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The Myriad Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Calorie restriction is all the rage in anti-aging circles. A few mice and worm studies seem to show that drastic reductions in food intake over a long period of time have the effect of prolonging life – although I’m not sure I’d call it living. For one, these animals are actually restricted. There’s no ad libitum access to food. They’d prefer to eat more, but are prevented from doing so. I guarantee you they’re unhappy and, if they could put (cartoonish high-pitched) voice to physiological state, would say they’re starving.

 

Anyway, humans have picked up on this calorie restriction stuff. You might have seen one or two CR gurus giving TED talks; the exposed rib cages, gaunt faces, and complete lack of lean muscle mass are dead giveaways. Okay – that’s a bit unfair. CR is a legitimate way to improve many health markers. I’m just not convinced actively restricting your calorie intake through sheer will is the true path to enjoyable longevity. I’d rather be robust, vibrant, and full of zest. I want to eat big strapping meals ofsteak and veggies smothered in butter without counting calories. On occasion, I like to devour an entire roasted chicken (yeah, yeah, chicken has more omega-6 than most animals, but I’ll live). I want to maintain muscle mass and have enough energy to go on long hikes and have the legs to still leap for high passes (over the young guys) at the end of Ultimate games. And as I appreciate the neuroprotective and autophagy-promoting qualities of calorie restriction, I’d rather not expend the mental energy and fortitude required to maintain such a regimen day-in and day-out. Nor would I willingly subject myself to forced calorie restriction, a la the lab mice. No human-sized rat cages for me, even if they include a salt lick and a running wheel (don’t get any ideas, Blaisdell). Based on the science, I don’t think all that is necessary. I’ll just IF instead.

Fasting is one way to have your cake and eat it too. Beyond the already proven benefits of a Primal Blueprint low-carb lifestyle, fasting once in a while seems to offer many of the same benefits of calorie restriction – you know, stuff like increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, some cool effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity, plus more - but without the active, agonizing restriction. You just eat Primally, focusing on meat and vegetables with plenty of animal fat, and skip meals on occasion. A sixteen-hour fast is on the low-but-still-effective end (you could easily maintain a daily sixteen hour IF regimen, giving you an eight hour eating window, a la Leangains), or you could opt for longer, more intermittent fasts – say, a full twenty-four hours once or twice a week. When you’re done with the fast, eat as much as you want (which usually isn’t an issue, once you’re PB-adapted). It essentially turns into “eat when you’re hungry,” because let’s face it: eating the types of foods we evolved eating induces powerful satiety and makes eating the right amount of food a subconscious act. Fasting becomes a whole lot easier (and intuitive) when you’ve got your food quality dialed in. And I’ll come back to that little caveat at the end here.

“Fasting” was the top search term for MDA last week, and I hadn’t done a big post on it in a while, so I thought I’d do a comprehensive rundown of all the benefits (some conclusive, others prospective) you can expect to obtain from IF.

Longevity

Everyone wants to live longer, but I find longevity pointless if you’re not enjoying yourself. Otherwise, life becomes dreary. Consider the plight of the vampire – he lives a long, lonely life, never really connecting with anyone, never really enjoying all the time he has at his disposal. If the suggested longevity benefits of fasting pan out, I think we can enjoy the vampire’s longevity (and perhaps even some of his incredibly immune and restorative properties) without the downsides. Oh, and we’ll eventually have to die, but we have the option of sunbathing.

The popular c. elegans worm enjoys increased longevity with both twenty-four and forty-eight hour IFs via signaling through a gene that we all have.

One study (full PDF) from the 1940s found that varying amounts of twenty-four hour IFs (every other day, every fourth day, every eighth day, etc) prolonged the lifespan of rats without retarding or stunting the growth (as occurred with calorie restricting them). Female rats responded best to every eight day fasts, while males responded best to every other day fasts.

Reductions in brain insulin signaling have been shown to increase lifespan in animals, either by calorie restricting or actively knocking out brain insulin receptors. Fasting also reduces brain insulin signaling, at least in rats.

