Everything You Need to Know About Intermittent Fasting

Over the years, marketing campaigns, pseudoscience and a long chain of celebrity endorsements for juice cleanses and flat tummy tea have left those who are trying to lose weight with more questions than answers. Eating is comforting, experiential, enjoyable and impossible to give up, but couldn’t limiting the time we spend eating (or, more simply put, fasting) be equally as satisfying — and much better for our health in the long term? 

By definition, intermittent fasting doesn’t require that you take specific foods or food groups out of your diet, and it doesn’t include extreme portion control or calorie counting. You’re allowed to eat as much as your body needs during nonfasting periods. While other dieting methods can be used in conjunction with intermittent fasting to increase the potential of dramatic results, the basis of the ideology is to change when you eat — not what you eat. There are a few different methods of intermittent fasting. There’s the 5:2 method, where you eat for five days and fast for two every week. is is the method Jimmy Kimmel abides by to maintain his recent 25-pound weight-loss success. There’s also alternate-day fasting, where you eat one day and fast the next. Or you can fast every day for 16 hours and get all your eating done in the other eight — that’s the 16:8 method. 

Patricia Bannan

Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not, says acclaimed L.A.-based dietician Patricia Bannan, who gave us the intel on how it works: Intermittent fasting causes glucose concentrations to decrease and lipolysis to increase significantly during the first 24 hours, and that helps the body break down stored fat. Although weight loss is often the primary motivator for fasting, people take up this practice for many reasons.

In countries like Russia, Germany and Spain, therapeutic fasting spas have emerged as popular retreats for those looking to improve either their physical or mental health. The Buchinger Wilhelmi fasting clinics located on Lake Constance in Germany and in Marbella, Spain, offer packages ranging from 10- to 28-day stays at luxury facilities. During their time there, guests are encouraged to participate in counseling, physical therapy, light exercise and even attend lectures. Abstaining from food is intended to be a psychological and physical challenge that removes distractions, sparks creativity and increases self-actualization.

But this idea that going hungry for an extended period of time leads to mental clarity and overall health benefits isn’t something new. For thousands of years, fasting has been utilized by many of the world’s major religious leaders and adherents as a method of connecting with respective higher powers. Fasting, historically, is a deeply spiritual practice. It’s also an exercise in gratitude: Going without food may also result in a new appreciation for what we are consuming. 

Intermittent fasting necessitates taking a critical look at the reasons why you eat when you do. Living in a cycle of deprivation and satiety means that you’re realigned with how your body signals that it needs food. Bannan cautions that the research on fasting’s effect on people is hardly complete: “While there are some studies on intermittent fasting in humans that have shown beneficial results, more studies need to be conducted.” If you’re encouraged to give intermittent fasting a try, make sure you consult a health-care provider beforehand. Your body, Bannan notes, could experience minor physical ailments, such as feeling cold, headaches, mood swings, constipation, fatigue and an inability to concentrate. It can also be more dangerous for people with low blood sugar or diabetes.

Ultimately, what’s important is that you find a dietary plan that is suitable for your lifestyle and helpful in achieving your goals — which Bannan calls your “diet personality.” Just as alone time is desirable for introverts and avoided by extroverts, intermittent fasting has the potential to work well for certain people but not others.

To learn more about fasting clinics abroad, visit buchinger-wilhelmi.com/en, and for local information about nutrition and healthy cooking, visit patriciabannan.com. 


Interview with Mark Yu, co-founder of Keto-friendly butter coffee brand Grass Fed Coffee, on his experience with intermittent fasting.


Mark Yu

What does your typical day of eating look like? When do you start eating and when do you stop? What sort of food do you eat during non-fasting periods to sustain you?

My usual breakfast is a GFC around 530 a.m.. It gives me a nice lift of steady energy with a great dose of healthy fats that helps me extend my fast (from the previous night’s dinner till lunch). Lunch is usually around 1-2 p.m., but can extend to 4 to 5 p.m. if I am busy. 

