Cynthia Thurlow, NP explains in this episode how to use fasting for weight loss and improving your overall metabolic health. Fasting is a topic that keeps me coming back for more. Cynthia is a world renowned expert on the topic and has over 13M views of her TEDx talk about it.

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On The Menu

During our conversation, we chatted about:

  • how to establish the fundamentals of nutrition before jumping into fasting
  • what benefits fasting has on your metabolic health; and
  • who should avoid fasting

And this is only to name a few of the larger topics focused on fasting but there’s so much more to cover. I’ve been a huge fan of fasting since I got introduced to it by Jason Fung‘s book, The Obesity Code. It opened my eyes to the power not eating all the time has.

What Is Fasting?

As Cynthia explains, fasting is any time you don’t eat for more than 15 to 16 hours. The human body is then capable of initiating some metabolic machinery that can start a process called “autophagy” that can help clear out old dead cells. As she notes in the episode, there’s evidence that fasting and the power of autophagy even has a positive impact on women with breast cancer.

And this isn’t some new “fad” diet either. Fasting has been incorporated into every major religion on the planet. So what did the ancients know that we forgot? It seems clear that they understood that in order for there to be feast, there needs to be famine.

Fasting imposes a hormetic stress on the body. This is “good” stress. Think of going to the gym. If you do it right, it burns and it’s uncomfortable but after your body adapts and you’re stronger. Same goes for fasting. A little bit of damage creates massive metabolic responses to make you more “metabolically flexible” as Cynthia calls it.

The Benefits

There seems to be lots of benefits for using fasting as part of your weight loss or maintenance strategy. I love using it as my super power when I’m unable to or failed to make a well balanced meal. Rather than go grab some fast, processed junk, I just wait and don’t eat till I can have a good meal.

Image courtesy: boost-fitness.com

The cool thing about fasting is it’s free but the benefits are vast which include:

  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Increased fat metabolism
  • Increased stress resistance
  • General inflammation reduction
  • Increase in growth hormone

What To Avoid

Cynthia makes is very clear that if you’re a woman either growing or feeding a baby, you should not be fasting. Other instances you should avoid fasting is when you’re in a high stress state…for those of us that deploy to foreign lands, that means no fasting for you!

For all you Crossfitters out there, take heed as well. Smashing those AMRAPs all the time is very stressful. If you cut our a few meals and don’t get sufficient protein and macros, you’re likely doing yourself a disservice. I know, I’ve been there.

You can catch Cynthia on her podcast, blog or read her excellent book, Intermittent Fasting Transformation, at cynthiathurlow.com

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Dave is a retired infantry officer and Afghanistan war veteran. He’s the creator of the HRD2KILL training programs that were built on the principles that got him from not being able to get out of bed to competing in the Crossfit Open, Spartan Races and the Ironman. You can find more mobility based exercises in his new book, “The Nimble Warrior”, now available on Amazon or tune into his new HRD2KILL Podcast


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