I started incorporating fasting about a year ago into my weekly health and fitness program. I had done a number of extended fasts over the years but the logic and practicality always escaped me. You would fast in order to cleanse and detoxify but then what happens? Invariably most people would go back to the same habits until the next New Years resolution or some other new fasting fad comes along.
I wanted to incorporate fasting in a manner that would provide consistent and proven health benefits in a practical way that was also sustainable; so that’s how I started practicing what is called “Intermittent Fasting” (IF).
For me the initial reasons I started IF reasons were fivefold:
- I have a genetic disposition to prostate cancer;
- I have a similar genetic predisposition to type II diabetes, so I needed to manage my blood sugar levels and keep them in a normal range;
- I’ve had high grade PIN (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia) for the last 12 years, which studies show can progress to prostate cancer in 30% of men;
- I wanted something to help control IGF-1 (insulin growth factor 1), which is a marker for prostate cancer, aggressive prostate cancer progression, and other metabolic disease; and
- I have a genetic disposition to inflammatory disorders so managing inflammation is a key part of my exercise, lifestyle, and nutritional program. If you’ve read my book you’ll know that inflammation has had me in a coma with Encephalitis, nearly cost me my left leg with Osteomyelitis, and nearly killed me with chronic Pericarditis. See a theme here? “..itis = inflammation” – and inflammation is bad.
I was also fascinated with the anti-cancer benefits of fasting; especially through denying cancer cells one of the key ingredients they need for surviving and thriving – sugar. If you are interested in this, you can learn more watching William Li’s TED talk which has over 4 million views.
Through Dr. Li’s talks and other research I became convinced that if you were at risk for prostate or other cancers, then IF should be a fundamental part of a nutritional and cancer prevention program.
Fasting for me has nothing to do with weight loss. In fact that’s the least of the benefits I’m personally looking for – although fasting does have weight management benefits by activating fat burning over carbohydrates as the primary source of fuel/energy. Leptin, the hormone that regulates fat storage as well as hunger signals, and ghrelin, another hormone that tells your brain the body is hungry, are also normalized by routine fasting, so that’s an additional benefit for those looking to lose weight. Read More
I like to chill out, but probably not in the sense you’re used to.
My kind of chilling means daily and regular cold therapy – situations in which I purposefully place my body in a cool to cold environment. Am I crazy? You might think so, but once I explain all the health benefits of cold therapy, there’s a good chance you’ll be reaching for the ice cubes.
First of all, forget the old wives’ tale about how being cold gives you a cold; it’s just not scientifically true. In fact, methodical exposure to cold may help boost levels of human growth hormone and testosterone, improve insulin resistance, manage inflammation, boost mental health, improve sleep, assist with weight loss (by activating the burning of brown fat), and make you feel stronger overall. Who wouldn’t want all of those benefits! Read More
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I get asked a lot about my morning routine that I wrote about in my book.
I’ve found that having a set morning routine is fundamental to preparing myself for the events and challenges of the day. What you do (and moreover – what you don’t do) in that period immediately after you wake can put you on a path to a stronger and healthier day.
Here’s 6 things that work for me (in the specific order that I follow immediately on waking): Read More
Legend has it that around about 490 BC, a Greek messenger ran the twenty-six-and- change-mile route from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greeks’ victory at the Battle of Marathon. Now, a couple of millennia later, about half a million people annually pay hefty entrance fees and spend months preparing to run 26.2 miles in marathons the world over.
I don’t necessarily fault them; I’ve run marathons myself, along with a few other ultra-long-distance running events.
But here’s the part of the marathon-origin story that most long-distance runners forget: after he delivered his message, the messenger died.
If only he’d had Skype.
And this fleet-footed Greek was a professional messenger. He routinely did runs of this distance. On the day he did his Marathon run, he had fought in the Battle of Marathon. Talk about an overachiever.
The same unfortunate fate befell Micah True, the long-distance runner who is one of the heroes of Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. After decades of running distances of up to one hundred miles at a stretch, he died at age fifty-eight while on a routine training run.
It’s unlikely you’ll suffer the Greek messenger’s fate if you decide to run a single marathon and you prepare well for it. But, whatever your buddy at the office, or your Facebook friend Pat, or your son tells you, by no means should you consider long- distance running a viable way to improve your health and longevity, nor should you consider it something to do on a regular basis.
If you are a 120-pound, 8 percent body fat, Nike-sponsored slip of a thing who is obviously genetically suited for such madness (and making good money off it), knock yourself out; it’s your livelihood, and you do what you have to do. Failing that, though, running marathons—or even running long distances frequently—is not an effective way to get fit. It may even be bad for your health.
Here’s why: As guys, we’re highly susceptible to the “more is better” myth. If running two miles three times a week is good for you, we assume that ten miles seven times a week must be great for you. It’s not so. For one thing, the nutritional requirements of training for and completing a marathon—bars, gels, sports drinks, and the like, all of which are variations on straight sugar—are antithetical to good eating habits. A few long-distance athletes, such as Ironman Dave Scott and ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, eat plant-based diets, so it can be done without eating all the processed, sugary crap. But junk is so ubiquitous at these events, and so much a part of the culture of training, that it can be hard to avoid.