Dinner for me is no later than 9 p.m.. I do not eat at all in between lunch/dinner because I try to maximize my fasting windows in between meals to burn as much body fat as possible.    

For lunch and dinner, I follow a strict ketogenic diet — meaning low carbs (less than 20 grams a day), medium protein (to sustain my existing muscle mass) consisting of grass fed beef/wild fish/chicken, and a high amount of healthy fats from avocado, fish, coconut and grass fed butter.

My daily caloric breakdown is 75 percent fat, 20 protein and 5 percent carbohydrates.  

A key aspect of eating food is usually sharing it with other people. Ideally, families bond over a meal at the end of the day and share what they’ve experienced while apart at work or school. Has your new eating pattern been detrimental to any of your relationships? Are you still able to be a part of eating meals with family or friends, or has intermittent fasting been isolating? 

Frankly, eating with friends and family has been very challenging with this lifestyle. It has been my biggest struggle with the whole experience.

There is a great deal of skepticism regarding intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet from the general public at large, primarily because of a lack of education, and because it is quite different from mainstream eating habits.

In the beginning, I attempted to explain my dietary choices to skeptical friends and family, even inviting them to try the meals I made, but sticking to my plan became increasingly difficult during holidays and gatherings, as I would not be able to eat their food, and it felt like I was constantly being critiqued for my choices, even though their feedback was well intentioned. 

As a result, I’ve found it easier to eat before joining friends and family for meals (which has helped me stick to my plan and avoid lapsing), and this still allows me to be present for important events. I prefer this to bringing my own food, which really bumps up the “he’s so weird” factor. Haha.

It isn’t the perfect solution, but my hope is that as intermittent fasting and the ketogenic lifestyle become more mainstream, there will be less of a gap. That being said, I am very happy with the results from intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet, so on some level, I feel you have to do what you have to do, because I was extremely unhappy with the alternative.

I’ve experimented a little bit with intermittent fasting myself and found that I was savoring and enjoying my food more once it was time to break the fast. Is that something you have experienced? Could intermittent fasting be a tool for not only losing weight but for truly appreciating food?

I absolutely agree that fasting has made me re-evaluate my relationship with food, for the better! 

Before intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet, I was stuck eating mindlessly — when I was bored, in front of the tv, waiting to go out — which resulted in my being stuck in repeated cycles of feeling bloated, then tired, and then needing to scrounge for more food. It was exhausting. In essence, food controlled me.

Now, I feel I have a much better understanding of how much food my body actually needs. As I lost weight, I also realized how much I was over-eating, for my entire life! It was incredible to regain control over my body. 

Additionally, when I would eat, I was much more conscious of what I ate, and so much more appreciative of the food I would consume. Each bite was amazing, and I was thankful for all of it! Also, as a side benefit, I even saved money from not eating out and felt better to boot!

Ultimately, intermittent fasting has made me realize that hunger is a normal part of life and is not something to fear. I feel like there is a difference between real hunger and passing moments that are more boredom or other emotions, that do not need to be drowned out by food. I’m no expert, but I feel like so much of our current obesity crisis stems from emotional reasons that are intermixed with food and intermittent fasting/ketogenic diet really helped clarify these issues in my own life.

Many religions encourage the practice of fasting as a way to connect with God, or some sort of higher power. Does fasting have a spiritual meaning in your life, or is it simply a tool you use to lose or maintain your weight?

I do feel a strong spiritual connection with fasting as well. Fasting seems to clarify my thoughts because I am not fatigued and stuck in cycles of ravenous hunger and food coma. In a way, it’s helped drown out the incessant noise that comes from needing to eat constantly. 

I feel there is also an element of gratitude that comes from truly breaking a fast, that bumps up the appreciation and joy for not just food, but everything else in general. Maybe I’m crazy (from hunger) but I really do LOVE the changes intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet have brought!

Have you experienced any threats to your health as part of the process of adopting this eating technique? What would you say to someone who is concerned that intermittent fasting may impact their health in a negative way?

