The best of all medicines is resting and farting…I mean fasting

Isn’t eating great!?
On one hand it nourishes us & provides us with the energy we need to live a healthy, resilient (re)productive life.
On the other hand, it has the capacity to make us fat, sick, and tired.
It’s delicious…which is both wonderful, yet most often proves to be our self-control-achilles-heel when it comes to both exercising moderation and sensible choice. 
It fires up our pleasure centres, and placates (for a short time) our stresses and anxieties
It comforts us.
We eat to celebrate.
We eat (or don’t eat) to self-sabotage.
We eat to self-reward ourselves
We eat to self-commiserate, when we are feeling lazy and slothful
We can eat abundantly when we’re either sad or happy.
We’re adept to eating alone or with company.
We often eat subconsciously, out of habit…even if we’re not actually hungry.
We eat when we’re sober, stoned, smashed or hungover. 
And we can eat whatever we want at any time of the day.

Eating…one of the greatest distractions of all time?

Is it because we have an abundance of choice and self-unregulated opportunity to consume whatever we like, whenever we like, and for whatever reason, that many of us struggle to maintain our ideal health and body composition?

Is it the reason why we often resort to bullying-ourselves with either extreme exercise and training regimes, or unrealistic diets & cleanses in the attempt to conquer (or ignore) our caloric intake. 

A Day in A Life…
From our first cup of tea or coffee, or a ‘healthy’ kale smoothie, maybe a bowl porridge, or it could be hitting the drive-through for a Egg n Bacon McWhopper thingy, and McFlurry Sundae, right through to our mid morning snacks, then onto a yummy lunch.
Mid afternoon sees more beverages and snacks in our cross-hairs, then we’re onto dinner, wine, beer, dessert.
Phew…
But hold my beer… there’s the tempting potentiality for a little more self-rewarding…maybe an hour after dinner, sitting down watching Netflix and the comfort-cravings start to gnaw at us.
Your Dr Evil bastard-brain is automatically connecting the habit-dots for you, your internal narrative starts nagging you…“you’re sitting down watching Netflix…this would be so much better if you ate/drank …………………….” <insert your craving. 
This is when the fridge, freezer and cupboard start voicing their opinion and commence their siren-song, and all those ‘just-in-case’ non-essential ‘treats’ you purchased with your broccoli and grass-fed beef start shaking their booty.
Come to papa/mama…

I know I’m being a little over-dramatic, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that many of us consume some form of calories, whether it’s in the form of a food or  beverage, from say around 7-9am till 9 or 10pm, quite possibly even later…and most likely every day of the week.

If we are struggling with over consumption, could the answer lie within our ability to hone and master our self-control, rather than looking for answers that further exacerbates our mindset and time-poor lifestyles? 
Is that too hard?
Yes, is probably the answer…but what’s being sacrificed?

Could the answer lie within the (not-so) simple practice of learning to redirect our attention and focus on reducing the amount of hours that we consumed calories within the day, to be an effective tactic to reclaiming and improving our health and body composition?

……………………………………….

The Fast & The Feeding 
What is one of the most popular wellness-fad-du jours, plus also being one of the most research-supported practices that has an immensely profound impact on ones health and optimal-longevity? 
No, it’s not fasting.
It’s eating less calories…yeah yeah yeah OK…it’s fasting. 

Fasting aka eating less, comes in various guises such as Caloric Restriction (CR), Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD), Intermitted Fasting or Periodic Fasting (IF or PF), or Time Restricted Eating (TRE), Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF), or my personal favourite and highly recommended AAGTBE (Avoid Alcohol Go To Bed Earlier). 

Now the benefits of fasting have been touted for years, decades…centuries in fact. Virtually every religious and spiritual enterprise advocates and espouses the health, virtuous and spiritual benefits of fasting.

Refer yourself to the ‘blue-zones’ around the world where there’s abundance of healthy-centenarians. Though their diets vary considerably in terms of the macronutrient balance, they all primarily a) eat much less, plus  b) have very active, supportive social & community lifestyles, c) consume natural, nutrient dense foods, d) tend to do significant manual labour – walking, household chores, gardening, grounds-keeping, outdoors, exposure to vitamin D etc, and awesomely e) are mostly matriarchal – empowered women.  

K.I.S.S. MY FAST
These days however, and with the ‘help’ of social media influencers and dodgy-bloggers like yours truly, we can tend to get over-exposed to some pretty outlandish health claims, and some pretty unsavoury, unsustainable and impractical methodologies when it comes to the act of fasting.

But I’m here to try and offer a simplistic approach, both in terms of the narrative we use, and the methodology to successfully execute a sustainable life-long eating protocol that supports optimal metabolic and cognitive health, optimal sleep, and optimal body composition.
That, in my opinion is an awesome outcome,  simply by mastering a technique that has not only been deliberately practiced for centuries, but is in fact how we are genetically and metabolically designed to live and fuel ourselves.

Please explain…
Very simply put, for optimal physiological and psychological health we are genetically designed to experience and cope with periods of hunger. 
It is only during times of hunger whereby our body ‘recovers’ and metabolises stowed energy (fat) as energy to build and repair.

