What the Heck is Inflammation? Why Should You Care?

September 21, 2010

The term “inflammation” usually puts me in skim mode when I’m reading article.

I feel like my time is limited and I want to quickly move on to something more interesting like fat loss strategies. I’m going to do my best to give you the Cliff Notes version of what inflammation is. Earlier this week, Brad Pilon, just completed the newest version of Eat Stop Eat which now goes into detail about inflammation.

He sent me an early copy of the book and also a document with 15 scientific studies he referenced in the book. He told me it was cool to share this info with readers of Fitness Black Book. So I will try to hit some good points from the notes Brad sent me without making you feel like you are reading a text book.

Inflammation

[Happy Autumnal Equinox! This girl doesn’t look so happy about the whole situation. Looks like she needs to drink some of that coffee.]

What the Head of A Major Pharmaceutical Company Told Me

Ten years ago, I was an executive recruiter who placed Ph.D. level medicinal chemists into pharmaceutical companies. These are the scientists who discover the lead compounds that eventually get turned into drugs that help people.

It was kind of an intimidating job, because often times these high-level scientists would list CEO’s and VP’s of major pharmaceutical companies as their references. It was my job to contact these CEO’s and to conduct reference checks.

Let me tell you, it is not easy to get a hold of a high level executive in companies that do tens of billions of dollars per year. I would always think to myself “who am I to talk to this ultra-smart super successful person”. One executive level chemist in particular told me something I will never forget…

“Never, Ever Allow Yourself to Become Overweight for an Extended Period of Time”

This guy spent a lifetime studying chronic disease and he spent close to 30 minutes drilling this point into my head. He said the number one thing that will drastically decrease your chances of getting any disease is to never allow yourself to become overweight.

He wasn’t just talking heart disease and things we normally associate with being overweight either (obviously this isn’t a guarantee, there are countless examples of fit people who develop cancer and other life threatening diseases).

He went on to tell me that the mass media understates the cause and effect of obesity and disease…and that if the general population wasn’t overweight, that the drug companies would lose billions.

I Didn’t Know What Inflammation Was at that Time

Inflammation is a way that the body heals itself. When you get a cut, the body elicits an inflammatory response. It sends blood cells to the injured area. The redness and swelling initiates the healing process. This is Acute inflammation and it is a good thing! The problem is Chronic inflammation.

What If the Entire Body Was Inflamed?

Chronic inflammation is when your entire body is experiencing this “injury response”.

The huge problem here is that when your immune system is trying to repair your entire body, it can’t defend against cancer and other diseases. Your body also produces cholesterol as an inflammatory response. This works well in the short term, helps heal wounds, but develops plaque in the arteries if the body is chronically inflamed.

Honey...I'm Hooome!
[Don’t be scared by the next section! I recommend just  reading the points that are bolded with a “*”. These are Brad’s findings from these studies. I included additional information just for those who want to dig deeper. This section is meant to be cliff note style. I’ll wrap up and summarize the post after Brad’s notes.]

1) Brad’s Notes – Inflammation Causes

This is where Brad’s research notes really help clear up some confusion. I am going to summarize the notes he emailed me a few days ago. This helped me get a full grasp on this complex topic.

* Overeating Can Cause an Inflammation Response

“An excess glucose infusion, possibly analogous to a binge episode of overfeeding, led to a decrease in antioxidants, increase in liver oxidative stress, and systemic inflammatory response.”

Ling PR, Smith RJ, Bistrian BR, 2007 Acute effects of hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia on hepatic oxidative stress and the systemic inflammatory response in rats. Crit Care Med 35: 555-560.

* Markers of Overeating, Such as Leptin, are Involved in the Inflammatory Response

“Leptin regulates proinflammatory responses.”

Loffreda S, Yang SQ, Lin HZ, Karp CL, Brengman ML, Wang DJ, Klein AS, Bulkley GB, Bao C, Noble PW, Lane MD, Diehl AM. Leptin regulates proinflammatory immune responses. FASEB J. 1998 Jan;12(1):57-65.

* Another Marker of Overeating, Insulin, Increases Markers (IL-6) of Inflammation

“Insulin, a key regulator of glucose and lipid metabolism in adipose tissue, increases IL-6 release from human adipocytes and 3T3-L1 cells.”

Vicennati V, Vottero A, Friedman C, Papanicolaou DA. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. Hormonal regulation of interleukin-6 production in human adipocytes. 2002 Jul;26(7):905-11.

* Inflammation Can Lead to Insulin Resistance

“Chronic high IL-6 can lead to insulin resistance.”

Senn JJ, Klover PJ, Nowak IA, and Moony RA. IL-6 Induces Cellular Insulin Resistance in Hepatocytes. Diabetes. 2002 Dec;51(12):3391-9.

* More Evidence That Overeating is Linked to Inflammation

“Acute hyperglycemia in normal people and people with impaired glucose tolerance induces an increase in plasma IL-6, TNF- that hyperglycemic spikes affect cytokine concentrations more than continuous hyperglycemia, at least in the short term, and suggest that an oxidative mechanism mediates the effect of hyperglycemia.”

Esposito K, Nappo F, Marfella R, Giugliano G, Giugliano F, Ciotola M, Quagliaro L, Ceriello A, Giugliano D. Inflammatory cytokine concentrations are acutely increased by hyperglycemia in humans: role of oxidative stress. Circulation. 2002 Oct 15;106(16):2067-72.

