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Last Updated on February 28, 2019

Understanding Intermittent Fasting Benefits: More Than Just Weight Loss

Understanding Intermittent Fasting Benefits: More Than Just Weight Loss

I’ve had extensive experience with Intermittent Fasting over the years — from utilizing it for significant weight loss, to then gaining muscle, to other health benefits as of late. When I first began fasting, the results were so exciting I felt compelled to produce a youtube video, which is now approaching 1 million views! Since then, I have produced several more videos on intermittent fasting and its benefits, and I encourage you to visit my youtube channel to delve deeper.

In the proceeding article, we will examine Intermittent Fasting (“IF”) from several perspectives including physical health, mental health, and overall well being.

What Is Intermittent Fasting (“IF”)

Simply put, it’s restricting your food and albeit drink consumption to a certain time of the day which is called your ‘eating window’. There’s another term for this approach to eating called ‘time restricted eating’. The two basically mean the same thing, however Intermittent Fasting stresses a bit more on longer fasting periods ranging between 14 hours all the way up to 48 hours in some cases.[1]

Personally, I feel most people would benefit from fasting between 14-18 hours, as beyond that can be stressful on the body if you have not already established conditioning and patterns around fasting.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Intermittent Fasting focuses on keeping your body in a catabolic state; one whereby your body has no food or resources for energy, so it begins to source energy from excess fat.

This is the opposite of being in an anabolic state, which is when you have consumed food and your body is actively processing and breaking down the nutrients and fats from that food and allocating those resources accordingly.

There is a large body of evidence suggesting that fasting can benefit both the body and brain, but almost all research has been conducted on animals, such as mice and rats. Researchers, such as myself, studying fasting have been calling for and awaiting more human studies to verify the results found while examining animals.

Myths About Intermittent Fasting

Myth #1: Starvation Mode?

Over the years, I’ve heard terms like ‘starvation mode’ thrown around with a lose relationship to IF, and this term is not accurate to how the body handles fasting and time restricted eating. Some people believe that your body will go into some sort of starvation mode, and by the time you actually do consume food, it will all be allocated to fat deposits and cause you to gain weight.

I’ve debunked this myth so many times with people when having conversations about weight loss, and I’m starting to think that the myth is actually going away! In large part due to articles such as this one which are geared towards informing the general public of the benefits of time restricted eating.

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Myth #2: Extremely Low Energy?

Another common myth is that energy levels are extremely low when fasting. This one spawns from the notion that your body needs food constantly for energy and to survive. Let me debunk this by stating that your body is much more resilient than that!

You can technically go several days without consuming food, as long as you are having adequate amounts of water. In my experience, over the years with time restricted eating, energy levels are sustained as long as the proper macro and micro nutrients are consumed during each eating window.

If you leave yourself deficient from each eating window by way of not consuming enough calories or nutrients, then yes, of course energy levels will be down the proceeding day.

However if your focusing on consuming high quality nutrients and hitting all your ‘numbers’ during your eating window, energy will certainly not be an issue.

How and When to Use Intermittent Fasting

All too often I hear people pushing the limits right away and going for 18, 20, 24 hour fasts within their first week of adopting the practice, and to be perfectly frank this is not a good idea.

I understand some people get overly excited about the results and the hype around intermittent fasting, however the best practice is to condition oneself by slowly easing into the process. I’ve suggested starting with 14 hours fasts, utilizing mostly sleeping time, for those starting intermittent fasting.

After a week or so of 14 hours daily fasts, gradually move to 16 hours the second week, then 18hours the third week, and if feeling really ambitious and seeing amazing results, move up to 20 hours fasts on some days. That means consuming all calories for the day within a 4 hour eating window!

Where many fall short with fasting is being able to consume the proper amount of overall calories including adequate volumes of protein, carbs, fats (macro-nutrients), and micro-nutrients. Many do not consume the correct amount of food during the eating window, or they don’t space meals out correctly.

There’s a few issues that can arise when one doesn’t consume proper nutrients within the eating window, let us examine some:

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  1. The body lacking adequate energy to sustain multiple days, or long term fasting
  2. The body is beginning to lose weight from muscle because it does not have enough nutrients to sustain energy levels
  3. When not spacing out meals, the body is not having enough time to digest food properly and thus not fully absorbing nutrients

Another problem which arises from my experience is poor eating habits being carried-over to intermittent fasting.

Someone has a crappy diet and thinks that by implementing time restricted eating or IF, they’ll start leaning up like Hollywood movie stars.. this is simply poor logic!

If serious about getting results in a healthy way, the diet should be cleaned up. This is because your body only has a certain amount of time to consume food (eating window), and if that time is being clogged-up with processing junk food, you won’t be reaping the benefits of IF.

