Part 4: Can Pea Protein Up Your Intermittent Fasting Game?
Far from the latest diet trend, intermittent fasting offers an “eating window” based on the ancient practice of how our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to eat. And there’s a significant amount of research behind it. Intermittent fasting has the potential to reset your body and bring it back to its starting point. A daily fast like this, coupled with a protein-rich diet, can regulate insulin levels, encourage cellular repair, promote gene expression to support longevity, and a whole lot more.
By providing your body with an eating window, normally eating just 8 hours per day from lunch to dinner, you may see big changes in your digestion and overall health — in weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels, heart rate, genetic expressions, inflammation markers, and more. The Body Ecology Immune Power Protein Shake can help to support blood sugar control, weight loss, and lean muscle gains.
This is what happens when you fuel your body and then give it a chance to rest and digest.
What is intermittent fasting (IF)?
Making a resurgence in health communities, intermittent fasting has also been practiced by spiritual communities for centuries. As mentioned above, it has roots in the feeding rituals of our ancient ancestors, too. Today, intermittent fasting has proven to be a helpful weight loss tool by encouraging the body to break through the impenetrable hurdle of insulin resistance. Numerous diabetics and sufferers of metabolic syndrome have purported intermittent fasting to be a “lifesaving” shift in their eating habits.
Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet. It provides a set eating window that allows your body to reset its insulin output and better burn fat storages for fuel.
Here’s how it works:
- Every time we eat, our insulin levels rise. This is the hormone that prevents the body from burning fat and directs the extra fat that hasn’t been burned off into fat storages.
- Your body must first burn through glycogen storages for energy, a.k.a the carbohydrates you eat that are stored in the body as sugar. This is the normal carb-burning process the body uses for fuel each day in between meals, and with it also comes bursts of energy and blood sugar crashes to follow.
- When you give your body a break from eating for a longer period of time — a daily fast — insulin levels naturally drop. Your body must then access these fat storages to burn them for energy.
- Intermittent fasting — refraining from eating for about 16 hours a day and eating in an 8-hour window — does not burn lean muscle mass. It burns these hard-to-reach fat storages instead. The protein in muscle does not provide energy; fat storages do. Fat-burning also offers a steadier source of “primal” energy with the potential for better cognitive function. (Note that there are multiple variations of intermittent fasting, including alternate day fasting, that can be practiced for the same benefit.)
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Here are the proven benefits:
1. Help treat diabetes and heart disease.1
Fasting may protect the heart with benefits similar to exercise, potentially improving heart rate and blood pressure while lowering cholesterol. Fasting can also limit inflammation and improve fat and sugar levels in circulation.
2. Help treat epilepsy.2
The ketogenic diet has already been proven beneficial for children with “persistent and drug-resistant seizures,” and periodic fasting could provide added relief. Fasting may have a unique effect on nerve cells, and each modality could impact seizure triggers differently.
3. Fight fatty liver disease.3
Food deprivation in a fast can influence metabolism, producing a protein that can also adjust the metabolism of the liver. This protein helps to normalize fat content in the liver and improve sugar metabolism, with benefits for patients with fatty liver disease.
4. Reverse diabetes.4
Confirmed in 2017, a fasting-type diet may go so far as to reverse insulin resistance and some cases of diabetes. Controlled fasting can help to reprogram pancreatic cells and restore insulin production.
5. Kill cancer cells.5
Intermittent fasting may inhibit the growth and spread of the most common type of childhood leukemia (acute lymphoblastic leukemia), though the effect may not apply to all cancers.
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What happens when you use pea protein in combination with IF?
The most important thing to remember about intermittent fasting is that it’s not about punishment or food restriction. This is what animal and human bodies were built to do, thought the term “fasting” can put many people off. Way back before we had refrigerator storage, our ancestors would fast in the daytime and feast after they had hunted for or gathered their food. The body’s metabolism did not slow using this practical approach.
In fact, it increased!6,7
Depending on your fitness goals, you can still use intermittent fasting to monitor what you eat to maintain a healthy weight. Exercisers most often use intermittent fasting to effectively burn stubborn fat, while increasing strength through building lean muscle mass.
In Part 1 of our protein series, I talked about how to get the most out of your protein digestion. I also discussed how pea protein can regulate blood sugar to support healthy weight loss in Part 2, with the potential to encourage fat loss and muscle growth in Part 3.
