Feast/Famine Cycling: The Ultimate Hormone Hack

“The thing that I loved about fasting was that I love the innate intelligence of the human body. That’s what fascinated me, and even drove me into chiropractic school. The body has the wisdom to heal. I have but respect for that. If we can just remove the interference, the body knows what to do. I got my life back that way.

Fasting harnesses that innate intelligence. When you’re in a fasting state, the intelligence of the body just knows what to do and all the magic starts to happen. So much science today, we’ve learned what that innate intelligence is doing. Back in the 90s when I was super into it, we didn’t know. We just knew that magic happened when we fasted. Today’s science has shed some light on why fasting is such a miracle thing.

Let's start with a few questions about Hormone Optimization: Can hormones be corrected LONG TERM by giving hormones? Can thyroid conditions be solved by taking T3 and/or T4? Can weight loss resistance be as easy as giving hormones? The real answer Lies In The Principle of Hormesis. What is it? It might bring us to the definition of Hormesis. Hormesis - Hormesis refers to adaptive responses of biological systems to moderate environmental or self-imposed challenges through which the system improves its functionality and/or tolerance to more severe challenges.”

“It's showing that if you don't move enough it's bad of course we all get that but it's also showing that when we go over what we call a hormetic zone when we go outside of the hormetic zone and stress too much it becomes a huge negative so we need stress to become better. For example, Ice Baths. Do you know that most people cannot tolerate three minutes in the ice bath and they get out and they've done damage to their body? Because their body is so under stress from other things that they can't adapt to the cold and it's a negative for them. I believe that if they do it often enough it actually will lead to cancer and other problems however I do agree that cold exposure can create this hormetic stress that actually creates an adaptation and creates hormone optimization. We can take stress like this ice bath and make it a positive and we can even train ourselves slowly as I did with chemical sensitivity to actually become better adapted and get more out of the ice bath. 

It’s All About Adaptation. Temperature change forces adaptation by altering the microbiome causing a hormonal shift (hormone optimization). Researchers reported in Cell, that a microbe called Akkermansia, associated with obesity was the reason for the weight loss.

Let's take it another step - sun exposure. Would you all agree that sun exposure is good until you burn until you have too much? We know there's an amount that's you know it's amazing and there's an amount that's too much and damaging. Adaptation from these wavelengths creates this amazing hormonal response in the body. It's more than just vitamin D, it affects cholesterol sulfate which impacts your hormones greatly. 

Extremes Can Prove a Concept. 

Chornobyl (Radiation): Experts predicted thousands of years of denuded life in the Exclusion Zone. They said everything would be dead for 600 years minimum, possibly thousands of years. There would be nothing living in this area were they right or were they wrong they didn't understand hormesis, they didn't understand that stress. In fact, as horrible as it was, it could actually make it better. They didn't understand microorganisms' ability to actually adapt to stress. The stress of the radiation created all this amazing adaptation because they can do it quickly. “Newer research says otherwise—that plants have regrown, and animal life is even more diverse than before the accident.”

Fasting as stress - Too much fasting is a Catabolic state, Decreased immunity, Muscle loss and changes in metabolism, Increases in 4-HNE (4 hydroxynonenal), and therefore an increase cancer risk.

Autophagy gets rid of bad cells and increases your metabolic activity for the good cellular adaptations, down regulates oxidative stress, regulates inflammation, lower cancer incidence and the right amount of fasting is stress that applies to hormesis so you have to find what your body's balancing, you have to find what your body is adapting to.

Fasting Is A Stress That Applies To Hormesis

“Improvements in weight and other risk-related outcomes were found in the 3 trials. Two observational clinical outcomes studies in humans were found in which fasting was associated with a lower prevalence of CAD or diabetes diagnosis”

Extended Fasting and Caloric Restriction

“Increasing longevity and obtaining successful aging from the redox and hormetic perspective. Fasting increases microbiome diversity via hormesis fasting stresses. The microbiome and that stress creates diversity in the microbiome. How are we trying to fix guts today? Taking probiotics, taking pills. It can be helpful especially the ones that actually create stress like soil organisms or spore organisms. But just adding bacteria to the gut - it's old thinking already. It really is how we really create diversity. We have to stress the microbiome without stressing the microbiome so you will not create diversity. I've talked about a lot of things fixing chemical sensitivity, breaking through weight loss resistance of just applying a stress correctly to your body, fasting is one of the ways we can apply a stress into the microbiome can even get a hormone optimization but it's honestly as a group this is the main way that we fix guts and that’s another way.”

