Look healthy and hot, increase cognitive performance and feel awesome...
In last week's Synchro Life Design, I tackled the complicated subject of the choices for fuel sources for the human body. Essentially, the metabolism has the capacity to run on either carbohydrates or fats - but it is somewhat of a choice. Carb-burning pathways and fat-burning pathways generally run in opposition to each other, with fat-burning pathways taking over when carb-burning pathways are lacking "fuel". Depending on what you have eaten recently, one of the two pathways will handle the majority of your body's energy-production needs. For a number of reasons (all in the article!), eating to favor fat-burning pathways is the option that produces the best results in terms of body composition, cognitive performance and sustained vibrant energy.
Of course, getting great results from a high-fat diet doesn't simply mean eating high-fat foods indiscriminately. The types of fats you eat are critical to any high-fat diet strategy (also covered in last week's article). Fats that are digested and used easily by the metabolism are an important part of any such diet. Medium- and short-chain fats (such as those in coconut oil and butter, for example) fuel the body and brain quite well and promote fat burning metabolism. These short- and medium-chain fatty acids should account for a large portion of fat-calorie intake. Longer-chain fatty acid (such as those in most vegetable oils) take longer to digest and turn into energy and are not nearly as supportive as a fuel source or promoter of fat-burning metabolism.
What you're eating is critical, but almost as important in a successful high-fat diet is when you eat. To be more specific, the relative levels of carbs, protein and fat you're eating at any given point in your day determine what state your metabolism will be in. With this in mind I've developed the strategy I call Synchro Mini-Fasting. Synchro Mini-Fasting harnesses the power of a quality high-fat diet and combines it with a bit of elegant strategy to transform your diet an energy-boosting, brain-enhancing, fat-burning machine.
Background On Fasting Techniques
At it's core, Synchro Mini-Fasting draws heavily on a technique known as intermittent fasting that has been rapidly growing in popularity over the past few years. Intermittent fasting (IF) has been around for decades and has been well-studied both by academics and by communities of people online who share data on techniques and results. The essence of the technique involves condensing all of your eating into a small window (typically 6-8 hours) during a 24-hour period. For example, you would eat at 8pm, and then not eat again until noon the following day. Intermittent fasters typically eat as many or more calories as someone on a conventional diet schedule, it is just all packed into that 6-8 hour window.
The effect of IF on the body is dramatic. In the second half of a "fasting" period, fat-burning metabolism accelerates and the body is able to pull stored fat out of adipose tissue at a rate way above anything seen when adhering to a more conventional eating schedule. Additionally, intermittent fasting will increase metabolic factors involved in protein synthesis - meaning that particularly when combined with a strength-training regimen, IF will encourage the formation of lean muscle. There's good reason a lot of top athletes in natural body fitness competitions are devoted intermittent fasters...
Naturally, tuning your body/mind system to be Synchro is about more than having low body-fat and lean muscle. While great body composition is certainly a part of being Synchro, we also want stable vibrant energy, high cognitive performance and generally glowing well being. While some intermittent fasters report feeling and performing well throughout their fasting period, when I've tried conventional IF myself I consistently experienced energy levels and performance below what I was accustomed to. So I set out to see if I could craft a strategy that would deliver most of the body composition results of IF, without sacrificing the energy and performance. Interestingly, in my experiments with IF I also noticed that my energy and mental clarity would be great early in the day, but would tail off dramatically towards the end of my fasting period. So, naturally, I set out to create a protocol that extended this period of high energy and performance deeper into my day.
