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Boost Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting - Coffee

Intermittent Fasting (IF) has been of interest for me since I saw some presentations by Dr. Jason Fung about a year ago. It took me awhile to work up the courage to try fasting. I was apprehensive due to my health issues. Little did I know the benefits of intermittent fasting that I would see. See “Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Charcot Marie Tooth,” where I detail the benefits of IF for CMT.

Prolonged vs Intermittent Fasting

The more I enjoyed the benefits of intermittent fasting, the more I began to wonder if there were ways to boost fasting benefits. I started slow with intermittent fasting before moving on to prolonged fasting. There are differing opinions about what these two types of fasting mean. For this post, I define these types of fasting as follows:

  • Intermittent Fasting – Fasting for 24 hours or less. Example: 16/8 Fast, 16 hours of no calories with an 8 hour window to eat each day.
  • Prolonged Fasting – Fasting for longer than 24 hours. Usually limited to 72 hours, but some people go for even longer than 3 days.

One can gain the benefits of fasting from either of these techniques. It really comes down to personal preference and which one is most convenient for one’s lifestyle. I personally prefer the prolonged fasting. I find it convenient to not eat for two days out of my week. My routine is currently a 48 hour fast each week. After reading this study about IF and CMT, I may switch my routine to Alternate-day Fasting, or a cycle of 24 hour fasting followed by 24 hours of food.

I was feeling the benefits of fasting, but I wanted to find out if I could maximize the efficiency of each fast. I wanted to burn as much fat as possible during my fast.

Boost Intermittent Fasting Benefits

There are two tools I now use to maximize the efficiency of my fasts: Bulletproof Coffee (BPC) and cardio. Combining these two the morning of my fast immediately puts me into ketosis and keeps me there throughout the fast. I’ve tested doing a fast with and without these two and different combinations of both to see just how my body would behave. I always lose the most weight and feel the best during a fast when I start it with a BPC and cardio.

Bulletproof Coffee

Starting my fast with a Bulletproof Coffee helps me sustain my energy throughout the fast. If I don’t start my fast with a BPC, I always seem to wake up groggy the next day and have a hard time prolonging the fast over 24 hours. I also seem to get more hunger pains when I don’t have a BPC before my fast. I believe it’s all the fat in the BPC that helps me feel sated throughout my fast. After trying to fast with and without a BPC several times, I have decided to always start my fast with a BPC. If you’d like to know more about my experiences with BPC, please read my Bulletproof Coffee for Thirty Days and Beyond post.

The Bulletproof Coffee at the start of each fast helped sustain my energy and sate my hunger throughout the fast, but it didn’t make much of a difference in how much fat I was losing during the fast. There was a slight difference in weight loss, but nothing significant. I knew I was in a higher state of ketosis during my fast, but was there a way to increase my fat burning during the fast?

Cardio

An obvious answer to boost fat burning during a fast seemed to be exercise at the beginning of the fast. I started with just an hour of cardio the first time I tried cardio with fasting. The next time I fasted, I did the same hour long cardio session. I seemed to consistently lose an extra 1.5 pounds or so when I included an hour of cardio at the start of my fast. Keep in mind that this cardio is not intense. It’s just steady, easy cardio. I keep my heart rate in the fat-burning to just at cardio level, 100-140 bpm for me.

After a few times of doing this, I started to wonder how far I could push it and if I could control the amount of fat loss I had during a fast. I eventually got to where I could do four hours of cardio at the start of each fast. Doing four hours of cardio seemed to consistently help me lose 2.5 to 3 pounds during a fast. I don’t do four hours of cardio at the beginning of each fast mind you, but it was nice to know that it was possible for me to control my fat loss. Now I average 2-3 hours of cardio at the start of each of my fasts.

Conclusion

After many experiments, I believe I have found my optimal way of fasting. Each person will have their own way, but I felt like sharing my experiences might help others find a way to experiment themselves. For me, the best way I’ve found to fast is to have a 24-48 hour fast each week and to start that fast with a Bulletproof Coffee and 2-3 hours of cardio to boost fasting benefits.

Note: I only do BPC and cardio at the start of the fast. Afterward, I do not continue to do cardio throughout the fast. I tried this once and consequently ended up fainting. I do not recommend doing cardio or any other exercise throughout a fast. Please consult with your doctor before significantly changing your diet or exercise routine.

