July 25, 2019

Let’s face it, food can be like a drug.

It may not be as strong of a drug for some, but there’s increasing agreement that certain foods trigger dopamine responses in our brains just like addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine. The implications of this should be obvious: we don’t always eat just because we’re hungry but also because we enjoy it.

We can all struggle with weight, but one solution that's sort of radical can transform your habits. It's called intermittent fasting.

Curious about intermittent fasting? Give it a try.

Here's a piece about what it is and how it can change your habits.

Intermittent Fasting

Some of you may not have heard the term “intermittent fasting,” while others of you may be totally exhausted by it. Essentially, it involves periodically cycling through patterns of eating and fasting. Usually, it looks like decreasing the amount of time during the day that you eat.

So, for example, instead of eating breakfast at 7:30 AM and dinner at 6:30 PM (with a 9 PM bowl of ice cream), you don’t eat your breakfast until 10 AM and you eat your dinner (and dessert!) at or before 5 PM, leaving the 17 hours in between dinner and breakfast as your “fast.”

This may sound crazy and to some extent it is. But it’s helpful to remember that for most of human history three regular meals a day weren’t a given[2] or even necessarily recommended.

Now let’s be honest, there are a lot of wild claims[3] out there about the benefits of intermittent fasting including that it reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, and aging (as if that’s something that needs “curing”) and decreases inflammation while increasing brain health.

Right now, these studies are not conclusive and are primarily done on rats rather than humans, but none of these reasons are why I recommend intermittent fasting. It’s much more basic than that.

When You Don’t Eat

What happens when you don’t eat? Other than, of course, that you might get hangry? After you’ve used all the carbs in your body as well as that store of glucose (glycogen), you start burning fat for energy (zing!).

But maybe even more importantly, when you don’t eat for long periods of time, what happens to your stomach?

Well, no, it doesn’t “shrink” as some people say, but it does “reset”. Once you’re an adult, your stomach remains the same size, but it stretches to a greater or lesser degree when you’re filling it with chow.

And if you’ve been crushing a double cheeseburger, large fry, and chocolate milkshake every third weeknight then chances are your stomach is pretty stretchy—even if you have one of our tablets with that meal. This stretchiness then affects[4] how full you feel. If you can reset the “stretch” receptors so that you feel fuller sooner, then chances are you won’t eat as much and you’ll lose more weight.

How Intermittent Fasting Works

That’s where intermittent fasting comes in. If you increase the amount of time during the day that you are not eating, then the stomach will adapt such that it expects and needs less food to be and feel full.

I’m sure you’ve all experienced the opposite of this.

For instance, when I go to my in-laws for the holidays I start stuffing my face as soon as I get there. I’m talking biscuits and bacon and gravy for breakfast with bagels and BLTs for lunch and chips all day and steaks and burgers and bbq for dinner with cakes and pies and ice cream for dessert.

The first day I’m in a total food coma. But what about by day three or four?

By the end of my holiday I’m waking up hungry at 8 am for another greasy delicious breakfast even though a week earlier I’d wake up and not be hungry until 10 or 11 am. This is my stomach adapting. But we want our stomachs to reset or unadapt.

1. Start Slow

To implement intermittent fasting I suggest starting slow. Do you eat breakfast at 8 am right now? 6 am? Try pushing it back an hour, then two, then maybe three—maybe even break your fast with one of our deliciously nutritious bars.

Do the same for dinner.

2. Challenge Yourself

At each end of the spectrum, try to push it as much as you can each day. This way, it’s less of a strict and seemingly unattainable approach and more of a daily, personal challenge that provides a win even if you only made it one minute longer.

3. Make Small Progress

Not only will you have less time to consume calories and therefore should presumably have a lower daily calorie count, but you also will probably start noticing that you get fuller sooner. It’s better to make small progress than bite off more than you can chew.

Did you used to have a whole bagel with cream cheese for breakfast and still feel hungry? You may start to notice that at 11 am when you eat that whole bagel you feel completely stuffed. You may even start cutting that bagel in half moving forward.

4. Try Again, Making More Progress Next Time

Sure, a salad is better than a burger, but one burger is better than two burgers and that’s a big move in the right direction. And let’s be honest, I don’t want to give up burgers, do you?

Final Thoughts

This approach is radical because most of us like routines and three meals a day has been our routine forever. I’m not saying it’s easy to change that mentality, but it may be easier than you think, and it may be easier than changing that bagel into buckwheat oatmeal or that BLT into just LT. I’m a calorie bottom line guy, and intermittent fasting is sure way to affect that bottom line.

—The MinusCal Team

Make sure to eat one of our tasty, fat-blocking snack bars when you break your fast.



[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.3202

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-20243692

[3] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#benefits

[4] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/does-dieting-actually-make-your-stomach-shrink-180955521/