April 03, 2011
Periodic Fasting Improves Blood Lipids

Periodic starvation anyone?

Murray, UT (4/03/11) Fasting has long been associated with religious rituals, diets, and political protests. Now new evidence from cardiac researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute demonstrates that routine periodic fasting is also good for your health, and your heart.

Today, research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute are reporting that fasting not only lowers one's risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes significant changes in a person's blood cholesterol levels. Both diabetes and elevated cholesterol are known risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Would periodic fasting deliver the same benefits as a calorie restriction diet in terms of a potential increase in life expectancy? Periodic fasting strikes me as much easier to do than continually eating fewer calories than it takes to maintain a normal body weight. No need to go around continually gaunt, hungry, and less able to handle severe conditions.

Fasting improved many cardiac risk factors.

The discovery expands upon a 2007 Intermountain Healthcare study that revealed an association between fasting and reduced risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death among men and women in America. In the new research, fasting was also found to reduce other cardiac risk factors, such as triglycerides, weight, and blood sugar levels.

So should you fast to live longer? My take: Get many other things right first before even considering fasting. Stephan Guyenet points out that the evidence is pretty strong that the coronary heart disease epidemic is a product of modern civilization. It is not just that we are living long enough to get heart disease. Stephan suggests a major risk factor for heart disease is too much omega 6 fatty acids and too little omega 3s. The best diet changes to make amount to turning the clock back: Reverse the wheat, vegetable oils, and sweetener consumption increase of the modern age before you start thinking about fasting.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 April 03 09:43 PM  Aging Diet Heart Studies

Walenty Lisek said at April 3, 2011 10:17 PM:

Think about this: fasting one day a week, which I think most people can do. There are 52 days in the year. That's going to be 52 days out of the year when you don't eat. That 8 days short of 2 full months of not eating. If you can't lose weight that way you must be hopeless!

PacRim Jim said at April 3, 2011 11:22 PM:

FYI, I hear that the standard time Mormon fasting period is on the first Sunday of each month, usually from Saturday afternoon or evening to around the same time Sunday.
I've never seen a Mormon have a heart attack, so it must work. ;>)

Mthson said at April 3, 2011 11:31 PM:

Does anybody have a particular fasting practice they recommend? I'd expect moderate fasting episodes 2-3 times a week would give the body the appropriate signals to get its stuff together.

Jake said at April 4, 2011 3:11 AM:

Fasting drops insulin levels so that autophagy can be forced. Autophagy, among other things, cleans up cell defects to prevent aging, cancer, heart attacks, dementia and other diseases of civilization. The only advantage of calorie restriction is that it lowers insulin levels so that autophagy can be forced. You can accomplish the same thing without all the suffering by eating a low carb paleo diet with occasional 16 to 24 hour fasts.

Autophagy is the hot new area of study in biochemistry. I am very excited about its possibilities for providing us disease free lives.

morpheus said at April 4, 2011 7:01 AM:

wow randal u making strides

leaps and bounds so much more then usually preseting articles published by the drug cartel run on cnn an fox

did u take the red pill or some lately? :)

yeah i was about 8 years old when i learned periodic fasting reduces all ilness extends life

paul bragg ~the miracle of fasting~ is the book title u should read

wonder when u will pick up andrea rossi or ismael aviso free energy devices?

2020? 2030 or sooner if u took the that red pill

hm time will tell

matthew Fuller said at April 4, 2011 7:13 AM:

wow, being different always attracts the weirdos like moth to a flame.

I know you aren't a doctor, but I am naturally skinny and have low cholesterol (as does my dad but not my mom). Anyway, I am thinking fasting would be less beneficial, right?

I think a service that grouped together thousands of people/volunteers with their medical data would be extremely valuable! I think this has come up before...

Lou Pagnucco said at April 4, 2011 9:45 AM:

The study results seem mixed - raised cholesterol and HGH-level may not be beneficial.

I also recall an animal study which indicated that every other day fasting did not slow brain aging, as did CR.