The constant-consuming of calories (both in solid and liquid forms) not only negates that critically important metabolic-process, but is also our personal segue to illness and increased fat storage.

When our body is under constant attack from an over-abundance of calories, then our ancestral genetic make-up is going to respond – and boy is the response effective…and not in a good way.
Gaining weight, constant mind-fog, fractured sleep, onset T2 diabetes, heart disease, poor cognitive functioning, cancer and a host of other, mostly avoidable, chronic lifestyle illnesses, is the body’s incredible ability to deal with the stress that it is being asked to tolerate. 

……………………………………….

Whats the ‘M.E.T.A-Approach to Fasting?’

OK, here’s The Pitch
Firstly, let’s not get bogged down in over information. 

Secondly and for convenience I will refer to fasting as TRE (Time Restricted Eating)
Why?
Not only is ‘TRE’ is a handy acronym that will save me time when typing, and, more importantly, the definition is ‘simple & practical’, two of my most favourite things in life.

Thirdly, when I refer to ‘eating’, I’m referring to everything we consume, both in terms of solid and liquid form, and that contains calories. (E.g. water is a free-pass)

Lastly…
Like i said I’m not going to delve any further into the longevity and health benefits of eating less, but they’re hugely significant. If you’re keen to read more I’d recommend reading here, here and here

The Process
What I am going to suggest here is that we turn eating clock around.
I propose that we work towards eating and drinking all our calories within an 8-9 hour-window.
And not consume ANY calories in the remaining 15-16 hours left in the 24 hour cycle…most days of the week.

I can guarantee, doing that alone, will have a hugely beneficial impact on every aspect of your health…and dare I say, regardless of what you consume…oooh provocative!

So, how do we go about…
Like implementing any new regime, the goal is to create a new habit
New habits demand structure & workable-platform.
For a regime to succeed it needs to be easy, achievable and scalable.
If it is NOT easy, achievable and scalable, then it will fail. 

Remove your ego from the equation, deliberately make it ‘simple-stupid’, do not over-complicate it, set yourself up for lots of mini ‘wins’, after successive ‘wins’, scale-up.

Here’s what I would suggest as being a sensible and sustainable approach. 
Structure the goal into easy steps, manage the narrative and have a clear understanding that time and patience is your ally.

The First Step:
Focus only on reducing the eating window first,
Take your time, say over 2-4 month period.
Do not adjust your meal frequency, intake or food choices – maintain everything else as normal. 
Just focus solely on reducing the eating window down to a level YOU want.
Depending on you current eating habits, I would aim initially for a 10 hour window.
Then, slowly over a course of a couple of weeks to a month reduce it down to 8 hours.
Consistency is the goal of the first step. Eating within your eating-window most of the time.
Why ‘most of the time’?
Because life happens and you can’t expect to not be flexible and adjust your routines to accommodate what you want and need to.
Remember: Most of The Time.

The Second Step:
Once you’ve achieve your desired eating window, meaning you can effortlessly TRE most days of the week,
you can then adjust your caloric intake.
This can be best achieved by adjusting your food quantity or food quality.
I’d personally recommend a combination of both – any successful diet strategy must include the foods we love and enjoy eating, the key is eating less of them.
But ultimately, it is food quality that will have the biggest impact on;
– Health
– Sleep
– Cravings
– Success

Food craving are born mainly from impulsive/compulsive behaviours, stress, lack of sleep (stress), alcohol and drug consumption, and by consuming foods with little or no nutritional value such as confectionary, high processed carbohydrates etc…you know those foods that you can’t stop eating

If you are nutritionally deficient, your body will demand more calories – and when this happens, we’re not going to be inclined to consume ‘something healthy’, no…our impulses are fired up and we resort to ‘something unquestionably unhealthy’…again, that’s your body doing it’s best to accommodate your choices

The Third Step:
This is your mastery-area.
You now have the foundations of controlled/mindful eating….you’re not a slave (all the time) to poor shopping choices and ‘overloading’ your fridge, freezer and cupboard with items that are going to unnecessarily test your self-control. 
Psychologically you commandeered your eating habits and now you can continue to tweak and improve. 
This is where you will make ongoing adjustments to reflect your age, your hormonal cycle, your activity levels etc

With the overview structured, what are some of the key mindset narratives that we need to seek, understand and embrace?

Be Realistic
Audit and record your current consumption time frame. From the very first caloric intake say tea, coffee juice or breakfast (water doesn’t count, nor would unsweetened black tea or coffee)
Identify your current eating/consumption window
For example, say your current eating window is 14 hours, each week for the first 2 months, reduce your eating window by hour
Implement a reduction that you find doable and sustainable

Understand: Your Playing The Long Game
TRE is not a diet, this is about installing a new or revised lifestyle regime.
It’s about installing a new narrative, you are in effect rewiring your neural network and uploading new behaviours…this takes time.
The goal?
To be consuming all your calories within a 6-10 hour window (what ever suits you and your goals) 80-90% of the time for the rest of your life.

