James Madison
Health Program
by James Madison

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Intermittent Fasting
Healthy Eating
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I lost 40 pounds in 107 days using the techniques listed here.  I had spent 5+ years eating poorly and not exercising.  Then a coworker started a weight loss competition at work.  I worked hard and did well in the competition, but far more important was what I learned about health and fitness.  I had all the signs of insulin resistince, pancreas burnout, liver fattening, and heart attack risk.  And I didn't realize how much general fatigue I also had until it was gone.  Nor did I realize how sustainable the alternative is--watch, you'll see.  My hope is that others can benefit from what I learned.  If you do your own searching, you might find what I found.  But I hope that by compiling the best-of what I found, you can find what works for you even faster.  For more information, please email me at madjim@bigfoot.com.

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Sources

I have found the following authors to be my favorites on these topics.  They all do videos.  I find that videos are much more effective than reading when it comes to learning about health and fitness.  While I do link to a number of their videos below, I believe you will also find many good things if you just watch any of the videos they publish, so do click around their sites and YouTube channels.  
  • Dr. Eric Berg - The gentle advice giver.  Picks one targted topic at a time, and slowly walks through it on his white board.  I find him useful for detailed advice on specific needs.

  • Dr. Jason Fung - The bomb thrower.  Very direct with his opinion.  Happy to insult anyone who disagrees.  Willing to scare you.   But he's a medical professional whose whole career is about dealing with obesity, diabeties, and kidney issues.  I find him useful for the big-picture review of how the body works and why.

  • Thomas DeLauer - The scientific jock.  Focuses on applying the science of diet and exercise to atheletic performance  He's neither a doctor nor a scientist, but is very factual in his analysis.  I find him useful for practical and often very targeted application of the science.

  • Jeff Cavaliere - The manly-man jock.  A physical therapist who works with professional athletes.  He provides a very practical view of how to exercise.  He considers the risk inherent in exercise, which I appreciate as someone hovering around the age of 50.  He also focuses on diversity of exercise and balance among the areas of the body, which I'm a big believer in.  I find him useful for adding lots of safe and diverse exercises to my routine and understanding the specific value of each exercise.


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Intermittent Fasting

Stop eating so often.  That's not to say so much, but so often,  If you keep hitting your body with food, it can't properly rest and recover.  The up-side is that when you eat, you can eat heartily, thus you won't always be hungry.  This is part of what makes this program sustainable over time versus traditional caloric restriction diets.
  • Overview with Dr. Jung - A conversational overview of how fasting works.  He is obviously incorporating a great deal of science, but puts it in simple terms.  This is a good place to start as it gives a coherent top-level view.  It's a bit long, but if you watch it at 1.5 or 2.0 times speed, you can get through it much faster.

  • Overview with Dr. Berg - A detailed analysis of the mechanics of moving into and being in the intermittent fasting process.  Where Dr. Junk is more the high-level flow, Dr. Berg is more the concrete action plan.

  • Overview with Thomas DeLauer - The two doctors above are focused on health, where looking good is a side effect.  DeLauer is focused more on fat loss and body building, where intermittent fasting is a means to an end  Despite having more of a jock view, DeLauer still references science often, lest he be accused of issuing bro-advice.

  • Let your body feed itself - As you listen to the various videos, listen for the following theme.  Hunger is not a signal to eat.  Rather, hunger is a signal that your body needs energy.  As your body becomes adapted to fasting windows and to using fat as energy, don't react to hunger by eating.  Instead, give your body 20 to 30 minutes to find energy from within your existing fat stores.  If the hunger gets worse, then consider eating.  But often, you might find it goes away, and that's because when you didn't feed it, your body moved on to using your stored fat instead.Even better than just waiting, try this next technique:

  • Exercise through hunger - As you listen to the various videos, observe the references to our evolutionary past and the implications it has for how to be healthy today.  I'll reference this notion several more times below, but the key one here is this.  When our ancestors got hunger signals from their bodies, what did they do?  Make a quick run to the refrigerator and be back before the commercial break was over?  No!  For millions of years, being hungry meant forraging through the wilderness for hours in search of food, then chasing that food, then beating on that food to kill it.  That is, for millions of years, the signal from the brain of you're hungry was met with exercise.  You can emulate that behavior today.  If you get hungry, exercise.  I actually made this a planned habit.  On the days where I would stop eating early, I knew I would probably be hungry before bedtime  So half way between my early dinner and bedtime, I would plan exercise.  For me, a three-mile, moderate-pace bike ride was perfect.  I would go for the ride a bit hungry, but come back fine for the next two hours or so--enough to get to bed.If you get hungry in your fasting windows, exercise instead of eating.  And even make it part of your exercise planning.

