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Periodic fasting starves cisplatin‐resistant cancers to death (embopress.org)
493 points by sjcsjc on Aug 3, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 318 comments

Very interesting! I (female; 57 y.o.) have been doing an intermittent fast (2 days/week: typically Tue/Thu) for >2.5 years now. I picked those days as they don't interfere with social events, weekends, long weekends. I initially did 500 calories on those days, but for more than a year now I simply don't eat at all on those days (but I drink coffee, tea). I find that much easier, as the hunger pangs are largely absent. Benefits from this fasting include an epigenetic reprogramming (perhaps?) of some stem cells, as from the outset I've seen a few of the very few gray hairs that I have revert back to brown (white further out; brown more recently to root). That could be triggered (or entirely due to) e.g. by autophagy of the old, weakened cells and their replacement by rejuvenated cells. Interesting, nonetheless. Body weight is stabilized around the new metabolic set point (I record this daily in a tab-delimited file, that I can easily plot with a simple linux command (alias gp='echo "gnuplot -p /mnt/Vancouver/Programming/scripts/gnuplot/plot.gp')! On non-diet days I eat whatever I want (I ashould add, pretty sensible: mostly home-made food, meals), ad libitum. ;-)

Plot: https://imgur.com/a/e3ahbtQ

Wow - I (male; 45 y.o.) have done virtually the same (2 days/week fast, Tue and Fri, no food intake, only drinks - mostly water, sometimes coffee, rarely some orange juice; on non-fast days ate without restriction) for one year now.

The curve looks quite similar: https://imgur.com/a/H4pKkNv

What I find interesting is your mention of a metabolic set point. Wanted to lose a bit more weight (since I still have visceral fat), but couldn't manage to do so. It seems I hit a hard barrier - any caloric deficit during fasting days was magically compensated exactly on non-fasting days; I tried to reduce caloric intake on non-fasting days, but while fasting a whole day isn't that difficult for me, restricting calories while eating seems to only work when my body has met a magical internal quota.

It seems indeed to be a set point. The small uptick beginning of June was when I skipped a fast day once. I'm a bit scared what would happen if I stopped fasting altogether now.

Would be interesting to understand more about the set point - however, some research on the net didn't yield much substantial info. It seems it exists, but how it works exactly and how it can be moved is unclear. And even if trying to move it makes sense. Maybe the set point is ideal health-wise, and is overridden on unhealthy caloric surplus diets...?

> while fasting a whole day isn't that difficult for me, restricting calories while eating seems to only work when my body has met a magical internal quota.

One dirty trick to try is, just after eating, to drink about two tablespoons of staight "extra-light" olive oil. It's a bit foul, but makes for a effective way of ruining your appetite. Other "bland food diet" tricks might also work.

(I'd like to mention that I do not support healthy diets, but my design to work against anything nature intends takes priority.)

Edit: two tablespoons, not eight, and apparently they make low-fat olive oil now.

> drink about half a cup of staight olive oil. It's a bit foul, but makes for a effective way of ruining your appetite

It's also a very effective way of getting 1000 kcal.

I tracked down the original suggestion to here[0], and I was off by a factor of four. Mea culpa, especially since I've actually used the 2 tbsp version a couple of times.

0: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/04/25/book-review-the-hungry-... # middle of section IV

That's much more reasonable, but it's still around a candy bar's worth of calories. You may want to find a different method, depending on how much you want to cut.

I find brushing my teeth helps.

This is effectively like keto, which is a kind of fast in that you're fasting off carbs. you're not really getting protein or carbs at all, but I guess you're giving your body some fat for calories rather than just stored fat.

I accidentally discovered that a couple bites of sauerkraut instantly kill any residual appetite after a meal - which is a different version of your "bland food" assertion. I'll try olive oil next time.

Have you tried or considered a low-carb high-fat diet in the non fasting days?

Maybe keeping your insulin levels relatively low, you can reduce the effect of the insulin cycle on your appetite

Good progress! I understand blurring the y-axis, though I'm curious about how large those up/down swings are. Have you considered using an exponentially-weighted average to smooth out the noise in the measurements?

It's just $ f(x_n) = f(x_{n-1}) * (1 - alpha) + x_n * alpha , f(x_0) = x_0 $ where 0 < alpha < 1 (lower values give a smoother graph but lags more)

Here's a quick sketch of how to do it in gnuplot without having to preprocess the data:

    # Getting previous values via https://stackoverflow.com/a/25753509/5921362
    alpha = 0.1
    prev = 0
    shift(x) = (prev = x)
    ewma(prev, cur) = shift(prev * (1 - alpha) + cur * alpha)
    plot data using 1:2 with p,\
         data using 1:(prev < 1 ? shift($2) : ewma(prev, $2)) with l

Since I'm really not that careful during non-diet days (some foods such as home-made chicken pot pies or pizzas etc.) can result in "significant" gains (2-3%) and other items my gf sometimes brings over (potato chips; ice cream; ...). Short answer: that week-to-week swing ranges ~4.5% of overall body weight. I try to limit (within reason) processed synthetic fake foods like margarine, Canola (lifeless, NaOH/heat-treated, hexane-extracted, bleached, deoderized "food") in favor of known-sourced, i.e. non-fake EVOO (look for the oleocanthal-induced burn at the back of the throat: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118180514.ht...), butter, etc. I make my own bread, yogurt -- again for control of what goes into them. But overall, not obsessed with any of that. I like to keep it simple; those preparations take minutes not hours ... :-p

* [How It's Made - Canola Oil](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omjWmLG0EAs)

Detrimental health effects:

* [Canola oil linked to worsened memory and learning ability in Alzheimer's](https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171207141624.h...)

* [Effect of canola oil consumption on memory, synapse and neuropathology in the triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease](https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-17373-3)

Edit: thank you for the plotting comments (I heart these: I love all things tech, programmatic, bio*); I just wanted a quick way to see my overall progress over time. I enter my morning weight (digital scale) daily, and occasionally plot it (Ctrl-Alt-T shortcut to terminal; "gp" bashrc alias to run that plot command, "qq" to quit the terminal). ;-)

How much time before you started to adapt and not eat on Tue/Thu ?

kudos for your fasting and thanks for the comment

You're welcome! Honestly, I adapted almost instantly. When I first started the IF, it was harder the first few times (just your body getting used to it), then I was fine. I do get somewhat peckish, more so later on the Thu diet day, but I have strong will-power (indeed, I've yet to miss a week during the past 2.5+ years, but that's just due to discipline, not regimented: I think it'll be ok to miss some period of time, e.g. due to vacations or illness). Comparing to 500 calorie days to to zero-calorie days, the latter are definitely easier. My added rationale is that if starving weakened cells kills them (whether or not that is true, then so much the better. Overall, I am in excellent health, but I've lived a reasonably healthy lifestyle (exercise: walking mostly later years; nonsmoker; v. v. occasional social drinker; ...). :-) Ancillary benefit: reduced grocery bills! :-P

Thanks, I will try a 2 day IF too. I also had a quite healthy lifestyle, so hopefully the change will be smooth enough.

For many months last year I would do a 5 day water fast the third week of every month. I enjoyed it but my mental performance at work suffered during the end of the fast.

I've been intermittent fasting for the last 2 months. I eat breakfast around 7:30 (protein shake I make at home with some healthy things tossed in), eat an orange or apple around 10AM, a large salad I make at work without any dressing at noonish, and a handful of cashews and almonds at 2:00PM. That's it. Nothing after that. I'll drink some unsweetened herbal tea or a carbonated water around 7pm sometimes when I'm winding down.

It's by far the best diet I've ever been on. It's hard sometimes when work events offer food/drinks after my eating window closes but not that hard. If I have to do work drinks I'll do a vodka soda to minimize my caloric intake.

Now I walk around at the weight that I wrestled at in college, I don't feel hungry often, and I feel great during the day.

I'm trying to get my family to try it for a few weeks to spur a lifestyle / eating change but it's been difficult. Most people are locked into the three meals a day (and likely a few snacks) mindset.

I've always found fasting easier by shifting the eating window to the end of the day rather than the beginning, i.e., doing all the eating after 5PM for a nice big dinner. I've found that the initial fast-breaking in the morning seems to be what triggers hunger soon thereafter around lunch time, whereas not breaking the fast in the morning seems to make it easier to coast through most of the workday without feeling any hunger.

Agreed. It also pre-loads the calorie deficit. If you eat in the morning, you haven't accomplished anything until you fail to eat at night.

