Brian (1:10): Thanks so much, Allan.
Allan (1:12): I’ve got your Simple Intermittent Fasting Journal here. It’s a 21-day program that you run through folks with the journal opportunity to help them move from not really knowing what intermittent fasting is, to actually implementing it in their lives. I’m a big fan of simple things, and this really fits it because it just gives them the basic information that someone needs without overwhelming them, and then gives them the basic guidance. I really like how each day you left a little tip in there to help people along to learn more about this as they go.
Brian (1:47): Thank you. That was the whole idea behind coming out with that. I was looking to doing fasting myself, and there are books and information you can find online, but I really didn’t find a guide, something that could sort of take you step by step to get into it. So, that was my main reason for creating a journal was to, like you said, keep it simple. I think fasting can be intimidating. People need a guide for a lot of things, but fasting I thought would be a perfect way to help people. I picked 21 days. It can be different for everybody, but I thought three weeks was sort of a good time table to get you into it and see how you like the experience.
Allan (2:32): I had a job and it had me traveling to Malaysia, and Malaysia is a Muslim state. So when Ramadan comes along, they fast basically from sunrise to sunset. So they do intermittent fasting as a function of their religion. When I first realized they were doing it and watching them, realizing it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for them, particularly for the first couple of days. And then they sort of got more and more comfortable with it. In my story I basically started eating Paleo, and you sit down with a plate of real food – so I’ve got either a steak or a fish or whatnot there, and I’ve got some vegetables. If I’m going to leave something on my plate, it always tended to be the vegetables. I was going to eat that steak and I was going to eat that fish, because that was where I saw the value of the meal at that point in my life. And so I ended up falling into ketosis, because I was eating a lot more meats and fish and eggs, and I wasn’t eating a lot of vegetables. I ended up in ketosis; I didn’t know exactly what it was when it first started happening, I started doing research and understanding it. But another kind of side effect of getting into ketosis was that I was seldom hungry.
So I ended up getting into intermittent fasting just on the function of saying, “If I’m not really hungry, then my body must be doing okay with my body fat.” And I had plenty of body fat to feed my energy for a long, long time – Energizer Bunny kind of power. So I ended up doing intermittent fasting and I still do it today. It was interesting when I started talking to you because you’re like, “You do it like two days and then you don’t do it for another month or so, right?” No, no. Every day I wake up, I don’t think about breakfast. I cook breakfast for my wife, but I don’t feel like I need to eat then. So I go and I just don’t eat, and I’ll wait. And usually about sometime between 2:00 and 4:00, I’ll start to feel like maybe I could eat something. And that’s when I open up my window and start eating. And because I’m “early to bed, early to rise” kind of person, I won’t eat after 7:30. So my eating window is really, really restricted to basically 2:00 to 8:00, for the most part. And sometimes just 4:00 to 8:00. I do it because it just feels natural and I like it. I feel good when I’m fasting. But why would someone fast? What are some of the reasons why people choose to use fasting as a protocol?
Brian (5:16): There are a lot of reasons, but I think I would say the number one reason people come to me and I get them into fasting or they’re looking to get into fasting is pretty much to lose weight, lose body fat. But another reason that comes along with that is increased energy. And I don’t know, Allan, how you feel, but for me, yesterday I fasted almost pretty much the whole day, probably about 22 hours. And I always feel my most energy towards the end of the day, just because obviously we all know when we have a big lunch, after that we tend to crash a little bit, especially if it’s something unhealthy like refined carbs or some pizza, or whatever it is. We have those blood sugar swings and those insulin swings and we tend to get tired afterwards. But when you’re in a fasting state, the blood doesn’t have to rush to your digestive organs, it can go other places and you just feel that adrenaline minute and that energy throughout the day. I would say the big things would be the increase in energy, they want to lose body fat. And then there are other reasons – the rested digestive organs, the clear thinking. And there’ve been studies regarding growth hormone increase as well.
Allan (6:35): For me a big part of it has become the freedom aspect. I have a property near here. I’m now trying to sell it because I can’t deal with it anymore, but that’s a whole another story. It’s about seven acres, and it gets kind of soupy back there when it’s wet. And I was back there doing some work. I drove my little tractor up on my trailer and was pulling it out and my truck got stuck. So I had planned to go down there and do some work for about three or four hours in the morning before it got hot. And I did that work, fasted and then I was getting ready to leave and come home; it was around noon time. And I got stuck. So I’m calling AAA, asking them to pull me out of my own yard. The truck shows up an hour later. He hooks himself up and then his truck breaks down. So he has to call for a part, they deliver the part, he puts the part on his own truck, and then he’s got his truck working and he pulls me out.
