UFIT Urban Fitness, Singapore's Leading Independent Fitness Provider – Fitter, Leaner, Stronger!

Food, who needs it??

Hi guys, it’s Darren here, a few of us at UFIT will be sharing duties on the blog and it’s my turn today!

Some of you reading this will know me, some for a number of years and some, for a relatively short period of time. A while back (ok so a year and a half ago!) I posted on this blog an item about Food. The first major statement I made in that post was my belief that people, generally, eat too much food. And I’m thinking, generally, people would agree! I made a challenge in that post for the reader to drop his/her food intake by a half! A 4 day Challenge! I received some feedback but I didn’t create a big debate about this so I presume everyone believed me, did the 4 day Challenge, lost a load of weight and have been silently thanking me ever since. Or maybe not.

Enter our colleague and now great friend Nathan Williams (Nathan’s own blog is here). Nath is a BIG believer in change and is a walking Change-Agent!! When we first met in mid-2012 he made a statement that resonated with me for a long time, “I can easily drop 2-3 kg’s off anyone in a week and it won’t be all water”, or something like that. It was almost a throwaway comment made during our interview process but I must admit it made me immediately sit up.

Once Nathan was on-board at UFIT we began chatting about stuff and soon enough we were discussing food. He mentioned various individuals including an intriguing chap named Mark Sisson. Mark has an awesome blog and website. What Mark says is not dissimilar to what I was blogging about a year and half back (he was talking about it way before me, of course) but Mark Sisson takes it another few steps forward. Mark engages in and promotes Intermittent Fasting or IF.

FASTING??!! No freaking way!! Well, you better get used to some basic facts regarding food and humans.

The first thing I want you to consider is this. What exactly is body-fat? Why do we have it and what is its purpose?

As humans we are predisposed to store fat. Why? Well for one it’s our basic form of fuel. I recently watched a Youtube video that made the statement that grazing off carbohydrate in our stomachs is our primary fuel source. This is why we need to eat every 2 hours. This is rubbish. Do you think 50 years ago we had supermarkets and fast-food and everyone went around eating every 2 hours? Of course not! What about 500 years ago? What about 50000 years ago when our first true ancestors appeared? Back in those times humans could go days without eating. In these cases their blood-sugar levels must have been really screwed right, I mean, these days we go 3-4 hours without food and we’re getting dizzy, we can’t concentrate and we’re basically in big trouble! Have.to.get.sugar!!

The reality is this 50000 year old “Paleo” man was “fat-adapted”. And so has been subsequently, the entire human population. Remember your Mum saying you must eat 3 square meals a day and how now nutritionists, dieticians and Trainer’s all scoff at that suggestion these days? Paleo man’s food came sporadically and as a consequence he was expert at storing fat. This meant he could go long periods without food using stored fat as energy. Of course water was reasonably plentiful so hydration wasn’t an issue and as we know with water, humans can go long periods without food. And since Paleo man we have done very well thank you storing fat, living off it and then re-storing! All the way through to recent times when we have developed this crazy dependence on sugar.

So this is where the problems with modern food start.

Paleo man predominantly ate meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. He didn’t eat a lot of grains, these came much later in our human development, estimated to be 10,000 years ago so pretty much for 40,000 years we were eating a paleo-type diet. Then 10,000 years ago some communities began farming foods that included grains. There’s debate about whether the grains were being originally grown for human consumption or to feed the recently domesticated animals farming was producing. Either way human consumption of grains began. Ok so back in this agricultural farming “great leap forward” grains were eaten in percentage terms much smaller quantities than what they are eaten in today. Plus the “processing” of these grains was quite rudimentary and didn’t alter the composition of the grain as significantly as it does these days (think shiny, white rice as an example of how a hull covered cloudy browny looking rice grain can be so radically tampered with during “processing”).

That shiny white rice has had all the nutrients stripped from it and is now essentially sugar. So is white bread. So is white pasta. And the other thing is both these 2 are man-made, they aren’t really food anyway, well, not food that our bodies process easily. These are the “white devils”! We have become so dependent on these processed foods we now must eat every 2-3 hours which is not what we are supposed to be doing!