In my case, hunger is one of the few things that can cause almost complete insomnia (like, lie awake actually all night, not just fitful wakeups), which means it works much better for me if I'm hungry in the daytime, instead of in the evening.

I'm pretty sure that's why muslims break their fast at night during Ramadan. It's much easier to go through the day hungry than it is through the night.

I find the opposite. It's easy for me to sleep on an empty stomach, but I get awful headaches if I havent eaten during the day.

Presumably, this is a case of "listen to your body." People's metabolisms work differently and what works for one person may not necessarily work for everyone.

Same here. If I decide to eat only between 5:30 PM and 10 PM, that's a resolution I can generally keep for many consecutive weeks, and then seamlessly resume after an occasional midday meal. If I eat my breakfast at 8:30 AM rather than 5:30 PM, then it is a Sisyphean effort for me to fast through the rest of the day. No way could I establish that as a permanent lifestyle.

I figure that if my appetite spikes while I'm sleeping, I'm very unlikely to act on it.

If I eat breakfast at 5:30 PM, I generally want another meal around 10 PM, which is about the same interval as breakfast at 8:30 AM, lunch at 1 PM. But with the latter, I also want another meal at 5:30 PM, then maybe a snack at 10 PM. For the delayed meal schedule, that would probably put increases in appetite around 2:30 AM and 7 AM, which are easy enough to ignore if I'm not awake.

So my stomach timer runs at about 4.5 hours. If I'm awake, it's difficult to ignore when it times out, and it takes about 12 hours for the "eat now" alarm to stop screaming so loudly. So skipping a morning breakfast (with some effort) and midday lunch (easily) is about the only way I can manage to skip any meals without driving myself crazy from attempting to ignore the constant "eat now" appetite signaling. It then takes maybe 20 hours before the hunger signals start, which is not so much an "eat now" imperative as "get really irritable and impatient, be more stupid, and stop enjoying whatever it is you're doing". And that seems like a good a time as any to eat. If I ever push past 24 hours, I'm just not fit for participation in civilized society for a while.

I've found the same, and for the last year I've been almost always skipping breakfast and usually skipping lunch. I've gotten used to it, and I rarely experience the gnawing kind of hunger that doesn't pass as quickly as it arises.

I wonder if I could adapt just as easily to the reverse, like gp.

I don't think it matters when you fast per se, big lunch vs big dinner vs big breakfast. Some people claim a big breakfast and light dinner is better because you aren't digesting at night. If you do eat a bigger dinner it should be eaten earlier in the evening.

For some people, acid reflux can be more of a problem if they lie down to sleep with a full stomach.

I was having this problem until I started taking a daily probiotic which seems to have helped with this.

Yup, same here. I really try to push it as far as I can.

Congratulations on finding something that works for you and sharing it here.

However, it's incredibly common for just about anything to "work" for a three to four months. The key is finding something that is sustainable for a lifetime. It's also noteworthy that you're a former wrestler - a sport where careful control of eating and weight is of paramount importance so you presumably have a lot of experience with modulating nutrition and weight within narrow bounds. Given your experience what works for you may very well not work at all for others.

Sometimes it helps to observe your parents' eating habits. At some point I realized I had very similar eating habits to my dad, and started skipping breakfast as he had been doing for years. Now I do that every day (for years) and feel great.

Conversely, it can be useful to take a look at your parents' habits and realize what terrible habits you've accidentally copied so you can avoid them, especially when around family.

Absolutely. I recognize that my ability to fast is likely much greater than most due to that being the norm for a significant part of my life. However I also believe that many people could train their body/brain to have a similar response if they really tried for a few weeks or a month. It's incredible what we can train out bodies to do if we believe.

IDK. I feel most ppl are locked into a mindset of consuming food as something they want, not something they need. That is, it's mostly about pleasure and satisfaction and too little about nutrition and replacement.

As one of my XFit friends say "you can't outtrain a bad diet."

p.s. I too prefer vodka and soda. I like it. But I also know I'm better off with V&S than a beer. One look at the waistlines of my beer drinking friends and I'm happy with plain and boring V&S.

> If I have to do work drinks...

No one should ever feel forced to imbibe. I'm guessing you know that and don't want to preach or nanny, but wanted to mention it just in case.

On the other hand, I also feel that it doesn't hurt to if you deviate from your own rules sometimes, instead of being all fundamentalist about it.

I try to live by a whole set of self-imposed rules because I think they are beneficial to my health and well-being, but for me these are not dogma's. By default, I don't drink during weekdays for example, but if there's a special occasion once or twice a month, I don't feel guilty deviating and/or making up for it some other day. As long as you feel comfortable with it yourself.

Generally I agree with your sentiments as stated, but it's becoming increasingly clear that any amount of alcohol consumption is carcinogenic due to the acetaldehyde it produces.

Basically drinking is joining smoking, and I don't think it's particularly smart to occasionally smoke a cigarette.

After reading this [1] I hugely cut down on my alcohol consumption. I'd prefer to never drink, but my current social circle doesn't seem to operate as a group without involving alcohol.

"I quickly discovered that way back in 1988, the World Health Organization declared alcohol a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning that it’s been proved to cause cancer. There is no known safe dosage in humans, according to the WHO. Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, but it kills more women from breast cancer than from any other. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that for every drink consumed daily, the risk of breast cancer goes up 7 percent." - [1]

[1] https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/04/did-drinking-gi...

> it's becoming increasingly clear that any amount of alcohol consumption is carcinogenic due to the acetaldehyde it produces

That's also been my baseline wrt alcohol, but just today, this hit my newsfeed...:

"six pints of beer or glasses of wine a week may help protect against dementia" https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/b-blt073018....

I didnt drink for the majority of my life and after a few years of overdoing it I'm back in the mindset of alcohol is poison. Poison you likely wont die from but you are ingesting something into your body that is bad for you. It's helped my mindset shift from a casual drink or three is fine to avoiding it whenever possible.

Relevant Bill Hicks?


Hicks was a funny guy, but died at 32 of pancreatic cancer...

> it doesn't hurt to if you deviate from your own rules sometimes

This is very true and valid, my concern was/is more that peer pressure was resulting in someone feeling like that have to drink. People should be free to do whatever they like with their own self. Including not drinking if they don't want to.

Yes - I do abstain from time to time but if it's a one on one meeting I want to make the other person feel at ease. In group settings I'm likely to get a soda water at the bar without the vodka and no one will be the wiser.

You do what is best for you, I think that is what I mean. I just don't like it when people cajole others into drinking when they normally wouldn't. No one should be made to feel that they aren't normal because they don't want to drink.

Someone mentioned on HN recently (sorry, couldn't find the thread) that multi day fasting damages the lining of the stomach — something to do with acid production.

Anyone have more information about this?

Generally fasting under 2 weeks is considered safe. The stomach does not have a problem being in an acidic environment, it's always in acid. What some people report is heartburn or acid reflux, which can be damaging to the throat lining however it's usually temporary or treatable. Keep in mind people have been fasting safely, whether intentionally or not since before history. Our bodies are capable of handling many feast/famine cycles.

Typical advice I've heard is to not stay hungry for too long. The stomach sends acid to the stomach as a strong message that it's hungry. Not eating means there isn't food protecting the stomach from the acid. That risks getting an ulcer.

Fasting seems to be a common practice, though. I wonder what variations in fasting (how long to go without eating, how often to fast, etc.) maximizes fasting time while keeping the risk of getting an ulcer to a minimum.

EDIT: Changed "increases or decreases risk" as of course fasting is not going to decrease the risk as opposed to not fasting.

Vodka is not a good choice, ethanol (7kcal/g) is second only to fat (9kcal/g) for caloric density.

Alcohol metabolism is pretty complex, though. Your liver can only process so much at once, so you’re not going to extract all the available energy from it if you’re drinking quickly/heavily, because the body will start excreting the excess acetic acid as urine.

That is, a bottle of wine has ~600 Cal in ethanol alone, but to actually get those calories out of it, you would need to drink it slowly, one glass at a time—you won’t actually get 600 Cal out of it if you drink it in one sitting.

Anecdotally: when I used to drink quite heavily a few years ago, I was consuming 500–1000 Cal of ethanol a day, yet still eating a normal ~2000 Cal diet, with ~2 hours a day of moderate physical activity, and losing weight.

The calories per gram you reference is how much energy you get out of substance from literally setting it on fire.

But how much actual energy is available to the human body is very different. And alcohol specifically is very hard for the human body to efficiently turn into eneegy.