Having said this, I do admit to having fast-food during eating windows at times, and though this can be a quick way to pack daily calories, and macro-nutrients, there is a significant lack of micro-nutrients; so when I go this route, it’s critical that my vitamin and mineral intake be on point!

Lately I have been consuming more carbohydrates and generally more calories during my eating windows because for the past 2 years, my goals have shifted from weight loss and leaning-up, to building lean muscle mass.

Putting on weight and building lean muscle mass while doing intermittent fasting is a tricky en-devour, mainly because the nature of IF is one of weight loss, fat loss, and ramping-up metabolism. What’s tricky is that at this stage of my life, my body has become quite efficient at processing and breaking down foods quickly; metabolic efficiency is quite high.

It didn’t start that way, in fact it was quite slow for the first couple months, but after training steadily and implementing time restricted eating for 6 months, I was well on my way to becoming a metabolic beast.

Now after having implemented intermittent fasting for well over 4 years, my body is quite adaptive and efficient at stripping nutrients from food, and leaving me with necessary fuel (carbohydrates and fats) for training.

My current goals entail acquiring 0.5 – 1lb of lean body mass (muscle) every month, totaling around 10lbs of lean muscle per year. This is very reasonable and attainable, however it certainly is challenging when also incorporating intermittent fasting.

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IF does help with the production of new muscle tissue by way of improving the production of human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone, however, it also burns up any excess fats very quickly. So at this stage I find myself consuming in excess of 4,000 calories on a given day, and up wards of 6,000 calories on training days – that’s a lot of eating!

The challenge then arises of how does one consume 6,000 calories in a 4 or 6 hour eating window? Lot’s of caloric dense foods helps, however they lack nutrients in most cases as I had noted above.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of fasting are wide ranging, from weight loss (of course), to improved muscle development, to reduced stress levels, to clearer skin, and much more! Of course, this all comes if one is following the correct protocols for intermittent fasting as we have examined earlier in this article.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the key benefits of intermittent fasting in this video first:

Fasting has been proven to improve biomarkers of disease, reduce oxidative stress and preserve learning and memory functioning, according to Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, part of the US National Institutes of Health. Mattson investigated the health benefits of IF on the cardiovascular system and brain in rodents, and like many others, has called for “well-controlled human studies” in people “across a range of body mass indexes”.[2]

Mattson has contributed to several other IF studies and caloric restriction. In one, overweight adults with moderate asthma consumed only 20% of their normal calorie intake on alternate days.[3] Participants who adhered to the diet lost 8% of their initial body weight over eight weeks. The participants also saw a decrease in markers of oxidative stress, inflammation, and improvement of asthma-related symptoms and several quality-of-life indicators.

In another study, Mattson and colleagues explored the effects of intermittent and continuous energy restriction on weight loss and various biomarkers (for conditions such as breast cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease) among young overweight woman.[4] They found that time restricted eating, or intermittent restriction, was as effective as continuous restriction for improving weight loss, insulin sensitivity and other health biomarkers.

Mattson’s research has also been in the direction of determining the protective benefits of fasting to neurons. For instance, if you don’t eat for 10 to 16 hours, your body will seek its fat deposits for energy, and fatty acids called ketones will be released into the bloodstream. This has been shown to protect memory and learning functionality as well as slow disease processes in the brain according to Mattson. From my own person experience of intermittent fasting I can attest to increased mental alertness and acuity.

Something that most won’t consider is the ‘detox’ and ‘cleanse’ aspects to intermittent fasting. I know you must be thinking “oh man, not another cleanse pitch”.. and I hear ya! But you do actually clean up the gut and digestive tract quite a bit with fasting.

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You can do this with dry fasting, or water fasting (which I’m more of a proponent of). I would only recommend dry fasting for a maximum of 24 hours – and this is done by not even consuming water during your fasting period. There are two purposes to dry fasting:

1. You deprive the body of moisture which can clean-up the gut by not allowing moisture-thriving bacteria to form or sustain existence. Any unhealthy bacteria will in essence die-off when there is no food or water to sustain it.

2. Many claim that standard or dry fasting yields mental clarity which can be beneficial for spiritual practices. Personally I have had some experience with this, where during prolonged fasting periods I feel much more in-tune with my sense perceptions, and albeit cognitive alertness.

When I perform my ritualistic meditations such as transcendental meditation in the morning, or any time of the day while fasted, I feel much more deeply connected and dialed-in with the meditation itself. This could be due to a lack of substances/external stimuli such as food or water that the body needs to allocate resources to process.