When you combine fermented pea protein with a metabolism-regulating and muscle-building practice like intermittent fasting, your weight loss and fitness potential greatly increase. My Immune Power Protein Shake contains 15 grams of vegan pea protein per serving, designed to keep you satisfied and fuller for longer.8 Not only that, but my Immune Power Protein Shake is made with eight medicinal mushrooms that can help to regulate blood sugar — making it possible to lose weight and prevent inflammatory disease.9
The way I see it, pea protein and intermittent fasting can be used symbiotically.
Together, they’ll help you reap the biggest benefits for your health. Intermittent fasting provides a health-boosting eating window that works with your body’s natural ability to source energy and burn fat. Pea protein is a highly nourishing food you can use to break a daily fast and give you an extra dose of nutrients before bed. Read on to find out how pea protein can make intermittent fasting easier by bringing a natural rhythm to your body.
4 (more) ways pea protein can bring your body into balance
Intermittent fasting works so well because it utilizes circadian biology to positively impact metabolism. Many people who have used intermittent fasting for fitness, weight loss, or general health have reported feeling more on track, more balanced, and more vibrant. Getting your body into this balanced state is critical if you want to feel better, live longer, and manage a health issue.
I’ve found that when I take my Immune Power Protein Shake, my body starts to feel more in sync, with benefits like:
1. Stabilized energy levels.
If you find yourself tired and dragging morning, afternoon, and night, fermented pea protein can help. My Immune Power Protein Shake is fermented for four months to increase nutrient bioavailability and remove the phytic acid that can bind to minerals and block their absorption. As such, it’s highly nutritious and ready for your body to use. Taking one scoop after you break your fast (followed by your regular meal plan) can give you enough energy to sail through the rest of your day. If muscle building is your goal, a scoop of BCAA-rich fermented pea protein before a workout can help to shorten recovery time and improve muscle gains.10
2. Smoother digestion.
What is it about eating the right foods that makes your digestive system want to cooperate? While that question may be a no-brainer, taking an easily digestible protein that your body can use can make a big difference if you struggle with digestive issues and especially discomfort after meals. Compared to other commercial protein shakes, my Immune Power Protein Shake does not sit for hours in your stomach. When used during your intermittent fasting eating window, you’ll still be able to get in your calories and macronutrients for the day. And you’ll know that your body is getting a bioavailable source of protein to support satiety, weight loss, and muscle growth.11
3. More mental clarity.
Brain fog, or feeling like your thoughts are scattered and out of whack, can be a classic sign of low blood sugar. By now, we can agree that intermittent fasting is a champion regulator of blood sugar and may even help to reverse diabetes. Sharper focus may also be one of the first “side effects” you notice after starting IF. Fermented pea protein can play a supporting role to provide added benefits. Eating a rich source of protein as your first meal of the day — breakfast in the case of one study — can help to control spikes in blood sugar and prevent type 2 diabetes.12 Just imagine what both of these powerful tools can do for your metabolic health when you use them together!
What do your genes have to do with your health and fitness? In a word, everything.
4. Better sleep.
I’ve saved this biggie for last since so many people I know struggle with restless and interrupted sleep. One of my favorite things to do is to take a scoop of my Immune Power Protein Shake several hours before bed. When practicing intermittent fasting, you can enjoy it mixed up with water or in a green smoothie at the end of your eating window. Spikes in blood sugar are often the byproduct of eating high-sugar, high-carb, and processed foods, and they may be what’s waking you up in the middle of the night. Getting your blood sugar and your metabolism under control with intermittent fasting and fermented pea protein can promote a deeper and more restful sleep — with less waking in the night. Interestingly, sleep disruptions, like sleep apnea, have also been linked to higher blood sugar levels that increase risk of heart disease and mortality.13
What To Remember Most About This Article:
The foods you eat can have an impact on how well your body adjusts to an intermittent fasting eating schedule. With the right protein in your arsenal, the advantages of intermittent fasting become more enhanced. There is no magic bullet for health and fitness, but by using this research-backed combination, you could reap even more benefits as you improve your health, lose weight, and build lean muscle mass.
This can include:
- Better energy.
- Improved digestion.
- Sharper mind.