* Both Obesity and Overeating Lead to Inflammation

“High Leptin concentrations may lead to an abnormally strong immune response predisposing to autoimmune phenomena.”

Matarese G. Moshos S. Mantzoros CS. Leptin in immunology. J Immunol. 174:3137-3142.

2) Brad’s Notes – Preventing Chronic Inflammation

Here are the notes on studies showing ways to reduce or prevent chronic inflammation. Again, just read the parts that are in bold if you are someone who likes to get the main points quickly.

* Eating Less is Good

“Calorie restriction prevents the inflammatory response induced by 14 d of bed rest.”

Bosutti A, Malaponte G, Zanetti M, Castellino P, Heer M, Guarnieri G, Biolo G.mCalorie restriction modulates inactivity-induced changes in the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and pentraxin-3. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Aug;93(8):3226-9. Epub 2008 May 20.

* Eating Less is Really Good

“A low-calorie diet is associated with an improvement in the systemic inflammatory status. This seems to be due to energy restriction rather than to adipose mass loss, since inflammatory levels return to baseline soon after weight stabilization.”

Salas-Salvadó J, Bulló M, García-Lorda P, Figueredo R, Del Castillo D, Bonada A, Balanzà R. Subcutaneous adipose tissue cytokine production is not responsible for the restoration of systemic inflammation markers during weight loss. Int J Obes (Lond). 2006 Dec;30(12):1714-20. Epub 2006 Apr 25.

* Having Less Fat is Also Good

“Weight (fat) loss, induced by a negative energy balance, reduces inflammation by decreasing the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines by adipose tissue.”

Esposito K, Pontillo A, Di Palo C, Giugliano G, Masella M, Marfella R, Giugliano D. Effect of weight loss and lifestyle changes on vascular inflammatory markers in obese women – A randomized trial. Jama-Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003;289:1799–1804.

* Fasting is Good

“Ghrelin levels increase following fasting and chronic food deprivation. Ghrelin exerts potent anti-inflammatory effects.”

Li WG, Gavrila D, Liu XB, Wang LX, Gunnlaugsson S, Stoll LL, McCormick ML, Sigmund CD, Tang CS, Weintraub NL. Ghrelin inhibits proinflammatory responses and nuclear factor-kappa B activation in human endothelial cells. Circulation. 2004;109:2221–2226.

* Calories Over Quality…Nothing Wrong With Less Calories and Better Quality Too.

“There is some evidence to suggest that meal composition may play a small role in the inflammatory response, but the total body of evidence seems to suggest that it is the caloric load that is most important.”

Manning PJ, Sutherland WH, McGrath MM, de Jong SA, Walker RJ, Williams MJ. Postprandial cytokine concentrations and meal composition in obese and lean women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Sep;16(9):2046-52.

* It’s Not the Make Up of the Diet as Much as it Is the Diet.

“Weight loss achieved through different diet programs (low-fat, high-protein, or hypocaloric diet) in combination with exercise or nutritional counseling ranged from 3 to 15 kg resulting in concomitant reduction in C-reactive protein levels by 7 to 48%.”

Basu A, Devaraj S, Jialal I. Dietary factors that promote or retard inflammation. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2006; 26

________End of Notes________

A Few “Takeaways” from These Notes

Well it looks like it is best to stay somewhat lean and not overeat on a regular basis. I occasionally like to eat really big meals, but I typically feel terrible after.

If you do want to avoid inflammation it makes sense to avoid or limit massive meals. You also want to keep insulin levels low and avoid blood sugar spikes.

Eating too much and too often will often lead to chronically high insulin levels…this is one of the biggest causes of inflammation. This also causes weight gain, which adds more inflammation.

What is the best way to reduce insulin levels and virtually eliminate inflammation?

 

A 24 Hour Fast Has a More Dramatic Effect on Reducing Insulin than Any of the “Insulin Based” Diets

There are several popular diets that are aimed at keeping insulin at low and stable levels: The Paleo Diet, Mediterranean Diet, South Beach Diet, Atkins, The Zone, etc. There is nothing wrong with eating this way, but nothing comes close to fasting for a way to get insulin under control.

An Excerpt from “Eat Stop Eat”

“Fasting for as little as 24 hours has been shown to drastically reduce your insulin levels. This is especially important because in order to burn body fat, insulin levels must be very low. Simply ‘evening them out’ may not be enough, especially if this ‘evening out’ of your blood sugar levels is due to chronically high insulin levels.”

Fasting and Inflammation

[Diagram Courtesy of Eat Stop Eat™ With Brad Pilon’s Permission.]

Short Term Fasting + Low to Moderate Carbs = Success

Some of the leanest people I know combine short term fasting with low to moderate carbs. As Brad Pilon points out in the studies as well as in Eat Stop Eat, lower calories and calorie deficit have a greater impact than eating low carb. You can get really lean with short term fasting and calorie control and prevent chronic inflammation…keeping the carbs somewhat under control just makes this way of eating that much more effective.

 

* Don’t Become Overweight or Obese
* Limit Massive Meals
* Don’t Go Too Nutty on the Carbs
* 1-2 Short Term Fasts Per Week

Note: As I mentioned earlier, Brad Pilon just wrapped up his newest version of Eat Stop Eat. Everyone who has ordered in the past gets the new version this week for free. Make sure and read it, because this new version really shows you the big picture of the heath benefits of this method of eating. If you don’t have this ebook, I give it my highest recommendation. Almost every person I respect in the fitness industry uses Brad’s version of Intermittent Fasting with great success.