Perhaps when the body isn’t breaking down nutrients, and left to rest, it has the ability to hone-in on any given task with much more clarity and efficiency.

Conclusion

If you want to lose weight, improve mental health, and overall well being – consider trying Intermittent Fasting, but as mentioned, start gradually and work your way to longer fasting periods as time goes on.

The main benefit of fasting is arguable and varies depending on an individuals goals – Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to improve metabolic efficiency? Or do you want to improve overall energy levels? There’s lots to choose from in terms of overarching benefits.

Featured photo credit: Ethan Sykes via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] CMAJ: Intermittent fasting: the science of going without
[2] J Nutr Biochem 2005;16:129–37
[3] Free Radical Bio Med 2007;42:665–74
[4] Int J Obesity 2011;35:714–27

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are

I remember the first time I got my hands on a self-improvement book. I was baffled. At that moment, I realized my fate was not set in stone. I could become my own drill master and coach. The books I read would set out the training course for me to overcome. All I had to do was listen to that voice that aspired to climb higher and higher.

Every time I committed to a new challenge, I knew it was going to be outside of my comfort zone. But after enough iterations, I also knew it will not just be part of my repertoire, it will be part of me.

Not all self-improvement books are made equal. Some help start you out on your journey, others give you a boost when you’ve achieved experience in certain areas.

Here are the best ones that I recommend to read no matter how old you are:

1. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? And Other Provocations

by Seth Godin

    This book is a masterpiece, and unlike most self-improvement books, this one targets an infinite array of areas in which you can, and ultimately must, improve.

    With its ruthless honesty and genuine inspiration, Godin makes you ponder the difficult questions you wouldn’t ever dare to ask yourself. The result is a completely new perspective of the world- a fresher, more vibrant perspective, packed with new and bold possibilities.

    If you need a friend who understands you, a boss that forces you to venture deep in your non-comfort zone, a wise guru that tells you what needs to be left behind and a sage that proclaims the coming of a new age, then look no further; you will find these shrewd voices all tied together in this magnificent book. Make sure to get this one.

    Print | eBook

    2. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

    by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

      Perhaps it is the fact that randomness played such a significant role in my years as a poker player that I find this book utterly important.

      We often attribute skill where there is only luck; we confuse correlation with causation and we underestimate the incredible effect small changes can have.

      This book gave me a perspective that I unfortunately rarely encounter in others: you can do everything right and still lose, or do everything wrong and still win. It is thus not about the outcome; it is about your actions that have lead you there.

      This important message is central to many of my decisions I make in my life. This book by Taleb helps you develop such a perspective so you will be able to live in a world one cannot fully understand, where the results are not always clear markers of performance and where chance seems to play games with our fates. Stop being fooled by randomness!

      Print | eBook | Audiobook

      3. The 48 Laws of Power

      by Robert Greene

        I read this book in a time where I thought power was something I should attain. Power for power’s sake. And while I disagree with my former self on this point, the fact remains that power is very real, it forms the invisible scepter of all hierarchical relations around us.

        I still recommend this book. I believe it is important to know how people use power for their own benefit and what to do to protect yourself from certain abuses of power.

        Besides the fact that all stories in this book gravitate around power. It contains many life lessons, amazing historical anecdotes. If read in a certain light, the ability to use power for good.

        From Caesar to Goethe, Sun-Tzu to Machiavelli, this eye opening book spans a wide range of human development. If you, like me, would rather be interested in something less egotistical, perhaps Greene’s latest book Mastery will suffice (I haven’t read that one myself).

        Another great book in the same style, but this time around; covering a wider scope, and perhaps, something that will make the world make a better place.

        Print | eBook | Audiobook

        4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

        by Stephen. R. Covey

          The title of this book doesn’t capture it all. Covey shares with us seven habits one should adapt to become truly effective in whatever you would like to achieve.

          Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. He stresses the fact that we need to go through a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in how we perceive the world and ourselves.

          This book can be read as a guide, with practices and everything, to go through the stages in order to make such a shift happen. Part shock-therapy, part ageless spiritual wisdom, Covey’s book is packed with wisdom that actually makes a difference.

          And as I mentioned, don’t let the title of the book fool you; it is about much more than just becoming more effective. It is about becoming a whole integer person who not only seeks the best in oneself, but also in the people around her.

          A must read for anyone who feels there is always something left to learn.

          Print | eBook | Audiobook

          5. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys

          by James Fadiman

            While finding a book on psychedelics in this list of books on self-improvement might come as a surprise, I believe any metaphysical distinction between tools such as books, meditation or molecules hold no ground. They should all be solely judged on their merits. And the merits of certain chemical keys, used in a constructive way, are perhaps bigger than any book in this list.