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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Charcot Marie Tooth

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting - Empty Plate

Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to various diets that cycle through defined periods of fasting and non-fasting. Generally, the periods of fasting are 24 hours or less. People usually refer to fasting longer than 24 hours as prolonged fasting.

Examples of Intermittent Fasting

  • Time-restricted Feeding (TRF)
    • 16/8 – Fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8 hour window each day.
    • 12/12 – Fast for 12 hours and eat in a 12 hour window each day.
  • Whole-day Fasting (WDF)
    • WDF – Fasting that involves regular periods of 24 hour fasts. Example: Fast for 24 hours once or twice a week.
    • Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) – Fasting for 24 hours every other day.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

There has been plenty of research in the last two decades about the benefits of intermittent fasting. In fact, Healthline has an article that lists evidence based benefits of IF with plenty of resources. Moreover, could IF have specific benefits for Charcot Marie Tooth? Researchers in Florida published a study in 2010 that explored the benefits of intermittent fasting in mice with Charcot Marie Tooth type 1A.

The study, “Intermittent fasting alleviates the neuropathic phenotype in a mouse model of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease,” kept mice with CMT1A on a five month long IF regimen while monitoring their locomotor performance. The results of the study “indicate that dietary restriction is benificial for peripheral nerve function [..], as it promotes the maintenance of locomotor performance,” researchers concluded in the article. Before we can go into detail about the study, it’s best to understand the Schwann Cell and how it plays a role in CMT.

CMT and the Schwann Cell

The term Schwann cell refers to any of the cells in the peripheral nervous system that produce the myelin sheath around neuronal axons. Consequently, researchers believe the Schwann cell is thought to play a big role in the abnormal expression of the gene PMP22, the cause of CMT1A. Specifically, the altered processing and turnover rate of a mutated protein within Schwann cells. In simple terms, unhealthy Schwann cells produce unhealthy myelin sheaths. With this in mind, the study set out to discover if the biology of Schwann cells in mice with CMT1A could be improved somehow. Could Intermittent Fasting do the trick?

Intermittent Fasting for Healing

The study references a few articles that show how IF can help with neurodegenerative disease and protein degradation. One of the many benefits of IF is that it puts the body into survival mode, making it repair itself and normalize bodily functions. Therefore it makes sense that IF could potentially help normalize the biology of Schwann cells in patients with CMT. The researchers put that exact hypothesis to the test in this study.

Tests

The researchers put mice on a five month long IF regimen. There were four test groups: healthy mice fed normally, healthy mice on an IF regimen, CMT1A mice fed normally, and CMT1A mice on an IF regimen. The mice on an IF regimen were fed every other day, basically the Alternate-day Fasting technique. Over a two year period, the researchers performed this same experimental design three independent times with four to ten age-matched mice in each group. At the end of each trial, they collected the sciatic nerves from each mouse for biochemical and morphological studies. Here is a list of the tests performed:

  • Rotarod test
  • Grip strength test
  • Morphological studies
  • Primary antibodies
  • Biochemical analyses
  • Immunolabeling of nerve sections
  • Statistical analysis

The article itself goes into great detail about all these tests and the results. For the sake of readability, I will be omitting the description of these tests. Please refer to the materials and methods section of the article for more detail.

Results

The results were promising. They showed that IF improves locomotor performance. Intermittent fasting enhanced myelin protein expression, meaning healthier, thicker myelin sheaths. The researchers also discovered that IF reduced the inflammatory aspects of neuropathy.

These results were clear. Intermittent fasting could benefit patients with Charcot Marie Tooth by improving the biology of Schwann cells, producing healthier myelin sheaths and reducing inflammatory aspects of neuropathy.

Conclusion

The benefits of Intermittent Fasting have been studied for decades, centuries even. Additionally, there is now research that shows specific benefits for Charcot Marie Tooth disease.

I have been practicing IF for several months now. I started even before reading this article. Intermittent Fasting seemed like it would inadvertently help with CMT symptoms, but I hadn’t thought that IF might have a direct impact on my disease. I have felt the benefits of IF ever since starting, and now I have solid research that explains why.

It is always a recommended to consult your doctor before altering your diet or exercise routine in any way, especially with a disease like CMT. Please do so before trying IF. That being said, I recommend patients with CMT look into this way of dieting.