One Last Thing: I started this blog to help people lose weight and keep that weight off. My intention isn’t to make people who are overweight feel bad.

My hope is this article pushes more people into action and towards a healthy state.

If you are reading this and have weight to lose, then go for it! I am here to help as are a lot of others who respond to comments in the comment section.

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Louis September 22, 2010 at 11:58 am

Great stuff. I have recently got into IF due to the fact I am do to have knee surgery and cant do hitt any right now. I like what you are doing here. Not everyone wants to be a pro bodybuilder keep up the good work man

Ray Dixon - Pure Spontaneity September 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I know that omega-3s reduce inflammation, but what are the effects of taking fish oil during the fasted state? Does the body use it as an energy source? If you take it at the 12 hr period what happens to insulin?

Dave - Not Your Average Fitness Tips September 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Really great stuff from Brad as usual. Eat less, lose weight, live healthier. It all makes sense. Count me as one of the many who have successfully used Eat Stop Eat to lose body fat. When I first started intermittent fasting, I didn’t focus on the foods I ate as now. Once I advanced and saw results, I consequently ramped up my diet and now try to consistently eat healthier, especially during the week and at night. Thanks for pulling together this summary Rusty!

Clement September 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Hey Rusty, I’m really glad you talked about the difference between the two kinds of inflammation. It’s something that everyone should know more about. It is said that Omega-3’s help reduce inflammation as well. Is there any merit to consumption of fish oil caps?

Also, if you take the study that overeating can cause inflammation into context, they define it as an excess of total daily calories. Does this mean, then, that overeating in a single meal, aka weekend dinner binges, while keeping daily calories low would not constitute overeating?

Pete - The Healthy Minute September 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Hey Rusty,

That was an incredible post and I BELIEVE every word of it.

You see, when I graduated from college, I weighed 185 lbs. with 6% body fat. After my experience as a “road warrior” (traveling and working long hours away from home), I tipped the scales at 225+ lbs. and my body fat was closer to 26%.

I also developed a host of health issues because of the weight gain and unhealthy lifestyle, including:

• Frequent attacks of gout…very painful!!!
• High blood pressure.
• High cholesterol
• Elevated blood sugar
• Cold sores
• Alternating constipation and diarrhea
• Sore joints and other unexplained “aches and pains”

I am convinced my unhealthy lifestyle lead to chronic inflammation resulting in all of the symptoms I had.

Luckily, I was able to turn it around through healthy nutrition, proper exercise AND also intermittent fasting. Yep…I also read Brad’s book and fast once or twice each week in addition to following a healthy eating plan.

It has made a HUGE difference in my life. Thanks so much for sharing this incredible information with others.

Best wishes,

~ Pete

Mark September 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Thanks Rusty,

I first learned about eat stop eat from your website and it has become a completely normal part of my life now – just like brushing my teeth or showering. Occasionally I will have a “tough” day of fasting, but 99% of the time these are my most productive, energetic days and my best workouts.

As a side note, simply doing intermittent fasting and somewhat watching what I eat during the week, while still drinking beer, eating wings, pizza, and nachos on the weekend – and working out in your style has allowed me to drop from 212lbs to 186lbs at 6’2″. And I would be less but now have been focusing on putting on some muscle.

Love your site!

Craig Lambert September 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm

NICE picture today. You might want to know that this is the Autumnal Equinox, not the Vernal Equinox, which is the first day of spring.

Craig…thanks for the correction 🙂 I got my Equinox’s criss-crossed.

-Rusty

David Gowing - Advanced Health & Fitness September 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Excellent post Rusty.

I have been reading about inflammation and what foods cause an inflammatory response within the body for a number of years and I agree with everything you say here.

With regards to eating massive meals and overeating, I think it’s largely due to the types of “food” the average person eats, which generally contains little or no fiber which is important for keeping blood sugar stable and causing a slower steadier release of insulin.

Fructose without fiber is a major cause of inflammation too. As the body doesn’t register fructose without fiber as being food, it is left in the blood stream which leads to a whole host of health issues.

Darrin - Lean, Mean, Virile Machine September 22, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Inflammation is definitely one thing that gets overlooked too often by health-minded people because they don’t see how important it is to have this under control if they are to easily lose fat and gain muscle. Awesome job connecting the two here!

Another great way of getting inflammation down is to consume more omega-3 fats and fewer omega-6s. Basically, eat more seafood and fewer nuts and nut-derived foods such as refined vegetable oils.

Craig - Hollywood Body Fitness September 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm

* Eating Less is Good

The above point… totally true for me personally, when it comes to inflammation.

I’ve noticed after a few days of low calorie eating, my skin feels tighter, I’m lean and not puffy or bloated at all, and just feel overall, well, really good. I test this my putting my left thumb and middle finger around my right wrist… when I’ve been eating low calorie for a few days, I can overlap my fingers – but when I’ve been pigging out or after a high carb binge, they barely touch.

Just some food for thought 🙂

Great post as always bud!

Yavor :: Relative Strength Advantage September 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Quality vs. Quantity has been a big problem in the fitness industry in my opinion. In fact there are a ton of health food-obsessed guys and gals who are, despite eating “clean”… plain overweight… plain fat.

