Fasting For Optimal Performance: An In-Depth Look
The following is a guest post by Sean McCormick.
Sean McCormick is a floatation therapy center owner, life coach, speaker and bio-hacker.
So, to answer the question posed in the title: Why fast?
Simply, because I'm better at everything because of it.
5-6 days per week my eating schedule goes like this.
I drink a crap-ton of water. I suppose around a gallon per day. But the water I drink isn't tap water. It's gathered from a natural spring, so it's high in mineral content an doesn't have any added pharmaceuticals. I swear by it. My family drinks it, we cook with it, make our coffee with it and I believe it's pretty powerful.
Plus...who wants to be chugging fluoride all day?
630AM - 1 tablespoon of sun charged Himalayan Solé in 12 oz. of gathered spring water
7AM: Coffee with Kerrygold unsalted grass-fed butter and MCT oil, blended in the Blendtec.
Editor's note: drinking butter coffee is a common riff on fasting called "Bulletproof fasting".
Here's what I take 4-6 days per week.
I take exclusively Natural Stacks products... and there are reasons for that:
- I like to know what's in the supplements I'm putting in my body and all of their products are open source.
- These guys have an approach to their business that is consumer focused - meaning they're constantly doing what they can to ensure quality and keep the price down.
- I've known them since the first year they started, and they are an exceptional group of tinkerers, bio-hackers and adventurers.
- As a Champion for the brand they keep me looped in on the latest and greatest in the supplement/bio-hacking universe.
- Ciltep - for brain function and focus
- Vitamin C - for anti-oxidant power
- BCAA's - Brach chain amino acids, to fuel my body and brain while I'm fasting
- Curcumin - for inflammation
- Vitamin D - unless it's sunny out and I know I can be outside for a while
- Krill Oil - better than fish oil because it's the whole organism - joint/skin/hair
- Myco-Immune - for, yup better immune system, since I have 2 small kids...
- Myco-Boost - for sustained energy
Note on Myco products: These are unlike, and far superior to other mushroom supplements because it is the actual fruited body (actual mushroom) in the supplement. Almost all other mushroom supplements use mycelium grown on grain...yuck.
7AM-230ish: FASTING DUDE...
230ish: Break my fast with something fermented like kimchee or sauerkraut usually accompanied with a green smoothie:
- 4 kale leaves
- 2 celery stalks
- Half an apple (seeds, middle included)
- Big squeeze of lime
- Thumb-sized chunk of ginger
- 1 inch chunk of dandelion root
- Small handful of blueberries
- 2 strawberries
For more of a meal replacement, try the Total Brain Health Smoothie.
- I'll also drink homemade Kombucha
- Sometimes I'll have sardines, or smoked oysters at this time
330: Protein of some sort: cold cuts, some cheese (typically goat cheese or brie) and some easy veggies, carrots, celery, broccoli.
430ish: Herbal tea or yerba maté.
545ish: Dinner - this varies due to the fact that I coordinate cooking and my families menu with my wifey. Here are some typical meals:
Most if not all of my eating includes large amounts of grass-fed butter, avocado oil.
- #1 Grass-fed ribeye (rosemary), braised greens from the garden, mushrooms, kimchee
- #2 Grilled chicken, grilled broccoli, sweet potatoes, sauerkraut
- #3 Stir-fry with chicken/beef, broccoli, carrots, celery, (other veggies) in Braggs aminos
- #4 Big-ass salad: Ground beef, beans, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki
- #5 Burrito: Ground beef, peppers, onions, (yes, I have tortillas sometimes)
9ish: I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I sometimes get down on some 80% dark chocolate, or recently I've taken to a small handfulls 8-10 pieces of high quality black licorice. Yeah, it's sugar, but the black licorice is good for the adrenals.
SO - NOW THAT YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW I EAT...HERE'S WHY...
Because I want to get all or most of my work done during that time, I have found that food really slows me down...and the longer I go eating this way, the more sensitive I am to being bogged down by food.
I've seen a massive transformation in the way my body looks and feels eating this way.
I'm less jiggly, more toned, less inflamed, more balanced energetically, clearer-minded, more efficient with my time. At the heart of my eating habits, I'm striving to get the most with the least.
For as long as I've eaten this way, I've found that going down stairs...I'm less jiggly, more toned, less-inflamed, smaller love handles. I exercise about 2-3 times per week. Sometimes BJJ at Ivan Salaverry MMA, sometimes indoor soccer at night, and often HIIT - that's high intensity interval training... burpees, battle-rope exercises, combination exercises with a kettle bell etc. BUT, this seems to be sufficient for me. I'm busy: 4 businesses, 2 kids, 1 house, an involved spiritual and meditation practice and several hobbies makes me short on time, so I try to maximize every aspect of my life.
All of this said...
I have ice-cream sometimes. I eat cake at parties. My wife makes amazing guacamole, so I'm gonna dip a tortilla chip in that green goop. But, since my baseline is streamlined and consistent, I allow myself to wiggle out of this zone frequently. This zone is ketosis. In my world, it's a topic often discussed, but for the un-initiated, ketosis is when your body and brain run on fat instead of sugar.
Ketosis is a normal metabolic process. When the body does not have enough glucose for energy, it burns stored fats instead; this results in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body. I can feel when I'm in ketosis and when I'm out of it. I rarely test it. But when I do, I test it with the urine strips.
In addition to this approach to food consumption I also fast for 24 hours about twice per month...to give my body a chance to really experience a deep fast. There are also studies like this that support fasting as an anti-aging approach and staving off illness.
From a philosophical standpoint, in Stoic philosophy, abstaining from certain things like food, give us all a chance to experience planned hardships that make us more resilient.
On a more general philosophical or spiritual note - you'll notice that most religions implement some sort of fasting as part of the religious observance. It was recently Eid - the of the end of the muslim observance of Ramadan in which muslims don't eat or drink water from sun up to sun down for an entire moon cycle. I've tried this...and it's not fun...but it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to show you some discipline and gain understanding. It certainly does that. All of the worlds predominant religions have at least one period of fasting during the year. Usually it's to connect more closely with god, and exhibit petition.
The general justification for why I fast for the first two thirds of each day is that I want to perform at the highest level I can everyday. Plain and simple. After experimenting with various dietary approaches, I've found that this works best for me. It also helps train me to know what real hunger is and keeps the grocery bills down a touch. I think if you're interested in fasting, you should give it go.
The first few times you fast, it's not much fun. Your body is used to getting glucose...grain, sugar and snacks (for most of us) every couple of hours, and stopping that can you a little crabby, but it's worth experimenting with.
JUST STOP EATING FOR 12 HOURS AND SEE HOW YOU RESPOND.