Keith Harmon – “Fasting builds, not burns muscle”

posted in: Health and Nutrition | 65

No matter how often I write about this, I always get questions/ accusations that I’m lying that fasting actually causes muscle loss, usually from people who never fast. But the evidence is just not there. Terry Crews, former NFL star recently discussed how intermittent fasting keeps him in shape.

When Hugh Jackman needed to bulk up for the role of Wolverine, he turned to intermittent fasting. A reader, record powerlifter Keith Harmon had figured this out himself many years ago. He turned 70 years old, but this guy looks and lifts like he’s 30 years younger. He looks amazing, His secret weapon? Fasting. He wrote to me recently and he said:

Congratulations on exposing my well kept secret inadvertently. Intermittent Fasting was the key to me becoming the Worlds Strongest Man at age at 70 and now the secret is out.

Here, after almost 48 years of Gym life, I stumbled onto your teaching on Intermittent Fasting by pure accident a month ago. When I read about what you were teaching I was in total astonishment. You confirmed medically what I have been practicing since I turned 40 years old.

Yes, as a Christian I have fasted all my life, but when I turned 40 I discovered a hidden secret to fasting that changed my life forever and put me on the road to becoming the World’s Strongest man. That was the secret of the relationship between fasting and weight lifting that reversed and stopped the aging process that now gave me a youthful look. No one can deny my records, and no one can deny the secret to my youthful looks. Not a wrinkle on my body. It has to do with fasting, not because of creams, pills or surgery.

Let me set the record straight. I never set out to become the Worlds Strongest man. I believed in my motto: A Proud person talks about all he has DONE, A Foolish person talks about all he will DO, and a WISE MAN does it, and says NOTHING. This is the first time I ever shared my secret because no one would have believed me until I read your material and you confirmed what I have been doing.
I came from the Arnold Schwarzenegger Era of the 70’s called the Golden Era of bodybuilding and power lifting. I have been with and trained with many famous athletes and came out of one of the most famous gyms in the history of the sport called Quads Gym in Chicago. In the mid 70’s I came to the cross-roads – steroids and the life of fame as my friends were doing, or to go NATURAL. I chose natural because my reasons for training were HEALTH reasons. This was a marathon race, not a sprint, and I will catch the juicers at the other end of the race.

At forty I had a major crisis in my life after losing a Furniture Empire. My high flying, limousine riding lifestyle in Florida came to end in 1985, so I decided to go into a serious life of fasting to clean me out mentally, socially, spiritually and physically. Then the “revelation of all revelations” hit me. I was fasting 3 days and one day off for several years while training hard and getting stronger. People that I hadn’t seen in a few years started telling me that I was looking younger than ever.

I developed my own system of training that was exploding all the myths I had heard. I was actually getting younger and stronger as I got older. At age 40 than 50 than 60 when I started setting the world records knowing by then the “roid” guys would not be competing in power lifting. Many had already died before they got to the finish line. My feats of strength would rival at the age of 68 anybody in the NFL, benching 375 lbs Raw, at a body weight of 194. Doing the NFL combine test, I did 225 lbs. for 25 reps. In South Carolina, I did 365 lbs for 3 reps at Breakthrough Fitness.

I looked like a NFL player, not a retired 68 year old man talking about the good old days of the Golden Era. Why? Because of Intermittent fasting as Dr. Fung told you.
Not only does fasting not “burn muscle,” to the contrary it “builds muscle,” Why? Because it resets the body and shocks it out of stalemate or negative cycles. It’s like when you overload the system with appliances and have to hit the reset button to activate the power again. It is a safety device or mechanism for your own protection. Bodybuilders and power lifters overload the system all the time with carbs and high protein and this is a good way to reset the button and take it out of overload mode. In fact, it rejuvenates the entire circuit board. Your system can act just needs to be flushed out to remove unwanted junk..
So, contrary to what so-called experts will tell you, fasting does not burn muscle. When you fast you are not burning muscle because you don’t “store muscle”. You “store fat” and that is what burns while fasting, not muscle. Fasting flushes out toxins and impurities that “prevent” muscle growth, it does not “deter” muscle growth as some so-called guru will tell you. Fasting resets the INSULIN button that controls hormonal levels. It was my secret system of “HOW to train and fast” that stopped the clock of getting weaker and looking older. You want proof of my staying power at 70, ask my 29 year old wife. She just started training so she could keep “UP” with me. I fast every Sunday, so get out of my way on Monday. I’m RESET and my button is on GO!!!