So hammering again and again the point about cutting calories won’t ever get old, as far as I’m concerned.

Btw – Drew from FitExcellence had a short post on this subject recently.

Great call Rusty,

Yavor

So the bottom line: don’t be afraid to cut calories gals and guys 🙂

p.s. Summer is officially over… sigh.

[email protected] September 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

High blood sugar and inflammation also make you look wrinkled and old.

Inflammation accelerates the aging process in all your organs including your skin, making it wrinkle and sag.

So fasting can help you stay younger looking as well.

Thanks for another great post.

Darren @ More Prime Time. com

Alex September 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

This ties in somewhat with Martin’s (leangains.com) recent post on insulin and nutrient response to intermittent fasting.

The study he cited (jp.physoc.org/…2010.196493.abstract) seems to indicate caloric excess is handled far better in individuals practising fasting.

Cortisol (synthesised from cholesterol in the adrenals) is also a major factor in inflamation it seems, it can also lead to weight gain through it’s effects on increasing visceral fat.

Stress (and presumably the cortisol release it causes) is the biggest environmental cause of coronary heart disease, more so than obesity, smoking or alcohol intake. This is due to your body constantly being forced into red alert through high cortisol levels.

Stress includes heavy weight sessions, emotional stress, pressure, massive calorie restrictions, etc

SB September 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Hey Rusty,
Just got a question.
Would you recommend a 16 year old looking to add on size to buy ‘Visual Impact’.
If you recommend it, I might think of buying it although i would have to get a credit card from somewhere :/.
P.s i really want to read it!

Josh September 22, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Good stuff here. Joint inflammation is a concern for me, so I make sure to load up on fish oil, which helps to reduce it.

I realize this wasn’t specifically about joint inflammation, but, just a quick tip.

Alejandro "The Fittest Vegan" September 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm

one of the most difficult things for me was actually realizing that I was overeating. I thought what I ate was normal for my size, but after trying Intermittent fasting I realized that I didnt need all the food I was eating. in fact the biggest benefit I’ve gained aside from lowering my insulin levels is realizing that skipping a day of food is not a bad thing and my body does not go into survival. there is more than enough Energy stored to get me through and in the process I stay lean.

Really great info!

Combatting the binge September 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Brad Pilon recommends two 24 hour fasts per week, eating a normal dinner the night of the fast. However, this is only practical when you are a family man like Brad and are not drinking and having feasts with friends on the weekends. Does anyone have some advice for the best way to counter this lifestyle and implement fasting to stay lean.

I have found, for instance, that I can consume close to 4,000 calories on Saturday, drink plenty, and have a great time with friends and then fast all of sunday and into monday until I break the fast Monday night. Then I can sort of go one day of overfeeding followed by one day of low calories and ensure optimal leanness for Saturday.

This method allows room for a fun lifestyle and still allows me to be as lean as I want, when I want.

I guess this post seems to argue that any event of overeating is bad but I find it works well and allows me to enjoy everything in life from a lean body that women love to plenty of great food and fun nights out drinking.

Any comments or critiques?

Tom A, September 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Hey Rusty, a while back I asked you how a skinny dude could get to Cam Gigandet level. I’m now 150lbs and pretty much there so thanks, thing is, Its the rugby season (dont know how much you are aware of the english sport…) and i need to get bigger, not hugely, and I know bulk aint your thing but up to a functional Juan Martin Hernandez-esque physique (googlle image him if you are unaware) and would like some guidance.
Thanks brother,

Tom

Dave September 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I’ve always been intrigued by the data on inflammation.
I’m also interested in the benefits of fasting.

I work out regularly, have <10% body fat, and have a super-fast metabolism. I become hypoglycemic if I don't eat every 2-3 hours.

How does someone like me avoid high daily calorie intakes (or is that even necessary in my case)?

How can I fast without crashing my blood sugar?

Love your info.
Thanks,
Dave

Raymond - ZenMyFitness September 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Losing weight just isn’t about looking eh? … I also want to live longer and reducing chronic inflammation is another piece in the puzzle. Yes they have done test on lab rats and eating less is better but I also look at people (check the Guinness book of records) all the people who live to over 100 + are reasonably skinny they aren’t obese.
I hate fasting but currently I’m experimenting with 4 days of during the day fasting and it seems to be working for fat loss too … yes fasting does help too
Raymond

Adrian B September 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Hi Rusty, please help!

I am 34 years old, 6ft, 203.2 lbs, 25.6% fat.

I want to totally change my life / appearance. Sick of being over fat.

I would like to strip body fat and maintain any muscle I might have, get down to a really low body fat % then add strength / muscle to the frame.

I have been training for quite a few years with little results due to ultimately poor diet and will power.

I am relatively new to your site and would like your advice if you could spare the time.

Could you point me in the right direction to some good links to training and diet plans. I am interested in giving ESE/IF a go. I just would like a good daily example diet and training plan to coincide with ESE/IF.

Many thanks.

Adrian.

