In this episode we talk about two new studies showing the benefits of intermittent fasting.
The first study shows how intermittent fasting helps lower fasting insulin making it a great way to help treat metabolic disorders.
The second study shows how it helps with your microbiome and autoimmune disorders.
We also talk about the three different types of intermittent fasting protocols and how to get started.
TRANSCRIPT OF TODAY'S EPISODE
Dr Martin Jr: Hello, I’m Doctor Martin Junior.
Dr Martin Sr: And I’m Doctor Martin Senior.
Dr Martin Jr: And this is the Doctors in podcast and this is episode 142. And today, what we wanna do is [00:00:30] talk about two newer studies that came out on intermittent fasting. So we’re gonna talk today all about intermittent fasting ’cause you know, really, it’s a question that we get asked a ton about. We are big fans of intermittent fasting, we use it in various programs in our clinic and one of the things, I guess, we should state right off the top is that intermittent fasting is not for everybody. And we’re not saying it’s a magic bullet, it’s not gonna fix a lot of everything, it’s not a [00:01:00] cure for everything. But we have seen how good intermittent fasting is for a lot of different conditions that we see in the clinic, including [bidigestive 00:01:08] issues and a whole bunch of stuff. So there are some definitive advantages to intermittent fasting.
I think the first thing we gotta do, really, is in case somebody is new to the idea of fasting, it sounds kind of scary a little bit, fasting, right? ‘Cause we have this hunger mechanism and we’re trained to eat. I’m like clockwork, you know, mom [00:01:30] used to always laugh growing up because I’d come in the house exactly at 12, exactly at five, it’s like you’re just trained for that, right?
So a lot of times we get hungry just ’cause we’re used to eating at a certain time but the reality is, intermittent fasting, there’s really three ways that you can do it. So I guess we’ll just start very simple. So there’s something that’s called an eating window and that eating window is basically the amount of hours in a day that you’re eating. Very straightforward, right?
[00:02:00] What’s interesting is that with all these fitness tracking apps and food tracking apps, what they’re finding out now is that as we’re gathering kind of the general data from all the users, what they’re finding out, and there’s been a couple studies that have looked at this is that the average person has a very long eating window. You know, most people, they eat for more than 13 hours in a day.
Dr Martin Sr: And that doesn’t mean constant eating, right? So we’re not saying, “Look, you eat [00:02:30] at eight o’clock, you eat at nine o’clock, you eat at 10 o’clock in the morning, 11, we’re not saying that. But when you start eating at eight o’clock in the morning and you finish at eight o’clock at night, you’ve got, what, 12 hours?
Dr Martin Jr: Yeah, that’s a 12 hour, your eating window.
Dr Martin Sr: And it doesn’t mean you ate every hour on the hour. It just means you started and this is when you end.
Dr Martin Jr: Yeah, and a lot of people have roughly that 12 hour eating window. You know, if they get up and eat at 7:30 in the morning, they may have a snack, their last snack might be at 7:30 but if they … [00:03:00] let’s just say they get up and they eat breakfast around seven or 7:30 and then they have their last snack around 8:30 or nine, you know, that’s 13 hours in the day in a sense where they have an eating window for 13 hours, right?
So there’s 24 hours in a day and somebody eats for 12 hours, well, then they’re fasting for 12 hours, right? And six to eight hours of that is happening over night when you’re sleeping. So as a rule of thumb, we don’t spend a lot of time awake and not eating, right? I mean most people, [00:03:30] that’s what they do, they get up, they eat breakfast and they break their fast right away and breakfast break fast. They break their fast right away and then they’ll have a snack late at night. And that’s what’s happening for most people.
And again, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. However, when you are eating more than you’re fasting, and there’s no balance in a lot of ways, it can create issues when we’re seeing these issues. Now, if somebody’s eating three squares a day [00:04:00] and they’re not eating in between, I mean, we can go on forever about all the variances and stuff like that. But the reality is, people tend to do better when they start to shorten their eating window.