In addition alcohol make the mitochondria more inefficient leading to greater energy usage.

Most studies that add alcohol to animals diet find no change in weight.

Nutritional charts show the data I mentioned.

Are you referring to the word calorie used? For food calorie is shortened from kilocalorie.

I'm saying the nutritional charts are misleading.

A calorie is a unit of measure of energy right? But you can release different amounts of energy depending on the chemical reaction you use.

Well the chemical reaction they use to measure energy in macronutrients is not the same chemical reaction that is used by the human body, they burn it instead. Now for most macronutrients this doesn't matter because the amount of calories released by the human body is pretty close to the amount released by burning.

But this isn't true of ethanol which is very efficiently burned, but very inefficiently consumed by the human body. So the 7 Cal/gram is very misleading.

But if the point is to feel the effect of alcohol, V gon' give it to you with much less junk (carbs etc) than anything else

I'm not sure you can say that about a body in a fasting condition described here: the metabolism shifts may be more significant than default caloric counts.

In particular, note the observation about acetic acid being excreted in urine rather than completing energy metabolism in this Wikipedia write-up, and the resulting massive difference in caloric energy output:


I suspect that discard-rather-than-use pathway may be prevalent in a fasting (or other low-sugars) metabolic condition.

Got a better option? I'm all ears. I know I can drink one vodka soda and it's generally 65ish calories. That's not too bad.

What is the best low-cal drink, then? Or are you better off drinking wine? Whiskey?

Sounds like an unsustainably low calorie intake. Have you measured? Or, how "intermittent" is it?

I havnt measured but it doesnt feel unsustainable. I weigh about 172 right now and ultimately I'd like to walk around at 160 pounds. I could be ignorant here but eventually if I continue this diet my body will get to a weight where my caloric intake is enough to maintain my weight. I havnt seen any decrease in performance mentally or physically so I wouldn't call it unsustainable. I went on a 15 mile walk this weekend and felt fine.

I'm trying to get my family to try it for a few weeks to spur a lifestyle / eating change but it's been difficult. Most people are locked into the three meals a day (and likely a few snacks) mindset.

I think flipping it around to skip breakfast is far easier, both in terms of self-control and socially. Food is really important to most cultures, and an incredible amount of social cohesion is built around sharing meals together, primarily dinner, but also lunch. But for most people's lifestyle, if you start skipping breakfast, many people won't even notice.

"Food is really important to most cultures"

I suspect survivor bias is at work here.

Like literal survivor? Not sure I get your point

Not OP, but yeah. Those who ate and valued food when it was available were the ones that lived.

Yeah, I think that was the joke.

I like this idea. It's the next option I'm going to try with them. No eating until lunch at noon and then stop eating at 8pm. That should be do able for most of my family as I don't think they are big breakfast people anyways. It will just cut out that late night snacking.

The issue is that it's easier logistically to go to the gym in the morning than going to the gym at noon.

So, it depends on how social are you and what other activities you schedule around the fasting.

How often do you do this fasting?

This is my regular daily diet.

I'm glad that works for you but if that describes your daily routine you are on a diet, not an intermittent fast.

It's pretty close to an 18/6 IF, depending on whether or not he does the tea in the evening.


Protein shakes may help with mental performance when fasting.

Surely nobody would class that as fasting, since you're basically drinking liquidised food?

Depends on the kind of shake and the amount consumed. But with most products meant for weight loss at recommended intake [e.g. not Soylent], the caloric intake is so low, that the metabolism enters the fasting state.

However, muscle loss and the risk for other deficiencies is reduced.

Fasting is great for weight loss and for lowering your insulin resistance, which is now considered by many the main cause of obesity and of course type 2 diabetes. This has been shown by studies.

Some say that fasting activates "autophagy" which has great health benefits, supposedly being great for preventing the remission of cancer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autophagy — but note that I could not find any concrete study or proof of it, this being anecdotal evidence from some clinics that advise their patients to do fasting instead of chemotherapy.

I practice fasting for 36 hours, 3 times per week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I don't eat or drink anything other than water and coffee. You can go shorter, like one meal per day in some days or longer, e.g. 5 days is easy once you get used to it.

As a tip: eating high fat, low carbs meals before fasting helps. Also if you get dizzy or if you get cramps, you probably have an electrolytes imbalance and you need to stop your fast. If that happens to you, make sure to take salt (sodium) and possibly magnesium supplements. Once I started doing that, the dizziness and the cramps stopped. But document yourself first and consulting a doctor and doing some blood work might be good ideas.

This is a pretty good book on the subject: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Fasting-Intermittent-A...

Ive recently started doing "mini" fasts combined with a keto diet to shed a few pounds. I usually just eat one meal per day at dinner time. While getting started on it was somewhat difficult after about 7 days I was in the groove and feel like this is a diet/lifestyle that I can maintain indefinitely. My hunger has changed from "IM STARVING FEED ME NOW" when I was eating 3 meals a day on no particular diet, to "hmm I guess I could eat". Energy wise, I do feel a lot better, and Ive shed 25 of the 50 lbs I need to get off of me. I was never much of a sweet eater, so I think Im lucky, as my wife who does have a sweet tooth has struggled eating Keto.

There are lots of different carbs with many different metabolic profiles. And there are plenty of people out there living very healthy lives and even reversing heart disease and diabetes on high carb diets provided they are unprocessed whole carbs. Okinawans used to get the vast majority of their calories from sweet potatoes, for example, and were the longest living people in the world.

I am not contradicting you, however:

1. the diet of Okinawans is irrelevant because they are not eating the refined carbohydrates that we do and

2. that fasting is easier if you eat high fat, low carbs meals just before is a fact known for thousands of years, because fasting isn't new ... all major religions that practice water fasting allow meat just before a water fast

- the diet of Okinawans is irrelevant because they are not eating the refined carbohydrates that we do

I think you missed the point the parent was making. No one is forcing you to eat refined carbohydrates. People conflate carbohydrates with "refined carbohydrates" and end up thinking that eating a bowl of brow rice, lentils and veggies will make you diabetic because "carbs".

Depends a lot on the type of rice. A couple of rice varieties have a higher glycemic index than pure glucose. A lot of people where I live are diabetic and don't understand why because they don't eat sweets. But they do eat large amounts of jasimine rice and Thai sticky rice; both have GI > 100.

Even how much you cook the rice affects it's glycemic index - al dente rice has a lower GI than soft rice (same deal with pasta)

OP said brown rice...

they dont keep you full like protein does. Eating high protein moderate fat, low (not zero) carb reduces hunger to nothing for fasting.

Many carbohydrates have a higher satiety index than beef does, for example. Potatoes and oats are both more filling than a steak.


Legumes are high in carbohydrates and protein and are extremely nutritious and filling.

Sorry, but I very much doubt this - potatoes have a very high glycemic index (sometimes higher than that of straight glucose!), so you will have a blood glucose crash shortly after eating them, causing you to feel hungry.

I have reactive hypoglycemia, and potatoes are something I strongly avoid for this reason (they will cause me to hypo as soon as 30 mins after eating them).

Glycemic index and insulin response are two different things. Both can be measured directly in the blood and aren't a matter of opinion or anecdote.

I was responding to your post about satiety, not insulin response?

Eating potatoes causes your blood sugar to rise rapidly. When it falls, it invokes a feeling of hunger. Blood glucose can be measured directly in the blood, and isn't a matter of opinion or anecdote :P

I was suspicious of the results, so I just downloaded the paper that your link refers to - low and behold, it has this at the end:

"This study was supported by a competitive investigator-initiated grant from the US Potato Board"

Well, what a surprise!

The Okinawan diet is also famous for being a calorie restricted diet. There is a famous saying there that roughly translates to "eat until you are 80% full".

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hara_hachi_bun_me

I'm actually surprised that Wikipedia says they consume 1800 calories a day. When I am doing intermittent fasting I am around 1400-1600.

I'm confused. Do you mean you fast for 12 hours on each of Monday, Wednesday and Friday, totalling 36 hours? Or you fast for 36 hours starting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday... which would be all of Monday and half of Tuesday etc?

No, I mean I don't eat anything on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you count the hours, that's 36 hours windows, as it includes sleep.

Isn't it the same as what he said in "Do you mean you fast for 12 hours on each of Monday, Wednesday and Friday, totalling 36 hours"?