Sooooo GO TO DR. JASON FUNG ON INTERMITTENT FASTING. He is the gemologist of the weight loss field that is exposing all the fake stones in circulation. This is not one of those fake adds that peddle fake stones that are Cubic Zirconium’s. He is the REAL DEAL, a true DIAMOND in a FAKE AND PLASTIC WORLD of impostors.
Thank you again for being the Dr. of Truth and exploding so many myths that the weight loss Doctors tremble over. You will save the life of many people and provide HOPE to desperate people looking for truthful answers in a crisis situation. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge and you hit the bulls-eye and split the arrow.
Keith J. Harmon

Dr. Jason Fung: Amazing work, Keith! Keith has been fasting intermittently for 30 years and setting world records for weight lifting along the way. While many doctors and PhDs who never fast hysterically warn about burning muscle, Keith figured out long ago that our body would not be so stupid as to store body fat, and then burn muscle when the time came. This behaviour is classic ‘Lecturing birds how to fly’. So, choose carefully who you listen to, because Keith puts his money where his mouth is.

65 Responses

  1. Very inspiring. Two Thumbs up 🙂

  2. That’s pretty amazing! The next time my 50 year old doctor warns me about the many perils of fasting, I’m going to check and make sure he can bench 2x his bodyweight. If not, I think I’ll stick to what I’m doing! 🙂

  3. Stefan Constantinescu

    So three days of fasting followed by one day of eating?

    That’s a pretty intense protocol. I have issues with diarrhea after two days of fasting.

    I’m assuming this individual has a strong digestive system.

    Could you elaborate further on the protocols Mr. Harmon used during his career?

    I’m not doubting the three on, one off protocol, but I dabble in powerlifting myself (I’m not breaking any records anytime soon) and I’ve found that I can just barely maintain my strength on ADF (one day on, one off).

    Thank you.

    • I would find three days of fasting and one day of eating to be very difficult. I did three days of fasting last week, but ate for four days after that. (Usually don’t eat breakfast, so ate between a window.) This week, I’m fasting M, W, but on Friday, I’ll only fast until dinner.

      I am only working out one day per week (search for “Body by Science”), though.

    • sten bjorsell

      What are you drinking when fasting? If just water, take a few charcoal tablets. They usually consume bugs and help with that stuff. Activated charcoal.

      • Daniel Walker

        Usually consume bugs and help with that stuff? Can you elaborate?

    • I have constipation when fasting and salt/acv and Ca-mg-zn, K and B complex is needed to move it.

    • steve bromley

      i too HAD diarrhea after my 4 day fasts each week, UNTIL i discovered that fish – primarily salmon (baked, grilled) ended my problem. i now have some high-fat cheese and/or half an avocado as well. salmon is usually dinner, and if i have lunch on non-fast days, eggs and bacon, or mackerel (with siracha mayo!) are treats that cause me no problems.
      maybe this will work for you, stefan…i hope so!

  4. This Khan Academy video “generally” supports your point: (around 9:50).

  5. I am a fan of intermittent fasting but as an Exercise Physiologist find it hard to believe it builds muscle. Do you have any research to back this up?

    • SomePerson

      I don’t have links on me, but you should dig into the literature. There’s been a number of actual studies done on alternate day fasting for both weight loss, diabetes and weight lifters already. Some of the mechanisms for why it spares/helps build muscle are well described on this very blog.

      As far as I know, no one has ever tested muscle change directly in more extended fasts than 24-36 hours sadly, but the mechanisms to support such an occurrence are present. The real question is when the body runs out of spare protein that it can deploy for muscle synthesis, since at some point it actually won’t have any free amino acids or unneeded junk cells it can reprocess, but no one really knows how long it takes for that to occur since even the idea that it’s possible to fast for long times without muscle loss is still considered controversial.

      I can say that as a person losing weight, rather then a weight lifter, I’ve spent approximately 65% of the days in the past 4 months in a total or near total fast, dropped 55 pounds, and I could do one pushup, barely, in early december and I can do 10 or 11 now. Whether I’ve gained muscle, lost muscle or stayed static is hard to tell given the weight loss, but the fact remains that I can do more pushups, situps and hold planks for longer than ever before in my life which is pretty exciting given the whole not eating thing, which conventional wisdom insists should not happen.

      • What I’ve been wanting to do is get my body fat/muscle tested using Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) or even a bodpod (a device that uses air to provide a measure of how much fat/muscle you have). Then I’d retest 6 months-year later. However, I can’t find any place near me that offers these. (I can find DEXA for bone mass, but you need special software for muscle/fat, and no one has that.)