Robin H September 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I wonder if doing a modified fast monday through friday is as good. i do the warrior diet (or something like it). i only have coffee and a fresh (mostly green) vegetable juice or maybe an apple during the day. then i have a fairly normal dinner at night. on the weekends, i’m a little more lenient with myself. the reason i’ve chosen this over eat-stop-eat is that fasting is only easy for me if i’m doing it most every day (otherwise i get out of the groove and start feeling deprived without breakfast and lunch), and the tiny bit of food i get during the day from raw fruit/veggies (usually under 150 calories) makes it MUCH easier for me.

regarding inflammation, i just found out from lab tests that i am somewhat hypothyroid. that is related to inflammation too supposedly and is often associated with a puffy look (especially in the face/eyes). something to look into if you have chronic issues with facial puffiness and difficulty losing weight (google for other symptoms). it’s supposedly quite common and highly under-diagnosed.

anyway, i appreciate the article on inflammation. it’s a pretty hot subject lately and crucial it seems to all aspects of health (including weight).

Harout September 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Since I visited the site , am fasting 24 hrs everyday…eat once daily and drink around 6 liters of water per day.

FitXcel September 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Rusty, great post. This is an entirely too-often overlooked aspect of fitness. Part of the benefit of reducing inflation is not only disease prevention, but injury prevention as well. All of this is key in maintaining a healthy, great-looking body.

-Drew

M September 22, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Is intermittent fasting still a good plan for someone who is not trying to become leaner? If one is at a very low body fat % and/or in a building phase, should they still try this tactic (or at least not discount it as a possibility outright) for the benefits from reduced inflammation, or would it just be to contrary to personal goals? thanks!

Kelly-Fitness Overhaul September 22, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Good job at connecting all of that together. I started IF to get leaner and like Dave said, started to eat better in between fasts. I feel healthier than ever and rarely have that bloated feeling from overeating. Fasting twice a week, reducing my carbohydrates, and doing resistance training has allowed me to lose weight at will and keep it off. I actually do very little cardio training because fasting and resistance training keeps me lean.

I somehow got talked in to doing a 10K run in a few weeks with my wife, so I guess I need to do a little more cardio!

Kelly

Robin H September 22, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Oh, fyi, I was having bad bouts of rosacea (an inflammatory skin condition) for over a year before I started the warrior diet about three months ago. After about a month of this modified fasting, I stopped having flare ups entirely. Coincidence? Who knows.

Howard - Energia Fitness September 23, 2010 at 9:09 am

Hi Rusty

Excellent Post as usual. I started using IF twice a week in the summer and although I felt great I was looking to skinny for my height so I now use it more as a recovery plan if I overdo it for whatever reason. After seeing research that living longer could be assisted by reducing calories I have started to slowly reduce the amount I eat and IF is a great strategy to help with this. Regarding inflammation I feel that stress is the main culprit for this and probably the reason why a lot of people eat too much. We spend a lot of time and money dealing with the symptoms of overeating and not enough thinking why we are doing it.

Cheers

H

Vivienne September 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

Hi Rusty,

not concerning the topic but do you plan to release a program similar to Visual impact for women? That would be awesome.

Many thanks

[email protected] September 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

Rusty,

You really build a strong case for Intermittent fasting so I’m going to give it a try.

I’m beginning progressive training for the Miami marathon and need to figure out when I can fast without causing myself to bonk on a run.

What day/s would you recommend for someone with a schedule like this?
Monday (rest), Tuesday (HIIT – track), Wednesday (slow jog), Thursday (HIIT – slow and fast running), Friday (rest), Saturday (med slow run), Sunday (long slow run).

I know you prefer to focus on HIIT but some of us love the feeling of a good long run.

Thanks for all your advice!

Darren

Rafi @ Passionate Fitness September 23, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Rusty,

Been too long since I’ve commented on this site. Anyway, nice to see taking on inflammation – not something you normally see on a fitness site!

Keep up the great work.

-Rafi

Darren September 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Rusty,

Good stuff… you gave me some inspiration for a future blog post! Keep the good stuff coming. I fast now and I CAN TELL YOU it helps me control my appetite due to not being able to eat as much when I come off the fast.

Alonzo Livewell September 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Rusty! As usual this is a winner. As I tell my Friends and family as you get older by being over weight it really tears and breakdown the body and you can forget about a pain free long life. So that’s why I dedicated my Life to Live and Eat well for a healthy testimony.

Alykhan - Fitness Breakout September 24, 2010 at 1:27 am

Rusty,

I’m glad you pointed out how obesity is linked to inflammation and inflammation is linked to many of the deadliest diseases out there. Therefore, by association… staying lean will lower your chances of getting these diseases. I’m a fan of the show The Biggest Loser and one of the most interesting things I’ve seen on the show is that at the beginning, all of the contestants are on a thousand different drugs and by the end of the show, they are able to stop taking them simply because they lost weight. Once you understand the big picture, it’s easy to see that lowering inflammation is actually the main driver behind this. Great post!

Alykhan

Clint @ Crude Fitness September 24, 2010 at 2:10 am

I normally skimp over these sorts of topics, much like most people do on topics concerning fitballs, foam or bosu.
Thankfully I trusted you as being a reliable resource and ACTUALLY read it in entirety. I’m now wiser for it (of course).

As Darren posted, you’ve inspired a few blog posts out there… probably one from me as well 🙂

Zorik September 24, 2010 at 4:02 am

Hey Rusty,

I was wondering if working out (weight lifting and/or cardio) on a fasting day is okay?

admin September 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for the comments everybody. I’ll try to respond to as many as possible in the time I have.

@ Louis,

I am shocked that anyone would want to look like a pro bodybuilder these days, but they are out there. Kind of a weird little subculture these days.

@ Ray,

I typically save my vitamins and all of that for when I break the fast. Typically at 6:30 at night…on the two days that I fast.