No. It's 36 hours straight of not eating. Think of it like this: You eat dinner at 7 PM, and you go to bed at 11 PM Sunday and wake up at 7 AM. that's 12 hours of not eating. You don't eat anything at all on Monday, and again go to be at 11 PM. You've now fasted 29 hours. You sleep until 7 AM, for a total of 36 hours. You then immediately eat breakfast.

If you sleep for 8 hours and don't snack before bed, you would probably "fast" for 12 hours in a day incidentally

> If you sleep for 8 hours and don't snack before bed, you would probably "fast" for 12 hours in a day incidentally

Which is why that next meal is called "break fast".

Snacking before bed is my problem. I miss breakfast, and sometimes lunch; but I sleep better if I'm digesting ... and I sleep badly.

Sounds like they're fasting 36hx3 = 108h, not 12x3 = 36h.

OP said:

> 36 hours, 3 times per week

I believe they mean that they don't eat from, say, 8pm on Sunday night until 8am Tuesday morning (and again covering Wednesday and Friday).

He means eating on Saturday,Sunday,Tuesday,Thursday but fasting the whole day on Monday,Wednesday,Friday...

I see, so as an example, you eat your final meal at 6:00 Sunday night. Nothing Monday. Breakfast at 6:00 on Tuesday. 6:00p Sunday to 6:00a Tuesday is 36 hours.

sounds interesting, but I’m the type of person who defaults to scrawny, and if I don’t eat anything 3 days out of the week I’d likely be underweight and look like a stick. And I wouldn’t be able to keep my weight lifting routine.

You have to be careful though; it's easy to get gallstones if you regularly fast and don't flush you're gallbladder with fatty foods afterwards.

Your username is highly accurate based on this statement. This is just complete non-sense.

It seems like every day somebody has figured out how to beat type 2 diabetes. I just read Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis who advocates a vegan lifestyle (while telling you that carbs are not the enemy) to cure diabetes.

Carbohydrates come in many forms, simple ones like sugar make your blood sugar spike and this is widely considered bad (and what leads to diabetes type 2). Complex ones take very long to digest, some can even only be digested by your microbiome, deep in your gut, those carbohydrates make for a consistent, stable, small flow of sugar to the blood. Which is considered a good thing.

Try eating oats (no sugar, just yogurt and fruit for sweetening, don't get tricked into thinking honey or brown sugar is healthy sugar ;) I personally like strawberry or pomegranate but the latter is pretty expensive even in-season). Or try heavy whole wheat bread (with something like peanut-only peanut butter) and see how much longer it takes before you get hungry again, compare it to breakfast cereals or white bread. I really notice the difference. If you like sweet, try backing a cake from oats and banana (and some flour, pancakes of oat and banana are also very nice by the way), perhaps add some nuts as well. Works great for me (results of delayed hunger in the day are immediate, which is motivating). Oats are cheap, bananas generally as well.

It's worth being aware that milk and milk products can actually have a pretty significant amount of sugar in the form of lactose.

"If you're lactose intolerant and looking for yogurt, go Greek. Greek yogurt, which is thicker because much of the whey, the watery part of milk, has been strained out in processing. This also removes much of the lactose. Greek yogurt supplies less than 6.8 grams of lactose per 6-ounce serving, compared to less than 8.5 grams in whole-fat yogurt or 14 grams in non-fat yogurt. Hard cheeses such as cheddar have even less lactose, between 0 to 2 grams per ounce. Milk, in comparison, has approximately 11 grams in one cup." (from https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-lactose-intolerant-eat-...)

Our metabolism is very complex. But if it's not backed up by studies and science, it doesn't count.

Type 2 diabetes is defined by insulin resistance. The only way to "beat" type 2 diabetes is to lower your insulin resistance and thus to lower your insulin response. At the moment you can only lower your insulin with lifestyle changes that implies fasting + eating a diet that triggers a low insulin response.

The vegan lifestyle is high in carbs. What many people don't understand is that there are only 3 macro-nutrients: proteins, fats and carbs. You cannot do a low carbs diet without at least eggs and diary. And carbs stimulate insulin.

Note that there are clinics that have successfully treated people of diabetes via fasting. Here's one: https://idmprogram.com/

N.B. carbohydrates are not the enemy, but _refined carbohydrates_ are and unfortunately for a type 2 diabetic it's too late to switch to healthy carbs.

Yes, a potato is healthy, however for a diabetic it is basically poison.

Complex carbs (fibers or at least carbohydrates that are slowly digested) do not stimulate insulin production as far as I know. I think it is very important to realize that there are different types of carbohydrates. You need fuel (carbs/sugars), you just don't need them to get rushed into your blood at breakneck speeds requiring massive insulin dosages to bring it back down. You want them supplied slowly and steadily to your blood during the day and night. Which is what happens when your body and your gut microbes slowly degrade complex carbs into smaller constituents, such as sugars.

There are people doing vegan keto. It is theoretically possible.

I imagine it is the most boring diet in the world though. :)

From what I've heard vegetarian Keto isn't too bad.

I'd worry about getting healthy oils on a vegan keto diet, healthy vegetable oils get expensive very fast. Most keto diets don't pay much attention to fat sources, but while lots of canola oil technically meets the macros, it'd not be healthy at all...

Point of order: Many nutritionists would disagree with your definition of a macronutrient. If you're talking about bio-energy sources, you're leaving out Alcohol, which is metabolized differently than Carbs. If you're talking "things your body needs in great volume" water, fiber and antioxidants should be on the list.

Sorry, this is just a pet-peeve about how the Fitness/bodybuilding community talk about "macros".

There are a lot of ways to look at that, but I think what all these "cures" have in common is that they drastically reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and allow the body to essentially rest and reset its insulin response. I don't think it really matters how you do it as long as you do that.

Note that protein also provokes an insulin response. This is why a steak will actually result in more insulin release than a plate of spaghetti.


> This is why a steak will actually result in more insulin release than a plate of spaghetti.

That's bullshit, but yes, proteins do provoke an insulin response, which can be unhealthy with enough proteins. Note however that proteins != fat and fat does not provoke an insulin response.

And yes, for diabetics fat meat is healthier than lean meat.

Also note that fat and proteins keep you satisfied for longer, so you end up eating less meals per day. This is not about calories, but about the insulin response.

If you keep eating, the insulin does not go down.

Can we please keep YC a civil place without the entirely unnecessary profanity which is pervasive everywhere else?

It's fine to disagree; but do so based on the strength of your argument and facts.

This is a direct measurement of blood insulin levels. It's not somebody's opinion. Complex carbs are extremely satiating and plenty of people have reversed type 2 diabetes eating high carb diets.

I seriously question that satiety index.

I can, quite literally, eat 2000+ calories of potatoes and not be full. I make a damned good loaded baked potato, and good mashed potatoes for that matter. Are they talking about a plain boiled potato with nothing on it or something? (even then, boiled red potatoes are good... :) )

Or oranges for that matter. Give me a 2lb bag of satsuma oranges and I'll give you back an empty bag a short time later.

Listing beef as lower than oranges is incredibly weird to me. Apparently the average satsuma is 4oz, realistically compare two of those tiny mandarin oranges to an 8oz steak, the steak will satiate more and for a longer period of time. No study is needed to prove that.

Unless they were comparing by "equivalent calorie consumption" in which case the chart is useless, but sure, 1 mandarin orange is probably better than 1oz of steak. (~64 calories in 1 mandarin orange, ~77 calories in 1oz of steak).

Trying to make an actual meal out of the oranges would be, naturally, quite pointless, where as the steak scales up to a meal quite well.

And this is why a huge % of nutritional studies are useless for day to day living.

Naturally YMMV and I know people who are satiated off of small portion of high carb foods, but people who can eat a small bowl of ice cream and be full are the minority, with my evidence of that assertion being America's waistline (and the average serving size of ice cream).

2000 calories of potatoes is like 15 potatoes. You can really eat that many potatoes in a day?

Not without toppings.

But I can make one hell of a loaded baked potato.

Or cheesy mashed potatoes.

Pretty much no one eats just a regular potato.

Which is where the table falls apart. You can cook up a steak with some salt and pepper, or a good steak with nothing at all on it, and eat it just like that.

A regular boiled potato? Meh.

Satiety index is just a measure of how full you are after eating something. It’s not meant to factor in how much you enjoy eating it, which is of course a very subjective thing.

Myself I’d rather eat 15 potatoes than a steak any day. I like them with a lot of herbs and spices which add a lot of other nutrients.

> This is why a steak will actually result in more insulin release than a plate of spaghetti.

