cell Cleanup.
Because if you don’t have that, you don’t get the benefits either.
Another set of benefits the flies got is similar to the ones shown by the mice in the Salk study.
Flies on IF were significantly more active than their 24-hour-buffet counterparts.
In some cases, this increase was as high as 50% more activity.
-Which circles-around to cost/benefit. Not only do you theoretically get to live longer on IF (or iTRF as the researchers call it),
You get to be healthier and more active while you’re doing it, too.
Not to mention all the previous reduction in diseases and cellular-aging that previous works have hinted at.
Now here’s where we get into a little bit more reasonable-discussion.
Because as you might have noticed, eating all your 2,000 calories for one day in a 4-hour window would be a heroic task.
-Not something suited to the average person.
In-addition to the fact that Intermittent Fasting on it’s own is pretty hard.
So then behaving like a Columbia fruit-fly and fasting for 20 hours straight after your 4-hour eating window would be even more brutal.
Maybe people like movie stars and Dwayne Johnson could pull that off.
But not you and me. -Regardless of whether we got to eat for 24 hours after that or not.
So where do we go from here?
Even though people like Dr. Eric Berg have recommended windows as small as !6 hours!,
The researchers doing the study work, from Columbia to Dr. Satchin Panda have repeatedly mentioned windows as big as 10 hours,
And as few as eight.
So, unless you are one of the people who has a blood-sugar condition or other health issue that prevents you from doing IF,
Those seem like the most sensible numbers.
Right now, I haven’t read or heard any actual study authors mention windows as small as 6 hours for humans.
If you could drink enough ice-water or distract yourself with meditation, who knows what that interval might do for you if you could accomplish it?
So to answer the question, “Do I actually have to follow the fruit-fly program of 4/20/24 to get the benefits?”
When you take what different docs have said into consideration, the answer is hopefully No.
…But some nutbar out on the internet will try it anyway; of course.
One more thing.
It was not discussed or emphasized that much in this paper, but there is another longevity-booster that was tried too.
The Columbia team found two things:
1) You did not need CR to achieve the healthspan & lifespan benefits from IF
2) If you did CR, it increased lifespan even more
The study-authors really didn’t talk about it that much,
But one graph in the full-text study suggests that IF with CR increases lifespan by somewhere between 20 & 50%.
The one caveat here is the amounts they used to get the largest-benefit appeared to be extreme.
Even a 25% cut requires some fairly-heavy science & math just to make sure they get all the required macro & micro -nutrients from the little food they do eat.
As a side-note, I have done somewhere around a 10% calorie-restriction and that’s all I can take without going crazy.
Side-note 2: It will also make you lose muscle mass if you aren’t doing weights on a regular basis.
Intermittent Fasting does not seem to have that effect as far as my personal experience.
As a matter-of-fact, IF seems to be fantastic at conserving muscle and burning fat. YMMV.
So there you have it, you probably don’t want to eat like a Columbia fruit-fly,
But there are some very serious benefits if you can get on IF at all,
And there’s a chance they might get even better the closer your eating window gets to 8 hours/day instead of just 10.
We don’t have study-certified optimum numbers for humans yet, but those are surely on the way.
-Even though nutritional studies are notoriously hard to get right.
So to reduce the incidence of many diseases, very likely have a sharper mind that might avoid Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and remain at peak-activity for a very long time,
It’s looking like an 8-hour-window for your Intermittent Fasting efforts just might optimize your dietary Cost/Benefit ratio!
• Source: Columbia
• More Coverage: Endocrine – IF for Metabolic Disease | Endocrine – Metabolic Disease Graphic
• Source Study: Nature – Circadian autophagy drives iTRF-mediated longevity