        • SomePerson

          The thing to look out for with a bodpod and maybe even a dexa if the tech doesn’t know what to look for is that fasting does actually decrease lean body mass. The controversial claim made by people like fung and others is that the lean body mass is decreasing from non-essential non-muscle protein substrate in the body first and only really from muscles after the junk proteins and random bits laying around can’t be eaten up anymore.

          So, if you use a body composition analysis you really will see a lean body mass loss accompanying a much more substantial fat mass loss, but the lean body mass loss will mostly be non-muscle protein tissue as long as you either don’t fast too long or you’re not lean enough to not have a lot of protein baggage hanging around. Sadly, to the best of my knowledge no one has ever used a quality mri to measure the body changes in subjects undergoing extended fasts, but tests of people doing 24-36 hour fasts have been done and shown that such a regimen can lead to better muscle growth then no fasts with the same training.

    • I think a large role may be the inhibition of myostatin – a hormone that breaks down muscle tissue. If you do a Google image search for “myostatin inhibitor cow or dog”, you will see some absolutely muscular animals who have low levels of myostatin. I don’t have the link handy, but fasting seems to inhibit the release of myostatin.

    • Jennifer Henske

      Fasting also increases growth hormone levels. Autophagy helps clean up unwanted cells and then GH helps rebuild. With insulin levels low and digestion halted, your body can clean up, clear out toxins and renew itself.

    • I think the idea behind the fasting behind it Ray is that the body is simply built for balance and longevity. It doesn’t make sense in any stretch that if one stops eating that muscle would waste away first before fat considering we need muscle to go out and “gather or hunt” for food. We aren’t built to waste away and die, we’re built for survival.

      I saw a youtube video of someone breaking this down in a very complex matter about how all the different metabolic pathways work to provide us energy. They had said during the fast after the glycogen stores are depleted, some amino acids get broken down after that. After that (about 2-3 days later since the start of the fast), the body goes full into ketosis as it views the muscle wasting as “not ideal”. When this happens, human growth hormone spikes, and I suppose if we think from a survival standpoint, the body thinks “holy crap, better get these muscles fired up to find food”. I think the Hgh spike is something like 2000%

      This is what confuses me though, does one continue fasting after say a workout during this massive Hgh spike, or do they feed after? I’ve seen studies where Testosterone drastically spikes after feeding after an extended fast.

      • Joe Lenner

        I am very curious about this as well. Is there a difference muscle-wise between fasting for 16 hours, then weight training and immediately breaking the fast afterwards vs. fasting for 16 hours, weight training, and waiting another 8 hours to eat? Is there a time period where your muscles are more anabolic?

    • Chris Hastings

      Read up on the blog, it search Google for intermittent fasting and HGH. Eating suppresses HGH levels during the daytime, whereas fasting allows them to stay high. Fasting and sitting on the couch will not make you ripped, but if you train while fasting you WILL see better gains.

  6. Martin Williams

    I am not writing this cynically, I promise. But I do sometimes find reason to doubt and question. There’s surely nothing wrong with that, is there? So here goes: Keith’s gut is about the same size as mine. I.e., massive. He’s nearly as wide as he is tall. If he’s fasting regularly, why is that the case? Seriously.

    • SomePerson

      You’d have to know whether that’s muscle or fat in his gut. It could be some massively freakish barrel chested muscle development, if it’s actually fat then yeah h’s probably not fasting like he says he is.

      He could just be an even more extreme version of this though.×240.jpg

      wikipedia says it’s often associated with extremely elevated levels of human growth hormone and, well, fasting in the way he claims to fast would absolutely result in a freakishly high average circulating level of hgh for him.

      • he is just obese . fasting can’t stop you becoming obese if you over eat. just look at the fat on his face and arms.

        • Was thinking this as well. No doubt he is strong, but the first thing that struck me was his barrel abdomen. Quick google search says lots of powerlifters have this because of HGH, IGF-1 & insulin (along with carb-loading & high carb diets). But as you say, this person’s face is fat, too.

      • “Massively freakish barrel chested muscle development…”

        “The first thing that struck me was his barrel abdomen…”

        Maybe Harmon should read Banting’s Letter on Corpulence.

    • Stephen T

      Martin, I was more concerned about Keith’s choice of shoes.

      His strength and physique are undoubtedly impressive.

    • He’s fasting in his dreams.