So I’m driving home and it’s about 6:00 in the evening, and I’m realizing at this point I’ve gone probably 23 hours without eating. And I wasn’t famished, I wasn’t freaking out. There were no blood sugar issues. My body had acclimated to using fat as a fuel, so I was fine to be out there. Now I did spend the afternoon just lazy fishing, because that’s why I bought the property – to go do some fishing there. But I had done that hard work in the morning and there was never a lack of energy, a lack of clarity or a freak-out that I had to have food because I was starving. I think that’s a big part of it. You have a lot of tips in here as far as what you should eat during your window, and I want to talk about that, but I think what I have found is that when you’re looking to do this, you really do have to start focusing on the quality of your food, because you’ve still got to get that nutrition in there and you don’t want it to necessarily be refined carbs, because as soon as you finish your eating window and your body has burned through that rocket fuel of refined carbs and sugar, your body’s going to want you to refeed. So it’s going to be really, really hard if you’re doing the refined foods. So I’m sitting down now; I’ve gone through my fast and I’m coming off my fast. What are the types of foods that I need to get into my body during my feeding window to sustain intermittent fasting?
Brian (9:02): Yeah, you hit on a good point. Obviously, I think the whole fasting process becomes easier when you eat better during your eating window. I would say to someone that’s looking to get into fasting is maybe clean up your eating habits first, and then once you clean up your eating habits, then you can use guides per se, like my journal or any other guide or a coach to help guide you into fasting. I know in my guide, we talk about pushing back breakfast an hour every day, whatever it is. As far as basic guidelines for eating, I would just say eat real whole foods, foods that expire actually. So that’d be avoiding most packaged goods, and then avoiding things like refined carbs, sugars, grains, starches. Obviously you talk about the keto worlds – eating natural fats helps keep you full longer, so that will help make the fast easier, and it doesn’t raise insulin as well. So natural fats, avocado. I probably have an avocado every day in my salad that I make. Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, natural butter. And then obviously avoid artificial fats, like things that come from fried foods and things like that. I would say that would be a good place to start. You don’t have to eat perfect, but it will help.
Allan (10:27): I’m actually working on a book and I was writing a section for the book this last week. I was sitting there and I just had to stop myself because hearing I’m talking about high quality whole food, I’m thinking to myself, “Why do I even have to write the word ‘whole food’?” There are the things that come in boxes and bags that are not food, and there are things that basically you get from your butcher or from the produce section that are basically your food. It was just kind of sad to me that we do have to explain that a whole food is something that expires, it’s something that you recognize as an animal or a plant at some level, and it’s not processed, it doesn’t come from a factory. I’ll even go as far as to say when you start talking about where it’s coming from, that matters as well. If it’s not grown in a good, conducive soil, it’s not getting the minerals that you need. If it’s not a well-cared-for animal, if it’s a sick animal… Out in the wild, if there’s a sick animal, the other animals won’t eat it; they let it lay there. We don’t seem to have that instinct, and it’s kind of bad.
So, focus on the quality of your food. Like you said, you don’t have to put it all in there overnight, but this is a great opportunity for you to really take some time to think about your food, because that’s another cool thing about the eating window and the freedom that you get is, you’re not spending all day preparing or sitting down for meals. I get that extra half an hour or so in the morning that I would be eating my breakfast to do something else, to learn something else, to read something, to write something, to do the things that are adding value in my life. I love eating, don’t get me wrong. I take full advantage of my eating window with some really good foods. And I think that’s the whole point – if you’re getting the nutrition your body needs, intermittent fasting can be easier. It is easier and it’s not really so much the way of eating. Keto works well for me, but you may have reasons that you want to be a vegan, and you can easily do intermittent fasting with vegan. You just have to make sure, again, that you’re getting the nutrition that you need, you’re getting the volume of calories, because when we’re talking intermittent fasting we’re not talking eating less. I think a lot of people think that’s what it’s all about. It’s not actually that.
Brian (12:55): I agree with you. I will say this – you will find – at least this is what I find with a lot of my clients, is that when you start doing it and you have a smaller window to eat, you realize your body doesn’t really need as much as maybe you thought it needed when you were just eating normal and throughout the day and grazing six, seven meals a day. I know we might talk about tips, but if you’re starting to do this, do this on days where you’re busy – maybe at work, or you have something that is just going to take up time and your mind’s going to be busy. Yesterday I was busy, ended up just happening. I just fasted all day and at the end of the day I was like, “I’m just going to have dinner”, but I got full quick. I wasn’t going to overstuff, which is another tip. When you do feed in that feeding window, don’t overdo it. You might think, “I need to stuff three meals into this eating window.” Well, you’ll be surprised your body will not want that.