As the husband of a type-1 diabetic I can assure you this is absolutely wrong. Fats and proteins are practically insignificant to carbohydrates, essentially they are inconsequential when calculating insulin injections.

Note that your husband doesn't actually release any insulin. So it's not about calculating appropriate insulin injections, it's about how insulin a normally-functioning body releases in response to eating food.

This is a scientifically measured insulin response. It's not somebody's opinion. Note that this is different from blood sugar levels. You'll find the same numbers on every insulin chart.

Sorry, but this is just demonstrably untrue.

I regularly check my blood sugar levels and protein doesn't affect them at all, whereas eating a bowl of spaghetti will raise it a lot.

I'm fine living in a world where there are many ways to "beat" type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting (I eat one meal a day) has dropped my A1C from 8.9 to 5.5 (probably less, now). I've been doing this for about 15 months so far. My type 2 diabetes is not cured, if I drop off the diet and go back to my old habits my A1C will undoubtedly go right back up. But it's an easy diet to live with, especially since I don't limit myself and can eat whatever I want, though given the choice I'll try to reduce the worst refined carbs.

The high carb / low fat diet isn't one of the ways to beat type 2, though, and it's still the one pushed by many dieticians.

I went vegan for 5 years, my cholesterol kept getting worse in every way.

Now i do keto, and my cholesterol is happy. Diabetes wasn't my direct concern but i find it interesting how eating a ton of eggs every day has improved my balance.

Obviously, it would be speculative given many factors that contribute to cancer like healthy eating, drinking, smoking... but it is interesting that in the top 50 countries with the highest rate of cancer, there are no Muslim countries. Fasting could be a factor that contributes to this.


I suspect that this is influenced by rates of under-diagnosis in third-world countries, rather than a factor of diets itself.[1]

1. http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2010/iaea_forum_20100921/en/

It can't be the only reason. Saudy Arabia and Dubai are not exactly third-world countries.

Here's a world map showing population cancer rate: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/share-of-population-with-... Definitely cancer is positively correlated with wealth, but there is clearly another factor as well.

If you look at % of population over 65+ you will see a rather similar map. In the US that's 15.6% where Saudi Arabia is 3.2%.

1/5th the old people generally means ~1/5th the cancer rates.

PS: This also explains much of the increase in cancer rates globally: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.65UP.TO.ZS

Dubai is an emirate. The country is United Arab Emirates

I highly doubt this hypothesis.

Muslim people do not fast at night time. On average, they tend to eat much more during Ramadan what with the vast array of seasonal sweets.

The true difficulty of fasting during Ramadan is not being allowed to drink water during the day.

As someone who has fasted an entire Ramadan along with Muslim friends, I completely agree that lack of water during the day was the hardest part about the fast for me. Along with lack of caffeine. Bad headaches were routine for me.

Not eating food for 12 hours isn't very hard at all.

Regarding the "true difficulty" I don't think you can generalize like that. For example I suspect it depends on where you live, what hours fasting is, temperature and so on.

My friends here have told me that the main problem is to eat enough during the night because after fasting for 18 hours your body get used to it. I assume similar to my issues eating a bkg breakfast in the morning directly after waking up.

Fair enough. It was an orthogonal comment anyway.

I don't think it's about the total eaten but more so the fact that for several hours having no food / drink kills the cancer. So although they may eat more at night the hours during day is enough to starve / kill the cancerous cells.

« The true difficulty of fasting during Ramadan is not being allowed to drink water during the day. »

What?! To hell with that. That's just dangerous.

Well, "dangerous" is relative. And some do drink water.

Still, I don't care for dietary guidelines mandated by religious bodies.

Perhaps a more useful analysis of this would be to look at cancer rates among Muslim communities and other communities that fast within a diverse country, since the populations would be more comparable in that case (or at least less incomparable, because there are probably still a ton of factors to consider).

Perhaps - but it's mostly rich countries on that list. If you die of malnutrition, preventable disease etc you might not live long enough to die of cancer.

But there are many absurdly wealthy Muslim countries.

But is the whole country absurdly wealthy? A rich ruling class might not be large enough to offset the numbers.

In the cases I can think of the whole country is rich, but they have a large number of slave-workers. Not sure if the slave-workers are counted in their health statistics or just seen as property anyway.

Or the slave-worker are foreigner, from Philipines or India, so are not counted in the national health statistics

All of them are foreigners Half of Dubai is Nepalese.

There's nearly 200000 Filipinos in Qatar

Heard somewhere that at least 40% of cancers in the western world is due to the diet, this figure supposedly being Officially recognized: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6639e1.htm

Our modern diet and lifestyle leads to a massive hormonal imbalance. E.g. many have started to blame insulin resistance for many cancers, which is also the leading cause for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

I suspect that countries with low cancer rates or low rates of type 2 diabetes simply haven't adopted the western diet.

Just curious, what kind of diet is considered "Western"? I would assume you are talking about diets high in sugar and carbs, but I'm sure other Eastern cultures eat plenty of high carbohydrate diets too right?

Two things define the western diet:

1. high in refined carbohydrates

2. snacks between meals

Yes, there are Asian cultures with diets high in carbs that don't suffer from our epidemic. But those diets aren't high in refined carbohydrates or other crap we've been told to eat to lower the fat intake (e.g. margarine).

> snacks between meals

Where is it written that thou shall only eat three meals a day? This is in itself a Western cultural bias.

There is a high correlation between snacking and obesity.

The obesity crisis started in approx 1977. If you look at the the eating patterns from 1950, people ate less meals per day back then, an average of 3.

There's also a scientific explanation for it: when you snack, insulin goes up. By having 6 meals per day, like the average American now does, the insulin never goes down during the day. The body then develops insulin resistance, leptin resistance (satiety hormone) and it's all downhill from there.

I think you are mixing up your correlations. Obese people may be more prone to snacking, but snacking does not make you obese!

In fact, ACTUAL studies show that the number of meals doesn’t affect weight loss, only the amount of calories[0].

How you eat, how many times and how that affects your weight loss is totally up to the individuals preference, and what they feel is easier for them to maintain in their daily life.

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11319656/

Parent did not say snacking causes obesity, only correlated.

And you did not address his main point: that when one snacks, insulin goes up. It's a contributor to obesity, and as I understand it, is not controversial.

Are you seriously showing me a study done on 26 women only?

I think “Western diet” is more than high sugar, high carb.

It’s probably safe to say it is high sugar, high carb, high fat, high protein, high preservatives, high in toxins, highly inflammatory, high in calories... yet low in micro nutritional value (vitamins and minerals). When you have all that, it explains why we focus on sugar and carbs, because when you combine all that with insulin spikes/high blood sugar levels it becomes deadly, and in that environment removing the sugar/carbs (insulin spikes) it is going to result in significant improvements in health and weight.

Those factors also explain high incidents of chronic diseases (heart disease, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes) and obesity.

> high carb, high fat, high protein

Is this an indirect way of saying people are eating high calories? Because most people use these terms in a relative manner. i.e. high carbs compared to fat and protein, or high fat and protein with fewer carbs.

I did directly say high calories [caloric], but maybe that was redundant. But yeah, I think if you take an average meal off any restaurant menu, it’s not only going to be high calories in light of the daily recommended number of calories (and more importantly the number of calories required to maintain an individuals healthy weight based on sex/age/height/BMI), but the breakdown of the Marcos will be high in all categories.

So for counter example you could eat a calorie surplus (like body builders bulking phase or maybe an endurance athlete refueling and preparing for another event) but that doesn’t necessarily mean the macros are all high (above daily recommended or above the amount to maintain body weight).

Geeze - I look in a grocery store and see way more good food that that kind of crap. Is it just that the average American doesn't eat/cook what they find at the grocery?

Studies from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show 61% of American grocery store purchases are highly processed foods and 77% are highly or moderately processed foods. FDA studies show 60% of Foods in grocery stores have sugar added.

Most people just don’t understand/know what is and isn’t crap as you call it. But I think understanding what foods lead to metabolic disorders and chronic diseases, people would look at American grocers as peddlers of poison (of course they have a small percentage of healthy foods too).

Guess: you probably shop more around the outside of the store where you'll typically find the unprepared foods and probably don't shop for groceries at Walmart, maybe not even Safeway. I know it's true for me but not most Americans.

I suspect you might be just a little bit desensitized to what 'good food' is. Grocery stores sell products. They used to sell food.

> Grocery stores sell products. They used to sell food.

