I tried fasting for a while — intermittent fasting.
For example, I used to recommend that people wake up and delay breakfast or even delay lunch.
That made their first meal of the day a late lunch or an early dinner.
I lived this way myself for a while.
What was sort of surprising was that I never lost fat, and I never lost weight.
I didn’t gain muscle either.
I was hungry, but I felt like I was performing better at the same time.
It’s an odd combination that makes you think that fasting is working even when there’s no weight loss or muscle gain.
So is it really worthwhile to try fasting?
Is skipping breakfast good for you?
Since intermittent fasting is so popular, I wanted to show you what some of the effects are.
This way you can decide for yourself if it’s something you want to try.
To start, you need to know how intermittent fasting works.
When you fast, you increase the catecholamines secreted in your body.
Catecholamines are hormones made by the adrenal glands as a reaction to stress.
The biggest increase is in the stress hormone called norepinephrine, or noradrenaline.
When your noradrenaline goes up, there are several side-effects.
Your heart starts beating faster and pumping more blood.
Much of your immune system slows down.
You retain sodium, and your blood pressure goes up.
Your liver starts kicking in to produce more blood sugar.
And if your blood sugar is low, cortisol kicks in to digest your own tissues to produce more sugar for your blood.
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Your entire digestive system slows down.
This digestive slowdown includes the process called peristalsis.
Peristalsis is the process that moves food through your small intestine to your colon and out your anus.
And fasting slows this down, sometimes even stops.
There are a couple of things you need to know about all of these side-effects of fasting.
First of all, the process of creating blood sugar from body tissues can result in losing lean mass.
And that lean mass can come from anywhere in the body — it could come from your heart, brain, or any other organ.
It can even come from your male member.
The next thing you need to know is that food is going to stick around in your colon a lot longer when you’re under the influence of noradrenaline.
When food sits in the gut like that, it means that it is fermenting more — which means it is creating more endotoxins.
So you have more endotoxins, your body is digesting its own tissues, and you are in a constant “fight or flight” mode.
This is what happens when you fast.
This combination of effects does raise your metabolism — but it’s only temporary.
So, why don’t you lose weight when you practice intermittent fasting?
Let’s look at this study of healthy people who intermittently fasted.
The researchers found that the body makes an adjustment when fasting.
The heightened noradrenaline levels are a high-stress problem the body works to solve.
So the body compensates by flooding the system with more stress hormones –such as cortisol.
These elevated cortisol levels work to counteract the stress that all of that noradrenaline is causing.
And cortisol has been shown over and over again to be associated with weight gain.
The people in the study did not lose weight.
In fact, they were in danger of gaining weight and had to eat fewer calories to avoid it.
So that’s the paradox of intermittent fasting.
It causes stress hormones to build up, it can temporarily raise resting energy levels.
But over time the body adapts, and intermittent fasting simply results in your losing lean mass.
Intermittent fasting damages muscle and organ mass that you may never get back.
As the study authors conclude:
The decrease in resting energy expenditure after intermitten fasting indicates the possibility of an increase in weight.
Remember, not all weight loss is good.
We’re made up of two basic types of cells — fat cells and lean mass cells.
To lose weight and keep it off without damaging our health, the weight loss needs to be from fat loss.
When we are under the influence of stress hormones like noradrenaline, we lose lean mass — not fat.
That’s because our blood sugar must be maintained at all costs.
So no fat loss is occurring, but we’re still losing weight because the body attacks muscle mass.
Think about like your car… no fuel, no go.
Without blood sugar, we cannot function.
And when the body is desperate for sugar, it doesn’t have a lot of energy to create that sugar.
So the body looks for the most easily converted source available.
The body cannot create sugar out of fat very easily — it’s easier to use protein.
Our body can pull the proteins from our muscles when it needs more blood sugar.
But losing that lean muscle mass hurts our health in the long run.
And this damage can be compounded if the liver is compromised.
Many of our livers are not functioning that well.
We have fatty liver disease, and sore livers do not store much blood sugar.
So, when we fast for any length of time — even just 1/2 a day — we set off the side effects of fasting.
Our noradrenaline goes up, our cortisol rises, and we start digesting our own tissues.
We slowly lose lean mass that we may never get back.
So, should you eat breakfast?
Now you know what they don’t tell you about intermittent fasting, and why it is not good for you.
Intermittent fasting does not affect whole-body glucose, lipid, or protein metabolism