Blood Lipids

Going in and pharmaceutically manhandling your cholesterol synthesizing equipment is one thing; eating real food and exercising, resulting in possible alterations to your lipid profile, is another. We don’t set out to force your blood lipids into submission, but lifestyle changes that happen to change them for “the better” are usually a good thing. Fasting brings potent changes to blood lipids in an “organic” way – you’re just letting your machinery do its thing on its own – and this is probably a very good thing.

IF is as or more effective than calorie restriction in improving metabolic syndrome markers in overweight women, and it’s a whole lot easier to stick with.

Alternate day fasting improved cardiovascular risk markers, including lowered triglycerides and LDL-C numbers (although it’s unclear whether the improvements were related to the weight loss alone or something unique to fasting).

I discussed this last week, but it can’t hurt to mention that short-term alternate day fasting wrought improvements in LDL particle size and distribution in obese adults.

Compliance

A dietary regimen is useless without compliance. In fact, that’s what we’ve always said about the low-fat, low-calorie diet advice we’re inundated with: sure, they might work, but they’re impossible for most people to maintain. Eating Primally solves this problem, because it’s simple, easy, delicious, and satiating (you just have to enjoy cooking, or learn to), and IF is another compliance-breeding regimen that blends quite nicely with the PB. A lot of Primal eaters find that fasting just kinda happens without them setting out to do it, so it’s not even a conscious struggle. Check it out:

The obese (read: the ones who need the most help and often have the worst time sticking to a diet) were able to “quickly adapt” to alternate day modified fasting, which meant on fasting days they’d get 26% of their normal caloric intake. They were also able to maintain physical activity despite the fasting.

Heck, intermittent fasting even helped cocaine addicts stick to their treatment and rehab program. Not bad.

Cancer

The notion of IF reducing cancer incidence and improving survival is compelling, but little evidence in humans exists. Ketogenic diets may also offer exciting potential for cancer patients, and both IF diets and ketogenic diets share something: fat (either dietary or from your own adipose tissue) as primary fuel sources. But, while ketosis isn’t exactly desirable or optimal as a lifelong dietary regimen, IF is sustainable, simple, and can be integrated into your current diet. As of now, most of the evidence for IF’s protective effects against cancer exist in animal trials, mostly using mice. Still, fasting seems to confer so many other benefits that working it into your life for its anti-cancer potential is probably worth it. Some of the evidence:

Calorie restriction is proven to fight cancer cell proliferation in mice, but researchers found that intermittent fasting was just as effective. In fact, here’s a review of most of the animal anti-cancer evidence. It’s quite compelling.

Some researchers are speculating, based on substantial evidence, that fasting before and during cancer treatment should result in reduced morbidity, better tolerance of chemotherapies, and higher cure rates. This is refreshing news. A preliminary study in human cancer patients found that fasting during chemotherapy reduced the negative side effects of the treatment. The authors are quick to point out that the results are in no way a prescription for fasting in chemotherapy patients and that controlled trials are needed to change official recommendations, but that doesn’t mean you – the individual – can’t experiment.

Growth Hormone

Aging humans “normally” experience reductions in growth hormone. While it’s true that unchecked growth hormone can lead to unwanted cell proliferation (like, ya know, cancer), growth hormone therapy can really help stave off the doldrums of old age. Luckily, short-term fasting induces growth hormone secretion in “normal men.” I’m not for mainlining GH or anything, but I’m all for amping up my own production. Furthermore, a recent study found that resistance training actually blunted hunger for an hour. I’ve found this to be the case for me. If the body “needs” food right after a workout, why would hunger be blunted? This is why I tend to hold off on the eating post-workout. Every little bit helps, especially as you age.

Neurological Health

Fasting doesn’t cause your brain tissue to waste away, contrary to what some people will tell you. It’s actually good for brain health. Any dietary restriction tends to increase neuronal plasticity and promote neurogenesis, but it was IF that had the greatest effect (with the fewest downsides). Another study of mice found that meal frequency impacts neuronal health. That is, mice who ate larger meals more infrequently saw greater increases in brain and overall bodily health. Still another study found that IF was beneficial for peripheral nerve function in mice by promoting the maintenance of the neuronal pathways responsible for locomotor performance. It’s almost like this stuff just puts your brain in repair, or maintenance mode.

