As mentioned in [this post], I had a chance to attend [Ludwig Bernhard’s] new show “Neues von Herz, Diet und Sex” at the end of the last year. In case you don’t know him, Bernhard, who studied medicine (although never graduated from what I’ve heard – roger that, just checked Wikipedia, he never graduated) considers himself an “Infotainer” and his shows [“Cabaret Seminars”]. That means that although you definitely get a good laugh or two while hearing the guy talk but still, he tries to actually educate his audience, to transport a message. Now you have every right to wonder how all of this relates to a martial arts blog. Fret not, for the answer will be served shortly…
You see, Bernhard is a proponent of [intermittent fasting]. I’ve written quite a few posts on that topic myself and feel that it’s probably the best way for a martial artist to eat (and live, for that matter). In case you’ve never heard about the concept, quit reading now and go to [www.leangains.com] or fetch your copy of Ori Hofmekler’s [The Warrior Diet]. Now while both Ori and Martin do a great job in educating people about the benefits of IM, it takes quite a bit of time and dedication to actually read their stuff. I have to admit that even I had to stop reading [Maximum muscle, minimum fat], because although I greatly appreciate the concept, I just didn’t have the nerve to chew through all those details.
Bernhard offers an easier introduction to IM in his book, “Die morgen kann ich essen was ich will Diät”, which roughly translates to “Tomorrow I can eat whatever I want diet”. Basically, what he propagates is a very simple form of [every-other-day-eating]. A shorter name for the whole thing is [10 in 2], that basically you eat for 1 day, on the second day you eat nothing (0), and you repeat the cycle every 2 days. Neat, huh? There’s a [science corner] on his website where you can find some easy-to-digest material on the topic of IM. I recommend you take a look if you’re not completely satisfied with the way you look, feel or perform right now.
Having said all that, while I appreciate the user friendliness of 10 in 2, I still believe it to be greatly inferior to other forms of IM, especially The Warrior Diet. Here’s why:
- Social compatibility. This one is huge, although you probably won’t be able to fully understand it unless you’ve actually done some serious IM. While Bernhard says that people will accept you being on a diet – he even goes so far as to promise people won’t be offended if you just don’t eat anything at social events like weddings and birthdays –, I can tell you from personal experience that they won’t. It’s not even about you. People could really care less how you eat and live. Rather, it’s about them. Especially people who are too weak to actually give IM a fair chance (I’m well aware of being pretty harsh here – just want to make a point) will bash on the idea as being “unscientific” or “mumbo jumbo”. They’ll label it as unnatural and unhealthy. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth, but that doesn’t make a difference for most people, anyway. While The Warrior Diet (I’m using capital letters here to indicate that I’m specifically talking about Ori Hofmekler’s system) utilizes shorter fasting periods than 10 in 2, it allows you to have a big dinner with your friends and family every day. I feel that especially in our modern age, where the time we have for our loved ones is scarce already, the idea of having a “feast” at the end of the day yields great potential for social interaction. To make a point for 10 in 2: On his show, Bernhard cited a study on IM where rats were put on a 16/8 cycle (16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of ad libidum eating). Although the study showed great results for rats, the human metabolism works a bit different from that of a rat. Hence, our fasting cycles probably need to be longer on order to fully reap the benefits of fasting. The Warrior Diet utilizes a fasting cycle of around 20 hours, which might still not be enough to maximize the hormonal processes that make IM so beneficial. Still, since there are no clear numbers (to my knowledge) as to how long the fasting cycle actually has to be for “perfect” results, I feel that this point is not all that important. Of course, If you have better information on this this one than I do, feel free to leave a comment below.
- Food choice. Here, two points collide: For one, most people are weak of will. On the other hand, certain foods are just plain unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. Sadly, it’s mostly the yummy foods that should be eliminated from our diets. Giving the average Joe the chance to eat only indigestible garbage on one day and just compensate by not eating the other just won’t work. I know, I’m once again being rather harsh on this one, but I’m choosing my words very consciously. Don’t get me wrong here: I’m by no means implying that 10 in 2 can’t work. I’m just concerned that a certain (potentially large) number of people will turn this into the dumbest diet imaginable. Common sense is imperative when starting a diet that leaves you with a lot of freedom. The Warrior Diet is stricter in this regard: Although nothing is per definition forbidden, the order in which you consume your foods puts a cap on crappy foods for practical reasons. Try eating those cakes and sweets after devouring loads of meat, fish, poultry and veggies. No prohibitions here – just the demand that you finish eating your proper food before reaching for stuff that will ultimately ruin you. What this results in is a high protein, high fiber, all natural – way to go.
- Performance. Ok, I guess this one needs to be taken with a grain of salt. As a competitive fighter, I’m rather concerned about performance issues after something like 20 hours of fasting. Consider the case where you sleep 8 hours, say, until 6 am. It’s your fasting day, so you don’t have breakfast (not that I usually would, but then I seldom go for longer than ~20 hours without food). At 8 am, you do your morning session, for example, shadow sparring. Not a problem, your glycogen stores are pretty full from the previous day. After not eating lunch, you do your padwork and conditioning at 2 pm. That’s 16 hours into your fast. By now, your stores are probably quite low. Finally, for good measure, you finish your day at 6 pm with rope skipping and sparring. You haven’t eaten since 20 hours and are about to engage in some of the most demanding physical activity known to men: fighting. Good luck on that one. [Last time I tried], I didn’t do particularly well with that approach. Obviously, my situation was unique in that I entered a full-contact competition completely depleted. Still, I doubt this would be a great idea for most performance athletes (think catabolism….). by the way, if you consider the above presented scenario to be completely made up, you’ve never been at one of my summer camps. That’s pretty much what our days look like. Now I have to admit that Mr. Ludwig certainly didn’t develop his program for people like me. As a matter of fact, he even disregarded sports, stating that it (potentially) leads to gross malformations. Instead, he propagates “movement, with normal clothes on”. I guess the diet works better in that case. On the other hand, life without the martial arts can hardly be called a life in my book… okay, maybe I’m a bit radical here.
So that’s only what spontaneously came to my mind after watching the show. There might be some flaws in my logic, so please leave a comment and correct me if I’m wrong on something here. All of the above being said, I still believe that if you’re new into the whole IM thing, it’s about time you catch your copy of Bernhard’s book – you can do so [here] right now.