Now, what do we mean by that? Well, there’s a lot of ways that you can shorten your eating window. As you mention, the average person is about 13 hour eating window or 12 hour eating window. Now what happens if somebody shortens their eating window down to 10 hours, for example? So they eat breakfast at eight and they eat their last meal at six o’clock at night. That’s a 10 hour [00:04:30] eating window, they’re fasting for 14 hours in a sense. So it gives more digestive ability in a sense.
Dr Martin Sr: Less secretion of insulin.
Dr Martin Jr: Yeah, and that’s some of the benefits that we’re gonna talk about with some of these new studies but the idea of … so we talk about fasting, we’re talking about eating windows a lot of times, right? So the amount of hours you’re fasting is one way of looking at it. Another way to look at it, and that’s where it gets confusing ’cause people say, “Well, my eating window is four to six hours every day.” Which means that they’re [00:05:00] fasting for a lot longer than that. So that’s kind of how we will talk about the concept of intermittent fasting. We’ll talk about different eating windows in a sense.
But there are a few ways that people fast nowadays and then they’ve incorporated fasting into their everyday routine. So the big one, the more popular one is this idea of intermittent fasting which basically means they are fasting intermittently. And people tend to do this every day or a couple times a week. And [00:05:30] the most popular one is this 16/8. So they have an eight hour eating window. So they’ll eat for eight hours or they’ll start and end their eating in an eight hour window and then they’ll fast for 16 hours. And the most common way of doing that is people will skip breakfast, they’ll break their fast around lunchtime, they have their last bite, last little snack at eight o’clock at night and then they fast again till the following lunch time.
And that’s how a lot of people [00:06:00] start fasting. Most people, they can do that, it doesn’t take them long to do that. And a lot of people do that and they feel fantastic. They are fine in the morning, they’re more clear and that’s a very common way of fasting.
Another very popular fast is the every other day fast. So basically, they’ll eat normally one day, the next day they won’t fast completely but they’ll consume around 400 calories if they are female, around 500 calories if they are male. And that’s that popular every other day fast. [00:06:30] So they’ll eat normally one day, the next day, if they’re a guy, they’ll eat around 500 calories and if they’re a girl, they do around 400 calories and then the following-
Dr Martin Sr: Yeah, that’s sort of mimicking a fast, right?
Dr Martin Jr: It is. It kind of mimics a fast in a sense and you know, there’s a lot of research again with that and people who lose a lot of weight doing that and they feel fantastic. That’s kind of the second way that people do fast. And then the third way that’s common as well and that’s considered an intermittent fasting is they actually fast for 24 hours straight. But, if you plan [00:07:00] it properly, you get to eat every day. So here’s an example and this is what a lot of people do. They’ll have a meal at six o’clock at night, they’ll fast till the following day at six o’clock at night and they fasted for 24 hours but they get to eat every day. Some people do that and they’ll do that once or twice a week and they feel awesome.
So those are the three fasts that we’re talking about. Now, there are medical fasts, there are therapeutic fasts that are much longer, beyond 24 hours, they get into the two, three day [00:07:30] fast. We’re not talking about that on this episode. That’s a therapeutic fast and that’s something that some people do and there is research, again, if somebody gets diagnosed with cancer and they fast for three days, it refreshes the cells in a lot of ways and there’s different research for the length of fast and there’s some great books and great resources out there.
What we’re talking about today, on today’s episode, specifically is intermittent fasting. So either 16/8. [00:08:00] Now a lot of people, they start off by fasting 16/8 and then what ends up happen, they end up shortening their eating window a little bit more and they generally eat between four to six hours a day. So they’ll break their fast around two and then they’ll eat till around six or eight at night and depending on how they’re doing and they shorten their window even more. And again, a lot of people do awesome with that, they got great energy, their digestive system feels good. And that’s what they do.
So the idea with the intermittent fasting, if you’re gonna do it, is to [00:08:30] find that method that works. Some people prefer the every other day fast where they just eat a little bit every other day. So really, that’s kind of what we’re talking about when we talk about intermittent fasting. All three methods have their advantages. All three have great health benefits. You just have to find one that fits your lifestyle, right?