Still, my guess is that periodic fasting is helpful.
Maybe, testing some religious groups who follow this regimen would tell us more.

Tuck said at April 4, 2011 12:28 PM:

When you fast your body produces energy from stored reserves. The percentages are: 70% fat, 20% carbs, 10% protein. So fasting is basically going on a low-carb diet. Autophagy is a bonus.

I've alro seen some research that the primary benefit of calorie restriction is carbohydrate restriction, so simply limiting carb consumption produces the same benefits, without the suffering.

James Bowery said at April 4, 2011 2:42 PM:

Your recommendations are racist. Clearly since there has been a 10,000 year explosion in evolutionary adaptation to civilization and its cultivars, there should be a lot of folks adapted to civilization including its cultivars. Those people are doing just fine, thank you very much. The rest are damned pagans, heathens and barbarian pastoralist remnants of a bygone era. Good riddance to bad, hateful, provincial, rural, trailer-rubbish along with their banjos. The future belongs to the civilized man.

James Bowery said at April 4, 2011 2:49 PM:

My apologies for omitting "populist" from the epithets.

Randall Parker said at April 4, 2011 9:40 PM:


Andrea Rossi: I am impressed that Brian Josephson (discoverer of the Josephson junction in semiconductors) takes his energy generator seriously. But I haven't had time to look at it closely.

Jim said at April 5, 2011 10:47 AM:

Research "intermittent fasting" for details on how to do fasting right.

OCDLite said at April 10, 2011 1:31 PM:

Glad you are still tracking fasting and caloric restriction, Randall. I know that far less than 1% of people
are willing to consider a health/longevity strategy that is so lacking in the "feel-good factor", except from
the "laugh at the whacko's angle". Reality is not a popularity contest though, and I have become increasingly
convinced since I first heard about the cross species life extension research about 10 years ago. Over the
last 3-4 years I've been making increasingly serious attempts to get to grips with putting it into practice,
as I recently passed the 50 year mark, and if I continue to put it off it will hardly be worth the hassle!

>Mthson said at April 3, 2011 11:31 PM:
>Does anybody have a particular fasting practice they recommend? I'd expect moderate fasting
>episodes 2-3 times a week would give the body the appropriate signals to get its stuff together.

Well, Mthson, here is some feedback for you.

I've experimented with fasts up to 2 weeks. Sounds scary, but not as hard as you might think.
I recommend to anyone new to fasting to read 'The Fasting Cure', by Upton Sinclair, free online,
written in the 1911. I have also experimented with various schedules of intermittent fasting.

Fasting is somewhat of a "learned skill". Once you have a bit of practice, you realize that if you
just ignore hunger, it goes away fairly quickly. Having had a bit of practice over the years I have
toyed around with this, a 24 hour fast is no effort at all, and a 3 day fast is actually enjoyable!

By the way, if any guys are worried about looking like a concencentration camp victim, have a
look at Brad Pilon's "Eat Stop Eat" stuff, there is plenty of free info on his site. Anyway, I'm not really
into bodybuilding. The main thing I'm interested in is in having an effective schedule that I can follow
with minimal self-discipline and attention for the next 50 years.

I am also broadly convinced by the arguments for Paleo/Low carb/Atkins diets; and that avoiding
Advanced Glycation Endproducts is worthwhile. Also, that any really long term plan should have an
element of "Never Say Never" in it - in other words, it is too much to ask of my limited fund of self-control
to demand that there is anything I will NEVER eat/drink again.

I want my schedule to incorporate variety, and to be based on a rhythm, so it becomes habitual. Habit
is the only known method of reducing the psychic cost of self-discipline. So, here is the schedule I am
currently following:

I have 4 types of days in my schedule, all apply strictly from midnight to midnight:
1) FAST - water, coffee, tea only.
2) GREEN - only green leaves, ie. cabbage, spinach, celery, etc. Onions, garlic, spices for flavor.
Works out to under 500Kcals per day, for basically as much bulk as I can eat.
3) ATKINS - eggs, meat, fish, dairy; as much as I want to eat, but easy on the fat, so not over 3,000Kcals.
Avoid frying, roasting, etc, stick to steaming or boiling.
4) FEST - there are no rules!