Be Flexible
One of the greatest things with TRE is that you can adjust your eating window everyday to suit your business, social and family commitments. You do not have to sabotage your efforts by creating unsustainable goals for yourself.
For example if you’re desperately hungry then eat, but eat well – resist caving-in to poor choices.
The best way to avoid poor food choices?
Prioritise nutrient dense, tasty foods – have them prepped in your fridge at all times.
Limit the amount of comfort foods you buy – just don’t have them in the house…adult yourself.

Do Not Under-Consume
This is not a diet, or an opportunity to enter starvation ‘mode’
The primary goal is to first reduce your eating window down to a period that you that fits best with your lifestyle, energy needs and social – family commitments.
Continue ‘eating’ the same meal frequency within your reduced eating window – even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry at the last meal time.
Over time, when you’ve master the ‘eating window’ then make adjustments to your meal frequency and or caloric intake.

Be Patient, Be Kind To Yourself
You’ve been eating the way you have habitually for decades.
Making changes takes time. 

Plan
Remember the 6 ‘P’s?
Perfect Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Fail to plan is planning to fail

What Foods To Focus On…K.I.S.S.
Whatever your dietary needs, whatever regime you follow, and taking into consideration your medical, ethical, religious and ideological needs – focus the bulk (70-80%) of your caloric intake on natural whole, nutrient dense, satiating foods.
Ensure you consume adequate protein with each meal.
Be mindful of liquid calories.
Hydrate, keep up your water intake. 

What Is the Enemy Of TRE?
Like everything we need to take an holistic-vision to our approach.
Your TRE objectives will be a self-determining failure if you continue:
 – Fail to identify and manage your stress levels.
 – Fail to optimise your sleep habits
 – Continue to consume too much alcohol, or too frequently. 

Other Positive Outcomes From Longterm TRE
Vibrant health
Desire to take further actions to improve you health
Greater desire to exercise and train more
Huge positive influence to those around you…plus
Improved self-control
Improved discipline
Improved self-awareness
Improved resilience

 

ONLY IF YOU’RE INTERESTED
…this is my daily routine

Most days I eat within a 6-7 hour window, sometimes it gets extended due to work commitments, or if I feel hungry earlier or later…no biggy.
3:30am: Wake up without alarm & bounce out of bed, do something goofy that makes me laugh – moonwalk to kitchen, drink big arse glass of filtered water and make coffee. Sit at quietly at desk, read + journal
4:30am  2nd coffee, then train, move, stretch
5:15am  Work at desk, or I’m out the door, cycling off to train clients till 8:30, cycle home.
9 -10:00am  Shower, then breakfast – 30-40grams of some form of protein (either eggs, steak, salmon, beef mince, liver) + half avocado + handful nuts + tea + 30grams of dark chocolate + apple
10:30am > Work
2-3pm  Lunch/dinner aka ‘Linner’ – again some form of protein plus greens and mushrooms (I eat a lot mushrooms…I’m what you call a fun-guy), I/2 cup greek yogurt + berries + coconut flakes + decaf coffee or tea
3pm > Work
5-6:00pm Evening shutdown-routine starts
7:45pm In bed “reading”
7:47pm Out like a light

I may snack on another apple, or more nuts but that’s pretty much it.
I don’t know the caloric intake of each meal, nor do I care because this regime provides me the energy and cognitive focus I need to maintain my active lifestyle:
‘Strength Train’ 2-4 x 40min times a week
Cycle                300+kms a week
Walk approx     100km a week
Sleep solidly     7.5hrs a night
Feel vibrant, virile & vital 
No need to mid morning or mid afternoon snooze
I experience very little or no muscle stiffness or fatigue – if i do i rest.
Moods are consistent and excellent

On rare occasions I have a craving for some good bread. I have a black-belt in cheese on toast making.
However I eat this only rarely, not because i have a gluten intolerance, it’s simply because:
– I will eat the entire loaf with lashing of butter and cheese.
– Eating these foods makes hungrier, no satiation, so i tend to eat more.
– Breads, pasta, rice and similar starchy, refined carbohydrates make me sleepy and brain foggy. It makes concentration difficult, and mid morning or mid afternoon snoozes very easy – that is why I don’t eat them. And if I do, I know what to expect.
But on the whole, I refuse and I am now disciplined enough just not to have these types of foods in my home.

Supplements:
The rationale for my supplement selection and regime is this:
I seriously bullied and bashed my brain around in my younger years – these supplements all largely an attempt to improve neural-protection, cognitive functioning, stress relief, impulse management, and sleep optimisation & recovery.
The current research into Vitamin D as critical pathway for improved immunity, hormone management (T production) and recovery has influenced my decision to up my intake – this has been very beneficial. 

An hour before bed I take Ultra Muscleze by BioCeuticals

Every morning before breakfast i take…
Vitamin D: benefits
Vitamin C: benefits
Rhodiola: benefits
Ashwagandha: benefits
Spirulina: benefits
 

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If you have any questions regarding the M.E.T.A. to optimising your mindset, sleep, habits, exercise, nutrition and strength training – do not hesitate to email me or call 0435 264 307

Till next time

Luke