Fasting is by no means a new phenomenon. For millennia, people in various cultures have curbed their food intake for religious or spiritual reasons. Fasting means denying your body its physical need for food. People believe this moves their focus away from the body and towards the true self. Newer health and wellness trends, while not this austere, still proclaim the benefits of fasting for the body and mind. One of the biggest of these movements is intermittent fasting. This is considered to be great for weight loss, discipline, energy and fitness. But could you use CBD and intermittent fasting together to combine their benefits?
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is considered more a lifestyle or an eating pattern than a diet plan. It involves cycling in and out of periods of eating and not eating. It does not, however, specify what foods you should eat - just when you should eat them. The rationale behind intermittent fasting dates back to primitive times when hunter-gatherers often went long periods without food while hunting and foraging. Consequently, the ability to go without food (when needed) for long periods of time is in your DNA. In fact, in the history of human evolution, fasting from time to time could be more natural than always eating at short intervals. Prominent biohacker Rhonda Patrick says, “Humans are diurnal creatures. We have metabolic enzymes that respond to light exposure and food intake, but your body doesn’t produce these at night.”
There are a few different types of intermittent fasting:
This entails skipping breakfast and making sure one’s eating period lasts only 8 hours, for example
from noon to 8 pm. The other sixteen hours are spent fasting.
This is a slight variation on the 16/8 method. Rather than eating for eight hours, you eat
for six. Then, you fast for eighteen. For example, you eat from noon to 6 pm and fast for the rest of the time.
Eat-stop-eat involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week.
In the 5/2 method, one would eat normally for 5 days a week, but pick 2 non-consecutive days on which they consume only 500-600 calories.
The benefits of intermittent fasting
The biggest plus when it comes to intermittent fasting, compared to most other fad diets, is its safety! Although it isn’t recommended for people that are underweight, diabetic, pregnant or are on certain medications, those that are more or less healthy will not be adversely affected by not eating for certain periods of time. Also, you can do it while on the keto, paleo, vegan, or any other type of lifestyle diet. Of course, you should always seek the advice of a doctor or other medical professional before changing your diet, particularly if you have any medical concerns or you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Here are some of the several other benefits of intermittent fasting:
Intermittent fasting helps with weight loss. For starters, intermittent fasting automatically leads to a reduction in calories, unless one overeats drastically in their eating periods. It increases insulin sensitivity and levels of norepinephrine, both of which can lead to heightened metabolism.1 As compared to most studies on diets, intermittent fasting has produced fairly significant clinical results.2
Fasting can drastically boost levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which in turn boosts fat loss and muscle gain.3 4 Fasting also promotes insulin sensitivity and lower insulin levels.5 Lower insulin means body fat is more accessible to be used as energy instead of being stored away. It also leads to a reduction in blood sugar. These combined benefits are why intermittent fasting is being studied for any possible effects on type 2 diabetes.6
Cells & Genes
When fasting, cells initiate repair processes. Iconic biohacker Dave Asprey says, “Intermittent fasting can promote autophagy in your neurons – that’s when they get rid of damaged cells, toxins, and waste. Autophagy is partially responsible for the boost in mental clarity you may experience during intermittent fasting.” 7 Fasting can also cause some positive changes in sirtuins, a class of genes that regulates lifespan.8 Researchers hope to conduct further studies to see if fasting can extend lifespan since similar results have been found in studies on rats - fasting rats were found to live about 35% longer!
By making one’s body more sensitive to insulin, promoting autophagy in cells, and by forcing the body to use its fat reserves for energy, an intermittent fasting schedule can reduce inflammation. Insulin sensitivity means lower blood sugar, and high blood sugar is a major cause of inflammation. Autophagy, by ‘cleansing’ old cells, reduces inflammation too. The breaking down of fats for energy leads to the release of ketones (where the keto diet gets its name). One of these ketones has been shown to prevent certain flare-up responses.9
The intersection of CBD and intermittent fasting
CBD has been incorporated into several diets for its benefits, including the Paleo and Keto diet. CBD and intermittent fasting may share some benefits too. Since the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in regulating several other systems, including the endocrine system, taking CBD can support the hormone-regulating processes of intermittent fasting.
One 2016 study also found that CBD might have some effect on turning white fat to brown fat, a process called ‘fat browning’ that supposedly promotes a healthier metabolism.10 The ECS also plays a role in regulating insulin, and the added boost from CBD might support this.
However, one of the main things CBD and intermittent fasting have in common are their purported calming effects.11 Used in conjunction, they could provide significant relief in some conditions which are extremely common. Both intermittent fasting and CBD may also have some neuroprotective properties, which means they could provide some support to the creation of new brain cells and the protection of old ones.12 13
It should also be noted that developing a CBD tolerance is very unlikely.
CBD and Appetite
CBD oil may actually make it easier to stick to your fasting schedule. If you are used to eating every few hours, this can help! CBD blocks a receptor in the brain so that the neurotransmitter ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, is unable to act.14 Studies in animals have also suggested that CBD could increase levels of the neurotransmitter leptin in the brain, which makes you feel full or satiated.15 Taking CBD at the end of one’s eating period could ease those cravings for a stress-free fast.
Who could use CBD and intermittent fasting?
There are certain groups that swear by the benefits of both CBD and intermittent fasting, the most prominent of which would be athletes and biohackers.
CBD and intermittent fasting for athletes
More and more athletes are turning to CBD for its calming properties. Especially for endurance athletes, or ones that practice sports involving a high amount of bodily stress (MMA, rugby, jiu-jitsu, etc), lowered inflammation can be a boon. Athletes who want a more natural approach to muscle recovery often use CBD instead of over-the-counter NSAID drugs. It may even help with stress for those playing competitive sports. CBD may boost energy levels, promote healthy sleep patterns, and balance the gut. All of these things help athletes perform at their best16 17. When it comes to intermittent fasting, the benefits it provides to athletes can be attributed to the boost in human growth hormone for increased muscle, increased energy and faster weight loss. Additionally, faster cellular repair and reduced inflammation both work to reduce recovery time.
CBD and intermittent fasting for biohackers
Biohacking refers to the fairly recent movement of do-it-yourself biology, wherein people employ novel means (typically grounded in science and biology) to make their bodies and brains function at their best potential. Biohackers often include both intermittent fasting and CBD in their regimens. Their neurogenerative, soothing and immune-boosting properties make them a popular combo.
The benefits of CBD oil and intermittent fasting could be talked about all day, but both are to be practiced with caution. Intermittent fasting relies on the premise that one doesn’t stuff themselves when they do eat, but instead maintain a normal or at least near-normal caloric intake. With CBD, it’s best to be cautious about the brand you choose, and make sure yours is THC free - THC can cause increases in appetite that would make your fast a lot harder than it needs to be! Hempure CBD also uses MCT Oil, which has been found to make you feel fuller for longer. If you’re thinking about starting a new diet regimen for all-around wellness, try CBD and intermittent fasting and let us know what you think!
- (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0001797 ).