- Deeper and more restful sleep.
As with any new habit, researchers have discovered that fasting gets easier with time. And once you start practicing it, you may have plenty of time to fine-tune your approach. University of Florida scientists observed in 2015 that intermittent fasting causes slight increases in the SIRT 3 gene — a gene known to promote longevity.14
*Please consult your doctor before you start intermittent fasting if you have any health issues.
- James E. Brown, Michael Mosley and Sarah Aldred. Intermittent fasting: a dietary intervention for prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease? British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease, April 2013.
- Adam L. Hartman, James E. Rubenstein, Eric H. Kossoff. Intermittent fasting: A “new” historical strategy for controlling seizures? Epilepsy Research, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2012.10.011.
- J. Fuhrmeister, A. Zota, T. P. Sijmonsma, O. Seibert, S. C ng r, K. Schmidt, N. Vallon, R. M. de Guia, K. Niopek, M. Berriel Diaz, A. Maida, M. Blu her, J. G. Okun, S. Herzig, A. J. Rose. Fasting-induced liver GADD45 restrains hepatic fatty acid uptake and improves metabolic health. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 2016; DOI: 10.15252/emmm.201505801.
- Cheng et al. Fasting-mimicking diet promotes Ngn3-driven β-cell regeneration to reverse diabetes. Cell, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.01.040.
- Zhigang Lu et al. Fasting selectively blocks development of acute lymphoblastic leukemia via leptin-receptor upregulation. Nature Medicine, December 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nm.4252.
- Patterson RE, Laughlin GA, Sears DD, et al. INTERMITTENT FASTING AND HUMAN METABOLIC HEALTH. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115(8):1203-1212. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.018.
- Webber J, Macdonald IA. The cardiovascular, metabolic and hormonal changes
accompanying acute starvation in men and women. Br J Nutr. 1994 Mar;71(3):437-47.
PubMed PMID: 8172872.
- Shana J Kim, Russell J de Souza, Vivian L Choo, Vanessa Ha, Adrian I Cozma, Laura Chiavaroli, Arash Mirrahimi, Sonia Blanco Mejia, Marco Di Buono, Adam M Bernstein, Lawrence A Leiter, Penny M Kris-Etherton, Vladimir Vuksan, Joseph Beyene, Cyril WC Kendall, David JA Jenkins, and John L Sievenpiper. Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2016 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.124677.
- Kubo K, Aoki H, Nanba H. Anti-diabetic activity present in the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake).I. Biol Pharm Bull 1994;17:1106-1110.
- McLellan T. Protein supplementation for military personnel: a review of the mechanisms and performance outcomes. J Nutr 2013;143:1820S-1833S. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.176313. Epub 2013 Sep 11.
- Abou-Samra R, Keersmaekers L, Brienza D, Mukherjee R, Macé K. Effect of different protein sources on satiation and short-term satiety when consumed as a starter. Nutr J. 2011 Dec 23;10:139. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-139. PubMed PMID: 22196620; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3295702.
- Y.-M. Park, T. D. Heden, Y. Liu, L. M. Nyhoff, J. P. Thyfault, H. J. Leidy, J. A. Kanaley. A High-Protein Breakfast Induces Greater Insulin and Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Peptide Responses to a Subsequent Lunch Meal in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Nutrition, 2014; 145 (3): 452 DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.202549.
- B. D. Kent, L. Grote, M. Bonsignore, T. Saaresranta, J. Verbraecken, P. Levy, P. Sliwinski, R. Tkacova, J.-A. Kvamme, I. Fietze, J. Hedner, W. T. McNicholas. Sleep apnoea severity independently predicts glycaemic health in nondiabetic subjects: the ESADA study. European Respiratory Journal, 2014; DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00162713.
- Martin P Wegman, Michael Guo, Douglas M Bennion, Meena N Shankar, Stephen M Chrzanowski, Leslie A Goldberg, Jinze Xu, Tiffany A Williams, Xiaomin Lu, Stephen I Hsu, Stephen D Anton, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Mark L Brantly. Practicality of Intermittent Fasting in Humans and its Effect on Oxidative Stress and Genes Related to Aging and Metabolism. Rejuvenation Research, 2014; 141229080855001 DOI: 10.1089/rej.2014.1624.