Intermittent Fasting + The Brave Method
Intermittent Fasting (IF) has become a popular subject in recent years, driven by the explosion in anecdotal and published studies demonstrating potential health benefits, but it is certainly not a new concept. It may be true that everyone from Hugh Jackman to Margot Robbie is a fan, crediting their incredible physiques to this simple lifestyle strategy - but our ancestors have been intermittent fasting throughout history due to unreliable sources of food, lifestyle rigours, or often for spiritual reasons.
With obesity endemic around the globe it seems intermittent fasting could play a positive role - but does denying potential nourishment for our bodies provide any real physical or mental benefits?
According to medical journals, nutritional experts and those who have taken part in studies, the simple answer appears to be a resounding yes!
Furthermore, intermittent fasting is no longer simply for people who can afford to go on juice cleanses or who just desire that bikini body. Fasting is now seen as a highly relevant lifestyle strategy to treat and prevent many chronic diseases. Beyond these benefits, it can also promote greater mental clarity and focus and has even been shown in some cases to extend our lifespan.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. There are a variety of approaches to intermittent fasting from just a few hours each day to skipping meals for two days each week - commonly known styles are the 16/8 or 5:2.
Unlike prescribed diets that require you to follow a strict set of rules with calorie restrictions, intermittent fasting allows you to dictate when you eat and what you eat within a certain window of time, then fast when the window is closed. In fact, it’s something we do each night while we sleep.
From fasting for just a few hours each day to skipping meals for two days each week, intermittent fasting can be an easy way to simultaneously improve your health and achieve your weight loss and anti-ageing goals.
Why is it important to take a break from food?
Eating all day doesn’t allow your body the time to clean out and regenerate, nor does it allow your insulin levels to reset. Insulin is the hormone that knocks on the door of each cell requesting that the gates are opened to allow glucose in. This glucose is needed by the mitochondria for energy production. In many cases high carbohydrate intake or constant snacking can lead to chronically high blood glucose, which means that the insulin must constantly knock on the doors of each cell until the cells become fed up with the insulin harassing them. The cells will then ignore the insulin as they do not need any more glucose. This can become a dangerous cycle driving both insulin and blood glucose higher, as the glucose cannot get into cells for utilisation. This results in excess sugar being escorted off to be stored as fat.
The easiest and safest way to reset both insulin and glucose and to lose unwanted body fat, is to release all of our stored glucose through the use of regular intermittent fasts. Our bodies start to run out of glycogen stores when we go without food for a period of around twelve hours, when our bodies then flip into more of a fat burning mode. As fat is a slow-burning fuel, you not only have a more balanced energy supply, but food cravings start to disappear which makes it easier for you to make healthier food choices – it’s win-win!
What does the science say about Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting seems to make a great deal of sense from an evolutionary and biological standpoint, but what is just as interesting are the studies being done by neuroscientists and anti-ageing doctors.
Mark Mattson, Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University is a huge proponent of different types of intermittent fasting. He has published multiple studies and reviews on intermittent fasting which have shown an improvement in biomarkers of disease, reduced oxidative stress and improved cognitive function. Mattson explains that these findings are much to do with how intermittent fasting helps to increase stress resistance and combat inflammation at a cellular level. “People undergo a metabolic switch in which the liver’s energy stores are depleted, and so the body’s cells start using fat and ketones for energy,” he explains. Whether you’re talking about physical activity or fasting, “these cycles of challenge, recovery, challenge, recovery seem to optimize both function and durability of most cell sites.”
Valter Longo, the Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, initially studied fasting in mice and showed that 2-5 days of fasting each month reduced biomarkers for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The research has since been expanded to people, and scientists saw a similar reduction in disease risk factors.
Dr. Longo and Mattson agree that one of the key reasons there is such an improvement in key biomarkers is due to the effect fasting has on lowering insulin and another hormone called insulin-like-growth-factor, or IGF-1, which is linked to cancer and diabetes. Lowering these hormones may slow cell growth and development, which in turn helps slow the ageing process and reduces risk factors for disease.
Another reason that short fasts can improve overall health is through the activation of the body’s ability to pull at its own fat stores for energy. Dr. David Ludwig, a Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, explains that the body enjoys the shift from using glucose for fuel to using fat instead. This creates a much more flexible metabolism and one that we are physiologically designed to have, as our ancestors regularly went through fallow periods, and certainly didn’t wake up to consuming an early morning bowl of Cheerios.