As always, everyone’s body is different, and I would highly recommend a full workup with a medical professional before making drastic changes to diet and lifestyle. 

For me, the biggest leap was accepting that it was OK to be hungry in the mornings after waking up. I’ve found that most of my momentary hunger pangs can be addressed by drinking a full cup of water, and waiting for a few minutes. Most of the time, a cup of water addresses it and I realize that I wasn’t really hungry to begin with. A side benefit to this is my hydration levels have increased and my skin looks better as well!

Otherwise, I haven’t noticed any negative impacts, but your mileage may vary.

I first heard about the intermittent fasting trend when I heard Joel McHale talk about it on a podcast. I know that Jimmy Kimmel is also a huge proponent of intermittent fasting. Both of these men work in the entertainment industry and presumably lead pretty busy lives, and you are the co-founder of a successful company. What would you say to people who question their ability to maintain full schedules on empty stomachs? How has this eating pattern impacted your energy level?

I would say that the “1 p.m. lunch – 8 p.m. dinner – fasting while sleeping through the next day lunch” method is the optimal way (for me) to lose weight healthily without feeling fatigued because it still allows me to stick to normal eating windows, and be present at social gatherings. 

This is important because studies have shown we all have limited reserves of will power, which deplete throughout the day from decision fatigue, so maintaining your goals while still being a part of society gives people the best chance of success in building better dietary habits. Otherwise, we cycle between crashing and feasting.

I also think the fear of hunger is vastly overstated in our society today. We all descend from cavemen/cavewomen who used to go long periods of time without food, and our bodies have evolved to work around that. 

If anything, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over having excess body fat—it is there for lean times. The problem is in modern industrialized societies, we never really have any lean times, so essentially all we do is add to that balance which brings on a ton of health problems. I liken it to a credit card — you have to pay down your balance (by not eating at times) or your debt is unsustainable. 

What role do drinks play in your intermittent fasting routine? Do you allow yourself to drink coffee (grass-fed butter or black) during fasting periods? 

Grass Fed Coffee has been super helpful for my personal intermittent fasting experience because it is high in healthy fats, which help promote feelings of satiety. I am most hungry immediately after waking up, so drinking something that makes me feel full, provides energy and helps prime my system to burn fats for energy vs carbs (ketosis) stacks the fat burning benefits that intermittent fasting provides. It is amazing!


Interview with Bobby Navarro, founder of 100eats and 100inc Agency, on his personal experience with intermittent fasting.


Bobby Navarro

What does your typical day of eating look like? When do you start eating and when do you stop? What sort of food do you eat during non-fasting periods to sustain you?

I can only speak to what has worked for me and what has been my routine. I was working with the most extreme of this type of program because of how severe my weight gain was and is not recommended for everyone, nor is it typical in this community. I typically eat one 30oz meal a day with about 40 hours in between meals, and a high-protein, low-sugar shake in between meals. I keep the food during my eating days about 40 percent protein and have a low-carb, low-sugar diet. Really being conscious of things like high-sugar fruits that can be hidden triggers, or high-starch foods like potatoes that convert into sugar in your body. Also no alcohol was a big part of my structure when I follow my diet to the fullest.

A key aspect of eating food is usually sharing it with other people. Ideally, families bond over a meal at the end of the day and share what they’ve experienced while apart at work or school. Has your new eating pattern been detrimental to any of your relationships? Are you still able to be a part of eating meals with family or friends, or has intermittent fasting been isolating? 

This is a very dynamic question. I think that even more than being a habitual opportunity to share, eating for me is a part of my job and a part of my life that I have always used to define myself. Eating was and still is discovery; it’s excitement, it’s experience, and eating to connect to drive my business forward or to make new connections is truly a lifestyle I have become accustomed to for the past decade. So when I was warned by my doctor of the risks of being 330lbs and a 50-inch waist with respiratory issues, I knew a drastic change needed to be made. Taking those dinners and meals and drinking out of my life was important in reaching the goal I set for myself. Now the challenge is to maintain a balance that doesn’t make me feel like I am losing who I am, while still walking a path toward a healthier lifestyle.

