Blood Sugar

#160: Alessandro Ferretti, Dip ION- Time-Restricted Feeding, Sleep and Ketogenic Applications

by Deanna Mutzel, DC


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About Alessandro Ferretti, Dip ION, mBANT

Alessandro graduated from the Institute of Optimum Nutrition in 2001 and formed Equilibria Health Ltd with my partner Jules in 2004. With a growing team of Nutritionists and a Medical Doctor, Equilibria Health is now recognized as one of the UK’s leading providers of nutrition education.


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Interview Show Notes

02:04Time Restricted Feeding: There are different styles. Some of us use stimulants with fats. The best results come from abstaining from ingesting anything of caloric value during fasting. It instigates different glucose regulations and ketone readings. There is also alternate day fasting (a full 24 hrs). The more fat adapted you become and the more regular your ketones in both breath and blood, the stronger the correlation to a sustained increased HRV (heartrate variability), though not necessarily associated with heartrate. Time restricted feeding and intermittent fasting well suits changes within inflammatory responses and sympathetic activation.

05:10 Secondary Benefits of Ketones: Ketones are signaling molecules, not just substitutions for macronutrients or energy substrates. Ketones effect metabolic and inflammatory signatures, contributing to an increase in HRV. Beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetyl acetate promotes epigenetic control, mitochondrial protection, and histone acetylation function, reducing free radical damage to mitochondria. Ketones not only promote these, ketones have functions of their own, supporting the reduction of strong sympathetic activation, thus better controlling the inflammatory response.

07:16 Inflammation: Before Alessandro takes on a high intensity training session, he prefers to have a minimum blood ketone level of mmol/L. This can be accomplished quickly with MCTs and even exogenous ketones. It may not improve recovery or recovery time, but Alessandro has noticed that there is less initial inflammation. Recovery does not happen faster, but there is less damage from which to recover, so it is completed faster. However, during some types of training, like speed training for neuromuscular activation, an inflammatory response is preferred. Power training for hypertrophy, you are intentionally breaking down fiber to rebuild them stronger. Do not stop inflammation for recovery, only when it is out of control or non-beneficial. By blunting the inflammatory response, you blunt the ability to build new tissue, causing adaptation, and you prolong the actual recovery of the tissue. Ketones help to mitigate the inflammation, keeps your mitochondria healthy and stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis.

13:17 Glycogen: We have a certain amount of glycogen, stores for glycolytic pathways to be readily activated. At a certain intensity, your body switches. Protracted high training intensity involves the use of glycolytic pathways. Glycogen stores are cleaner, compared to glucose usage. There is less acidity. It can be used quickly. The benefits of being a fat adapted person will stay, even when glycogen stores are tapped.
16:36 Inflammatory Proteins: Casein is often recommended at certain amounts at certain times of the day. Inflammatory proteins, post workout, stimulate more inflammation to shorten the time it takes to create new tissue.

17:11 Post Workout Nutrition: We have been taught that we need protein and carbs to spike glycogen replenishment and spike insulin. The body can make glucose and store it as glycogen from virtually every substrate. Through gluconeogenesis from glycerol, fats or protein for the amino acids that are able to be converted to glucose can rebuild the stores. The concern is how quickly. If you have 2 or 3 days to recover, there is no need to have carbs. Your body will do it naturally. However, if you have two hard sessions on consecutive days, perhaps some carbohydrates will aid in recovery. For building new lean tissue after a session that damaged muscle, Alessandro may consume something that creates an insulin spike.

19:58 Post Workout Fasting: If the body has no dietary intake post workout, it seems to favor human growth hormones and testosterone secretion. Alessandro prolongs the fasted state. When he sees glucose levels have returned to baseline and beginning to taper down, he has his next meal or smoothie, even up to 2 or 3 hours later. If he trains in the evening, he goes to bed fasted and has breakfast the following day. The longer you fast post training, the recovery period is slightly shorter and secretions are made of human growth hormone and testosterone increase healing and shorten total recovery time. This breaks with what we have been taught.

23:25 Calories: One of Alessandro’s current areas of research is food substrates versus calorie. Fat adaptation is more efficient, but it cannot utilize substrate as quickly. From 18 carbon fatty acids, you get 129 ATP. From the glycolytic pathway, at best for the equivalent 18 carbons, you get, at best, 96 ATP. Fat adapted people use less heat (thermogenesis) and you produce more ATP, given the same number of carbons you have. On top of that, fat is a cleaner and slow burning fuel. Alessandro believes that fasting exacerbates this efficiency. The traditional post workout high insulin spike creates an inflammatory response, and when the goal is building lean mass, that is the desired effect. Approximately, 25% of calories from sugar are lost as heat. Glycogen may use a little less. In a hypoxic condition, they can still be used.