Allan (13:58): It’s a little bit of both, because I think if you’re getting adequate nutrition, your body’s going to do the things it’s supposed to do. Your leptin and ghrelin are going to play their roles to tell you, “Okay, that’s enough. Let’s stop this.” And you’re going to eat just the right amount of food. I think if people are not getting the nutrition, that’s where they’re going to start to run into trouble. And obviously, again, a lot of people are doing this for weight loss, for fat loss specifically. So you have to realize that a portion of the calories that your body is burning is coming from that fat. I’ve read somewhere – I can’t validate this – but your body can basically use about 700 calories of body fat in any given day for energy. So, if you’re getting at least 1,200 in that meal, you’re probably getting enough calories at that point to sustain whatever you’re doing. Unless you’re a heavy duty athlete or your work is very intense, a good 1,900 calories on a given day is probably enough to keep you where you need to be. So, let’s take a moment and go through some of those tips, because these were really good.
Brian (15:06): So like I said, obviously staying busy really helps. So if you know you have a busy day at work or a busy morning and you’re like, “This is a good morning where I’m just going to skip breakfast” – maybe just have some black coffee, obviously no sweeteners or anything in that coffee, or have some tea. So just staying busy, keeping your mind active, and then drinking plenty of water too. I always have water on me throughout the day, whether I’m fasting or in my eating stage. And another one too that I think doesn’t get talked about a lot is, when you’re starting to do this, don’t tell someone that might not be supportive of it, because I think there are people who initially think you’re starving yourself and they might even be worried about you, because we’re so programmed by mainstream media, and I say this all the time – no one makes money when you fast, right?
Allan (15:58): But the other side of it is, they are actually coming from a very real paradigm. If you’re eating crap food, if you’re eating carbs, if you’re eating sugars, if you’re drinking regular sodas, or even diet sodas for that matter – if that’s your food, if that’s what you are eating today, you can’t go more than four hours without eating, or your blood sugar is going to plummet and your body’s going to scream, “Feed me!” So really narrowing that down and saying other people won’t necessarily understand what you’re doing. You’re following a protocol – get into it, understand it, and then it’ll be a little easier to talk about when they realize that you’ve dropped more than five pounds during these 21 days. At least that’s what I would expect for most people that get into it, they’re going to lose something like that, or can expect to lose something like that if they have it to lose. I think you’re right there. They’re not coming from a bad place. They’re not trying to sabotage you for bad reasons. They know they can’t go more than four hours without eating because that bagel they had for breakfast has them screaming for more food. That’s why they’ve come up with the term “second breakfast”, and most fast food places serve breakfast all day long because they want to keep feeding you those carbs and keeping you coming back for more.
Brian (17:22): Right. Once you get into the fasting protocol and it’s feeling more natural, because like anything else, it gets easier and easier the more you do it – then maybe you can tell some people or tell people who maybe would have been against it at first and they’ll be like, “Wow, you’re getting great results. You’re feeling great. I’ll support you.” And things like that. People know now that I do intermittent fasting, but when I first started doing it, I don’t think many people knew. I just sort of did it. Those are the main tips. I would say one more tip would be, drink a warm liquid. It could be a tea or black coffee. And I talk about this a little bit. People go, “What if I get hunger pains?” And you will get that. You might even get headaches. I always say for headaches that can be avoided or can be helped, to have some water and put some salt in it. I know it doesn’t sound the most appetizing, but…
Allan (18:24): But we’re not talking lots of salt. A pinch or two.
Brian (18:29): Pinch of salt, exactly. Some Pink Himalayan salt.
Allan (18:33): It’s not like drinking sea water.
Brian (18:38): No. A little bit of salt, you can taste it, but it’s doable. So, drinking the coffee or the tea. And I’ll just say this – I recently got an email from a client saying, “I like to put cream in my coffee or I won’t drink it.” I will say, if you can do the fasting protocol and if you have to have a little bit of cream in your coffee, then go ahead.
Allan (19:05): The one thing I will say on this, and I don’t mean anything against Dave Asprey at all – I appreciate that he has developed a protocol and a product he calls Bulletproof Coffee. He sells coffee and he sells the MCT oil, and he doesn’t sell the butter. But if he could, he probably would. He just found Kerrygold works for him, so he didn’t have to make his own butter. But when you do that coffee, the way they protocol it, the way they put it forward, that can be upwards of 700 calories. To me that’s not fasting anymore. You’re feeding your body and you’re choosing to feed it fat, which is great, but your body’s going to use that fat for energy. It’s not going to use the body fat that we’re trying to get our body to be more accustomed to using. So in my mind it’s like, if you can avoid the creams, if you can avoid the butters and take your coffee to black… And this is the same thing as I think what you have in the book, which is great for a protocol, is you walk yourself into it. So maybe it was two ounces of cream and you can cut that down to one and three quarters, and then one and a half. And over the course of these three weeks going through your program, maybe they can get to a point where they’re not having to put cream in their coffee at all.