Because of how we are in North America, we tend to eat suppers together so that’s why for a lot of people, it’s easy to kind of skip [00:09:00] breakfast and they fast on that end. However, research has shown that if you’re diabetic, you actually do better eating breakfast, eating lunch, eating an early supper and then fasting to breakfast the next day, they do really well like that, more than skipping breakfast.
So there’s a lot of different ways of doing things. But at the end of the day, we are real big fans of intermittent fasting. And we tend to talk more about the 16/8 or the 12 … not the 12 hours of [00:09:30] fasting but they’ll only for four to six hours or eight hours a day. That’s how most people that we know do it and they do really well with it.
And how many times have we heard, “Oh, there’s no way I can do that, there’s no way.” I was like that myself. There was no way that I can miss-
Dr Martin Sr: But you were so built in because of hypoglycaemia, low blood sugar, right, to eat frequently and you stoke the fire quite a bit because you had a tendency to go into low blood sugar, you [00:10:00] got that from your daddy.
Dr Martin Jr: And you know, it’s funny, now I have no problem going to lift and heavy weights [fasted 00:10:08]. I have no problem doing it. Generally, I lift weights in the morning and I won’t eat and I have no problem with that. I have good energy, I feel good, my mind’s clear. It’s amazing what happens as you start getting into that routine, how much easier it is and how good you feel. But again, it’s not for everybody. Some people, they just don’t feel good doing it [00:10:30] and that’s why we don’t recommend it for everybody.
It’s one of those things, you try it, if it works well for you, that’s awesome. We know a lot of people that have lost a lot of weight when they started to incorporate intermittent fasting.
Dr Martin Sr: I had a guy in this morning, just to tell you a story about intermittent fasting and again, the advantages for him. And he was a diabetic, so diagnosed as a diabetic. I scared the living skinny out of him because I had talked to him about how diabetes ends bad. And he already had been a fully fledged [00:11:00] diabetic, taking insulin, taking Metformin, taking all the medications. And going downhill rapidly and you know, again … but he did it and then, you know, not only did he lower his blood sugar, he went very low carbohydrate and really changed his diet and then he started to implement the intermittent fasting.
And you know, I said, “Well, try it, just see how you feel with it. Just see if you’re able to do it.” But his sugars were in so much control [00:11:30] and because he had really cut out his carbohydrates and he just found that now he was in such control that he found that he even got better advantages, even as a diabetic, with intermittent fasting and he just never has breakfast in the morning. For him, it was all right.
Dr Martin Jr: Yeah, he felt good.
Dr Martin Sr: You know, he had really reserved diabetes because of his diet.
Dr Martin Jr: And that’s the thing that’s important to understand is that it’s not just shortening [00:12:00] your eating window. This is kind of a problem that a lot of people have or a misconception. They think if I just simply shorten my eating window, I’m gonna automatically lose weight and feel better but if you are … even if you have a four hour eating window and you’re eating nothing but crappy carbs, it’s not gonna help. I mean, sure, you’re gonna spend a lot of time not eating which is always a good thing if you’re eating crappy carbs a lot. But it’s not a magic bullet.
If you combine intermittent fasting with cutting out crappy carbs, that’s when the real health benefits start to kick in, that’s when people start [00:12:30] to feel so much better.
Dr Martin Sr: You can’t out exercise a bad diet, you can’t out fast a bad diet. You can’t outdo any bad diet. There’s no tricks, some people talk to me, you know, I had an email, I think yesterday, was an email or a text, no, it was an email, somebody asking me about a magic pill sold in the United States, lose 50 pounds and everything’s gonna be good and you’re gonna be skinny overnight and you know. I just said, “Well, look, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s good to be true.” I said, ” [00:13:00] There is nothing that’s gonna outdo you changing your diet. You don’t get to eat what you feel like and lose weight, it just don’t happen.”
Dr Martin Jr: No, and unfortunately … so okay, now if you’re thinking this intermittent fasting sounds fascinating or you know people that are on it, that have tried it and you see that they’re getting some good results on it and you’re not sure where to start, well, the first thing you have to do is you have to pick your eating window, you have to say, “All right, am I gonna do this, am I gonna fast every day or am I gonna fast a few days a week? Am I gonna eat every other day, am [00:13:30] I gonna do a 24 hour fast?” So you gotta kind of find that window.