  • Don't worry about muscle loss - Many people worry that intermittent fasting will cause muscle loss.  Dr. Berg asserts that the body won't even consider muscle as a fuel source until you've been fasting for four days.  He even argues that the production of growth hormone that comes with fasting will help build muscle.  Dr. Fung argues that even if the body does need to convert protien to carbs, there are many other sources of protien in the body that it will use before using muscle  DeLauer does say in one if his videos there may be some slight muscle loss as the body gets into a fat-adapted state, but this is minimal, and well worth the transition to fat adaptation.  See also: (link), (link).

  • You may actually gain muscle faster - I'm not talking about large-scale body building, though it may work for that too (link).  But for the average person just working to stay in good shape, indications are muscle growth may be better with intermittent fasting than under normal conditions.See also: (link).

  • Start slowly and work up - The standard process is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feasting  Don't try to start with 16 hours unless you're already in good shape.  I started with 12 hours by eating dinner before 7 p.m. and not eating breakfast until after 7 a.m.  And don't attempt aggresive carb reduction at the same time.  I was still having toast with breakfast and rice dinner as I eased into it.  Then I worked up from there.  I move breakfast closer and closer to just before the usual 9 a.m. meeting.  I moved dinner back closer to 6 p.m. on week nights, and 5 p.m. on weekends  When I'm working toward a hard goal, I'll buy two salads at lunch and eat one for dinner before 4 p.m.  That means I'm just drinking water at the family dinner, which is a sacrifice I'm not willing to make long term, so I don't do it often, and those are the tradeoffs we all have to consider.  After about two months I was easily able to hit 16 hours, and even 20 hours without too much effort.  I even found some days I just did two meals because that was all I needed and it fit the schedule nicely, and it wasn't a problem at all  As with so many things that adjust the body, start slowly and work up.

  • Have a written eating and exercise plan - Reaserch indicates those with goals accomplish more than those without goals.  It further indicates that those who write their goals down accomplish more than those without goals.  And goes does not just mean lofty, long-term objectives, but goals day-by-day and hour-by-hour as well.  I had a method of tracking both my overall health-related behaviors, as well as a method more focused on exercise.  These are here.  They are not self-explanatory, but should make some sense when you read through them.  Take them if they work for you.  Ignore them if they don't  Adapt them to your particular needs if you do use them--what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for others.  But whatever you do, have a detailed plan and work it through.

    • Healthy Behaviors spreadsheet - A daily checklist of the behaviors to meet your goals of being healthy.

    • Exercise Tracking spreadsheet - A daily checklist of exercises to choose from to meet your goals of being fit.  Be sure to diversify.  The checklist has over two dozen exercises.  You should only do a few in any given session and push them to exhaustion.  This means that across sessions, you won't be working the same muscle groups in the same way.


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Healthy Eating

The obvious items that everyone knows are here--less sugar, fewer carbs, more salad.  The less obvious items are what you can add--lots of butter, fats, and salt!  I found it quite easy to give up sugar for butter and salt!  And there are so many delicious fats that I found it acceptable to give up carbs.  And if you smother your salad in healthy fats, it can be quite good  More compelling is the science behind what these things do to the body.  It's one thing to hear echos of your mother's voice telling you to not snack before dinner and eat your vegetables.  It's another thing to listen to the medical and scientific information and realize that some foods are really bad, and that some things you've been avoiding are really good.
  • Avoid sugar - Sugar has a high glycemic index and is about half fructose, which is completely worthless to the body and just overloads the liver.  If you must have something fun, you can have lots of fats and salt on this program, and even regular simple carbs that are not full of fructose are better.  But actual sugars, and particularly high fructose sugars, need to be severly limited.