Synchro Mini-Fasting Protocol
After a lot of experimentation over the course of 6+ months, I've settled on a protocol that incorporates a fast of 13-14 hours, broken by a strategic, exceptionally nutrient-rich (but small-ish) meal, followed by another fasting period of 7-8 hours. For me, a general day using Synchro Mini-Fasting looks like this:
- Finish Eating Dinner (day 1): 10pm
- Go To Bed: 1am
- Wake: 8am
- Eat Small Meal: 11:30am
- Snack To Break Second Fast: 7pm
- Dinner (day 2): 9:30pm
In your night-time fast period you will get some of the intense fat-burning experienced by conventional intermittent fasters. However, because fat-burning metabolism accelerates towards the end of a fasting period, you'll also be cutting short some valuable fat-burning. However, if your experience is like mine, you'll also be missing the hunger, low-energy and diminished cognitive performance that come with traditional IF.
My primary aim in creating the Synchro Mini-Fasting protocol was to prolong the enhanced energy I experienced in the hours after waking up when I was adhering to conventional IF. Secondarily, if I could get this without completely disrupting the fat-burning from my night-time fasting period, all the better. What are the two things I know of that boost energy and performance most powerfully (and generally make me feel awesome)? Nutrient-dense foods and high-quality short- and medium-chain fats.
The Power Meal
The content of that initial, small meal is the most critical of anything you'll eat all day. Eating intelligently with this meal is the difference between a vibrant, high-performing day and an average one. This meal should be:
- Rich in high-quality, short- and medium-chain fats.
- Low-Glycemic Load (i.e. only low glycemic-index carbs and not very much)
- Rich in nutrient-dense, metabolism supporting foods
The high-quality short- and medium-chain fats will give your body and brain plenty of high-quality fuel for the second fasting period. Since eating carbs will interrupt the fat-burning, minimizing the glycemic load of meal will reduce the disruption to the fat-burning metabolism - as well as reduce the risk of a dip in energy that typically follows a more carb-rich meal. The load of nutrient-dense foods will support and supercharge your metabolism (and generally make you feel great). So what exactly do I eat for this 'power meal'?
A Blender-Full Of Awesome (The 'Powerhouse Shake')
- A (loosely packed) blender-full of washed raw dino (lacinato) kale
- 6 tbsp Synchro Genesis
- 3oz Almond Milk
- 4oz Spring Water
- 1 Piece of Raw Ginger Root (about the size of the last section of your thumb)
- 1 Piece of Raw Turmeric Root (about the size of the last section of your thumb)
- 2-3 Tbsp Coconut Oil (or MCT oil)
- 5g Creatine Monohydrate
- 2 Ice Cubes
The shake that results from the recipe above is a serious nutrient powerhouse. It delivers 675 calories, 18g of high-quality fats, 30g complete protein and 37g of very low-glycemic carbohydrate (subtracting fiber). The abundance of medium chain fats (from the coconut oil) will provide quality fuel and the protein will support protein synthesis in the body while keeping you satiated. The carbohydrates in the shake will temporarily partially suppress fat-burning metabolism. However, because all the carbohydrates are low-glycemic, there will never be a significant insulin response and carb- and fat-burning pathways will run simultaneously for the 2-3 hours after consuming the shake. After that period, the carbs from the shake will be burned and the remainder of your afternoon fasting period will be entirely in fat-burning metabolism.
Bottom line regarding this shake recipe: drink it and you'll feel awesome for the duration of your afternoon fasting period.
Other things I consume with this shake during the 'power meal': (1.) Cocotella and (2.) grass-fed ghee - both provide additional short- and medium-chain fatty acids and negligible carbohydrate. (when I eat these, i decrease the coconut oil in the shake proportionately). (3.) Vitamin and mineral supplements (I'll outline these in a future article). (4.) Probiotics and Kombucha
Ideally, you'll try to consume nothing but water or tea during your fating periods. If you're particularly active (or if you're still getting used to the practice), it's possible you'll get hungry during your fasting periods. Rather than push through the hunger (and risk energy or performance dropping...), there are ways to satisfy your hunger and re-fuel without completely disrupting a fasting period. Choosing a snack that is rich in short- or medium-chain fatty acids with extremely low (or zero) glycemic load will fit this function perfectly. A scoop of coconut oil or MCT oil are both perfect for the application. Personally I prefer things that are completely delicious, so I keep a jar of Cocotella in my office with me. It's rich in the MCT's we're after, and the tablespoon serving I eat as my snack has all of 1.5g of low-glycemic carbohydrate, so it won't meaningfully disrupt fat-burning metabolism. If I'm at home, I eat Synchro Spheres, with similar effect.
