The Key to Intermittent Fasting for Women: IFPC
When I heard about Naomi Whittel and her new book “Glow15: A Science Based Plan to Lose Weight, Revitalize Your Skin and Invigorate Your Life,” I knew I had to have her on the Bulletproof Radio podcast and blog. Her program for amazing skin and weight loss align with what I’ve been promoting for years with the Bulletproof Diet: Intermittent fasting, protein fasting, and a high-fat, low carb diet. One of the big problems with most diets these days is too much protein. When you eat too much of it, it causes inflammation, and your skin doesn’t look good. You don’t give your body the chance to take a break and repair itself via autophagy. Then you look old and feel old, which is even worse than looking older than you are. Here, Naomi breaks down the benefits of autophagy for women, and how to limit food and protein to look and feel fantastic. — Dave Asprey
The Key to Intermittent Fasting for Women: IFPC
Do you want to lose weight? Boost brain power? Increase energy? Improve immunity, lower your risk of diabetes, improve heart health, and stave off neurogenetic diseases?
Medical studies have shown that intermittent fasting (IF) helps you achieve all of those wellness goals. As health-savvy Bulletproof followers, you have probably heard of intermittent fasting and how it benefits overall wellness. IF is an umbrella term that typically refers to an extended period of time (12-24 hours) in which food or calories are not consumed. For some individuals, going more than 12 hours without eating might seem arduous, but science supports this practice and has revealed a plethora of benefits to intermittent fasting.
RELATED: Set yourself up for intermittent fasting success — instantly download the Ultimate Intermittent Fasting Guide to get your quick-start guide, sample 3-day meal plan, and printable intermittent fasting journal
In order to gain a better understanding of the potential intermittent fasting has to improve body composition and health, lead researcher Dr. Stephen Anton of the University of Florida conducted a systematic review of findings through clinical trials. The review found that IF programs in which participants fasted for approximately 24 hours every other day produced significant fat loss in 10 out of 10 trials.
In addition to the clear effects intermittent fasting has in reducing body fat, this review emphasized the many health benefits that occur from flipping your “metabolic switch.”
What is the metabolic switch and how is it flipped?
Quite simply: the metabolic switch is the natural process of converting our body’s energy source from glucose to fatty acids and ketones from our own body fat. This shift actually happens in our bodies while we sleep. And that is a very good place to be from a fat loss and muscle gain perspective. The result is that instead of storing body fat, the body switches to using its own body fat as an energy source, which naturally leads to fat loss.
Not only that, our bodies repair and regenerate our vital tissues and organs while we are sleeping and fasting.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Beginners
Intermittent fasting as a fat loss tool
The promise of intermittent fasting as a method to reduce body fat and improve health, however, only holds up if it is something you do consistently over time. We all know that dieting or restricting calories can indeed produce weight loss — in the short-term.
The problem lies in the fact that very few people can or want to be on a diet for their entire life. In fact, over 95% of women who lose weight by dieting are unable to keep it off and end up in a worse place than where they started.
Therefore, while we want you to experience immediate fat loss and enhanced health from adopting an intermittent fasting lifestyle, our number one goal is for IF to become a sustainable part of your lifestyle so that you experience continued benefits and amazing long-term results.
The good news is that you do not have to diet to get the benefits of intermittent fasting — and can also enjoy many of your favorite foods when you do eat.
The key to intermittent fasting for women is autophagy
In my book “Glow15,” I explore not only intermittent fasting, but protein cycling (otherwise known as PC). The combination of IFPC means you alternate between intermittent fasting and periods of protein restriction and normal protein intake.
I am going to detail exactly how to practice IFPC to help you feel and look youthful no matter your age. But I also think it’s important to understand not only how, but why this method works.
IFPC seeks to take advantage of autophagy. Autophagy is a biological process that comes from the Greek, “auto” meaning “self” and “phagy” meaning “to eat.” It’s literally the way your cells clean themselves by removing toxins and other waste. Yes, you read that right — when autophagy is working optimally, your cells eat away at the junk, removing and recycling the waste that leads to the visible signs of aging.
When this process becomes impaired and our body is constantly trying to handle challenges, either from the internal or external environment, waste products can accumulate in our cells and tissues. In turn, this can affect the functioning of our organs and ultimately, compromise our health.
As we get older, autophagy becomes less efficient. It needs to be boosted so that your cells can effectively remove their own junk. The best way to make to this happen is to take a break from consuming food for 12 or more hours, to allow your body’s cells and tissues the time they need to clean themselves and switch their source of energy from an outside meal to your own body fat.
