Intermittent Fasting: the Natural Way of Eating for Health, Fat loss and Weight Loss by Bill Rockwell (ISBN-10: 1502548720; ISBN-13: 978-1502548726; Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2014, 61-page paperback $8.09; 46-page Kindle e-book $2.99) 

This book review is dedicated to Frances Adelhardt, who left her entire estate to the National Health Federation in a bequest this year. Frances authored an article for Health Freedom News and committed her life to fasting as a modality of optimum health and longevity. Having died in her mid-90s, healthy almost to the very end, I would say fasting more than proved itself. She once chided, “Health Freedom News publishes a lot on healthy foods, but what about fasting?” So this one’s for you, Frances!

Since returning from the Codex Committee Meeting on Food Additives in Hong Kong last March, five pounds have stubbornly clung on despite eating very well and exercising vigorously regularly. Fatigue and headaches accompanied my return home as well. Only until detoxification and fasting were instituted did the toxic burden stored in fat tissue release and my weight and health return to normal. It does not take the massive assault Hong Kong provided as we are all confronted daily with the need to eliminate toxins we get from our environment, food, and drink. This book is, therefore, a must read despite some deficiencies in its thoroughness. If you incorporate intermittent fasting into your life, it will serve as true life and health insurance.

Intermittent Fasting is a very short and to-the-point book that I downloaded on Kindle and read within an hour. It is written strictly from the physiological standpoint. While it is refreshing to get down so quickly to the “how to” aspect of fasting and the many options to employ, with my decade of experience as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and more recently becoming certified to teach Metabolic Detoxification, I would have included a section in this book covering what to do before you undertake one of the many fasting regimes Bill Rockwell introduces – namely, a bowel cleanse and a detox.

We have a responsibility to protect those receiving our advice. Without proper preparation for fasting, results could prove dangerous or uncomfortable at a minimum as compound toxins flood the system. Providing nutritional support for detoxification pathways reduces the intensity of a herxheimer response and supports systems and organs responsible for metabolizing and subsequent removal of toxins. Despite this omission in the text along with others, however, Mr. Rockwell’s work inspires me to include the lifestyle of intermittent fasting as the next logical step in a book on detoxification I’m writing because it is such a successful lifestyle. Notice it is not called a diet or even a cleanse; intermittent fasting is a way of life and meant to be incorporated as such.

Because the author documents that we are exposed to roughly 30,000 toxins daily, I would suggest first employing a bowel cleanse and then a detoxification program before trying one of his fasting choices or a combination of the presented options. Detoxification is how your body excretes toxins. If the bowel isn’t clear, when toxins are released they can recirculate through the bloodstream, causing toxic overload and putting more stress on the liver. Next, since detoxification is driven by specific nutrients that then carry the toxins out bound to a protein, it would be wise to begin to reduce the toxic burden with intelligent nutritional support.

The research in Intermittent Fasting is compelling, citing solid, well documented scientific studies, which I appreciated. Mr. Rockwell clearly explains the term “intermittent fasting.” There are several options to employ or a combination of these: fasting for a length of time or even fasting by missing a meal or two daily, or eating much smaller portions, or fasting by eating every other day. The results show that fasting increases lifespan (a remarkable 83% increase in the life span of rats on intermittent fasting), reduces weight, improves brain, heart, and blood-sugar function among others, and impacts a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Cardiovascular and brain function are enhanced by fasting and most of the risks associated with coronary artery disease and stroke are also reduced. Blood-pressure reductions and increases in insulin sensitivity are documented as well as neuron protection. Basically, intermittent fasting effectively addresses the major killers today. In a rat study where breast cancer was induced, the intermittent fasting rats’ survival rate was significantly higher than free-feeding rats (16/24 fasting rats survived and only 5/24 rats remained alive in the free-feeding group). Therapeutic fasting’s potential for healing cannot be overstated. Three times the number of rats survived breast cancer by intermittent fasting.

One of my favorite studies, as I work hard to stay healthy and youthful, shows intermittent fasting when paired with medium-intensity exercise resulted in an increase of 1300% of Human Growth Hormone in women and an amazing 2000% in men. A 2009 issue of Men’s Fitness magazine noted that HGH therapy costs often $1000 a month or more! So mastering intermittent fasting as a way to stay young and healthy is cheap and relatively easy. Bill Rockwell even notes the incredible savings on your grocery bill and in time spent preparing food if you use the one-meal-a-day fasting option. So, once you have prepared your body, the benefits are going to roll in financially, with health, energy and fitness gains, and youth and longevity. No wonder Frances was so excited about fasting.

The author recognizes that fasting is not for everyone and includes a chapter devoted to those who should not fast. I did not realize that in America it is actually illegal for children to fast, but he does encourage smaller meal portions for overweight children. People with liver disease, diabetics, kidney-failure patients, and those with other serious health issues are advised to avoid fasting. He also counsels paying attention to how the body is responding and not ignore disconcerting signs during a fast but consult your doctor instead.

I liked how he instructed early on, “For beginners, start with skipping breakfast and not eating for at least 8 hours.” Later, he advises readers to move into longer stretches “in order to shift your body to using body fat as fuel, make sure that the fasting period is at least 16 hours long.” Weight loss is something most of us need to actively manage and intermittent fasting will prove a naturally effective adjunct to that goal. His clipped style works for busy people, “Keep it simple. More often than not, simplicity is the key to success. Looking at the intermittent fast process, there really isn’t anything complicated about it. You merely skip or delay some meals for several hours, a day, or longer.”

The short book finishes with some Paleo recipes and exercises, but he neglects to mention anything about using organic meat and foods so the nutrient and calorie listing at the end would really have to include profiles for antibiotics, hormones, steroids, pesticide residues, and toxins like arsenic. I would have appreciated vegan recipe options as well. The author might also have stressed the purposeful avoidance of toxins in our diet and environment.

Bill Rockwell gives the short answer for different fasting “menus,” but his lack of depth will not truly serve the reader who enters into this without a proper foundation in place. Still, I would certainly recommend Intermittent Fasting. You will most likely feel – as I do – that you can find a place to begin with one of the fasting options that you can then develop into a lifestyle where you will stay younger and healthier for it.