Autophagy

Fasting turns on autophagy (most studies nowadays treat this as common knowledge), which is the process by which cells recycle waste material, eliminate or downregulate wasteful processes, and repair themselves. Why is autophagy so important? It’s required to maintain muscle mass, and inhibiting it induces atrophy of adult skeletal muscle.  It reduces the negative effects of aging and reduces the incidence and progression of aging-related diseases. In fact, researchers have determined that autophagy is the essential aspect of the anti-aging mechanism of fasting. Without the autophagy that fasting provides, you would get very few of the benefits. Fasting even increases neuronal autophagy, which aids in maintaining mental health and function. Short term fasting, too. No marathon thirty-six hour fast required.

Fitness

You’ll hear that you should never exercise on an empty stomach. You’ll hear that fasted training will burn your  muscles and cause you to waste away. You’ll hear that performance will surely suffer. None of these things are necessarily true – and they are even less so if you are well-adapted adapted to a low-carb eating strategy. Fasted training can actually result in better metabolic adaptations (which mean better performance down the line), improved muscle protein synthesis, and a higher anabolic response to post-workout feeding (you’ll earn your meal and make more muscle out of it if you train on an empty stomach). Studies on Muslim athletes during Ramadan show no effect on performance while fasting, as well as better lipids in those who exercise and fast rather than just fast. When you train in a fasted state, glycogen breakdown is blunted and more fat is burnt, leaving you more glycolytic energy in the tank for when you really need it and less body fat. Those are just a sampling of the benefits to fasted training; there are dozens more. Check out Martin at LeanGains (linked above) for more information on fasted training. It’s his specialty.

Mental Well-being and Clarity

You’ve heard this “advice” before, probably from an expert dietitian in some copy-and-paste article on healthy living on Yahoo! Health. It’s the mantra of the high carb crowd: failure to eat something every few hours will cause mental fog and sluggishness, so keep a banana or a granola bar on your person at all times. Of course, this is all based on an assumption that we need to supply exogenous carbs on a regular basis to properly fuel the brain. This notion that fasting is only the province of anorexics or “those crazy caveman dieters” has kept many people from experiencing the myriad benefits.

I maintain that one’s comfort in handling IF effortlessly does increase dramatically when you’ve reprogrammed those cells (and genes) to predispose your body to derive most of your day-to-day energy from fat, as opposed to constantly dipping into glycogen stores (as happens when we rely so much on refeeding carbs every few hours). It’s also why I recommend that you eat according to the PB for at least three weeks before you really start incorporating IF on a regular basis. I’ll be discussing this detail more in upcoming posts on IF and what I am calling “the Metabolic Paradigm Shift”.

Overall, fasting just seems right. It’s like a reset button for your entire body, presumably across a large spectrum of maladies and dysfunctions. It puts your body into repair mode – at the cellular level – and it can restore normal hormonal function in the obese or overweight. Now, you don’t have to fast, but it’s definitely something to consider. As I said, I don’t plan my IFs – I let them happen. I prefer to fast when it’s forced upon me, like when I’m traveling or under a deadline. Once you’re acclimated to the Primal Blueprint diet, give it a shot and report back. Obviously, you won’t know if you’re fighting budding cancer cells or turning on autophagy in your brain, but if you can tolerate fasting and even derive some subjective benefits, those potential long-term benefits make it a worthwhile addition.

Have you tried IFing yet? Did you have a great, transcendent, middling, or perhaps even awful experience? Let me know how intermittent fasting has worked – or hasn’t – with your lifestyle in the comment section!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/#ixzz2DJcBf0zX

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Product Spotlight: Elevation Training Mask 2.0

product2.jpgfront-view-training-mask2.jpgYou walk and run every day without thinking about your breathing or the ability to breathe, it's taken for granted. Imagine, that one day, fatigue and plateau's were a thing of that past with the Training Mask that day is NOW!

Elevation Training Mask mimics the effects of High Altitude Training. When elite athletes want to improve their performance they go to high altitude levels to train. When they come back to sea level they perform much stronger, faster, and have increased endurance.

Training Mask makes your work out more efficient allowing you to take your work out from 60 minutes to 20 minutes. From the average daily walker to the marathon runner, Training Mask appeals to every athlete who wants to improve their overall health and performance.
What is the Elevation Training Mask? 