    • I was thinking the same. NOT trying to be rude, but since this article is about his body, it’s only fair that we’re really thinking about it. He looks muscular AND fat at the same time. I think we maybe we can kindly excuse the belly and blame it on power lifting (seems to be a trait of power lifters) but that doesn’t explain the chubby face. He obviously eats enough to usually be in a caloric surplus so I don’t know why the strength and muscles on a man who lifts like he does would be surprising to anyone– the guy obviously eats in excess most of the time. If he didn’t fast he’d just be even fatter; he’s not fasting enough to burn through that body fat, so I’m not impressed that his muscles survive the fasting. The more impressive thing is when someone is super strong and muscular, and LEAN (if the entire article had been about Hugh Jackman getting super big and lean it would have made a better impression!). Which, by the way, I think is totally possible, especially with fasting… I’m not disagreeing with the point that you can fast and still be muscular. It’s just that I think this particular person is probably not the best picture of that. This article left me unimpressed and slightly repulsed.

    • Good point, but it also tends to be that powerlifters and strongmen always seem to have large guts. Not all, but many of them do.

      I read somewhere that the body “re-compositions” itself to handle whatever it’s being thrusted upon it. Powerlifters and strongmen need strong cores, therefore they develop thick trunks. Soccer players and sprinters usually have big defined quads. When you think about it, it makes sense.

  7. I think the secret to fasting and weight lifting is that fasting inhibits the hormone myostatin. Do a Google image search of “myostatin inhibitor cow” to see some crazy images of very muscular cows. Myostatin causes muscle tissue to break down as part of a normal build/destroy/rebuild. Muscle break-down may explain part of our daily protein turn-over. Inhibiting myostatin spares muscle tissue. It may be muscle’s default nature to grow continuously, and it’s myostatin’s role to keep muscle growth in-check.

  8. This was not my experience at all. I did IF for 2 weeks, minimum 16 hours each day, and made sure to get my protein in during feeding hours. I drank 2-3 litres of water each day. I tested my body comp using an InBody 570 device. I LOST lean tissue and gained fat tissue and my body weight remained the same.

    I don’t think it works for everyone.

    • sten bjorsell

      Hello Fred!
      Most of the good that fasting does is to scavenge old existing proteins and remake them to fuel or as parts in new proteins. In the course of that our bodies are rebuilt. With only 16 hours fasting combined with lots of proteins between means, to me, that you never reach the point where fat burning and autophagy can start. Suggest minimum 24 hours fasting, better 48 hours. (From dinner day 0 to dinner day 2, for instance). Then you may just see huge differences. LCHF may be required to avoid the hunger before fat burning starts late day 1 or day 2.

      • Hi Sten,

        I eat one meal every 48 hours. And it’s not a feast. Just a normal meal. Real food. I like raw eggs too.

        There is a lot of research on fasting and how long it takes for the benefits of autophagy and low insulin, low mTOR to kick in — I think it is probably at least 20 hours.

        To what extent managed autophagy can be used as a clinical tool, I do not know.  But, restricting food intake, and particularly restricting the frequency of food intake is one of the most important aspects of maintaining health.  People are such pigs.  They eat huge quantities and they eat almost incessantly.

        • Mike the Viking

          I think I’ll try your approach, 1 meal every 48 hours. I’m 44, and I did a 15 day water fast recently, and reached BMI of 20 or so. I don’t think I got to autophagy, though, since I still have quite large, thankfully flat moles in my back, and a small droopy one just below my waistline. Shouldn’t these have gotten smaller if not disappeared completely?
          I tend to overeat especially now that I’ve found LCHF, and I just love putting butter and coconut oil on everything =)
          I’ve started to ferment foods to boost my gut biome, I make bone broth from organic bones and so on, but I feel my gut just swells up from all the food. I loved the slender feel when fasting, and I have been thinking about this alternate day fasting or maybe just the one meal per day. I’ll have to try them all to see what fits me best, but I never would have thought of the 1 meal every 48 hours. From my experience I can vouch that short periods (1-3 days) of fasting are no big deal when your body burns mostly fat for energy. You carry lots of it around all the time, so there is no “wall” to break through, as there would be if burning carbs/sugar for energy and having to switch to fat mid-fast.
          Looking forward to trying this out, now that I’ve recovered from the waterfast. Maybe a full fast on M-W-F with just one meal on T-T and family-friendly meals on the weekend.

          • “I tend to overeat especially now that I’ve found LCHF, and I just love putting butter and coconut oil on everything =)”

            Fragmented Fats

            There is nothing essential about fragmented fats. The concentrated fats are largely empty calories, and do little more than add adipose tissue to your waistline.

            When I recommend butter and/or coconut oil and/or olive oil, it is not because they are “good for you.” People are going to eat fragmented foods such as concentrated fats, these 3 options are the least damaging.

            All the good fat you need comes from the eggs, beef, poultry, fish and so forth that you eat.

