Have you wondered why there’s so much talk about intermittent fasting? Do you find yourself asking, “what are the benefits for me?”
It can get confusing with all the differing opinions that are available on the internet, which is why it helps to speak to people who have studied the topic, have the capacity to read scientific studies, and then deliver the information in an easy, digestible way.
Today’s guest is one such person. He will help answer questions about intermittent fasting and explain why there are so many benefits for your overall health. My guest is Mike Mutzel, and he’s got 15 years of experience in medicine, nutrition, and fitness to walk us through the complexities around each topic. Mike is a functional medicine consultant in the natural product industry. He runs the YouTube channel, High Intensity Health, where he talks about all different aspects of health and breaks down new studies and what their findings mean to each of us.
In this episode, we discuss the benefits and negative effects of fasting, what you can start doing to reverse your age, why getting out in nature is so crucial, what happens to your body when you eat, and how to make your immune system bulletproof. Let’s jump right in!
Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Western Washington University in 2006 and completed his Masters of Science degree in clinical nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in 2015. He graduated from The Institute for Functional Medicine.
He is a functional medicine consultant in the natural product industry and has worked as a nutritionist with Gerard Guillory, MD of the Care Group, PC in Denver, CO. Mike has lectured alongside Dr. Guillory to large patient groups in the Denver area, and they have been featured on local T.V. programs discussing the power of nutrition and functional medicine.
To continue his quest for knowledge, Mike attends many Continuing Medical Education (CME) events held by various organizations around the country, learning from top researchers in the field. These events are hosted through groups like American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), and the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM).
Mike has also completed four of six Advanced Practice Modules (APMs) to earn the only board certification in Functional Medicine through IFM.
Mike has been studying the benefits of intermittent fasting for years to understand what happens in the body and how the benefits assist healthy goals. Before we dive deep into understanding these benefits, let’s understand what it is.
Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent energy restriction, is an umbrella term for various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting and non-fasting over a given period. Methods of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting, and daily time-restricted feeding.
It turns out humans didn’t evolve to eat at night because that’s when apex predators would hunt us, so we preferred being safe in our shelters. That meant we’d eat while the sun was out and fast at night. Studies now show that the timing of intermittent fasting plays a crucial role in the benefits we receive. Many recommend skipping breakfast, but Mike suggests an alternative.
“If someone is already getting good results, don’t change what you’re doing. [However], for people that haven’t gotten the benefits they expected with intermittent fasting, [the research shows that having breakfast and skipping the late dinner works optimally.] Do what works for you and your schedule, but there’s a mantra I follow from [my] competitive cycling ‘eat early, sleep early.’” – Mike Mutzel
Mike prefers to train hard in the morning and then eat to fuel his body. Instead of eating a late dinner, Mike switched to eating a big lunch early. Intermittent fasting has a feeding window of between six to ten hours which is why Mike recommends having your last meal at 6 PM with a secondary benefit being a better night’s sleep.
Now that we understand the practice of intermittent fasting, let’s see what some of the benefits are for our health.
Intermittent fasting can be confusing because it’s sometimes explained in a way that sounds like it’s just for someone who wants to lose weight or become a professional athlete. Mike shares his top five outcomes for anyone looking to try intermittent fasting that he’s gathered through his practice and felt personally through years of trying different ways.
“The biggest benefit I’ve noticed, and this is great for entrepreneurs, is mental clarity. As we age, everything atrophies in our body, but especially in our brain too. Words are harder to retrieve, and memory changes. Another benefit is a reduction in blood pressure. Heart disease [causes the most] harm to men over their lifespan, so a reduction in blood pressure [is crucial]. The third benefit that everyone wants is it’s easier to lose body fat. The fourth, depending upon who you are, is more energy. The final benefit of fasting is reducing your blood sugar.” – Mike Mutzel
I appreciate the way Mike focuses on how each of these points can affect different people, which is one of the reasons why I highly suggest heading over to listen to the entire podcast here.
All of the benefits above work together to help improve your longevity too.
“If we reframe how we think about aging, we can dramatically influence the rate at which we age biologically, and part of the processes and the genes that impact our aging process are beneficially augmented by way of fasting. There is a lot of synergy and parallels between all those metabolic processes that are upregulated when we’re fasting and so we ‘turn the thermostat down’ on the rate at which we’re aging.” – Mike Mutzel
It’s not just about slowing down the rate at which we age, but improving the quality of the years we have left to be mobile, energized, healthy, and disease-free.
If you exercise already and want to start intermittent fasting, Mike explains how to decide whether to exercise while fasting or not.
