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How to burn fat while you sleep

January 4, 2010

Sounds like the start of an infomercial that’s trying to sell you some miracle cure extracted painfully from the genitals of a near extinct animal doesn’t it?

Well this comes to you free, and it’s what I’ve been doing to lower my body fat ratio and increase my energy levels.  As I type this it’s 6.30am.  I slept about 6 hours and I couldn’t sleep anymore.  I’m wide awake, feel great and have total clarity.  I haven’t eaten for 12 hours and I don’t feel hungry at all.  I won’t eat for another 6 hours.

It’s called Intermittent Fasting (IF), although I don’t like that term because it conjures up images and thoughts of starvation.   IF is not about starvation, its about regulating insulin levels to promote the body using releasing fat from fat cells to use as energy.

It’s all about the insulin.

Insulin is the hormone that regulates fat storage in the body.  If your insulin is high, your body will store excess energy as fat.  If your insulin is low, your body will instruct your fat cells to release the fat and convert it into usable energy.  So how do you keep insulin levels low?

Firstly by restricting carbohydrates. Carbs (especially refined carbohydrates like sugars and starches) spike blood sugar and the body reacts by producing insulin to clear the excess blood sugar and store it in fat cells.

Secondly, by regularly being in a fasting state.  There’s no better way to lower your fasting insulin levels by just not eating for short periods of time.  If you’re eating a low-carb, high protein and fat diet this should be relatively easy as your body will have stable blood sugar levels, and proteins and fat take longer to breakdown into energy, so you have a nice, slow release of energy over a longer period of time.  If you’re eating a high carb diet, fasting will be very difficult as your body will go into a low blood sugar mode and you’ll most likely feel starving and craving sweet foods.

How do you do it?

There’s a lot of different methods out there, but try it out and find one that works for you.  My personal routine is an 18 / 6.  Thats an 18 hour fast and 6 hours of time where I can eat as much and as often as I want.  I start eating at 12pm, and have my last meal by 6pm.

It sounds tough at first, but its really not that hard once you do it a few times, your body will get used to it.

The upside:

  • I find I fall asleep much, much easier than I used to.
  • My sleep is far more peaceful, and I’m not needing as much sleep to feel refreshed. (I wish I could sleep more)
  • I wake up feeling energetic, whereas I used to wakeup feeling groggy and needing food and coffee to get that energetic feeling.
  • Autophagy (cell destruction and reproduction) occurs during low energy state, which the helps anti-aging process.
  • Flexibility – It’s not like I have to do it every day.  If there is a special dinner for my friends, I can go.  If sometimes I want to have breakfast I can.  But most days I will do this and you can build a plan to fit in with your lifestyle.
  • I really look forward to my eating “window”.   I probably take in the same amount of calories I would if I ate smaller meals throughout the day, but usually my diet is 2 big meals (breakfast and dinner) with a bunch of small snacks in between.

The downside:

  • It’s hard to start, and you do need some willpower to get through it.
  • May be hard to fit around your lifestyle, however you don’t need to do it every day, just find something that works for you.

Caveats

  • Never fast for more than 24 hours.  Some people will do longer than 24 hour fasts, but I don’t recommend it.
  • Discontinue your fast if you feel dizzy, low on blood sugar, extremely hungry or if you feel poor in any way.  In a fasting state you should feel good, energetic and buzzing!

Other links for self-research:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-intermittent-fasting/

http://www.criticalbench.com/fasting_anti_aging_diet.htm

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/intermittent-fasting/fast-way-to-better-health/

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