            Raw butter is not that big a deal. While raw cheese is far, far superior to pasteurized cheese, raw butter offers very little advantage over pasteurized butter. The damage in pasteurization is to proteins, and to polyunsaturated fatty acids. There is no damage to saturated fats. So, since butter is 100% fat and 0% protein, there is no damage to butter in pasteurizing it. There may be miniscule amounts of other nutrients in butter that are damaged by the pasteurization process, but quantitatively they are almost certainly insignificant.

            There is nothing magical about coconut oil or MCT.

            “Don’t put oil in your coffee, stupid. The whole point of fasting is to burn the fat around your gut, not the fat you put in your coffee.”   Martin Berkhan

            BTW, I’m at 8% body fat. Washboard abs.

    • Don’t put too much faith in the results of an impedance meter, specially if on LCHF/fasting.

      What the impedance meter does is extrapolate fat body percentage based on water percentage, and give an estimate on said water percentage based on how difficult it is for electric current to go through your body from point A to point B.

      First problem: fat is not equally distributed everywhere. So you may have really muscular legs and a massive gut, and the reader will underestimate

      Second problem: readings differ greatly depending on small details, such as contact zone hidration, room temperature, cleanness of contact surface, etc. Up to 2-3% variability in the space of hours!

      Third and most important problem for LCHF/IF: readings depend on hidration level in the electric current path, specially on the amount of glycogen-bound water. When fasting/LCHFing, muscular glycogen will be depleted and not recovered until much later, giving the false impression that muscle has been lost.

      So, pick up a measuring tape and try the good old US NAVY formulation.

  9. Please don’t start protesting too much, Dr Fung. Many will have stopped reading at “toxins”. It puts one in mind of a dodgy infomercial. And I’m on your side.

    More importantly, you’ve recently been accused of misrepresenting a study in this area. I don’t recall you and Mr Moore talking much about that in your recent podcast

    I really am on your side.

  10. Well, I am far from setting world records, but a few numbers illustrating my progress go along the same lines.
    Objectively: after 8 months of IF and dropping 50 lbs (I exclude 25 more lost before that on LCHF, so we are talking about IF exclusively), at 55 y.o. I:
    – do 45 push-ups a minute in muscle fitness test;
    – 120-150 push-ups over 20-30 minute training session – that includes standard, Chinese and dive-bomber variations – in 4-5 rounds;
    – in-between pushups, I do free-standing curls with 25-lbs dumbells;
    – first time since my 30s, I can do pull-ups – just 2-3, mind you, but heck…
    – I can hold plank for about 2 minutes;
    – I can hold squat position, back to the wall, for 2 – 2.5 minutes

    Before my IF? 15 pushups, and I am done for the day, feeling the burn in muscles for hours. Attempt to do a pull-up would be similar to a sausage hanging in a smoker chamber, only not as appetizing.

    Subjectively: I look like my (much) younger brother that I never had. My energy levels go through the roof. During walks, I have to slow down to what feels like a crawl if someone accompanies me – they are out of breath in minutes otherwise. I often throw in a brief bout of physical activity simply to burn off energy. Oh, and when exercising on fasting days (which I do now and then in maintenance mode) I feel stronger and better than on eating days.

    • Awesome! Which type of IF have you done?

      • Patrick, I pretty much mix and match most of the variations. I started with 5:2, by stumbling onto it when researching how to deal with my T2D, before discovering Dr. Fung. Reading The Obesity Code, the idea of changing one’s routines to “keep your body on its toes” resonated with me very much. So I added 36 hours water fast, 16:8, OMAD (mostly in maintenance mode), fat fast – and I did (and do) it all intermittently, without any fixed pattern, so my body has no chance to adjust and settle into a routine.

        As a result, I went through my entire weight loss drive without any plateau, except for one month 5 lbs bounce when I quit my hypertension drug and water weight returned. Stabilized at my ideal weight, 165-170 lbs, and sit at it ever since, for 5 months now. I have zero doubt about the sustainability of this lifestyle, as it requires no sacrifices, willpower etc – it’s highly enjoyable in each and every aspect.

        • Viktoriya

          Vadym, when you eat, do you follow a specific diet, like LCHF for example?

          • Viktoriya, yes, it’s mostly LCHF – I say “mostly” because it’s less strict now that I am in maintenance mode. It’s real foods only, no processed junk whatsoever. No wheat; dairy is fermented – kefir, yogurt, cultured cream, cheese, and butter; carbs are mostly fibrous, plus some quirky things like fermented buckwheat and teff (I like experimenting). Black coffee with a square of dark chocolate starts the day, then red meat, eggs, and bacon lead the parade 🙂

        • You quit your hypertension drug??? Do you feel IF has helped with your Hypertension?