@ Dave,

I do my best to eat healthier and lower calorie meals for the two days that I fast. I used to pig out, but that didn’t feel good on my body. That being said, I still have high calorie days, high calorie meals, etc. Like you, I just try and keep good during the week.

@ Clement,

I know John Barban is coming out with a book that will go into how many calories you can eat before risking inflammation. To be honest, I don’t know what the number range is.

@ Pete,

Great example of what can happen when you lose weight. Great story.

@ Mark,

I do almost exactly what you describe. It does work well. Glad you like the site and thanks for reading.

@ David,

Didn’t know that about fructose. Will have to look into that further.

@ Darrin,

I have been meaning to include more fish in my diet. Now I have another incentive to do so.

@ Craig,

I also feel and look much better when I have had a few lower calorie days in a row.

@ Yavor,

I completely agree with you about watching the amount of calories as being the most important factor on getting and staying lean. Funny, because in the 70’s that was the big push. The 80’s was about low fat. The 90’s until now have been more about low carb. I’m convinced that it is total calories that matter most. I do like to cut back the carbs a bit, mainly because the more I eat…the more I want…which leads to higher total calories.

@ Darren,

Looking younger is a great incentive for sure. If it helps people look better, feel better, and make them healthier it is shocking that more people don’t fast. Even just 3 meals per day instead of 6 is a start. People can’t expect to have food energy in their system all day and lose body fat. I wish the media would let people know that it is okay to get a little hungry from time to time.

@ Alex,

Yeah, Martin B puts out some great articles on his site. I’ll have to give that a read.

@ SB,

It depends where you are at 16. Some 16 year olds have gone through puberty and look like young adults…then you have Justin Bieber. If you are more like Justin Bieber, then I would say no. If you are most the way done growing, then it would work well for you.

@ Josh,

Everyone seems to like fish oil. I may have to add that to my diet. I do plan on eating a lot more fish, but supplementing it may not be a bad idea either.

@ Alejandro,

I hear ya. I used my height as an excuse to eat large amounts of food a while back. Now I can eat significantly less and maintian the same amount of muscle mass. Pretty cool how well the body adapts.

@ Combatting the Binge,

Yeah…this actually is by far the best strategy for the younger partying types to stay lean. Eat much less during the week which gives you more wiggle room during the weekend. I would have loved to know about ESE when I was in college. It would have made life so much easier. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s we were brainswashed into eating protein every 2-3 hours. The problem was this non-stop eating made me fall asleep in class and when I was trying study. Brad is a family guy, but he still goes out with friends, watches sports, and drinks beer, etc.

@ Tom,

To put on size as a skinny guy, simply cut back on the cardio. Take 10 grams of BCAA’s (in powdered format) 15 minutes before training…and 10g immediately after training. Wait an hour and have a protein shake. Increase the volume and intensity of your lifting. Get stronger in the 5-15 rep range. Spend 2-3 months in the 6-12 range and 2-3 months in the 5 rep range. If you have never taken creatine, then add that as well. That should do the trick if you push yourself hard in the gym.

@ Dave,

If you are already below 10% body fat I wouldn’t worry about it. Keep doing what you are doing because it is working for you. If at some point your metabolism slows down, then fasting works wonders. You do get used to it after a while.

@ Raymond,

I have a feeling there will be a lot more people making the 100+ club in the future. It is so weird to think about that. If I live to 100, I will go through the 60’s again. I will turn 100 in 2069…maybe they will have a 100 year anniversary for Woodstock. I can see people playing “The Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams, etc.

@ Adrian,

Get ESE for sure. Brad explains how to train on that diet as well. That will get the fat loss process in motion for you. The good thing is that you aren’t terribly overweight. Start now and you will be transformed by next summer. You can do it!

@ Robin,

I actually beleive ESE is so effective because it mixes in days where you eat normal with fasting days. In my experience it is this contrast that makes it work so well. It is easier to fast every day, but I think you will do better if you do it like Brad outlines. Obviously, if the way you are doing it is working for you…then stick with it. If not, you may want to follow Brad’s approach to the letter.

@ Harout,

You are doing more of a Warrior Diet type of fasting. I used to do this, but found ESE to be much more practical and effective. I did a post on it here:

Eat Stop Eat
Eat Stop Eat vs The Warrior Diet

@ Drew,

I never thought of the injury prevention angle. Good point!

@ M,

You can use intermittent fasting if adding lean mass is what you are after. If someone was after raw size, like a football linebacker, then probably not the best approach to eating.

@ Kelly,

Yeah…I can get pretty lean without cardio. That being said, I love the way my skin feels after building up a sweat doing HIIT. There are times in the past where my life has been to busy to do cardio…I just feel and look better when it is part of my weekly routine. Good luck doing the 10k!

@ Howard,

The cool thing about eating less is that your digestive system feels so much better as well. Some people go years upon years and never give their digestive system a break…constantly full of digested and undigested food. Heck, just typing that makes me want to fast 🙂

@ Vivienne,

It is in the works as we speak. I wanted to have it released by now, but I’m pushing it back to early 2011.

@ Darren,

If you do decide to get Eat Stop Eat, you will be convinced beyond any doubt that IF is an incredible strategy. Brad backs it up with strong scientific proof.

@ Rafi,

Nice to see you comment. I haven’t swung by your site in a long time. Will do soon.

@ Darren,

Yeah…your stomach does shrink down a little when you eat this way. I get full easier now as well.