Dr Martin Sr: And some people at work, and just to give you a little example, again, we get so much feedback on this that a lot of people do it during the week ’cause they’re used to, they’re going to work anyways and they say, “You know, instead of me having a snack at 10 o’clock” ’cause a lot of people wait till they get to work and then eat. You know, if I just have a coffee then, have a coffee when I first get up and then I have another coffee at the break and I’m not eating, they find they can go till noon and they say, “You know what, I’ve incorporated [00:14:00] this during the work week and then I don’t do it on the weekends.” And they find it’s just part of the routine and they feel good and again, so it’s just little tricks to whatever works, like you say, for you as an individual and you know, you might experiment a little bit.
Dr Martin Jr: Now let’s talk about a few of the benefits here that we see in our clinic and that we hear from people that write back to us. And I guess even before that, let’s talk about the couple of studies, they have just come out in the last little bit. [00:14:30] There was a study done on an eight hour eating window, so it’s the traditional 8/16 format that a lot of people do. This is by far the most common type of fast is that eight hour eating window. And as I mentioned, most people will eat lunch and then they have their last little snack at eight o’clock at night and then they just rinse and repeat.
What they found is, the study found that people generally did lose weight. It wasn’t statistical significance because, again, [00:15:00] you have to look at what they’re actually eating. However, what they found and this is what is key for what we deal with all the time is they found that their fasting insulin dropped from 10.3 to 5.7.
Dr Martin Sr: Wow.
Dr Martin Jr: So that’s a significant drop in fasting insulin. And fasting insulin is a great indicator of insulin resistance.
Dr Martin Sr: High circulating insulin.
Dr Martin Jr: High circulating insulin. And that’s where, go back and listen to episode 100 where we talk about [00:15:30] the three things found in every disease, we talk a lot about high circling insulin and we’ve talked a lot about insulin over the years. But, simply by shortening their eating window, they lowered their fasting insulin. So if you have insulin resistant symptoms, this is a tool you may wanna try. If you’re wondering what insulin resistance symptoms are, we could give you a few but if you come to our website, we have a ton of stuff on all the different symptoms.
Because a study came out [00:16:00] a couple years ago and I think I’m gonna guess here but I think this is right that people associate being overweight with insulin resistance. So everybody who’s overweight has insulin resistance but this study found that it only predicted 18% of people with insulin resistance. So obesity is not a great indicator of insulin resistance. Some people that are insulin resistant become obese, they become overweight. Some people that are insulin resistant, they don’t become overweight.
Dr Martin Sr: They’re skinny.
Dr Martin Jr: They’re skinny. [00:16:30] So, their symptoms are gonna be different, right? They’re not gonna have fatigue or they’re gonna have low energy. But they may have joint pain or they may have high blood pressure or they may have high triglycerides or they may … so the symptoms of high circulating insulin.
Dr Martin Sr: Uric acid.
Dr Martin Jr: Exactly, high uric acid.
Dr Martin Sr: Deformed kidney stones.
Dr Martin Jr: You can’t just say to yourself, “Well, I’m not overweight therefore I’m not insulin resistant.” It doesn’t work that way. Weight is not a great indicator on its own for insulin resistance. [00:17:00] If you’re struggling with insulin resistance, if you’re listening you have high blood pressure, you have insulin resistance. There’s no question. This may be a tool, well, this would definitely be a tool that I would try to kind of lower your insulin.
If you short your eating window and you combine that with lowering your carbohydrate intake, that is a powerful one-two punch, there’s no question that is very effective. And we’ve seen it over and over again so many times. So that’s the first thing. We really like [00:17:30] what time restricted feeding does for insulin which is the primary reason why we recommend it to people because it’s easy-ish. Once you start, it’s not hard. If you know somebody who is doing intermittent fasting, go ask them how hard it is now and they’ll tell you it’s not hard. It really isn’t.