“Fasting challenges human gut microbiome resilience and reduces Fusobacterium. Water fasting versus juice fasting? I'm not a fan of juice fasting and I always get that question. It's for multiple reasons but you don't get the autophagy via juice fasting but it was the water fasting that actually made this the difference

  • Water-only fasting could have a profound and long-lasting effect on the gut microbiome.
  • However, juice fasting has a relatively limited effect on gut microbiome.
  • Water-only fasting could be a potential tool to reduce Fusobacterium.
  • Types of Block Fasts and Where Should I start?
  • Water only 
  • Juice 
  • Bone broth 
  • Partial (Albert Mosséri in 1986 made popular)
  • Fasting Mimicking Diet (Valter Longo most recently and developer of Prolon)

“If you're going too fast whether it be partial or water one of the magic tricks is using hydrogen water because it does raise and stimulate ghrelin so you actually can decrease the appetite and by the way the hydrogen water also increases autophagy so you can actually get into autophagy much better faster by using hydrogen water.”

Does Feasting with Fasting (Famine) Increase the Hormetic Effect?

“Which one's more important I don't know depends who you are. For the person who's feasting all the time and trying to gain muscle or whatever their reason the fast is more important but the person who fasts a lot or is calorically restricted then I would argue the feast is going to be more important they're equally as important.

We have adapted to be healthier when we have opportunities to adapt to variations & disruptions in our food availability.Diet Variation (Feast Famine Cycling):

Adapt or Die 

Survival is the #1 priority of innate intelligence. (Beyond Fasting: A Cellular Solution to Break Through Weight Loss Resistance, Slow Aging, and Get Well. Chapters 4 & 5)

  • Major dietary shifts drive survival adaptation mechanisms
  • Microorganisms are the first to adapt to survive and drive the survival of the host
  • With every diet change organisms become more diverse 

“I visited a tribe in Africa and I saw a tribe who was incredibly healthy, didn't have words for most diseases that we have today, definitely didn't have any obesity, thyroid conditions none of that. They would go many times without any food at all and then they would feast like crazy when they had a kill feast. Famine is something that is lost but our DNA is yet still set up for that.”

Does The Body Have to Adapt to Diet Changes?

Yes, the microorganisms must adapt first, then we have the metabolism shift and the mitochondria get stressed and they get better and the bad ones die and the better ones replicate, good ones as well our DNA is programmed for these changes, no doubt about it ultimately the body wants to survive.

  • Adaptation occurs due to:
  • Increase in growth hormone
  • Increase in norepinephrine
  • Increase in hormone sensitivity
  • Increase in luteinizing hormone and therefore Testosterone
  • Increase in mitochondrial function
  • If exercise stays the same benefits plateau
  • You must vary your routine for continued results  

“Just feasting once or twice a week especially when you're in a low carb state is magic to get leaner, right the bodybuilders did it, they would just eat pizza for goodness sakes and go i'm leaner it's a principle that i'm teaching you that's why it works.” 

Diet Change Adaptation Occurs Due To:

  • Increases in growth hormone
  • Increases in norepinephrine
  • Increase in hormone sensitivity
  • Increase in luteinizing hormone and therefore T
  • Increased hormone sensitivity
  • An Increase in mitochondrial production and function
  • Epigenetics
  • Microbiome shifts

When and Why? “The last half century has brought stark changes in lifestyle that depart from normal diurnal cycle and periodic fluctuations in food availability. Thus, modern times may be characterized as being constantly in a “feast” environment. The cellular consequences may be an increase in risk for several diseases including cancer.”

“The more diverse the diet, the more diverse the microbiome and the more adaptable it will be to perturbations. Unfortunately, dietary diversity has been lost during the past 50 years”

“It's not my opinion when and why so who needs this who should do it? I believe we all should but if you're a practitioner or a coach people that aren't fat adapting remember if you want to gain muscle and therefore weight you need more variation high protein diet is not going to do it anymore, you actually have to change the diet, no energy in ketosis better change it hormone conditions especially thyroid conditions absolutely you have to feast those people you got to feed them up as we say.”