These sugars spike our blood-sugar levels and these are precariously high across the spectrum in developed nations. This is why we have so many health issues, it’s not just diabetes but cancers, coronary heart disease, skin and blood issues, gum and tooth decay and many many more. So not only are we not supposed to be eating these foods based on our genetic predisposition they are making us really, really sick!

So let’s get back to Paleo man and IF, IF is –

The process of not eating food for periods of time and then subsequently consuming nutrients in a timed window.

There are many versions of IF and different people offer different perspectives and “systems” but the bottom line is we fast to break the dependency on sugars and an individual forces his/her body to resume using fat as its primary fuel source. We become fat adapted and not carb-dependent. Our blood-sugar drops and you may suffer some symptoms of this “re-wiring” or re-booting of the primary system but it won’t last long (maybe a day or 2 of headaches). Also note that typically our current blood-sugar levels are way too high having been artificially inflated by these modern diet choices.

Here’s some quick tips –

  1. When fasting drink water, tea and coffee only. Coffee should be black because this is calorie free.
  2. Recognise what massive sugar intake we really have in our food, the following are the biggest culprits – dressings, soft drinks, the “white devils”, alcohol.
  3. Eat whole foods being meat, fruit, vegetable and nuts and seeds. For your information carbohydrates are found in fruit and vegetables and in much better quality than what you get from the white devils!

So what happens on IF? The IF affect is amazing! No longer do you constantly suffer sugar withdrawl when you haven’t eaten for a few hours. You can go hours and hours without feeling any ill-effects. Nothing suffers, not even exercise. You can train in a fasted state and feel strong! I have always said that hormonal balance is what we should be striving towards on our pathway to healthier lives. Exercising in the way we are supposed to, interval style produces positive hormone responses and so does eating with your adopted IF program.

Striving for the holy grail of fitter, leaner, stronger is what we are about, IF will definitely help you!!

At UFIT we have a program called UFAST, an amazingly successful program, check it out!!

Email me at darren@UFIT.com.sg

www.UFIT.com.sg

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5 responses

  1. how often does one practice IF?

    March 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    • I would suggest you find something that works for you and try it for a week possibly 2. We have a 2 week introductory program that exposes the client to 3 different variations. At the end of the 2 weeks the client will show some type of preference for one solution so this is what you want to figure out. What works for you. Do some research and trial one that you think will work. I have been doing different variations but settled into a formula that I’ve been on since Christmas.

      March 26, 2013 at 5:15 am

  2. Very well written article Darren. I follow the ‘great food and fitness debate’ from the sidelines with keen interest and often find it highly entertaining. Especially the 5 – 10 year cycle where what we are ‘told’ one decade gets rubbished completeley the next decade. I am thinking, low fat/no fat/no carbs/5 meals per day/no meals per day etc…. One of the things that I respect about you as a trainer is that over 14 years working with you, you have adpated and transformed your idea’s as you learn and experience more. What is your view’s towards the latest ‘trend’ of paleo, fasting, cross fit style training?

    March 26, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    • Thanks Grant appreciate your comments as always! There is an interesting theme coming through if you look at what trends are developing in training and now food. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and IF (Intermittent Fasting) are both based on the premise that as humans we need systematic and planned breaks from continuous activity whether eating or exercising. And even more interesting there is a chap called Tony Schwartz and he has built a business on advising companies to tell their employees to work in “waves”. Basically you work as hard as you can for a period, I think it’s 90 minutes and then you take a break for 15 (doing NOTHING!!) and then start it again. It’s IW – Interval Working!! Ok so I made that IW thing up but the wave theory is being practised by a lot of businesses these days. So again the interval/intermittent concept applies. And as you know Grant at UFIT we practise interval-style training which basically sees us pushing clients through sessions in HIIT-style (which we have been long before it became popular!). Just a quick not on Crossfit, this is definitely different and definitely NOT HIIT. Long intense work periods that extend up to 9-10 minutes without rest is too long and not a training style I believe humans should be adopting. Thanks again for your comment.

      March 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm

  3. I tried intermittent fasting according to the Fast Diet ie no more than 500 calories each day for twice a week. Then I cut down to once a week. Now I’ve given it up. I read that women tend to be less successful than men at IF because we get grouchy and our bodies want to conserve fat! Haha, at least that’s my excuse!

    May 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm

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