  11. Naom Amir

    It would be great if Keith could also share his protocol in more detail, and if it has changed throughout the decades. For instance, he mentions that Sunday is fast day, does that mean a 36-hour period with no eating at all til Monday?

    Or does he do 16 hours everyday? Does he skip breakfast?

  12. Fasting lover

    Anyone, please help. I’ve been intermittent fasting (16-24hours) for the past one year or so. It’s been great, lost about 25lbs but need to loose another 20 atleast. When I look in the mirror, I look younger. Alot of my minor health issues have disappeared. However, lately, I’ve been experiencing intense hunger pangs and cravings for high carb foods. I’m always hungry now and I’ve started to put on weight again. I tried fasting 48 hours and then 72 hours, hoping the hunger will go away, but after the three day fast, I started gorging for three days, couldn’t keep the hunger at bay. It just kept gnawing at me. I had to keep eating. I’m now constantly hungry. I never had this problem before. I am female and 44 years old.

    • sten bjorsell

      Try LCHF. Lots of fat between each fast keeps the body in fat burning mode, therefore making the transition from eating to fasting much smoother. Cut back on proteins too, as any excess is converted to glucose and with less the autophagy starts quicker, meaning you will look even younger again! Ron Rosedale says maximise proteins to 0.7 g/kg lean body weight per day is safe and will also protect from cancer.

    • I am guessing that you eat healthy– look for hidden sugars and refined carbs in your food, they drive hunger.

  13. Roger Bird

    i am a 71 year old male. I have been intermittent fasting (IF) and ketogenic dieting (KD) for about 11 months. I could not for the life of me figure out whether my muscles were actually getting bigger or if I was just imagining that they were getting bigger. People say that IF does not burn muscle, and that makes perfect sense, except perhaps to a conventional MD. But I never imagined that my muscles would get BIGGER. I do a fair amount of exercise, but certainly nothing to brag about. Recently I had reason to take my shirt off for a while, in front of my wife, and I started posing, like a goofy husband. My wife is VERY circumspect about how she talks and what she says, but after almost 30 years of marriage she said something very unlike her: “You’re making me wet.” I said, “what?!?!”. and she immediately denied that she had said it. But I heard it, and it convinced me that perhaps my muscles actually were getting bigger. And now Keith Harmon comes along and confirms that it is definitely possible. Perhaps this will inspire me to exercise more. (:->) And this will definitely inspire me to tell more people about IF and KD.
    We cannot depend upon the mainstream, especially the conventional medical doctors, to help spread the word about IF and KD. If you care about other people, or if you want to care about other people, I can’t think of anything more important than turning people on to IF and KD. Christianity took over the Roman Empire and eventually the whole of Europe, one person at a time. The reason that they used this “strategy” is that they looked upon each and every person as having intrinsic and absolute value. We take this for granted now. So, apply it to your life; every person that you meet has intrinsic and absolute value; if possible try to turn them on to intermittent fasting and ketogenic eating. I turned my roofer on to IF and KD, and he called it life changing and life saving and thanked me profusely.

  14. Dear Dr. Fung,
    I really admire the way you stand up to people. I am a huge fan of yours, and have started fasting after going through your videos and blogs. Since it helped me so much, I though of sharing the knowledge with others since I am a writer/editor and I have the platform to do so. But, I have received so much flak for this. I got hate comments on FB, and it was so disheartening to see the way people reacted. I am sad about all the negative comments, no doubt, but specially because these people are simply not willing to try something that may change their life. Hats off to you for going against the tide for us.

    • Mike the Viking

      Hate comments on FB? Well, people are naturally afraid of something they don’t understand, and people in general sure don’t understand fasting or even LCHF, period. So the hateful and mocking comments are to be expected. Many are also hateful because they think they know they couldn’t do any kind of fasting because of (insert fasting-induced ailment) and want to discourage others of trying it too. These people are mostly women. E.g. I was told AFTER my fast that I’d surely lost a lot of muscle tissue, while I was living proof I hadn’t. Maybe you’ll shut your mockers up after some before/after facts and figures. People usually don’t argue against results. The people that do are mostly doctors, and they have a reason to berate even good results, if it was achieved without their mainstream advice. It’s kind of funny to see how common that is. As if there was a wrong way to get healthy, in shape and off of your meds.

      Good luck, and don’t be discouraged! The haters are going to hate, until they discover they are in the minority. It’s just the way it is. Accept it, and keep on spreading the joy you have found.