It becomes one of those things, it’s not difficult. After a while. At first, it’s like, “There’s no way I can do it.” But here’s the thing, we tell this to people all the time. They say, “I [00:18:00] can’t go to 12.” Okay, can you go to 10 o’clock in the morning? “Yes.” Okay, can you eventually go to 10:30? Yes. I mean, you don’t have to do it overnight, you don’t have to go cold turkey. If you can, you can kind of ease yourself into shortening your eating window down.
The reality is this. Research is showing pretty consistently that it will help control your insulin or help lower your insulin and remember, you and I have talked about this many times, type two diabetes [00:18:30] is a disease of insulin resistance. It’s not a disease of high blood sugar. High blood sugar levels are a symptom of type two diabetes, not the cause. Type two diabetes is a disease of high circulating insulin.
Dr Martin Sr: And so is hypoglycaemia.
Dr Martin Jr: So is hypoglycaemia, exactly.
Dr Martin Sr: Low blood sugar.
Dr Martin Jr: And that’s the thing that people have a hard time understanding. So that’s the first thing, that was the first study specifically related to high circulating insulin. And again, some [00:19:00] people are overweight because they have high insulin. So if you can lower your insulin and kind of fix that insulin resistance, it’ll make losing weight a little bit easier ’cause losing weight is never easy, you know, it’s never an easy thing for people to lose weight.
Dr Martin Sr: Especially women, right?
Dr Martin Jr: Yeah, they have so many, as you mentioned, so many different hormones kind of working against their weight loss all the time. And here’s another study on intermittent fasting that I find fascinating. Now you and I have talked a lot over the years about the microbiome. [00:19:30] It’s a collection of bacteria that kind of lives in your body that plays so many significant roles in your health.
Dr Martin Sr: Mostly in your gut, it’s everywhere but mostly in your gut.
Dr Martin Jr: And researchers are starting to look at your microbiome as another organ, that’s how vital it is. If your microbiome isn’t healthy, you’re not healthy. If you’re microbiome isn’t healthy, not only is your digestive system probably not working the way it should but you’re at a much higher risk for brain [00:20:00] issues such as Alzheimer’s, dementia.
Dr Martin Sr: Auto-immune.
Dr Martin Jr: Auto-immune, big time. All those auto-immune conditions. So they are … microbiome is key to being healthy. And you and I have talked a lot about microbiome in the past but what another study had found, it was a small study but what they found was that intermittent fasting actually increased the diversity of gut bacteria. So it actually helped your gut bacteria. You think, “How in the world can not eating increase [00:20:30] the gut bacteria diversity?” Which goes to show you there’s kind of a regeneration that takes place when you’re intermittent fasting.
Dr Martin Sr: And think, folks, of your microbiome, just for a minute, think of it as an ecosystem like everybody’s got sort of an individual thing but it’s like a jungle and there’s all sorts of different types of bacteria in your body. And you know, you don’t want any of … you take one section of it and it [00:21:00] affects everything. So you take an antibiotic, again, and the importance of bacteria is unbelievable.
We’re just on it, big time-
Dr Martin Jr: And they’re just starting to scratch the surface in research on the importance of it. But it actually increases the diversity of your-
Dr Martin Sr: Actually, isn’t that incredible? It also, and other studies have shown this as well, it reduces inflammation so intermittent fasting reduces inflammation and again, you and I have talked about this so many times that inflammation is kind of [00:21:30] a stepping stone to all disease. The key is figuring out what causes the inflammation ’cause as we’ve said, inflammation doesn’t just magically appear. However, inflammation, if you’ve got pain, you got inflammation. You’ve got a brain issue, you’ve got neural inflammation. You’ve got … I mean, anything. It doesn’t matter what disease you have or what condition you have, inflammation is there.
And in order to … you can’t fix your condition unless you get rid of that inflammation and fix the cause of that inflammation. But here you go, intermittent fasting reduces [00:22:00] inflammation. Again, it makes sense. High insulin is highly inflammatory. It helps reduce inflammation. When you got bad gut bacteria, again, that creates a lot of inflammation, right?