This process is often referred to as ‘fat-burning’, which is not the same as that particular setting on a gymnasium treadmill. To burn fat we have to eliminate our store of glucose, which can only happen when we have been without food for a minimum of ten hours. Fat is one of the most useful types of fuel to burn, as it’s not only a clean source of energy but also a more slow-burning one - hence the increase in energy levels people often experience when they regularly partake in intermittent fasting. During this process, the fat is converted by the liver into compounds known as ketones, a great energy source that burns even more efficiently than glucose. Dr Ludwig describes this physiological process as like running on ‘high-octane gasoline’.
What are the Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
BRAIN HEALTH: Studies have shown an improvement in memory, cognition and clarity An increase in BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) occurs when fasting, which is the protein that promotes neuron growth and protection, making us more resilient to neurological stress and thus staving off neurodegenerative diseases.
METABOLIC HEALTH: There are various metabolic benefits features, such as assisting in the drop of blood levels of insulin, which in turn facilitates fat burning weight loss, and a reduction in blood sugar levels. Short-term fasting can also increase metabolic rate by 3.6% to 14%, helping you burn even more calories.
HEART HEALTH: An improvement in cardiovascular health can be seen when practising intermittent fasting due to an improvement in key biomarkers such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels.
ANTI-AGEING: Inflammation plays a key role in ageing as it damages mitochondria and increases mitochondrial dysfunction. One of the key benefits of intermittent fasting is a reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation by inducing important cellular repair processes such as removing waste material from cells.
The Brave Method - Redefining Intermittent Fasting
The ‘Brave Method' solves many of the problems associated with intermittent fasting, such as feeling 'hangry' and stressed when you start to go without food for more than 12 hours. Also, if you're not used to fasting 12 hours overnight, if you have a high carbohydrate diet, or if you regularly experience blood sugar imbalances, then it might take time to trigger your body to burn through your own fat stores - and our method can help.
The Brave Method recommends a morning intake of one of Ancient + Brave’s blends; either Coffee + Collagen or Cacao + Collagen, blended with True MCT and, for a creamier brew, grass-fed butter or ghee.
This delicious morning drink is designed to support the fat-burning process, improve mental and physical performance, whilst signalling the brain to feel satiated and switching off any potential 'hangriness'.
How do you practice it?
The most achievable way to practice this style of intermittent fasting is to transpose your fasting hours across the night; for example, if you eat your last meal at 7pm you may typically eat again between 9am - 11am the following day. Meanwhile you can support yourself through your morning fasting window with an Ancient + Brave brew. This balanced overnight use of 14- to 16-hour fasting windows practised three to seven days a week, whilst incorporating a delicious, nutrient-dense, fat burning brew, will help you to regain control of your blood sugar and deliver a more balanced energy supply and food cravings will start to disappear.
How does the Brave Method work?
The benefits of intermittent fasting are triggered by key mechanisms, such as autophagy (the removal and recycling of old dead cells) and ketosis (which allows the body to be fuelled by fats rather than sugar). These biological processes are not switched off by the consumption of an Ancient + Brave brew. This is due to the fact that most of the calories you consume are in the form of medium chain fats found in our MCT oil which actually increases your ketone production, whilst the very small amounts of amino acids found in our grass-fed collagen, and minuscule amounts of carbohydrate in both cacao or coffee do not alter ketone levels or dampen autophagy - and they will support you nutritionally.
Therefore the potent synergistic combination of coffee or cacao, True MCT, and the key amino acids found in True Collagen redefine intermittent fasting by preventing an unhealthy stress response, assisting fat burning and keeping you satiated.
Can everyone fast?
Whilst fasting is appropriate for nearly all adults, there are exceptions or precautions to be taken. Pregnant women and children should avoid fasting for more than 12-14 hours as their bodies are prepped for growth mode. Anyone suffering from circadian rhythm issues such as adrenal exhaustion and/or severe hypoglycemia should also not fast for more than 12 hours and should eat breakfast if they’re hungry.
As regards to Type 2 diabetes, intermittent fasting has been backed by science to show that it can be a beneficial strategy for countering diabetic conditions. However, anyone who is pre-diabetic type 2 or diabetic type 2 should consult their healthcare professional first if they are interested in embarking on any kind of intermittent fasting protocol.
- Intermittent fasting is not a new concept and supports the evolutionary concept of a larger fasting window and a smaller eating window to regulate the body and allow it to regenerate.
- Intermittent fasting is a simple and effective lifestyle strategy which shows health benefits for brain, metabolism health and longevity.
- The Brave Method is a nourishing form of intermittent fasting which supports you through your fasting window.