Elevation Training Mask is a patent pending "Resistance Training Device" that helps condition the lungs by creating pulmonary resistance and strengthening the diaphragm. 
Elevation Training Mask will help you regulate your breathing, increase lung stamina, lung capacity, oxygen efficiency and increase overall mental focus. Training Mask can help your over all performance in all sports and daily living
Elevation Training Mask helps! By condition the lungs and creating pulmonary resistance, your diaphragm is strengthened, surface area and elasticity in the alveoli is increased. Elevation Training Mask will help get your breathing under control and help with lung stamina, increase lung capacity, oxygen efficiency and increase over all mental focus. Training Mask can be used to make you become a better athlete in all sports and daily living.

Our multi-level resistance system reduces air flow through our patent pending flux valve system. Training Mask promotes increased lung capacity by forcing you to inhale fuller deeper breaths. When your body adapts to the resistance your lungs will be trained to take deeper breaths and use oxygen more efficiently. A short explanation of how this works is simple. When you breath against resistance the lining in the lungs essentially stretches out allowing the alveoli’s surface area to become "stretched" thus in return allows for more blood flow to the alveoli for more (oxygen transportation). When you increase "surface area" you increase red blood cell count that will be able to carry more oxygen out to the extremities.

Why would i want to use Training Mask 2.0?

•Increased lung capacity 
•Increased anaerobic thresholds 
•Increased oxygen efficiency 
•Increased energy Production 
•Increased Mental and physical stamina increase 
•Increased Mental Focus gets better 



 The science behind the mask!cyclist.jpg

After extensive research and clinical testing from the UNIVERSITY OF NAIT the Training Mask 2.0 has made remarkable advancement in the fitness and training industry. Training Mask 2.0 takes all the amazing "Diaphragm Resistance Technology" from Training Mask 1.0 and compiles it into a less obtrusive, amazingly comfortable silicone mask that fits over the nose and mouth.

The Elevation Training Mask 2.0 is the ultimate respiratory training device.

 

Our multi-level resistance system reduces air flow through our patent pending flux valve system. Training Mask 2.0 promotes increased lung capacity by forcing you to inhale fuller deeper breaths. When your body adapts to the resistance your lungs will be trained to take deeper breaths and use oxygen more efficiently. A short explanation of how this works is simple. When you breath against resistance the lining in the lungs essentially stretches out allowing the alveoli’s surface area to become "stretched" thus in return allows for more blood flow to the alveoli for more (oxygen transportation). When you increase "surface area" you increase red blood cell count that will be able to carry more oxygen out to the extremities

multilevel-12-18k.jpgWhile using Training Mask 2.0 the conditioning of your lungs significantly increases along with endurance and diaphragm strength. 
Training Mask 2.0 will benifit your respiratory system as your overall cardio and endurance will improve with continued use.

**There are many breathing devices and respiratory trainers used by hundreds of elite athletes for sports performance and by other users for health and fitness. Some of these devices are invented to increase strength of the respiratory muscles. Numerous clinical trials have found that these devices can increase endurance and VO2max (maximum oxygen absorption during most intensive exercise), improve lung function tests (VEF, PEF, FVC, and VEmax), lower heart rate for the same load, reduce medication (drugs) and symptoms, improve quality of life scores and lead to other beneficial health effects.
 
**Furthermore, with correct applications, breathing devices can increase body oxygen levels and produce profound effects on long term endurance, VO2max, duration of recovery from injuries and intensive training, together with life quality effects related to sleep, energy level and digestion. This review is focused on these oxygen-related effects of various breathing techniques.