So again, it improves, it reduces inflammation. And this other study kind of talked a little bit about the effect it has specifically on MS in the animal model. So they actually studied it in animals. They found that it reduced demyelination which is huge when it comes to MS and it [00:22:30] did a couple other things as well to protect the cells. So there’s some really good-
Dr Martin Jr: So significant.
Dr Martin Sr: Yeah. Again, it’s one of those things, it’s a tool. Intermittent fasting is a tool and if you haven’t tried it, try it. I mean, see how you feel when you’re doing that, right? And a lot of people use intermittent fasting as kind of a thing. They go away on a weekend and they ate too much so then they start to fast the next day and it’s kind of like it makes sense in a lot of ways, right? You feast, you famine. [00:23:00] It’s just this natural kind of balance that takes place.
You know, if you’re gonna overeat tonight, kind of fast your way there. It’s just kind of one of these easy things-
Dr Martin Jr: Or fast afterwards.
Dr Martin Sr: Yeah, it’s an easy thing that people can do to kind of control their eating in a lot of ways. So, kind of to summarize, we’re big fans of intermittent fasting. If you haven’t tried it, we would suggest trying it. Find a method. Just try to shorten your eating window a little bit because another study that we talk about in our program showed that if somebody had a 13 hour eating [00:23:30] window and they’re female, it increases their chances of cancer coming back, right? So there seems to be something that happens when you shorten your eating window.
I don’t think personalty that we do well when we eat for more hours than we don’t eat. Right? So if you’re eating for 13 hours in a day and you’re fasting for 11, it seems like it’s setting you up for failure and it’s not one of those things that’s gonna affect you right away but if you’ve got a digestive issue and you’re eating for more hours in the day, you gotta let rest [00:24:00] and digest take place, right? Which is why one of the tools that we use to help with digestive issues is finding a good eating window for them, that helps them all.
Dr Martin Jr: And just in the mechanism of insulin, just to refresh folks for why we talk about these eating windows ’cause people sometimes confuse eating with blood sugar. So if you eat at eight o’clock in the morning, obviously, insulin, your blood sugar’s gonna go [00:24:30] up and then your blood sugar is gonna go down. The problem with insulin is that when you eat at eight o’clock in the morning, at 10 o’clock in the morning, your insulin is still being secreted because its job is not only to elevate your blood sugar and to bring it down, it also has to store energy, right? It’s biggest job is taking sugar that you produce from food-
Dr Martin Sr: Yeah, and make it glycogen.
Dr Martin Jr: Get it out, get it out, get it out. We always talk about, you cannot [00:25:00] have sugar in your bloodstream. Your body does everything in the universe to get it out, out, out, out, out, that’s insulin’s job. So it goes way past when you’re eating. So people say, “Well, doc, I’m eating good.” Yeah, but if you’re eating frequently and even if you’re eating good, we love eating good. Doc, I’m eating low carb. But you’re still secreting too much insulin when you’re eating too frequently because insulin, the job [00:25:30] goes way past you putting food in your mouth.
Dr Martin Sr: And insulin’s a food hormone so it’s present when you’re eating. And when you’re not eating, insulin isn’t present, right? So again, there are so many different reasons why we like intermittent fasting and these are just a couple of more studies that kind of just reinforce why we like intermittent fasting and why it’s one of the tools, definitely not the only tool and we don’t recommend it for everybody but it’s one of the tools that we like in helping [00:26:00] to control insulin and helping also … it’s an approach that we use to help fix some conditions.
So we are big fans of it. So, again, we wanna thank you for joining us on today’s episode. If you have any questions, you can email us at email@example.com. Also, if you’re not a newsletter subscriber, go to our website martinclinic.com and sign up. We email a few times a week. You know, we’re huge believers in giving as much health information as possible and we do that a few times a week. We do email a lot but we got a lot [00:26:30] of health information to share with people and if a study comes out that catches our attention, we’re definitely gonna write about it and try to draw some practical things that you can use right away. So if you’re not a newsletter subscriber, head to our website and do that.
Every Thursday morning, you do a Facebook live. So you can join you every Thursday morning and ask questions and you are out there for 30 minutes or so, 40 minutes, answering a ton of questions so it’s a great way for that as well. Again, we wanna thank you for joining us and have a great day.