I want a natural calendar, and I like astronomy, so I have chosen a basic weekly system incorporating
alternate day semi-fasting with no strict limits on the amount eaten. Avg 11,000Kcal/wk, 1571Kcal/day.
I lift weights for about 15mins once or twice a week, whenever I'm in the mood, and walk about 3 miles
a day, otherwise too lazy to exercise.
Mon Green 500Kcal
Tue Atkins 3000Kcal
Wed Green 500Kcal
Thu Atkins 3000Kcal
Fri Green 500Kcal
Sat Atkins 3000Kcal
Sun Green 500Kcal

Upon this is superimposed a Moon based rhythm:
The New Moon and on the day before and after are FAST days. Moonfasts clean out my system,
and are mentally stimulating.
The Full Moon and on the day before and after are FEST days. If I start to hanker after some gastronomic
indulgence, I promise myself I will have it on my next Moonfest.

All you need is a spreadsheet. Here's how it works:

11/4/2011 Mon Green
12/4/2011 Tue Atkins
13/4/2011 Wed Green
14/4/2011 Thu Atkins
15/4/2011 Fri Green
16/4/2011 Sat Atkins
17/4/2011 Sun Moonfest
18/4/2011 Mon Moonfest FULL MOON - THREE DAY MOONFEST (Pizza, Beer, Icecream)
19/4/2011 Tue Moonfest
20/4/2011 Wed Green
21/4/2011 Thu None
22/4/2011 Fri Green
23/4/2011 Sat Atkins
24/4/2011 Sun Green
25/4/2011 Mon Green
26/4/2011 Tue Atkins
27/4/2011 Wed Green
28/4/2011 Thu Atkins
29/4/2011 Fri Green
30/4/2011 Sat Atkins
1/5/2011 Sun Green
2/5/2011 Mon Moonfast
3/5/2011 Tue Moonfast NEW MOON - THREE DAY MOONFAST (Water, Coffee, Tea)
4/5/2011 Wed Moonfast
5/5/2011 Thu Atkins
6/5/2011 Fri Green
7/5/2011 Sat Atkins
8/5/2011 Sun Green
9/5/2011 Mon Green
10/5/2011 Tue Atkins
11/5/2011 Wed Green
12/5/2011 Thu Atkins
13/5/2011 Fri Green
14/5/2011 Sat Atkins
15/5/2011 Sun Green
16/5/2011 Mon Moonfest
17/5/2011 Tue Moonfest
18/5/2011 Wed Moonfest
19/5/2011 Thu None
20/5/2011 Fri None
etc, etc, etc.........................

Is that TMI, or what, Mthson? I'm looking forward to Monday the 18th already.

Thanks for all your work Randall.
Ron Paul 2012!

Mthson said at April 10, 2011 8:41 PM:


Haha. That is very useful, thanks. I'll start experimenting now with incorporating fasting into my health strategies.

Best of luck.

OCDLite said at April 14, 2011 6:05 PM:

Thanks for reading, Mthson. Here is a good site for comparing schedules:

Sadly, it seems that interest in CR peaked in 2007, before people become more
interested in the crashing economy. Poor schmucks!

My only reservation about my current schedule is the amount of meat that I eat on
my Atkins days. I just read The China Study (download at 4shared.com) but having
been both a vegetarian and a hard-core Atkins guy, I know I feel better eating meat.
There seem to be some complete contradictions involved here. The people who
hang out at longecity seem to give some credibility to the meat-cancer link, but
I can't find conclusive evidence, and Eskimos seem to do just fine.

Anyway, the descent into nit-picking over this or that new research study seems
almost worthless to me, if not an actual threat to mental health. I'm hedging my
bets by eating meat 3 days and plants 4 days per week.

Anyway, fasting really can be a high, I am serious when I say it is enjoyable.
Go for it!

Bon appetit!

OCDLite said at April 14, 2011 6:55 PM:

BTW, I drink a lot of clove/cinnamon tea:

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