I’ve experimented a little bit with intermittent fasting myself and found that I was savoring and enjoying my food more once it was time to break the fast. Is that something you have experienced? Could intermittent fasting be a tool for not only losing weight but for truly appreciating food?

If you are cheating everyday, is it really a cheat meal? Haha. What I found important to remember was that every meal is a conscious effort to make good decisions for my body and my health, but if I felt like it was making me feel excluded or I had to ostracize myself to maintain the physical health, it was also at the cost of my mental health. So finding support and talking with friends helps you stay on track, so they know what you are journeying to do. This helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle and makes the cheat meals that much more worth it, because you are boosting the physical and the mental.

Many religions encourage the practice of fasting as a way to connect with God, or some sort of higher power. Does fasting have a spiritual meaning in your life, or is it simply a tool you use to lose or maintain your weight?

In October of 2017 when I started my health journey, the first thing I added into my life was daily meditation and I took out drinking. I didn’t make any adjustments to my eating habits or physical exercise. From October 2017 to January 2018 I lost 30lbs. I think there are many factors, but I will attribute the focus and calming techniques I learned through meditation to help me with my anxiety I had for making choices in food or during periods of fasting. I don’t think one is a religious necessity of the other, but I think having a focus that is not food helps you define more clearly who you are without food and gives you the control back that food once had.

Have you experienced any threats to your health as part of the process of adopting this eating technique? What would you say to someone who is concerned that intermittent fasting may impact their health in a negative way?

Many people feel that eating every day is a necessity. For someone that is double the weight of an average person of their height and build, I could tell the difference of being hungry out of habit versus being hungry out of necessity. I will be going down to a 16-hour fasting window and 8-hour eating window as my weight continues to normalize, but the one day eating and one day fasting technique was one I used because I needed to lose a significant amount of weight. Definitely consult a doctor before starting and always listen to your body and what it is telling you.

I first heard about the intermittent fasting trend when I heard Joel McHale talk about it on a podcast. I know that Jimmy Kimmel is also a huge proponent of intermittent fasting. Both of these men work in the entertainment industry and presumably lead pretty busy lives, and you are the founder of a successful production and marketing agency who runs a popular food Instagram account. What would you say to people who question their ability to maintain full schedules on empty stomachs? 

It’s possible; Actually I was encouraged to still maintain physical activity during my fasting days to prevent my body from attacking my muscles for energy. The idea is to have your body use stored fat for energy and that is a process of eating the right foods and staying as consistent as possible to your routine.  Your energy is proven to spike when all these align correctly, assuming your body is programmed to respond in this way with this formula. This type of method though is not for everyone.

You’re the head of a company that represents brands like Taco Bell, Cup of Noodles and Coca-Cola, which are not typically associated with dieting of any kind. How do you avoid the temptation of their products? Do you have to?

I can’t speak for everyone at my 100eats/100inc Agency Team, but there has seemed to be a change of consciousness throughout the companies of the day-to-day being more focused on what is put into our bodies and how intermittent fasting has been able to help balance the lifestyles we all lead in the food business. I feel like focusing when you can and as often as you can on constantly leading every day with a focus and goal of leading a more healthy life, you are able to feel less guilty about indulging when necessary. This for me wasn’t about eliminating anything in my life. It was about finding balance so I could lead a life of health and happiness. A life I had control of, a life I could be proud of.

Your instagram, @100eats, is full of decked-out fried chicken sandwiches, towering ice cream cones and even McDonald’s burgers. What is your go-to meal to break a fast with?

Turkey patties with cheese and a side of coleslaw is my typical meal on my eating day, ha ha. But If I am cheating, typically to be with friends, it’s at a new restaurant or some place I’ve never been. Exploring the new has always been part of who I am and I don’t want to change that. I just want to be better when I am not eating at fancy places.

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