      • Roger Bird

        Mike the Vike, Welcome to my world, or welcome to the world of people who are serious about health. Anything that suggests to people that culinary pleasure isn’t an uncompromising good will be looked upon with by most people as a threat.

        And, yeah, hats off to Jason Fung. He could even be risking his career.

        • SomePerson

          The funny thing is, you can fast and eat low-carb and be an absolute culinary hedonist. It’s what I do, I eat relatively low-carb, don’t eat grains except sometimes maybe rice and use honey vary sparingly with my rule being that any dessert I want to eat has to be made by myself so I can control the sweetness and dial it down.

          I’ve found that this way of eating and fasting helps me enjoy the food I eat more not less and I wish people who liked food knew what they were missing out on. I had sushi for the first time since I started eating this way a month or so back and it was absolutely exquisite. The best sushi I’d ever had in my life and it was just normal mid range sushi from a decently nice restaurant. It was my first real meal after a three day fast and the experience was unparalleled for me. People who like to enjoy food and don’t fast are missing out imo.

          • Roger Bird

            SP, my bee pollen tastes good, sorta. The sardines taste good. I can put stevia in most smoothies and they taste good. My salads are OK.
            But the lady in question balked at the word “fasting”.
            People make their choices.

    • SomePerson

      Ishani, if you’d like a place on facebook where you can talk with people abut fasting who are helpful and positive about it and you’re not already in the group you should see if an admin will let you in to this group It’s a closed group, but the admins are very good and the people in it are a great resource both for discussions, support and if you feel like supporting people learning about fasting themselves.

      I too have been struggling with getting the word out about fasting, but the way it’s changed my own life has been almost miraculous. I lost well over 100 pounds over 1 year and a half doing partial carb restriction and calorie counting and I’ve lost 60 pounds in 4 months with fasting. I no longer have diabetes according to any presently existing diagnostic criteria and I feel better and healthier than I ever have before in my life. I just wish It was easier to effectively share whta I’ve learned with people without them rolling their eyes, worrying or thinking I’m insane.

      • Roger Bird

        Yes, it is amazing what foolish choices people make. I remember meeting an old friend in Costco, and she asked me how I was. And I told her, and then I told her why. She just said that she couldn’t do that. My very best friend of 48 years would rather pout and not return my emails than actually make some kind of dent in his Dr Oz certified “healthy” diet.

      • I am a member of that group, and can very much second the recommendation. One of the friendliest gatherings on FB, open to many approaches yet without compromising the principles.

  15. I have done intermittent fasting as a reset for years. When I feel the need to reset my body I begin my fast at 6:00pm, after having finished a normal, for me, dinner, which would be ketogenic in nature. I then only drink water, 1 cup of coffee and herbal tea all the following day till 6:00pm the next day. A large portion of my fasting takes place while I’m sleeping. I do this a couple times a week, with 2 regular eating days between, for a month or two. It always increases my energy and clears my head.

  16. One does wonder what effect the pulsed GH has on the elderly and others with impaired DNA and other repair mechanisms……and developing carcinoma.

  17. I just stumbled across this article and the comments while googling around (in the middle of who-knows-how-long-of-a-fast…I’m just over 3 days). Very enlightening, respectful, and encouraging comments for the most part. Good timing on my part. I just finished Dr. Fung’s book on fasting a little over 3 days ago. I’m inspired. Thanks to all.

  18. Hello Doctor Fung,

    I’ve read your book “Obesity Code” and since then I’ve been doing fasting and having incredible results.
    Can you recommend a multivitamin that will cover the daily needs for a more than 48h fast ?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge,


  19. My answer would be that it depends. I do think that mixing in intermittent fasting with loading up can be helpful with building muscle, for the same reason that cycling off things performs resets and lets the body recalibrate so to speak. Insulin is an anabolic hormone though, and if one lowers their insulin levels (as they should) and increases AMPK (as they should), this will end up being somewhat catabolic. It’s not all about building muscle though, and people worry way too much about this stuff. Getting a good amount of protein does help a lot though.

    When glucagon is high though, as is the case with T2 diabetes, this extra glucose does tend to come from muscle breakdown, so in the end, while insulin can build muscle, if it is kept in excess for too long, it not only stores more fat than builds muscle, it also raises glucagon over time where we may cannibalize muscle to maintain our high blood sugar, an all around bad idea. Preventing high insulin is just a great all around idea with no downside really that matters and a lot of upside.

  20. he is rather fat and unhealthy looking; not sure this is a good strategy to promote fasting (a faster + 1.5-years-in-ketosis follower here).