  • Not fat adapting (meaning not going into ketosis)
  • Not losing weight 
  • Losing weight (muscle) but getting skinny fat 
  • Gain muscle and therefore weight
  • No energy in ketosis 
  • Hormone conditions esp. thyroid
  • Cancer according to studies 

During low carb the body can try to preserve it’s precious fuel supply (All for the sake of survival):

  • It will slow lipolysis by taking up more water in the fat cell 
  • It will blunt insulin receptors to hold on to its precious fat

“Study shows Intermittent caloric restriction is better for weight loss, metabolic disease and anti-aging. The cycling of the caloric restriction with normal eating forces adaptation and is believed to be the reason for the outcome. 

I recommend fast periodically then you actually get a new immune system eventually but if you fast too long you actually lower your immune system.

You want to live longer- eat less by eating less often. We start squeezing your eating window down. Now, that means you’re fasting. You’re starting to get your body used to use its fat during a fast when you’re not fasting.”

I recommend fast periodically then you actually get a new immune system eventually but if you fast too long you actually lower your immune system.

What Drives Autophagy?

“One of which is called autophagy, where the body when you’re not eating, it will start eating because it needs nutrition. It needs energy. It will eat all of your bad cells. Then it stimulates the stem cell. That stem cell will create a new cell. Literally, we renew ourselves during a time of fasting. That’s one of the amazing benefits.

I said we’re programmed to fast as well as turn off bad genes. The stressors in life, toxins in life, and emotional stressors in life turn on bad genes. Now, we have symptoms and conditions that we get diagnosed with that we don’t like, but those genes were triggered. Fasting is one of the most powerful ways to turn them off. Again, we’re programmed too fast to turn off bad genes.”

Autophagy (catabolic) - gets rid of the old (i.e. senescent cells) 

  • Fasting and restricted calories / partial fast or fasting mimicking diet)
  • Low carbs (keto)
  • Low Protein (under 20gms a day; great for feast famine cycles) 

mTOR (anabolic) - rebuilds the new (i.e. stem cell creation and growth hormone stimulation)

  • Feasting (high calories)
  • High carbs (200 and above of healthy carbs rec)
  • High protein (1 gm per lean pounds of body weight)

Diets Like Keto or Carnivora, Do They Apply to Hormesis?

At first Keto drives free radicals (ROS) from oxidized lipids. Then your cells adapt via increased levels of GSH and other anti-oxidant pathways and oxidation and inflammation decrease. Therefore, Keto has been shown to help with certain cancers and many other inflammatory diseases. However, over time the free radical stress rises again . Most of the stress is driven by the slow build up of 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE). At low levels appears protective, but at high levels is linked to cancer

Low Fat / Plant Based/ Higher Carb

  • The increase in antioxidants from plants decreases inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Even the plant toxins act in hormetic fashion and cause the gut microbiome to become better and more diverse.
  • The new fibers as well cause diversity of the biome 
  • However, the lectins, phytates, nightshades and oxalates can become oxidative and drive gut inflammation and even worsen cause leaky gut  

When we look at studies, and I cite them in the book, when we look at low-fat diets, high-fat diets, ketosis, all the different diets, there’s one that shines superior. It is basically varying the diet; meaning, we said, look, I’m in the camp of keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian. Everyone likes to basically camp in their diet, but the fact is varying the diet is where the magic is. There’s reasons for that. One of which it creates—the body has to adapt. Again, if it adapts, it becomes stronger. It adapts by something called hormone optimization.

Feast Famine Cycles (Part of Diet Variation)

  1. Weekly (5-1-1, 4-2-1 or 3-2-2)  i.e.,  5 days of I.F. (16-20 hours),  1 day of 24 hour fast (dinner to dinner) -1 day of a feast (3 meals and increase carbs and/or protein)
  2. Monthly - i.e., 5-7 days a month of high carb or high protein (drives mTor and an anabolic state)
  3. Seasonally - i.e., rotate 3-4 months in ketosis and I.F. with 3-4 months higher healthy carb  (100-150 g. daily) and I.F.

BiohackingCongress Team is very grateful to Dr. Daniel Pompa, Co-Founder of Health Centers Of The Future, Author of Beyond Fasting and Founder of Pompa Programs Cellular Detox,  for joining the BiohackingCongress and giving a life-changing lecture. 

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Based on the lecture by  Dr. Daniel Pompa