**SITED SOURCES**

Dr. Artour Rakhimov - Moscow University PhD (Math/Physics), accepted in Canada and the UK
 * Winner of many regional competitions in mathematics, chess and sport orienteering (during teenage and University years)
 * Good classical piano-player: Chopin, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Strauss (up to now)
 * Joined Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 2001
 * Former captain of the ski-O varsity team and member of the cross-country skiing varsity team of the Moscow State University, best student teams of the USSR
 * Former individual coach of world-elite athletes from Soviet (Russian) and Finnish national teams who took gold and silver medals during World Championships
 * Total distance covered by running, cross country skiing, and swimming: over 100,000 km or over 2.5 loops around the Earth
 * Author of the publication which won Russian National 1998 Contest of scientific and methodological sport papers
 * Author of the most comprehensive book in English (“Normal breathing: the key to vital health”) about the Buteyko breathing method and one of the largest world’s website devoted to breathing training (www.NormalBreathing.com)
 * Buteyko breathing teacher (since 2002 up to now) and trainer
 * Health writer and health educator

 

Order it here

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Can I run when I have a cold?

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the United States, and it's easy to see why. The only equipment you really need is a good pair of running shoes, and you can go for a jog just about anywhere. Plus, running is meditative, burns calories, builds your endurance and tones your body.

Many runners find the activity addictive. You've probably heard of the so-called "runner's high" that joggers covet. Running releases endorphins into the brain, and endorphins are responsible for mood changes. The harder you run, the more endorphins released, and the giddier your "high." Some studies show that this endorphin rush allows people to continue running even when injured.

And that brings us to the point of this article -- why people continue their running regimens even when they're sick. Most of us curl up in bed with some chicken soup and the remote control when we're under the weather. But runners often hit the treadmill or the road. Are they helping or hurting themselves by jogging with a cold? How do you know when it's OK to run and when it's better to take off the trainers and climb in bed?

The best way to decide whether you should exercise is to employ what doctors call the "neck check." Feel free to go running if your cold is "above the neck." Above-the-neck symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

Doctors advise against proceeding with your exercise regimen if your symptoms are "below the neck," however. These symptoms include:

  • Chest congestion
  • Hacking cough
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • High fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body and muscle aches

Some people think that running in cold temperatures will actually make them sick. But this isn't really true. You can't freeze your lungs or windpipe. Your body heats the air you breathe. When the air is particularly cold, you may feel a burning in your chest as you inhale. If that's the case, try covering your mouth with a scarf or wearing a ski mask. That'll help heat up the air before you inhale it.

Keep in mind, though, if you have an infection in your chest or throat, running outside can indeed make things worse (according to the below-the-neck rule). But if you have a simple head cold, it should be fine to take that run, even if it's cold outside. The adrenaline running provides can even help clear up a stuffy head.

Next, we'll talk a bit about the positive effects of exercise on your body and understanding your limits.

Positive Effects of Exercise

Exercise isn't just for weight loss or building muscle. Obviously, it's great for those things, but exercise also provides a host of other benefits -- both physical and mental.

Exercise boosts your brainpower by increasing serotonin, which makes you more productive. It also decreases stress levels and gives you more energy via endorphin release. Even better, regular exercise keeps you healthier and slows down progression of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass. Keep up your exercise plan and you'll find yourself with a strengthened cardiovascular system.

But what about running in particular? Running burns the most calories of just about any type of exercise you might do at the gym. It also helps prevent osteoarthritis in your knees. Running bolsters cartilage and strengthens ligaments around your joints by increasing oxygen flow and flushing out toxins. That said, you should always take care to treat an injured knee and never continue to run when you have a joint or knee injury without seeing a doctor first.

Even though it may be OK to work out with a cold, you should understand and respect your personal limits. If you're feeling weak and can't perform to your usual ability, it might be time to take a break until you feel better. Exercise can aggravate an existing infection. Also, if your performance is diminished, you're losing the benefit of the workout anyway.

A sinus infection, for example, does fall into the "above the neck rule," but some doctors advise against running while you have one. You probably won't even feel like running when you're suffering from a sinus infection, but the standard advice is to wait it out for three days. Some sinus infections can lead to pneumonia.

You can't "sweat out" a fever by running, either. If your fever is above 99 degrees Fahrenheit, you probably should stay home. Exercising with a fever will put you on a fast track toward dehydration, so be careful.

If, despite your best efforts to stay well, you get sick, here are a few tips for a speedy recovery. When suffering from a cold or flu, try to do the following:

  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Gargle with warm water.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Take zinc lozenges at the first sign of sickness.
  • Regularly take multi-vitamins.
  • Use a humidifier at night.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Rest!

 

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