Intermittent Fasting seminar: Part 1 | Precision Nutrition

Intermittent Fasting seminar: Part 1

By John Berardi, Ph.D.


Short fasts can accelerate fat loss and make you healthier. But should you do them?  Should your clients?  If so, how?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is the name some people give to the practice of occasionally going for extended periods without eating.

Of course, fasting is nothing new.  Humans have fasted for most of their history, whether it’s during the typical overnight period, during more extended periods of food scarcity, or for religious reasons.

What is new is the clinical research.  Data show that IF, when done properly, might help extend life, regulate blood glucose, control blood lipids, manage body weight, gain (or maintain) lean mass, and more.

Rather than something we’re forced to endure – whether because of food shortage or cultural expectations – IF is becoming something that health and physique-oriented people are seeking out in order to keep their bodies in top shape.

That’s why, in this video series, we’ll teach you all about the hottest trend in the nutrition field.  What it’s all about.  Who it’s for.  And, most importantly, whether you (or your clients) should give it a try.

To learn more about this hot topic, click the play button below.  (Or click here for part 2, part 3, part 4, or part 5).

This video is about 9 minutes long.

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Why learn more about intermittent fasting?

In the last few months, feature articles in the New York Times, LA Times, and Time magazine have touted the benefits of intermittent fasting.

And television documentaries, including one by the BBC, have presented the idea that occasional fasts might offer important health benefits.

Is it any surprise, then, that the industry is buzzing?  That blogs and social media feeds are ringing with discussions of skipping breakfast?  That your clients are curious, maybe concerned?

Sure, you could dismiss this whole intermittent fasting thing as a fad.  As a “here today, gone tomorrow” phenomenon.  But that would probably be a mistake.

If our crystal ball is correct, intermittent fasting is here to stay.  As a fitness professional, you’ll need to know something about it.

If you don’t know how to respond to client questions – or you give flippant, ill-considered responses – you’ll lose their confidence.  And miss out on a potentially useful intervention.

The Anti-Jet Lag Diet

In preparing this seminar, which I first gave in the UK, I stumbled upon some research showing that intermittent fasting could help reduce jet lag symptoms.

How serendipitous; I was about to fly 9 hours across several time zones to present. Why not put some of these jet lag fasting protocols to the test?

The first protocol I discovered was the “Anti-Jet-Lag Diet” designed by Dr. Charles Ehret of the Argonne National Laboratory.

According to the research, particular eating patterns can reset your circadian clock. Here’s how it works:

The plan was tested in 188 US National Guardsmen and the results published in Military Medicine.

Soldiers reduced their jet lag symptoms by 7.5-fold when flying from the US to Korea, and an amazing 16.2-fold when flying from Korea to the US.

You don’t have to be a soldier, of course. Anyone who travels across time zones – including athletes, speakers, and international business people – can use fasting to combat jet lag symptoms.

The Anti-Jet Lag Fast

Although Dr. Ehret’s protocol seems effective, it’s a little complicated, requiring a few days’ preparation.

That’s why Dr. Clifford Saper of the Beth Israel Medical Center came up with a simplified version he calls “The Anti-Jet Lag Fast”.

Here’s the protocol:

With this simpler fasting protocol, you do only two things:

  • fast for anywhere from 14-24 hours during your travel day; and
  • eat soon after landing, as close to the local meal time as possible.

My fasting protocol

Intrigued by the success of the plans above, I figured I’d try an extended fast on my travel days.

Leading up to the UK trip, I was already following the fasting plan outlined below.

I normally fasted until 1pm each day, worked out in the fasted state, and then ate my first meal soon after exercising.

I kept doing this in the week before my travel.  When I flew from Canada to the UK, I simply extended my fast.

Because of my flight schedule, however, that fast extended beyond the recommended 24 hours.  In fact, I actually fasted for 48 hours in total.

Then, just to show that it’s possible to survive a 48 hour fast, I actually gave my presentation before my first meal.

That’s right, I gave a 90 minute lecture after 48 hours of fasting.  I even think I did a great job.

I went on to give five total lectures that weekend.  And my jet lag symptoms were pretty much non-existent.

What about breakfast?

Now, if you think I’m totally nuts, that’s okay.  I’ll talk more about this protocol, and fasting in general, throughout this video series.

Let’s start by addressing something that could be blowing your mind.

You’ll notice that I skip breakfast. Every day. That might puzzle you.

After all, experts have been preaching the importance of breakfast for years now. You’ve probably heard that it’s the “most important meal of the day.”

That “if you skip breakfast, you’re an idiot who’s destined to be fat.”

Well, I’m extremely lean (I’ll share pictures later in this series) and arguably intelligent (I do have a PhD in this area).  So what’s going on here?  Why have I been skipping breakfast?

We’ll get into all that in part 2 of this video series.

Wrap-up and today’s takeaways

That’s it for part 1 of Intermittent Fasting: Science or Fiction?

Here are the key points:

  • Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the hottest new trends in the fitness industry.
  • This is definitely more than a fad, you should spend some time learning about it.
  • Fasting has interesting applications for jet lag.
  • It also has a host of other benefits, which we’ll explore in part 2.
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