  21. The man’s fat, and has a lot of the particularly unhealthy abdominal fat as well.

    Why did you think this post made sense?

  22. Hi guys.
    This is such an interesting topic i have been looking into for the latest few months. I am 31 yo, Asian, male, 180 cm, pretty sports active for my whole life, I have been intermittent fasting(16/8) for about 1.5 years. The result is pretty good i would say.
    Weight: 91.3 kg. 2016-01-10 –> 78.9 kg 2017-06-05
    Body fat: i have no clue when i start. right now I am at 10.4% +- 1.03%
    If you want to ask me how i feel. I feel like I am 18 again. 😛
    I jump the same high(all four fingers over the basketball rim), sprint faster(this is actually technique i would say. 12.1 s –> 11.4 s for 100-meters dash)
    This is thanks to dedicated intermittent fasting and hack a lot of work done in the gym(dropped tempo during 2016-03 to 2016-09, burned myself with hot water……. )
    However, this is just what I have done so far. I wrote it down to encourage everyone who wants to give it a shot! 😀 I believe in this: before you try it, you never know it. This is typical learning by doing. 😀 feel free to ask me things you are doubting about, I may have been there. 😉

    Oh well. That’s all about the past. the following is about now and future. 😛
    What interested me is something new, I am pushing to it right now. At this moment while I am writing the comment, I have just fasted from 06-14 22.00 till now(38 hours), my plan is to go hit the gym(Olympic lifting) today around 19.00 and then break my fast after the workout. (i did some light workout yesterday from 1900 to 2000, mainly yoga) I would like to try if extended fasting will make me weak.
    The question a lot of you guys have(i do too) is: If the extended fasting(45 hours in my case) will make us lose our hard-gain? Oh well, if i get weak and cant not finish my regular workout today. Then i wont do it again. If I feel no difference at all, I would actually do it again in two weeks.
    I am quite a dare devil the recent few years, but research is just research, instead of looking for a perfect time and answer, I would say, pick up a reasonable answer and just do it. XD
    I promise to keep it updated afterwards. For those who have tried it, please share your opinion. For those who wants to try it, let’s talk later.

    • Hi. I am back with good news(at least for me.) My physical performance was completely normal today with my lifting. Nothing strange happened. I lifted what I planned to lift, explosively, with the regular intensity and concentration i had.
      I break the fast with a fully grown banana and around 1 kg cooked/raw veggies, ofc apple vinegar, then since it is Friday, ate out with my basketball teammates, burger and fries. One thing I must mention is, i felt the food extra much, it is a good place but today just felt different, and I have been having this sweet kind of taste in my mouth for the whole day. I really wonder why, and anyone can explain that a bit for me? 😀 Other then that, I am really good after this extended fasting. I will do it again next week after the first lifting session.

    • A bit update regarding the experiment i did lately regarding extended fasting(24+ hours).
      Last week,
      first session, 36+ hours, Monday evening till Wednesday Lunch. Everything fine, nothing worth mention. Btw, the fasting stress level raise is real. Be cautious and READ Dr. Fung’s article first if you are a stressed person.

      Second session, 40 hours fasting from Friday night till Sunday evening, during the fasting, On Saturday, i did 2 hours morning yoga + foam roller, played 4 hours basketball(m-intensity 2 hours, l-intensity 2 hours), drank hack a lot of water(regular and salty). On Sunday, i did a lifting session 2 hours after food. Everything was good. Yet, this is what I already kind of know the first time i tried extended fasting, but the element I changed a bit this time is the food timing(before my lifting session).

      So this week,
      I did a 48 hour extended fasting session(From Sunday evening to Tuesday Evening)
      A problem appeared for me, on Monday, everything was fine. Tuesday, well, I could not finished my lifting workout, I felt really tired and sleepy after warm-up, which was exactly the opposite compared with regular day, after warm-up i usually get really energetic. So i decided to listen to my body and went home for food. 😛

      Well, this maybe a little crazy to try, but I think here is the limit for me.
      A bit of WARNING for you guys want to try the similar thing, there will be an energy level drop the second time you try to hit the regular training routine during the fasting(concentration, intensity, REP, etc). I am talking about physical performance not the regular office working hours(those hours i was completely fine, the mental clearance was as good as it always was. I am a vehicle electronic engineer, btw.)

      I actually have a question here, if anyone can answer would be great, how does the muscle repair work while fasting? the body get nutrition from fat or?(which actually the only energy source I have during fasting.. XD haha ) But, still, how does it work? Is there any difference between using fat to repair muscle and using food to repair muscle? Thanks in advance if anyone can answer me.

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