@ Alonzo,

Staying somewhat lean as you age makes life much easier as you get older. Good point.

@ Alykhan,

More and more diseases are being linked directly and indirectly to obesity. It just doesn’t make sense to ever let yourself get obese. I can see how someone could let 30-40 pounds creep up on them, but 100+ is never a good idea. Again…not trying to make people feel bad…just want people to drop that excess weight. Their life really depends on that!

@ Clint,

Look forward to reading your blog post as well!

@ Zorik,

In my opinion this is the best time to workout. Your body will burn fat like crazy when you train in a fasted state. I make it a point to workout on my fasting days.

-Rusty

Invest It Wisely September 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I was suffering from “foggy head” symptoms a few weeks ago, and I managed to drastically improve these symptoms by eating less grains and less carbs in general. My diet is not entirely paleo or primal, but I have noticed a huge difference by following many of the guidelines above.

Perhaps I was also suffering from inflammation, and just didn’t know it at the time.

Great post!

Alan September 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Good information overall, although I tend to lean towards the quality over quantity sides of things. Also, eating a very low-low carb diet with no grains (i.e. Paleo Diet) and taking 5-10g EPA/DHA fish oil a day seems to me like the BEST way to reduce inflammation, and with that, obesity, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Carbs are pro-inflammatory so it only makes sense to limit them to less than 100g/day while eating a higher protein and higher fat (good fat) diet. America is obese b/c we eat wayyyy too many carbs, and not good carbs like fruits and veggies.

Douglas Robb September 24, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Great post Rusty

Chronic inflammation is present in all of the chronic “lifestyle” diseases that are eating up huge amounts of our healthcare dollars.

And with the US of A jumping onto the public healthcare bandwagon, they really should think about preventing inflammation instead of treating all those metabolic syndrome symptoms.

And thanks for including all of Brad’s references – the fit geek in me is ready to do some research.

Lauren Snyder September 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Hi Rusty,

Great post! I came across your site just last week, and from there the eat stop eat book and I must say…it just makes so much sense! I started my first day 2 days ago and it was really hard, but not impossible. I got through it and I know it’s only going to get easier from here. I think it was so hard for me because I’ve always been told you should eat every 2-3 hours to “keep up your metabolism.” So now every 2-3 hours I get hungry because my body is expecting food…

Anyway, thanks for the great info!

Lauren

Adrian B September 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Many thanks for your response Rusty I will look into getting myself a copy of ESE ASAP. I used to be quite fit and trim in my younger days(I know I’m only 34 but still talking 15-16 years ago now) when I first discovered the gym. This was after a few years lay off from any form of exercise after college. I think unwittingly I was doing a form of IF. I used to only eat in the day time, try to eat as healthily as possible, especially week days and have nothing after about 1700hrs until the following mornings breakfast. I would then go the the gym on weekday evenings about 1930hrs after work and do an hour or so’s cardio on various equipments followed by push ups, pull ups and sit ups every other day. This was usually Monday to Friday mainly although when I got fit I think I was also doing some sat mornings. After training on an evening I would have a sports drink and keep up my fluid in take up until bed but that was it. I lost a lot of weight pretty fast as I recall. I still enjoyed meals out at weekends and used to drink a hell of a lot sat nights out when I was singe but it seemed to really work well. I think it’s only by ready your website over the last few days and your posts on ESE/IF that it made me remember how I used to eat/train. Anyhow, I wanted to know what your thoughts are on this IF method (not eating weekday evenings) / style of training. I guess it still is overall daily / weekly calorie reduction and training / burning fat in a fasted state. Anyhow would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks. Adrian.

SB September 24, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Hey
Thanks for the reply
Unfortunately i’m one like Justin Bieber :/, not fully grown. So what would you recommend for a person like me? What kind of program should i follow for a well defined physique(six pack hopefully) without looking skinny and frail. What would be safe enough for me?
Thank you so much Rusty 🙂 Really appreciate all the advice.

Berner September 25, 2010 at 1:39 am

Hi rusty ive been reading your articles i found them very intersting, ive got one question i lifted for 6 months (the wrong way bulking, using weight gainers creatine etc..)i want to train now correctly on strenght, but i feel like my joints & tendons not even the weight i lift is ready for a 3 or 5 rep routine considering that im still growing.. maybe so what do you think? should i create my routine upon the system you manege here? i mean i feel like i cant create a good workout & ive read every single article in your page, but i ask my self for example Chest eery one day, considering the back chest abs & bicep tricep shoulder split, so for chest i might do barbell bech press and incline dumbell press… considering the recomendation of 2 exercices per body part then where do i put push ups? & what do you think about the cable cross over? & the pec deck? Should really the trainng of an experienced lifter should be the same as some one who is starting?
Im really confused!!! :S
HELP!
Thanx & greetings from mexico!