Walk only around the outside of the store and you'll be fine. Don't go down any aisle except for spices.

the only good food in the grocery store is

1) produce aisle

2) butcher

3) some dairy

4) a few dried base foods like oats, rice, and maybe beans.

The entire rest of the grocery store is tasty poison.


It's difficult in the US to buy any kind of processed grain that doesn't have added sugar

We eat a lot of meat other cultures eat meat but we really eat a lot.

There are in fact tribes known to eat only meat and that do not suffer from obesity, heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

> E.g. many have started to blame insulin resistance for many cancers, which is also the leading cause for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Curious, is insulin resistance the leading cause of type 2? I thought insulin resistance was the definition of type 2.

Yes, bad phrasing on my part.

I've never heard of the American Health Organization, and I Google doesn't show a result for them. You might want to double-check your source before sharing that info again.

You'll want to be a bit more careful in how you cite that to people. That's the CDC, not the American Health Organization.

Also, it doesn't say that 40% of cancer is due to diet. It says that 40% of cancer diagnoses are types of cancer that are associated with being overweight or obese. This does not mean that 40% of cancers are due to diet for several reasons.

Being overweight or obese is not always due to diet. You could become overweight for other reasons and still suffer many of the negative health consequences.

Correlation is not causation. Just because a cancer is associated with being overweight doesn't necessarily mean that being overweight causes the cancer. Perhaps some cancers cause you to become overweight. Perhaps there are some third factors that cause both. Maybe one of those factors is diet for some cancers but not others.

Having a cancer that is caused by with being overweight or obese doesn't mean that it was a cause or the cause of your particular cancer. Just as there are nonsmokers with lung cancer, there will be a lot of skinny people in that 40%.

Something tells me that it's not about fasting, but the quality of food. I'm originally from Ukraine, where fasting is not popular by any means and the cancer rate is 2.5 times lower than in US. I moved to New York 5 years ago, the first thing I noticed was how fake the food is. Seriously, I was like, why the hell the food in the most popular city in the world is tasteless, is it made of plastic? Anyways. Long story short. My hypothesis is that rich countries have access to a more powerful factories/hardware/etc. to produce a lot more processed food.

I've heard many Muslims actually gain weight during Ramadan.

As a fasting schedule, it is rather self-defeating. Even not drinking water during the day is not such a big problem, if you go about it smartly. On the other hand, complaining about Ramadan seems to be as big a part of the tradition as the eating after dark.

But fasting occurs in other cultures and religions besides Islam, so I don't see the relevance of this.

Catholics "fast" during Lent, but that typically just means two days where they don't eat between meals. For a typical Muslim, what is involved with fasting?

Ramadan is a month of fasting, where no food or water is consumed whilst the sun is up. Children, elderly, pregnant women and the ill are all exempt. Plus there's some interesting rules if you're in an unusual geographical position (in the ISS or North pole, so the sun never goes down).

Dietary wise it's closest to intermittent fasting, as you normally wont eat for 8-14 hours of the day, then have a big dinner. I had a bodybuilder friend who used it as an enforced time to cut weight.

A month long TOTAL fast happens only in Islam, correct me if i'm wrong

A month long total fast (no food or water) would kill you. Islamic fasting during Ramadan is only from sunrise to sunset.

Wait are you telling me that if i don't drink liquids for 3 days i'll die of dehidration? Big if true. /s

I was pointing out Islam is the only TOTAL fasting (food+water) major religion, versus food-only fasting happening elsewhere.

And it is the lack of water that will kill one

Not in the top 50, but curiously in the top 51

And of course, it's a combination of multiple factors (cultural, climate, and people dying by other means before being affected by cancer)

yes, interestingly Turkey being one of the more westernized Muslim countries. Nothin implied, just interesting.

Got damn, why is my country in the top :(

not enough fasting?

The main thing I got out of this thread is that everyone thinks they know the right way to health, that everyone else disagrees with them, and I have no idea how to tell who's actually right.

If you want to know why there's a health problem in some developed countries, the confidence of all the factions in the back and forth in this thread is a shining example. Unless you can afford professional guidance (and know how to tell if they know what they're talking about), you don't have much hope unless you stumble on to something that works for you.

I don't get that impression. Maybe I have selective reading but the following things get little controversy here:

1. Sugar bad

2. Eat less

3. Find good eating-habits that you can maintain indefinitely

Point three is where people will naturally have different outlooks. I don't read that as disagreement as much as diversity.

I think we should also put culture/group back into the equation.

Instead of being bored on a couch watching channels, spend time with people gathering fruits and making your own meals as a fun thing to do. It may first feel dull at first but I think it's a good blend of social, physical and nutritional health.

Points 1 and 2 are certainly controversial for endurance athletes doing intense workouts or races. Those are a small fraction of the population, but the point is there are hardly any universal guidelines.

or those are the exceptions that prove the guideline

I think it's easier for each faction disagree because even professionals disagree about fundamental nutrition and healthy living questions.

I think there's considerable evidence that human physiologies vary enough that different and contradictory regimens can seem to wonderfully for different individuals.

On the current topic, fasting might indeed work great for some but I stay close to underweight regardless of my diet or exercise regime so any serious, multi-day fasting probably wouldn't be healthy for me.

Edit: Also problematic is how the topic jumps from the topic of cancer and fasting, which is very specific, to the healthiness of fasting is problematic (coming before the jump you note, fasting-in-general to "here's a my fasting anecdote and pet-theory").

> If you want to know why there's a health problem in some developed countries, the confidence of all the factions in the back and forth in this thread is a shining example.

I think you might be extrapolating from your experience with your own social class. I can assure you that armchair nutritionistism is not the biggest problem for the majority of the country. Nutrition isn't on most people's minds--even people whose lives are imminently threatened by their nutritional habits.

>> "I think you might be extrapolating from your experience with your own social class."

You don't know anything about my social class. I'm not HN typical. People without much think about health too, and receive plenty of conflicting advice.

Or the huge reliance on personal anecdote and web sites/studies that agree with those anecdotes. It's stunning how quickly the dialog shifts from reasoned arguments about programming to "I'm right and you're wrong" in nutritional articles.

Personally, I find a collection of anecdotal data (ideally from a wide variety of people) is worth much more to me than these studies that just report average results that apply to the average person/animal/cell in their sample.

The average person/animal/cell doesn't exist, and focusing on that has been a huge mistake in my opinion.

How would you approach trying to determine a good approach to healthy eating for most people then? Even breaking it down into 27 different groups requires an average of each particular group.

I'd expand that a bit - how can you find a good approach for anybody based solely off anecdotes?

Finding someone with a similar age, height, weight, race, ancestry, metabolism, activity level, sleep level, gut flora, etc. to take advice from would be nearly impossible.

A dozen "it worked for me" stories without any form of control is effectively useless.

You use general principles. Eg, someone else posted this which I think is good: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hara_hachi_bun_me

Also throughout the thread you see people saying "that's what worked for me, everyone is different". The underlying point is to eat a diet that satisfies your hunger to the point you feel comfortable without consuming more calories than you need for your daily activities.

People with a sweet tooth may need to avoid high fat, high salt stuff. People who enjoy fat more may need to avoid carbs. People who enjoy exercise may just need to exercise a bit more, etc.

The science is just immature and not actionable for most people. Any anecdotal evidence and it's inverse can be backed by some study all of equal quality/lack of quality. The science just hasn't transcended the quality of anecdotes yet.

At least anecdotes represent something vaguely real.

>"How would you approach trying to determine a good approach to healthy eating for most people then?"

I wouldn't. As noted in my response to falcolas' response to you I would assume everyone can have different approaches to the same problem. Breaking it down to subgroups doesn't really help that you are still going to be studying an average person that doesn't exist.


We should let the body tell us what, and how to, eat. My body is allergic to a variety of food groups, so I'm eating only meat. Normally I eat two meals a day; but at times, depending on what my body wants, I may eat just one or three meals during the day.

There is no professional guidance.

The fasts are only a few days long, which is fairly easy to do. It's not clear to me if these results have been shown in humans or just mice. Anyway, interesting result suggesting that occasional fasts might be a good preventative measure. It would be interesting to know if 16 hour fasts, which are common in intermittent fasting, would have the same effect.

Non pay walled: http://sci-hub.tw/http://emboj.embopress.org/content/early/2...


