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Calorie Deficit in training for a JMT -- a great way to be healthier and reduce your spine-weight out for your JMT

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  • Roleigh Martin
    I believe I ve posted about my Intermittent Fasting for my own training for the 2012 JMT. I ve lost 28 pounds since October 9, 2011. I m pretty much in
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 28, 2012
      I believe I've posted about my Intermittent Fasting for my own training for the 2012 JMT.  I've lost 28 pounds since October 9, 2011.  I'm pretty much in static mode now which is fine.  I'm down to 163 pounds.  Lately I've been following the free book ( http://www.fast-5 ) method of just eating daily in a 5 hour window (for the last month).  I still recommend the Eat-Stop-Eat approach for the best scientific appreciation of the diet.

      Anyway, you all know I also follow about 300 web sites daily through Google Reader (in our links folder about how to get the most out of the group, one method is to follow this group and other blogs via Google Reader).  I came across today the most interesting Intermittent Fasting posting.


      Two things, a short posting showing how much healthier the I.F. method of living is for fighting cancer than the grazing method is.  just amazing.

      Intermittent Fasting Better for Cancer Prevention?

      “The researchers conducted several trials with a control group of mice that ate “ad lib,” or freely. They compared the control group with mice that ate 5 percent fewer calories but were fed three times a week with mice that were given 33 percent fewer calories.

      As expected, the researchers found that mice on the 33 percent reduced calorie diet exhibited significantly decreased proliferation rates for skin, breast and T (lymphocyte) cells. The greatest effect was seen after one month on the regimen, when proliferation of skin cells registered only 61 percent of that for mice fed freely.

      The surprising finding came with the results of the more modest 5 percent reduced calorie diet that was fed intermittently. Mice in this group had skin cell division rates that were 81 percent of those for mice fed freely

      Fasting every other day may decrease the chances of breast cancer the most. In all cases, division rates for breast cells were reduced the most. Mice with the lowest calorie diet had breast cell proliferation results that were only 11 percent of those for the control group mice, and mice fed intermittently had results that were 37 percent of those for the control group.”

      Source: “Every Other Day Fasting May Reduce Cancer Risk”; American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine online; 2005-03-23

      The English in the quote is atrocious, using the word "intermittent" and "intermittently" to describe two different eating styles.  The group with the lowest chance of Cancer was the group of mice who were basically on the ADF diet (alternate day fasting), for they had the lowest rate of cancer, although the number of calories they ate was only 5 percent less per week than the ate-freely all the time group versus the grazing group who were also able to eat all the time but had access to 33 percent fewer calories.

      The main thing you get from reading about I.F. is the idea that the simplistic paradigm that seems to be true as to why animals live longer on the diet is that it seems to mimic how animals live in the wild, going through periods of feasting then periods of fasting, going back and forth, not the perpetual eating every 5 hours which is new to evolution -- too new for biology to adapt to it.  It's like evolution considers the Feasting/Fasting alternation to be a Yin/Yang balance to life.

      This web page has a very impressive medical research bibliography on I.F. of about 30 scientific studies.  Not as many as the hundreds in Eat-Stop-Eat, but still nevertheless very impressive.  This blogger has his own I.F. book coming out on Amazon shortly in Kindle form.

      Takeaway for training for a JMT.  I like to think of hiking is having one's bones and muscles packing everything else on the hike.  It is essentially spine-out weight, not skin-out weight.  Instead of spending huge amounts of money to shave off 5 pounds of gear weight, it is much cheaper and healthier to shave off 30 pounds of excess bodyfat prior to the hike.  The money you save on food can pay for the lighter gear too.

      Again, check out the link at for the impressive bibliography.  What strikes me is that most of the writers of I.F. are fitness trainers or weight lifters.  http://www.theiflife.com/advantages-intermittent-fasting-feeding/

      Last, don't forget the posting I made about the Whitney hiker who did the entire stretch from Whitney Portal to summit of Mt Whitney and back fasting the entire time.  He did the entire hike as a day hike (I don't see the hours involved, I submitted a comment with this question tonight).

      By the way, when I hike the mountains here in NY (Catskills or Adirondacks) I eat normally and throughout the day.  It's non-hiking days that I engage in Intermittent Fasting.  I can't see myself doing any I.F. on a JMT.

      Visit Roleigh's Google Profile

    • Allen C
      I ve heard good things about intermittent fasting also. It makes sense to me - should make your body more efficient at using the calories you give it, and
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 28, 2012
        I've heard good things about intermittent fasting also. It makes sense to me - should make your body more efficient at using the calories you give it, and occasionally (or regularly) starving the cancer cells and other nasties that are always around sounds like a really good idea.

        Supposedly animals don't eat when they are sick, which makes sense from the standpoint of starving the invading bacteria or parasites or whatever, as well as focusing energy on healing and immune response rather than digestion.

        Also, it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint as you say. A Paleo type diet also makes sense from this standpoint and supposedly helps many people lose weight and get healthier.

        Not all of us can afford to lose 30 pounds, that is the last thing I need! Glad to hear it is working for you though...it definitely makes sense to drop unnecessary pounds from your body as well as from your pack. You only carry the pack when you hike, but you carry your body around all day every day!
      • John Ladd
        I m a big fan of a moderate weight loss before a hike, say gradually reducing your bodyweight by 10-15 lbs in advance of a hike, and using the hike to
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 28, 2012
          I'm a big fan of a moderate weight loss before a hike, say gradually reducing your bodyweight by 10-15 lbs in advance of a hike, and using the hike to consolidate that loss. However, I do think (1) we are veering off-topic and (2) there are better ways to lose weight than intermittent fasting or other relatively novel techniques.