Chad September 25, 2010 at 5:44 am

hi Rusty i have some question and i would really be glad if you answered them.I am 16 years old and i want to have the cam gigandet/Brad Pitt(fight club)body then when i am older i wanna have like the ninja assasin body and my question is should i do some gym workout?becuase i wanna grow taller( i am only 5 and 7 and these guys are 6 and 1 )and i know that some gym workout can make you shorter.Also i dont know how much cardio i should do( i dont go to a gym so if i am only doing cardio i am maybe going to become to thin with no lean muscles)The cardio i am doing are twice a week 30-45 min running,10 min jump rope and then every saturday 2 hours swimming(i wanna have that long and lean body type like Cam also it helps you grow taller)and everyday i do like 10 min yoga stretches to also grow taller.I am gonna add some martial art lessons instead of one running day to help me get a litte more fight body like rain from ninja assassin( i also do 3 times per week your plank exercise to help me get stronger core becuase when rain trained for the ninja assassin he most focused on core exercise rather then builder bigger biceps and he got AMAZING ABS)My diet is like your almost 100% paleo (but then i have my fasting days once a week i cant handle two times)So my questions are(I would really be glad if you answered them)Should i keep doing these kindes of cardio?if i could do gym exercise which should they be to help me get Cam or abs and body type without stopping my growth,Should i keep doing the plank exercise and/or add some upp like rain(farmers walk,hanging knee pullups,6 inches,rotate with barbell weight etc)Thanks Rusty( also this is my dads hotmail)

Luke M-Davies September 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

Hey Rusty – great article to tackle this highly debated topic.
Certainly cleared the fog surrounded the issue.

I’ll just confirm that following a fast of 16 hours or more, I always feel less ‘inflamed’ and cleansed 🙂

rahul September 26, 2010 at 11:50 am

Hey,

I am using your Visual Impact Muscle Building book (which, ket me tell you and all the readers who haven’t got it..IS AWESOME!!), but I had a question. I have a good frame, with a decent amount of muscle. But I feel like PHASE 1 from the book makes me feel more inflamed. Can I skip phase 1 and go to Phase II and III, cause I dont want to grow in size anymore.

Bryan September 26, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Rusty,

Like usuall another great post. Keep up the good work, I hop to have my blog (http://www.turbofitnesssecrets.com) up to your standards one day.

You are an insperation to many of us.

Naomi September 27, 2010 at 6:47 pm

This is awesome information. I was overweight for a few years there before taking it off using IF and a caloric restriction. That was a tough way to go. Now I know more, I am simply using Brad’s methods and 2 weekly fasts, and eating the right amount the rest of the week. I will drop down to 1 fast a week or less when I hit my target body fat level. I never would have thought fasting would be so easy. I have never managed a fast in my life and used all the excuses. All I do to get through it is drink water, sometimes green tea. It’s just no big deal!

Jai - 4 fitness October 1, 2010 at 4:02 am

these are good points that brad has noted. Our body secretes insulin after carb intake and this gets stored as fat. It is important to maintain a good diet and ‘fasting days’ to regulate those insulin levels or screw up their chances to make you fat. However during periods of dieting when you reach a point where your fat loss hits a wall, it is important to realize that the cause is leptin; which reduces the bodys metabolic rate and increases appetite, to regulate leptin the body ironically needs generous doses of carbs, it is therefore important for your dieting campaign to have a few big huge carb heavy meals in them (say 4 days in a month)

Katie October 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I am fit and 19 years old but I have been having chronic IF for several months. I thought it was due to lack of sleep and some stress. Does lack of sleep directly affect IF or does it affect the production of Leptin and Insulin levels which then trigger the IF?

Ways I can tell I have chronic IF: joint pain (knees, ankles, shoulders), scratches turn into HUGE welts, carrying objects that dig into my arms leave huge puffy areas, touching any pimples on my face leaves me looking like I got stung by yellowjackets, and a puffy bloated feeling like I am always on my period.

Dr. J October 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Hello katie,

I don’t know how to handle with your problem but one thing i want to share to you. We know that lack of sleep is not good and it affects our body. It weakens us physically. Take a good rest. Take care of your body.

Check out Denver Chiropractor for our healthy tips and wellness.

Ian - HomeWorkoutBlog November 6, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Rusty-

I think you might have mentioned this in your post on walking, but I have heard GREAT things about the anti-inflammation properties of a simple brisk walk.

Just think of all the disease that can be prevented by simply eating less and being more active in daily life…

Then throw in some resistance training, and you can look great and be incredibly healthy.

DL Grace BS; pMed December 15, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Great info and much to consider, However, I would not suggest a diabetic go on a fast. Since being diagnosed at an early age with child onset diabetes. If I went longer than 9 hours on a normal day without eating I’d be face down on the floor. Good article though!!

Katherine February 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Hi Rusty, just found your website and I love it. So many great tips. A question about the inflammation article…my doctor just told me avoiding dairy is a good thing for general health so I picked up soy milk. I’m not a big milk drinker, just for cereal and coffee but the estrogen/inflammatory implications of soy concern me. Do you have any other suggestions for alternatives? Or is that not enough soy to make a big difference?
Thanks!

Veronika May 12, 2011 at 12:06 am

Thanks Rusty. I really like this site u have.
I recently started working out and jump rope is what is really kicking my butt.
I appreciate u trying to help people lose weight its hard when one doesn’t have the confidence and strength they need to start doing something to change their life. I know that ur website is going to be on my FAVORITES from now on for advise and support. Thank you again.
All of ur posting really help.

Delois October 8, 2012 at 2:03 am

This is really good information. I eat healthy for the most part, yet I constantly overeat. I have had success in the past with short fast. I suffer from inflammation, and I feel good about the information here. Though I am not on medication, recently my BP, Sugar, and Cholesterol have been very elevated. I walk for and hour three to four days a week. I am dedicated to being free of this problem.
Thank you for taking the time to care and post this information.

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