A549 CDDP-resistant cancer cells showed reduced tumor growth and longer survival in response to periodic fasting cycles (24 hours of water only twice a week). In contrast, CDDP-sensitive tumors were not affected by these 24-hour fasting cycles. Because previous results indicated that 2–3 consecutive days of fasting were effective against a wide range of cancers, particularly in combination with chemotherapy (Lee et al, 2012; Bianchi et al, 2015), it would be important to test these longer fasting periods on A549 and other CDDP-resistant cancer

That paper is a mini review of this paper which actually has the data in it: http://emboj.embopress.org/content/37/14/e98597

In there, they did work on A549 cell lines and showed that removing nutrients from the media decreased their growth rate. They also showed that putting these human cell lines into immune deficient mice and doing a couple 24hr fasts per week had a small (p=0.03) effect on the tumor growth rate (Fig 2). But in the in vivo study, it appears they didn't directly compare A549 vs cisplatin resistant A549 - they seemed to have run 2 studies both vs control.

There are literally thousands of papers showing drugs or treatments which can cure lab mice of "cancer" and many more which can kill cell lines in vivo, but only a tiny percentage of those work in patients. There is a reason this is not in a higher profile journal.

Is fasting supposed to work just due to going into a caloric hole, or is there also a time component to it? In other words: does a 6 hour run/hike on an empty stomach where I burn 4000 Calories have the same effect as fasting for 36 hours?

Disclaimer: This is all speculation based on anecdata from the internets. Noone really knows if/why IF helps.

Its not exactly the same. One is caloric restriction, and the other is caloric exhaustion. If your entire body worked as a single unit it might be that simple, but:

1. IF helps cull gut-bacteria which can only survive on simple foods. e.g. Bacteria which are inefficient and would happily produce toxins because it knows with enough of its simple foods it can outlive other populations and its own toxins.

2. IF helps turn off the digestive system. When this happens your stomach will stop "growling", and you will feel energetic even tho you haven't eated food for 16+ hours. Allowing the digestive system to relax, and flush/hopefully clean itself up, and won't happen because you went for a run.

3. Senesent/Cancerous cells may still be starved by exhausting all calories quickly, but it really depends on how those cells die(it might just take time), and how the body allocates resources. You can imagine a tumor sitting on a major blood vessel will continue to eat before any muscles are. The only way to starve it is to not eat.

All that said, exercise is always good. Just be careful. Try to do it in the first half rather than the second half of your fast. Fainting is never good.

Despite your concluding statement, there is something called "bonk training". Basically, you exhaust your glycogen stores as much as possible before beginning your workout.

So when you start running/biking, your body is in a similar state to just after hitting the wall in a marathon or several hours into a long bike race or triathlon without eating. Since you have insufficient glycogen, you just can't do more than 70% your max heart rate. It is reputed to produce advantageous training adaptations when done in addition to normal training.

But if you aren't on a keto diet already, that sounds like a great way to simulate the worst tortures of Hell. You probably won't even be able to push yourself hard enough to faint, but you will wish you had. There's a good reason racers down that glycogen gel stuff during their endurance races now.

Anecdotally, I'd like to add that I run much better fasted than not. Granted I only run for 30 to 60 min, but even up to 36 hours fasting did not make it harder at all. I feel lighter, euphoric and my motivation does not change over the time running.

Though, I speculate that running in the beginning of your fasting window will increase the time of glucose depletion and maaaybe make the fasting more efficient. Though, repairing exercise induced injuries probably won't be efficient.

This is a good question - and it is not exactly the same question as "how long should I fast".

You're trying to put your body in a state where it no longer has the resources to support extraneous energy consumers so a too-short fast will not work if you don't cross that threshold of bodily parsimony. I personally would hope that 16 hour IF-style fasts would be enough (because that's what I typically do), but I bet they're not ...

But my parents question is a bit different: can one speed up the clock on the fast by burning through a lot of bodily resources through physical work. I suspect the answer is yes, to a degree - but I'll bet cancer cells are not in the same category of energy consumers as your muscles are - I'll bet there is a reserve of energy for them that doesn't get touched for a while, even if you do the big hike.

It would be nice if there were some kind of threshold indicator that you could test for to see when your body as in a state of parsimony with regard to cancer cells ...

A nightly fasting window of at least 13h has been shown to reduce recurrence of breast cancer in women.

I am just one of those internet health "scientists", check some keywords of what I am saying for yourself. There is no conclusive data on all nutrition/eating habits. People like me gamble against the supposed average. Sometimes these hypes have been shown to be in fact detrimental (see antioxidant supplementation and cancer risk).

To your question: I doubt it's the same as many speculated mechanisms of fasting benefits are tied to your body's usual maintenance workings which just require some time. I suspect that some mechanisms are tied to a "low glucose signal", but the majority are things which are always present, but get interrupted or are less efficient when digestion is triggered and nutrients flood the blood stream.

Example 1: Glucose and complete (animal/soy isolate) protein trigger steady, increased IGF-1 secretion, which translates to "oh boy this is good, grow everything, store everything, who knows when we get something like this again. Noo, no maintenance! Build!". Higher IGF-1 levels are linked to cancer. Less nutritional "efficient" diets, like plant based, vegan diets are linked to an decreased cancer risk.

Example 2: Autophagy is always done (although increased when fasting), it's not hard to imagine the results to be much more protective when the garbage collection comes out ahead of the trash production from time to time. Mind that one problem with cancerous cells is the cloaking, hiding from the immune system, which might be done by accumulation of extracellular trash through increased cellular metabolism. Cleaning this up, might help the immune cells to target and kill cancer and precancerous cells.

Since eating became always accessible pleasure, I speculate some metabolic expectations of the body to be not met and humans tend to be in constant celebration mode. It's worth noting that cancer is naturally a rare event and absolutely linked to life style changes in humans and toxic byproducts of human civilization for all animals.

I want to add: plant based diets are associated with something like a 10% (or more) decrease in overall cancer risk, which doesn't seem like a lot, BUT the average life time risk to DIE because of cancer is 1:5, so really fucking high.

Is that a realistic example? Very few people including trained athletes would actually be able to expend 4000kcal in 6 hours without some nutrition. After the immediate glycogen stores are depleted in a couple hours your power output drops dramatically if you don't consume anything.

Today I just did a strenuous 4-hour hike on an empty stomach which based on my weight was about 2500-3000 calories. I drank about 100 calories worth of Gatorade, and I don't do any special diets. Just years of long runs/hikes.

Unless you’re keto adapted that is (i.e. being in ketosis for a couple of weeks). When you're keto-adapted your body is used to running on your fat, and you won't experience 'bonking'.

Somewhat perpendicular, but intermittent fasting has been a great recent lifehack for me. I skip breakfast every day, and sometimes skip lunch. Gives me back at least an hour every day. And gorging for dinner is a lot of fun.

Skipping lunches is also a good method of spending less time at work and more time outside enjoying life. I only take 15 minutes noon breaks now.

I eat lunch and it still only takes 15 minutes :D

Either way, that's fast ;)

I skipped breakfast for years, until I realised it was the reason I was always in a bad mood for the entire morning. Skipping breakfast and lunch might work for you, but it's definitely not a solution for everybody.

The crazy thing about diets is how differently everyone responds to different plans.

For me, if I eat anything significant for breakfast (lets say > 400 calories), I am STARVING by the time lunch rolls around at noon. Like, stomach in pain, I need food now, I'll have 2 pounds of wings and a side of macaroni, thanks. But that overindulging doesn't carry over to dinner, which is pretty typical.

So, the synthesis of all of that is eating breakfast significantly increases my caloric intake for the day, despite having no measurable difference on energy, mood, etc.

If there are any rules that have worked for me, it's: Eat less, Eat less often, and Avoid carbs.

I find this true on a high carb breakfast (which most breakfasts are). If I eat 4 eggs for breakfast I easily go until dinner without eating, but will usually eat around 3pm. Then some days skip dinner.

Try having lots of beans at dinner. The resistant starch gives you a "second meal effect" the following morning.

That is not a healthy diet. You should be eating smaller meal more often. If you are going to fast, do it for at least a 24 hour period.

I think it’s worth considering what a healthy diet really is. Is it really healthy or are we just used to thinking it’s healthy?

As an example, a diet high in fat is generally considered by most people to be unhealthy.

You see people doing Keto and you start wondering if it’s really unhealthy.

Eating red meat is considered to be the unhealthy. You see people doing ZeroCarb diets and they (at least) look extremely good/healthy.

Fasting is generally considered unhealthy. You have people doing intermittent fasting, ADF or extended fasting at it works exceptionally well for them.

Vegan? It works really well for some people.