          It's not that I have science disproving any particular new method.  So far as I can see, intermittent fasting hasn't been rigorously tested by people outside of its proponents, and even by them I don't see much in the way of human studies finding it effective as a weight loss methodology.  

          Roleigh says: "What strikes me is that most of the writers of I.F. are fitness trainers or weight lifters."  I'm not sure I find that terribly encouraging.  I guess I prefer nutritionists, data-driven scientists or epidemiologists.  (My daughter's an epidemiologist, so forgive my plug for the field.)

          Having browsed, briefly, the titles and some of the abstracts in the bibliography at the end of the article Roleigh cites, it appears that most of the articles do not report on human subjects and few address weight loss (the others related to cancer, neurological degeneration, and various biomarkers in animal models).  The only one that I found addressing weight loss actually was testing the opposite hypotheses - that more frequent meals might lead to greater weight loss - and it found no effect.  See "Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet."  Abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19943985 

          I also found that the list included at least one article cited twice, which doesn't increase my confidence level.

          The other articles cited don't appear address weight loss (even in animals), though they do associate various other favorable outcomes resulting from various forms of irregular food consumption.  There's no indication that any effort was made to find studies suggesting the opposite of what the article is supporting.  And in fact I was able to find, with relatively effort at the National Library of Medicine PubMed website, at least one articles, ignored at the cited page, which concludes that in animal models weight loss was not seen in intermittent fasting

          "We report that when C57BL/6 mice are maintained on an intermittent fasting (alternate-day fasting) dietary-restriction regimen their overall food intake is not decreased and their body weight is maintained."

          The best review article that I was able to find in the peer-reviewed literature addressing intermittent fasting summarizes a broad range of studies and is available in full text at the following link. It is recent (October 2011) and appears pretty comprehensive.


          Citation: Impact of caloric and dietary restriction regimens on markers of health and longevity in humans and animals: a summary of available findings, by John F Trepanowski et al. Nutr J. 2011; 10: 107. Published online 2011 October 7 

          The main take-home messages of interest to us seem to be these, which do provide some modest support for Roleigh's hopes in this area:

          "In human ADF [Alternate Day Fasting] trials, subjects have been permitted to consume anywhere from 0% to 50% of the estimated daily energy required to maintain body mass during fast periods [102]. Few human ADF studies incorporate a fasting period lasting longer than 20 weeks due to ethical and logistical (i.e. compliance) limitations. In fact, many trials have lasted only a few days. Most subjects are able to remain compliant throughout their fast, and few experience any fast-related health complications. However, as expected, subjects often report hunger and irritability during fast days (as measured via questionnaires), which calls into question the sustainability of long-term ADF diets [101]. Despite being able to consume food ad libitum during feast days, human subjects sometimes experience weight loss as a result of the ADF regimen. By contrast, animals often maintain bodyweight by gorging themselves during feast periods [15,16]. Interestingly, Heilbronn and colleagues [101] examined nonobese humans and noted that subjects that classified themselves as "big eaters" lost less weight than those that claimed that they "watched what they ate." This suggests the possibility that obese subjects might gorge themselves during feast days and consequently not lose weight on an ADF regimen." 

          "Due to the austerity of following a CR [Caloric restriction] regimen of sufficient magnitude and duration, alternatives such as .. ADF ... may prove to be more appealing. The most pertinent consideration to make when evaluating these alternatives is whether or not they elicit benefits that are comparable to CR. ADF has been demonstrated to extend life and improve both cardiovascular and glucoregulatory function in animals. Human trials have noted heterogeneous findings and sex-specific differences regarding ADF's effects on glucoregulatory function. Unfortunately, it is difficult to compare the effects of ADF and CR regimens across different studies due to an enormous number of confounding variables. Future studies should feature an ADF group and a CR group so that direct comparisons can be made."

          I'm not trying to refute Roleigh's hypothesis. It's just that there is so much questionable science in the diet field, I'd be leery of anything that hasn't had a long track record of successful use both in reducing weight in humans and keeping it off.  I'd prefer to allow actual guinea pigs or lab rats to be the "guinea pigs" in this emerging field of inquiry, not members of this group.  All too often, the newest dietary technique (or other health intervention) ends up having bad results.

          It strikes me that we are veering off-topic to go from the merits of pre-hike or on-hike weight loss to backpackers (seems relevant to me) into particular weight-loss methods (starting to get far afield).  There are many other sources for that information that interested members can pursue.  I suggest we close the thread or move it to Sidebar.

          I do have preferred methods of dieting that work for me and would be happy to share them off-board with any member on request.

          John Curran Ladd
          1616 Castro Street
          San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
        • John Ladd
          ... I do think this topic is a good one for Sidebar and I started a Favorite Diets thread there and described the diet that has led to a 55 lb weight loss
          Message 4 of 4 , Feb 29, 2012
            On Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 9:05 PM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
            It strikes me that we are veering off-topic ... into particular weight-loss methods ....  I suggest we close the thread or move it to Sidebar.

            I do think this topic is a good one for Sidebar and I started a "Favorite Diets" thread there and described the diet that has led to a 55 lb weight loss for me (over many years).  

            For those of you who don't know Sidebar (fewer than 60 of you have joined so far), it includes a lot of very interesting items that are tangential to the main reasons for this Group. Roleigh, in particular, posts a lot of stuff there based on his extensive monitoring of other sites of interest and I've found many interesting ideas there thanks to his posts.

            To join Sidebar, go here

            and click on the Join button.

            To post there, after joining, you just e-mail your thoughts to

            or, as with the main Group, just Reply to a Sidebar posting (make sure you are replying to the Group, not just the sender)

            If you decide that you are getting too many posts, you can always chose the option for "Web access only" or "no e-mails" or "Daily Digest"/  

            John Ladd

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