Fasting, Finding the Right Protocol for You

Intermittent Fasting Tips with Mike Mutzel.

In today’s episode I speak with Mike Mutzel about intermittent fasting. You’ve likely heard about the benefits of fasting, but how do you personalize it? Do you go exclusive for four days, just skip breakfast, or somewhere in between? Let’s talk about how to match a fasting plan to your individual needs.

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In This Episode

Episode Intro … 00:00:40
How to Find the Optimal Amount of Fasting … 00:03:13
What Are Your Fasting Goals? … 00:06:36
How Fasting Affects the Body … 00:08:22
Getting Started with Fasting … 00:14:46
Fasting and Circadian Rhythm … 00:17:20
Optimal Fasting Timing … 00:19:40
Post-Meal Walk or Exercise & Blood Sugar … 00:24:21
Body Mass Fasting Guidelines … 00:29:12
Labs, Glucose Monitoring, & Fasting … 00:32:18
Sauna & Fasting … 00:35:16
Fasting in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding? … 00:43:00
Episode Wrap Up … 00:45:19

How Intermittent Fasting Affects the Body

Fasting, or restricting your calorie intake in the short term, has many recognized health benefits.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting:

  • Resets metabolic health, insulin levels and sensitivity, blood sugar balance
  • Helps reduce inflammation and improve immune system function, especially for autoimmunity. For example, alternate day fasting reduced inflammatory markers in a study on obese asthmatics.
  • Improves sleep quality and duration
  • Helps you lose weight
  • May reduce thyroid hormones, but this is a normal response to the fasting
  • Increases longevity genes

What is the Optimal Amount of Fasting?

There are several different types of fasting, everything from simply skipping breakfast, to one-meal-a-day (OMAD), or  alternate-day fasting. So what is the ideal amount of fasting?

Mutzel says, “The good and bad news about fasting is you have to figure it out yourself…what’s going to work for you?”

As with many other areas of your health, listen to your body. You hear all sorts of claims about how great fasting is, and it leads people to think that more is better. But this isn’t necessarily true.

What Are Your Fasting Goals?

Mutzel shared that your goals can help guide you with your fasting approach. He said, “When it comes to fasting, it’s all contingent upon ‘what are your goals?’ What’s your prior health history? How much body fat do you have? Is there an adrenal fatigue element that we need to work on? Is there a circadian rhythm dysfunction? What about thyroid health?”

Body Mass Intermittent Fasting Guidelines

Your body mass index may be a good way to help guide your fasting.

  • People with 30% body fat are the ones that could have the most benefit from more intermittent, long-term fasting…I’m talking 36 to 48 hours, maybe one one time a week, or alternate-day fasting.”
  • People with 12% to 18% body fat: “If you’re an athlete and you don’t have a lot of metabolic health issues, then doing a lot of prolonged fasting is not really going to serve you that well. In fact, it might compromise your athletic performance or lead to loss of lean muscle mass.”

Mutzel said, “Listen to your body as the ultimate dictator of [whether] you’re doing the right or wrong thing.” 


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Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting

Generally, most everyone should be attempting to bring some sort of intermittent fasting plan into their life. But most people can’t go right into a two- or three-day water fast, just like most people can’t go straight to running 20 miles.

Mutzel said, “I think it’s really good to just start small.” He recommended these intermittent fasting tips:

  • Start with an overnight fast of 14 hours (7pm – 9am)
  • The next week, increase to a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule, which involves fasting for 16 hours, followed by an 8-hour eating window.
  • Increase fasting time or frequency, if necessary, guided by your goals.
  • Break your fast during daylight hours, somewhere between noon and 6:00 pm.

Intermittent Fasting and Daylight

Mutzel shared that our digestion is closely connected to our circadian rhythms. He said, “Enzymes like pancreatic lipase, hydrochloric acid, bile acids, and motility…are most active during daylight…All the factors…are really active during the daytime.”

Because of this, Mutzel suggested that the optimal timing of your eating window should be related to daylight, as this will maximize your intermittent fasting benefits.

Optimal Intermittent Fasting Schedule

  • Fast while the sun is down: Mutzel said, “When you eat and break your fast actually…helps to re-sync your body’s circadian rhythm…So I encourage people to fast when the sun is down, and [to] have your last meal somewhere shortly thereafter.”
  • Have your largest meal between noon and 4:00 pm: “I like to have my biggest meal somewhere between noon and 4:00 pm, because I know if I wait till 6:00 pm, I’m going to totally overeat and I’m probably going to be snacking while I’m cooking.”
  • Begin fast at least 4 hours before bed: “Make it a goal to have your last major meal at least four hours before going to bed.”

Post-Meal Exercise & Blood Sugar

Mutzel likes to recommend people go for a walk after a meal. He elaborated:

“One of the attractive elements of fasting is it…improves this intracellular cleanup process called autophagy. And interestingly, exercise does those same things…you can have an almost one-hundred point swing in [blood sugar] by just going for a walk after having a high-carb meal. So I encourage people to walk after a meal. It’s free, it’ll help you burn fat, will help you improve digestion, and blunt the post-meal blood sugar rise.”

Labs, Glucose Monitoring, & Fasting

According to Mutzel, a few lab biomarkers can indicate when fasting may be helpful:

  • Triglycerides are elevated over 80
  • Liver markers ALT, AST, and GGT are elevated.
  • When we have elevated triglycerides and then the liver enzymes are starting to creep up, that leads me to think there is some ectopic fat being stored.”

“And I recommend everyone get a glucometer. Just go.”

Sauna & Intermittent Fasting

Mutzel said, “Is there any specific crosstalk going on [between sauna and] fasting? I’m not really aware of any research there, but I do want to let people know that any sort of thermal stress, cold stress, or heat stress does seem to affect the brown adipose tissue which is very metabolically active. So I do encourage people to do that.”

Fasting in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding?

Mutzel said. “I don’t generally advise people to intentionally try some sort of fasting during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Now, that doesn’t mean that they should eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Maybe fast for 12 hours a day, or something like that. I don’t think intentional calorie restriction is beneficial, outside of some one-off situation where there’s preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.”

The Bottom Line

Incorporating intermittent fasting can help restore your metabolic health and increase longevity. Use your health goals to decide which type of fasting to choose. Tie your intermittent fasting and eating window to daylight, and adjust your intermittent fasting plan based on how your body responds.

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Discussion

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