  • Eat big salads - You MUST eat salad, and a lot of it.  The main reason to eat salad is that your body needs a large amount of potassium every day.  It needs other nutrients too, but if you just focus on potassium and get enough through vegatables, you'll get enough of everything else, except possibly magnesium, which is discussed below.  Please watch this video to understand the value of postassium.  The most critical thing to note is that it is NOT enough to just take in protein and fat on a low-carb diet.  You're body needs the nutrients that come from vegatables.  And not the "fun" vegatables either!  Not things like corn, peas, and carrots, which are full of carbs.  And not the beans at the salad bar--which are beans and not actually vegatables.  But the hard-core stuff like spinach, kale, radishes, mushrooms and so on.  You must east a huge salad every day.  Don't worry.  The great escape here is that good fats are highly encourage, and you can make great dressings with fats.  See below for dressing tips.

  • Increase fats dramatically - This is the huge win in this program!   Although you're being asked to stop sugar and most carbs, you get to add fat, and a lot of it.  Yes, that means breads, pastas, rice, pastries, all need to go.  Which sounds horrible until you realize you get butter, cheese, cream, beef, bacon, salads smothered in dressing, and other fat-based recepies that many diets put off limits.  And below, you'll see that you get lots of salt to.  So reframe the question: can you give up sugar and carbs for virutally unlimited fats and salt?   For me, it's a great trade!

  • Don't worry about colesterol - Discuss.

  • Limit protein to 3-6 ounces per meal - Discuss.  See also: (link),   

  • Reduce gluten - Discuss.

  • Reduce carbs - Discuss.

  • Limit snacking - Discuss.

  • Increase butter - Discuss.

  • Increase salt but ensure it's natural - Discuss.  See also: (link).

  • Use MCT oil - Discuss.

  • Take magenesium - Discuss.

  • Drink bone broth - Discuss.

  • Drink to thirst only - Discuss.


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Exercise

Commentary on this section.
  • Understand LISS and HIIT - Discuss.

  • Do LISS while deeply fasted - I like to think of this in terms of basic bro science: if you exercise with food in your digestive system, you're digestive system, your body will naturally use that instead of burning fat off your body.  But if you exercise deeply fasted, your body has no choice but to burn the fat on your body.  The actual science is both more complicated and more exciting.  But that is the essence of it.  The other argument that is highly compelling is that growth hormone gets much higher when fasting.  This means that when you're working out and recovering, your body can get full benefit from it.

  • Don't worry about reduced performance - I estimate that my workout performance is 20% to 30% worse when I exercise fasted--but that doesn't matter.If your goal is general health and fat loss, exercising while fully fasted is the goal.  If you lift less, don't run as far, or otherwise perform less, why does that matter?  You're getting the maximum impact of leaning out, and if that's your goal, you're getting it.  But do understand some performance reduction happens, and that's okay  I find if I later work out in a non-fasted state, I get all that performance back--but then I'm not getting the fat burning.

  • Do HIIT while feasting, perhaps even with carbs - Discuss.

  • Work up to Tabata - Discuss.  See also: (link),   


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Key Ingredients

Commentary on this section.
  • Butter - Discuss.

  • Salt - Discuss.

  • Stevia - Stevia is a natural sweetener.  But be careful!  Some brands mix it with things like cane sugar, which defeats the purpose.  Use stevia pervasively.  I have found it is more sweet than sugar, though it is a bit different.  It may take some getting used to, but not much.  It's an amazing alternative to sugar, with no downsides.

  • Bacon - Discuss.

  • Avacado salad dressings - Discuss.

  • Bone broth - Discuss.

  • Lard - Discuss.


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Favorite Recipes

Commentary on this section.

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Other

Commentary on this section.
  • Check your heart attack risk - When I started working out heavily after years of not working out, I worried I could do more harm than good.  In this test from Dr. Berg, you can do an informal check for yourself.  Run your heart rate up for one minute.  Take your pulse.  Wait one minute.  Take your pulse again.  If the difference between those pulse rates is less than 20, you should worry.  Watch the video for the exact procedure and the meaning of rates of recovery.

  • Handle keto rash - Some people when they go into heavy ketosis experience can experience iching and hives.  I did.  So have three friends of mine.  It is not well researched or understood, but the best hypothesis and course of action I found comes from Dr. Berg.  Naturally, the fast way out of this is to eat carbs.  It went away for me in 36 hours by quickly bringing back rice and bread.  But the trick to staying in ketosis and not having the rash appears to be in having proper nutrients.

  • Manage cortisol - Discuss.

  • Address dry skin with vitamin A. - Discuss.

  • Go slower if you're a woman - Discuss.

  • Use a green suppliment - Discuss.

  • Take magnesium - Discuss.


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