28:35 Advice for Competitive Cross Fitters: First, build a good foundation of fat adaptation, getting the body to burn as much fat as possible at the highest intensity as you can. It takes time to get to this stage. You can enter ketosis and even sustain ketosis in a matter of weeks. To become truly fat adapted, where your body preferentially uses fats to supply energy on demand, depending upon how much oxygen you have available through intensity, can take 3 to 9 months. If you have a competition next week, generally do what you have done before, but increase fat consumption. Perhaps do not rely so much upon glucose. The goal is to burn fat until oxygen/intensity pushes us into the glycolytic pathway. Reaching this point requires a great deal of experimentation and failure, where you bonk and have a definite lack of energy. Glucose is not the enemy. We just don’t want to rely upon it. High volume, low intensity output allows the body to crank up on burning fats. The ketones will drop and stay down, because the body does not need to store them in the blood. It just uses them. At first, when training the body to become fat adapted, ketone levels are very high.

38:25 Going In and Out of Ketosis: When learning to be fat adapted, different foods can push the body into alert mode and out of ketosis. If you have an unpleasant short, sharp, and intense event, like a scare, you may exit ketosis briefly. Constant prolonged medium intensity stress impedes fat adaptation. Lack of sleep, environmental stress, foods also impact sustained ketosis.

40:22 Lifestyle Shift: Becoming fat adapted is total commitment. We socialize in the evening, when intermittent fasting is best. People can be highly motivated for the therapeutic effects, like positive effects upon epilepsy. Benefit can be garnered with a high fat/low carb diet, while not being fully ketogenic. A good degree of knowledge is involved in being keto adapted,so best food decisions can be made.

44:28 Where to Start:
A good place to start is with a high fat/low carb diet. Begin to experiment. Perhaps try an intermittent fast. Check breath acetone.

44:33 Sleep Quality: Our guts are highly active in the middle part of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m), thus it is logical to consume most of our calories then. Food has a substantial impact upon body rhythm. Alessandro travels extensively, but does not suffer from jet lag. He regulates this with food. His body knows that when he eats, part of the day, whatever is left, must be either evening or morning. Some people can do well with prolonging a morning fast, having an early lunch and an early dinner. Others, like Alessandro, have a good breakfast and a late lunch or early dinner and then fasts about 16 hours until breakfast. His sleep dramatically improved within 3 days of starting this pattern. He advises people to keep eating lunch. If you skip lunch, it is harder to maintain the benefit of time restricted feeding. When you skip breakfast, gut hormones become suppressed. When you fast, you fast. When you eat, you eat. Fatty coffee or tea during fasting, breaks the fast. If you have proper meals, you probably won’t need these to calm the monkey brain.

51:48 Circadian Rhythm: Research shows that circadian rhythms from the brain affect peripheral organs like the GI tract. It is a bi-directional system. When traveling, giving your body food, tells the brain that it is daytime. Inconsistent eating patterns affect these rhythms. The body should be versatile, but it loves routines. Alessandro has specific routines for morning, for food and for evenings. As soon as he is on a plane, Alessandro adopts the eating behavior of the time zone of his destination. What he eats and when, lets his body know what time it is. This works after your routine has been in effect for 1 to 2 months. He hardly takes melatonin. If he does, it is within 1 mg. Taking too much melatonin can be counterproductive, causing a rebound effect, awakening you at about 4 or 4:30.

Related Podcast: #103: Keto-Adapted Diets for Sports Performance w/ Alessandro Ferretti

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  1. Mike, Deanna and Alessandro: This explains a lot and is the most practical info I’ve heard about diet, exercise and sleep all in one session. Many thanks to you all for sharing your extensive knowledge and experience.

  2. Fascinating material. At 71, with prostrate swelling reaction to high inflamation factor sunflower iloil I switched to from olive oil ten days after the switch, I’m looking for nutrition to restore my prostate to its former function.

    Oddly, after years of night shift assignments, my wake and sleep cycle adapts readily to any schedule so long as thete is sufficient calorie and protein intake and provision for time to enter REM rest, which my body attains in a short periid anytime I have depleted a time, energy intake and work or sress factor constant.

    Linking inflammation to work and metabolism is something I want to explore.

    Thanks for this informative material.

  3. Seminal thinking here–thank you. Kindly elicidate on comment about Dr Kerry Jones research on melaton rebound. There is a KS Jones at Cambridge but her research is Vit D, and I cannot track citations. Could you help please?

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