IMHO there isn’t one thing that works for everyone as far as diet goes. There are also the theoretical and the practical aspects of what we eat and when we it it.

I think everyone should try different things and figure out something that works for them, long term. It should not be a “diet”. It should be just something that blends into your lifestyle and gives you results for the investment you’re making.

Though, nearly all of those diets seem integrate more veggies and massively reduce sugar.

Reducing sugar is probably a good idea.

I mean intermittent fasting where you fast for ~16 hours and then eat larger meals during the remaining 8 is pretty popular.

Eating more deals in a day (whether small or large) = more insulin spikes throughout the day = less of a chance to heal your insulin resistance.

For those interested in intermittent fasting, Valter Longo, the co-author of this paper, has done a few good interviews with Rhonda Patrick on her podcast and youtube:



I've quite enjoyed Rhonda's work.

Another good medical/biology/health podcast that recently appeared and that I'd enjoying a lot is Peter Attia's podcast. His interview with Dom D'Agostino is particularly good and includes discussion of the metabolic theory of cancer, but they're all good (he has one with Rhonda Patrick). He covers intermittent fasting among other things (also the health impacts/use of ketones, etc):



You might also want to look at Mark Mattson's work.


Look, stop applying pseudo-science "feels-right" intuition to things that involve complicated cellular mechanisms. It doesn't work that way and you should just listen to what your doctor(s) tell you and trust them + your own due diligence.

Fasting doesn't "starve" cancer cells. Drinking only juice for a week doesn't "cleanse" your body.

Stop making up your own medical diagnoses fueled by internet bullshit. Listen to experts and trust them for a change.

most doctors get little to no nutritional education. It is easy to learn about any one topic and know more than your physician. Especially since most physicians dont regularly read journal articles and probably dont even really understand statistics.

Appeals to authority are a logical fallacy. I do agree that reading something on the internet and following it is a bad practice.

I believe that in this case the term starve might actually be accurate:

"... the inability of ketone bodies metabolization due to various deficiencies in mitochondrial enzymes is the major metabolic changes discovered in malignant cells"


For what it's worth, the non-paywalled blurb seems to be saying something more specific than "fasting kills cancer", it's saying that cancers that develop resistance to cisplatin are more susceptible to fasting than cancers that aren't. So, even if cisplatin doesn't work directly, cisplatin-resistance has a beneficial side-effect that one might be able to exploit.

(This point seems to have been buried under the many posts expressing an opinion or anecdote about fasting in general.)

In Gaelic the words for Wednesday mean "First Fast day", those for Thursday "day between fasts" and for Friday "Fast day". So the 5:2 diet is nothing new.

Not much of a suprise really. It fits the model that cancer cells are weaker, that any stress to the entire body might see them die off first. That is the basis of non-targeted chemo and radiation treatment. You apply the stress and hope it kills the cancer before the patient. So here we starve the patient and see the hungry cancer cells suffer the most. But just dont go so far that the immune system suffers too. That wont end well.

In this case it also relies on the resistant cancer cells having altered metabolic pathways compared to your average cancer. It's not an universally applicable strategy.

Remember, fasting didn't work out so well for Jobs.

He also made himself a fruitarian, so the stress on his body was from a lot more than just fasting.

This same diet landed Ashton Kutcher in the hospital when he tried to go method for Jobs.

Jobs was a fruitarian in the 80s or earlier, back when he named his company "Apple". AFAIK he was neither fasting or being a fruitarian to fight his cancer, but overall he was a finicky eater all his life, a (sometimes lax) vegetarian with bouts that resembled a true eating disorder.

I don't have a source, but I recall reading that friends of his desperately tried to convince him to undergo "real" treatment for his cancer instead of relying on alternative medicine, so apparently he did try other options early on.

Here's a good compilation of his unorthodox eating habits:


"Hm, this guy died and one highly likely reason was his diet. In order to play him correctly, I'm gonna try that diet too."

Ashton Kutcher is not diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Didn't he only start after the diagnosis? Precancerous cells stand a better chance of being starved with fasting than cancerous cells. By the time the cell is cancerous it has built multiple metabolic pathways to power itself, making it more difficult to kill.

I think his particular way of fasting could have been a factor for the apparition of his cancer.

It seems that the best parallel we can do is cancer == DNA "software" bugs.

Software debugging is a complex art and what works in one case definitely doesn't work in all cases.

Perhaps it should be tried with regular treatments?


As far as I understand it, then Jobs was doing juice fasts which is probably the worst thing one can do in the presence of cancer.

Why is it the worst thing you can do? It's funny - it's so easy to believe in conspiracy theories but then Shaolin monks and Steve Jobs die of cancer, and suddenly all of that goes out of the window. (Unless you make up another theory, but that's getting too convoluted)

As a guess, I'd say it's because the glucose can be used by the cancer directly as an energy source, and that the fructose can either be metabolized in the tumor directly as an adaptation, or it ties up resources elsewhere in the body that could have been better used to fight the cancer.

The lack of protein or fat in the juice means that it cannot help the rest of the body rebuild itself as the tumor is sucking up all available resources. Shipments of essential fats or amino acids are being hijacked by piratical cancer cells, and never reach their intended destinations. If there were an oversupply, some might still get through.

Because of the high sugar content?

Each cancer is different and might respond to different treatments. I was speaking very generally. This paticular cancer reacts because of its unique properties, but the principal may work on others too.

> Not much of a suprise really

Not to be super contrarian, but AFAIU nutritional treatment of cancer actually is a very big surprise for traditional cancer treatment/oncologists.

E.g. a podcast I listened to with Dominic D’Agostino mentioned walking through a cancer ward and most/all patients were being fed Ensure, a sugary "protein" drink (ingredient list starts with water, maltodextrin, sugar), to keep them from losing weight.

Which is a valid traditional concern, but ends up supporting the cancer's glucose-based metabolism (disclaimer IANAE) vs. triggering what this article cites (for the subset of cancers that are susceptible to it).

"Not much of a suprise really. It fits the model that cancer cells are weaker, that any stress to the entire body might see them die off first"

I don't think that is the model ...

I think the idea is that the cancer cells are a luxury that your body supports because external queues indicate that it's living in the land of plenty. Why not support the energy needs of these extraneous cells ? There's plenty to go around ...

The fasting forces your body to act in a miserly fashion and like someone forced onto a budget, the extraneous luxuries are the first thing to go.

It's your body that starves the cancer cells.

It's isn't that they're weaker, they are more greedy and less eusocial. They abandon the mechanisms that keep ordinary cells as "good citizens" of the body and overconsume the available resources.

In doing so, they make themselves more sensitive to the resource supply. The "good citizen" cells will put themselves into a low-energy resting state or commit apoptosis to return resources for the common good when the energy supply gets low, as the cancer cells continue selfish business as usual, perhaps by growing more blood vessels into their tumor.

While fasting, many of your "good citizen" cells will stop dividing. Chemotherapy drugs or radiation treatments have greater impact on rapidly-dividing cells, like those in hair follicles, so the damage will then be more focused than ever on cancer cells, who disobey any signals to slow down, and keep dividing anyway. If you could send out a signal that says, "all cells should stay in their homes and shelter-in-place for the next 72 hours" then the cancer cells will ignore it and be the only ones out partying in the streets, and your attack helicopter drugs can be flying around, shooting at anything that moves. Then the immune cell cops can come out, and finish off the stragglers if they can.

It isn't the weakness of individual cells, it's the weakness of the intercell relationships in a tumor. "Good citizen" cells will commit apoptosis on demand in order to spare cells that are more important to the whole body. Cancerous cells have generally already ignored their suicide orders, and bluffed past or warded off the macrophages, in order to continue existing. That greed can be used against the cancer. They indiscriminately consume resources, so ordering the villagers to stop drinking water until further notice, and then poisoning the well, will kill or weaken anyone that disobeys. Even just poisoning the well without the prior protective order will tend to disproportionately kill more cancer cells, just because they drink as much as they can while the other cells are taking just what they need.

But when you can issue that protective order, by means of fasting, you get higher survival rates for obedient cells. If, for some reason, the cancer cells are resistant to the treatment, they will still hedonistically party themselves to death once the food is gone, as all the normal cells have either gone into brumation or killed themselves to lessen the burden.

this isn't how chemotherapy works. traditional chemo targets rapidly dividing cells in the body: cancer, hair/skin, intestinal lining cells. That's why you get those side-effects.

Targets all deviding cells, with the faster-deviding cancer cells more affected.


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