Brian (20:21): Yeah. It’s sort of that “one step at a time” approach. That’s what I did when I started fasting – just pushing back breakfast an hour a day. Some people might be like, “Oh, screw that. I’m just going to go right to lunch.” That might be your protocol, but my protocol was I took it one step at a time. Same thing with little things like that with cream in your coffee – if you want to slowly start taking that out, that would be obviously the best, perhaps the easiest way to do it.
Allan (20:52): Yeah. As we look at this, the cool thing about your Simple Intermittent Fasting Journal here is that you have a space for each of the 21 days for them to walk through the process. And you’re giving them guidance each time, you’re giving them a tip each day. I think for the folks that want a tool that’s going to walk them through this and get them to a point where they understand intermittent fasting, they understand their body’s response to it, and the 21 days gives them plenty of time to understand how it’s going to affect them. Some people will take this and they’ll just keep going. Other people will say, “This will be my period of detox”, for lack of a better word, “Where I just use this protocol from time to time.” Are you using it all the time or is this something you implement just from time to time?
Brian (21:46): For my own good or for a client?
Allan (21:48): For you in general.
Brian (21:50): For me I don’t use it anymore. I did test it on myself when I was first creating the journal, and so I did use it early on, but now I’m to the point where it’s just become… And that’s what I say on the cover – it’s become a lifestyle for me. I don’t use the journal anymore.
Allan (22:12): I didn’t mean so much the journal. It’s just that you do intermittent fasting and it’s just a lifestyle. With me I have gotten to the point where I don’t eat what would be a standard breakfast in the morning and I’m typically not eating until somewhere between 2:00 to 4:00. And a lot of times that’s still breakfast for me, and sometimes it’s still breakfast foods. It just depends on my mood and what I want to eat. I have found that once you kind of get into that process of not being dependent on eating a meal every three hours, it almost becomes a natural, “Let your day decide when you’re going to eat, when you’re hungry”, and it’s not so much, “I have a fixed time that I have to eat each meal.” You can have a lot more flexibility with this.
Brian (22:58): Yeah, I would agree. I would think that’s the biggest benefit. For me at least one of the biggest benefits is you’re in control of your food. A lot of times with people, food controls them, and a lot of that is almost just in your mind because we’re programmed to eat at certain times. But once you get into this protocol, you realize, like you said – if something happens, like you got stuck in your own yard – you were fine. You weren’t like, “Oh my God, I need to run to Starbucks or get something.” It gives you that flexibility, and I think you’re just in control. I think that’s the biggest thing – you have more time to do things that maybe you want to do, like you said, in the morning. So, it really gives you that flexibility.
Allan (23:41): And I also want to emphasize that there is an energy aspect to this. When your body starts learning how to use your own body fat for energy, you have an abundance of energy. And a question I get a lot from clients is, “I’m going to start this intermittent fasting, I’m going to start this protocol. So I should stop exercising for a few days, right?” And my short answer is, “Why?” It’ll be hard the first few days of this protocol, the first few days of keto. For me, when I tried pescatarian, the first three days were hard. Once you kind of get through that dip, things get easier. But to me, unless you’re really having some blood sugar issues or whatnot, you can continue to train.
And that’s the only other thing I would leave off with this conversation – before you start any kind of protocol like this, particularly if you’re diabetic or pregnant or on any medication at all – have the conversation with your doctor because this is not a protocol for everybody. It does have a special use, and you include a lot of that information in the book here. So Brian, I really appreciate you coming on and talking to us about intermittent fasting and your guide Simple Intermittent Fasting Journal. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about what you’re doing and learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Brian (24:58): They can go to my website, which is my name, so BrianGryn.com. They can reach out to me, order the journals on there and ask any questions.
Allan (25:12): This is going to be episode 334, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/334, and I’ll be sure to have a link to Brian’s website there. Brian, thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast.
Brian (25:26): Thanks, Allan. Really enjoyed it.
Allan (25:32): I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation with Brian. If you’re interested in managing your body fat percentage, intermittent fasting can be a great strategy for you, and I encourage you to check out his journal if you want to try that out.