Intermittent fasting protein cycling provides an alternating cycle of deprivation and nutrient intake that influences and activates autophagy.
Intermittent fasting does this, as you might expect, by depriving the cells of nutrients during your fast. Specifically, it works by activating the hormone glucagon, which works in opposition to insulin to keep your blood glucose levels balanced. Think of a seesaw: if one side goes up, the other goes down. When you give your body nutrition via food intake, insulin automatically rises, and glucagon starts to decrease. But the opposite happens when you deny your body nutrients — insulin goes down and glucagon rises.
An increase in glucagon triggers autophagy. This is why temporarily withholding nutrients by fasting is one of the best ways to boost the youth of your cells.
How often should women do intermittent fasting?
The key for women is to cycle your fasting days (meaning you will fast only 3 non-consecutive days per week) to help balance hormones. Science shows that cycles of intermittent fasting can decrease visceral fat, reduce cancer rates, improve the immune system, slow down the loss of bone mineral density, and increase longevity. Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting, such as burning more fat for energy and decreasing your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, can be attributed to the activation of autophagy.
PC, or protein cycling, has an effect similar to fasting. Restricting protein intake for short periods of time can help keep autophagy working efficiently. Protein cycling works to enhance youth because your body can not create its own protein. Instead, protein restriction encourages your body to recycle the existing protein you’ve already provided it. For most of us, we don’t normally deprive ourselves of protein. But science is revealing a clear connection between protein intake and the cellular quality control process of autophagy.
What’s more, the process of autophagy is actually required to maintain muscle mass. When autophagy was intentionally prevented in rodents, their muscles quickly atrophied, and they became weak. This is not all that surprising when you think about it, since we know the importance of sleep to muscle growth, and for most people sleep is the time when autophagy is highest!
Restricting protein for just 8 hours per day in a cyclical manner can be extremely beneficial to women. In addition to enhancing our autophagy, there is evidence that protein cycling helps reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease — especially in individuals under age 65.
How intermittent fasting protein cycling (IFPC) works
You will choose three non-consecutive “low days” intended to activate autophagy in your body by starving your cells of nutrients, along with four “high days” to inhibit autophagy.
On your “low days,” you will fast overnight and into the morning (for a total of 16 hours), then limit your protein intake for the remaining 8 hours of the day. During this time, you will aim to eat less than 25 grams of protein. On your “high days,” there are no food restrictions.
IFPC is purposely designed in this alternating cycle of activation and inhibition. This is important because “low” intake is not always ideal since we cannot live in a constant state of nutrient deprivation. Moreover, too much protein restriction can actually contribute to aging in the form of muscle wasting, accompanied by increased weakness and immunity deficiencies.
To ensure you reap all the benefits of both fasting and protein restriction in the healthiest way for a woman’s body, the intermittent and cyclical combination of “low days” and “high days” is fundamental to the practice of IFPC.
You may choose any day of the week to be “low” or “high” (keeping in mind that the three low days should be non-consecutive). I prefer unrestrained eating on the weekends, so I make Monday, Wednesday and Friday my “low days.” Then, on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, my “high days,” I can indulge!
Here’s what my typical week of IFPC might look like:
- Sunday: High – no food restrictions
- Monday: Low – Fast for 16 hours and then eat low protein for 8 hours
- Tuesday: High – no food restrictions
- Wednesday: Low – Fast for 16 hours and then eat low protein for 8 hours
- Thursday: High – no food restrictions
- Friday: Low – Fast for 16 hours and then eat low protein for 8 hours
- Saturday: High – no food restrictions
My favorite part of IFPC is that it works best when customized for you and your life. Do you hate skipping breakfast? Simply begin your fast earlier the night before, so you can get your 16 hours and still have a morning meal. Craving a burger on a “Low day”? Go for it, just know that you’ll only have about 5 grams of protein remaining before you hit your daily limit. The choice is yours. You’re the one with the power to look and feel younger. And just know, that with IFPC, the “High” and “Low” can give you a long-lasting glow!
Named by Prevention Magazine as the nation’s leading female innovator in the wellness industry, and featured in major media outlets such as The Dr. Oz Show, Harper’s Bazaar, ABC News, and SHAPE, Naomi Whittel is hailed as a trailblazer and advocate for purity and potency in food, nutrition, and natural products. Learn more about Naomi and her New York Times Bestselling Book, Glow15 at naomiwhittel.com.
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