I often hear differing opinions about whether it’s better to exercise while fasting to help with burning fat. I’m curious what Mike has to say about his experience with this.
“It totally depends on [what your goal is]. I’m not trying to lose weight — I’m trying to preserve muscle as I age, so I do my cardio in the morning fasted [and] I weight train after I’ve had some food later. [It’s important to note that] I’ve been lifting [weights] since I was in high school, but if you’re brand new to this, I would [suggest] fasted [exercise] because we want low glucose, low insulin, and high glucagon — that process [is accelerated] when you do fasted exercise.” – Mike Mutzel
It’s not only about fasted exercise as what we eat plays a vital role in achieving our personal goals. We can’t simply eat whatever we want and expect fasting and exercise to counteract those adverse effects. Mike explains why.
“To get the benefits of fasting [means] getting that metabolic switch like low glucose [but] if you’re eating McDonald’s or Pop-Tarts — foods that jack up your blood sugar — it’s going to be hard to get the benefits. Now that being said, if [unhealthy food is] all you can afford, still fast. It’s better than not [fasting], but you want to try to eat as much unprocessed food as possible and get rid of the packaged foods.” – Mike Mutzel
All of our circumstances are different, but armed with the proper knowledge, we can make informed decisions to try and eat more real food and transform our health in the process. Make your meals from scratch and enjoy the benefits of feeling good too.
Mike points out that he doesn’t think there’s any one diet that will apply to everyone, nor is there one that will benefit everyone the same way. The biggest key is finding a routine that you can stick with long-term that’s sustainable.
One of the benefits of eating a diet rich in whole foods is the effects on our immune system, which I think we can all agree has become a priority for everyone.
Mike is giving us some valuable information to digest. One of the key aspects to being mindful of health is understanding how our lifestyle decisions impact our immune system. No matter our age, the importance of a strong and healthy immune system is crucial to fighting off diseases. There are key factors to enhance our immune system to make it bulletproof, such as not having glycemic variability — a spike in blood sugar.
For example, if you drink a soda and immediately test your glucose, you’ll see a spike. We want fewer fluctuations, and we can do that by cutting out sugary and processed foods.
“ Eating more real food [helps] reduce glycemic variability [and] improves our sleep. I can share with you study after study about individuals who have poor outcomes when it comes to viral infections compared to individuals who have good outcomes in their exercise habits. Kaiser Permanente here in Southern California [monitored] 48,000 subjects with COVID ― they looked at exercise habits, and individuals who regularly exercise were much less likely to go to the hospital, end up in ICU or die.” – Mike Mutzel
Other studies Mike references are from Sweden, China, and South Korea. The data is emerging that being sedentary compromises your immune system because our baseline level of inflammation increases.
“Think about it [like this], if we’re playing really loud music in our room, we’re not going to hear someone come in or out — and that person could be a burglar. If you have more static background inflammation because you’re not exercising or eating processed food, then when exposed to influenza or Covid, your immune system will not have the bandwidth to take care of that pathogen early. The problem with these infections is the immune system is not mounting an appropriate initial response, and the virus circulates, and then there’s a lot of collateral damage. We can enhance [our immune system and] prevent inflammation with exercise, real food, stress management, and sleep.” – Mike Mutzel
I love that analogy about the noise! It makes so much sense now why optimizing our immune system is vital. By reducing the amount of inflammation in our body, we give it the best chance of detecting new pathogens or viruses early on and defeating them, making our chances greater of not being hospitalized because of them.
Guys, this conversation was jam-packed with information about building a healthy body and boosting our immune system. I just couldn’t fit it all into this post, so to catch all the wisdom shared by Mike from his 15 years in the industry, head over here right now.
To learn more, I recommend subscribing to his YouTube Channel, High Intensity Health, where Mike shares a lot of science-based research and keeps it practical. There’s a wealth of good research out there not being discussed. Thankfully, Mike loves reading all of them and distilling the wisdom derived into bite-sized videos to understand. You can also find Mike on his website and Instagram.
After hearing Mike’s wisdom, I’m not surprised by his answer to my final question about what he defines as greatness.
“I think being consistent. If we think about Kobe [Bryant], great athletes, and great entrepreneurs, they show up every day, day in, day out. Instead of always jumping onto the latest fad, just be consistent. Pick one thing and be great at that one thing, that to me is what I think leads to greatness.” – Mike Mutzel
I couldn’t agree more with Mike’s understanding of the power of consistency. If you loved this episode, please do me a favor and tag Mike @metabolic_mike and me, @lewishowes, on Instagram with a screenshot of your greatest takeaways.
If no one’s told you lately, I want to remind you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter. Now it’s time to go out there and do something great!
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