And The Rest Of The Day?
After you've concluded your afternoon fasting period, what you're eating becomes a bit less critical to the success of the strategy. Go ahead and eat all the Synchro-aligned food you feel like you need. What is a Synchro-aligned food? If you keep up with the blog you have an idea, but to recap: (1.) Low-Glycemic load (2.) Rich In High-Quality Fats (3.) Minimal Grains - and NO wheat or corn (4.) Low Toxin - removing grains is a part of this (5.) Rich In Nutrient Dense Foods! (6.) Raw/Living Foods When Possible
Since fat-burning particularly ramps-up after carbs from your food have been exhausted, keeping the amount of carbohydrate low in your dinner will intensify the fat-burning that happens during your long pasting period.
It's also very important to drink quite a bit of water in the first 30-60 minutes after waking up in the morning. We can lose between 1-2 pounds of water via respiration and perspiration during sleep, and replacing that is critical. Since toxins are stored in fat cells in the body, our night-time fasting period is also a detox period. Clearing out these toxins first thing in the morning keeps them from being reabsorbed. Not only will you feel brighter and clearer in the morning when you hydrate properly, it's also one of the best techniques I know of for great skin health.
I drink between 64 and 96oz of water between the time I wake up and when I eat my 'power meal'. The first 32oz will be lightly salted with Himlayan Salt to flush the GI tract and re-mineralize my body. A note: Get serious about the quality of your water! It matters.
Synchro Mini-Fasting Protocol (Expanded)
So now that more of the protocol is explained, here is what my eating schedule looks like in more detail:
- 10pm (day 1): Finish Eating Dinner
- [10pm - 11:30am]: Long Fasting Period
- 1am: Go To Bed
- 8am: Wake
- 8-11am: Drink 64-96oz Spring Water (the 1st 32oz with Himalayan Salt)
- 10am: 45 Minutes Vinyasa Yoga (physical activity during the fasting period will accelerate fat burning)
- 11:30am: Eat 'Synchro Powerhouse' Shake
- [11:30am - 7pm]: Afternoon Fasting Period
- 7pm-9pm: Double Serving of Synchro Genesis with Coconut Oil, more Cocotella, etc
- 9:30pm: Huge Kale Salad with Hempseed, Sweet Potato, etc...and more Cocotella for desert, or course
If you're curious, this puts me at around 3000-3500 calories for the day. ~65% from fats, 20% from carbs and 15% from protein.
Why Synchro Fasting Is The Best
The fat-burning, muscle-promoting power of any similar fasting protocol will be significant. If that's all you're trying to accomplish, traditional intermittent fasting might serve you better. What makes Synchro Mini-Fasting so great is that it preserves a lot of the power of intermittent fasting, but also gives you exceptional energy levels and cognitive performance. High/Vibrant energy levels really means consistent/well-supported energy levels - and this is where Synchro Fasting really excels. Giving your body a consistent supply of high-quality fats as fuel and loads of powerful, nutrient-dense foods is the key to feeling amazing and performing at a high level.
If you're training or doing an intense workout, you'll want to eat a bit of low-glycemic carbohydrate beforehand to avoid 'bonking' during your workout. Fat works great as a fuel source for low-to-moderate intensity workouts, but because it is a slower fuel source, fat-burning pathways can't keep up with the energy needs of an intense workout. You'll have to feel this one out for yourself, but for me personally I DO eat carbohydrate before and during long bike rides - but I generally do not eat before going into an intense yoga class or a strength training session. Listen to your body and you'll learn which of your workouts are intense enough to necessitate eating carbohydrate before or during.