            The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide will teach you how to prepare yourself and your surroundings, what and how much to take, and what do do when something goes wrong. So you can safely enhance your thinking, creativity, introspection and emotional balance.

            This book contains everything you need to know about using psychedelics as a tool for self-improvement while drawing on extensive scientific literature and personal wisdom. A must have for the beginning and experienced psychonaut alike.

            Print | eBook

            6.  Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

            by Brian Tracy

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              We all know how that destructive downward spiral feels.

              We have to do some big tasks of which the thought alone triggers resistance. We aren’t sure how and where to begin and feeling overwhelmed before we even start. We get easily distracted to get rid of that feeling, only to suddenly realize that hours went by- precious hours- and then find ourselves in the same position as before, still not knowing where and how to begin, but now, feeling guilty on top of it which expresses itself in more craving for distraction.

              Ad infinitum

              To break this spell of procrastination before it paralyzes us, Tracy advises us to Eat That Frog: to set our priorities straight, deconstruct larger tasks into smaller ones, learn when to tackle the big frog first or to start out with something else.

              Tracy is truly a motivational writer. While I wished he had gone a bit deeper into the psychological reasons why people procrastinate, it is still a must have for anyone who wants to break the spell and get shit done.

              Print | eBook | Audiobook

              7. Think and Grow Rich: The Original 1937 Unedited Edition

              by Napoleon Hill

                A from 1937, this book by Hill is a masterpiece. Don’t bother with the edited versions since they all omit important and controversial information: some historical, and some pertaining to the goal of the book, which is to think and grow rich.

                The word rich might imply that this book is all about material gain, and while it certainly covers that area, it is about much more than that.

                This is perhaps the first explicit mention of positive thinking on how to care not just about the cash in your pocket, but also the thoughts in your head.

                This book has been able to withstand the destruction of time. It covers all the basics from planning, decision making and persistence, to the more advanced techniques as auto-suggestion, transmutation and what we can learn from fear.

                This is not a grow rich book, but a timeless guide to find out what actually matters. As it says clearly in the beginning ‘Riches can’t always be measured in money!’

                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                8. The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind

                by Alan Wallace

                  In a world that is dominated by ever stronger technologies designed to grab your attention, a way to empower yourself is to bring that attention back to where you want it to shine. This book offers just that.

                  In The Attention Revolution, Wallace describes the path to attaining Shamatha, a buddhist meditation state of mind that is free from any flickering of distraction. It is a hard and long path, probably not possible for us to reach in this lifetime. However, even getting to stage two or three will make everything in life easier.

                  A wonderful introduction to meditation, The Attention Revolution will inspire you to take on the challenge and see what training your mind can actually achieve.

                  Once you have achieved such level of focus, you can put it to use to open your heart with the practice of The Four Immeasurables or deepen the practice with this wonderful commentary by Dudjom Lingpa, both by Alan B. Wallace.

                  Before you read this book, you may want to take a look at this guide so you get a better idea on how to prioritize your life:

                  The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

                  Print | eBook | Audiobook

                  9. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health

                  by John Durant

                    In the last 10,000 years or so, it seems we have been propelled into an ever faster paced world forged by our own hands and minds. Only recently have we been able to reconstruct our journey and reflect back upon our humble origins.

                    This amazing book is such a reflection. It goes back to the paleolithic searching for answers to health and longevity.

                    Between science and his personal experiments, Durant weaves a mind blowing story that will convey the importance of an evolutionary perspective on how to live well.

                    It covers everything from nutrition to exercise, from sleep to fasting, from ancient practices to modern biohacking and even has an outline for a vision of the future where depression and obesity have become obsolete.

                    If you only have room for a couple of books on this list, make sure this one is included.

                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

                    10. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

                    by Daniel J. Siegel

                      As my Burmese meditation teacher often proclaimed, ‘Mindfulness alone is not enough!’ Siegel seems to have taken this to heart and made an unique synthesis between meditation, psychoanalysis and neuroscience which he calls ‘Mindsight‘. As he says himself, a potent combination between emotional and social intelligence.

                      All of us deal with one disorder or another, something that seems to disturb the very core of our being at ease; and while it might not always be the best strategy to want to get rid of it, it certainly helps to understand and have compassion for that little aspect that upsets that perfect image of ourselves.

                      Brimming with techniques, insights and epiphanies, this book contains everything you need to know to reprogram your brain and to optimally use its capacity of neuroplasticity. A great book for spiritual seekers and scientists alike.

                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                      11. How to Win Friends & Influence People

                      by Dale Carnegie

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                        This is the first self-improvement book I have ever read and it is also probably one of the oldest in this category.

                        Written in 1937, mainly for the door to door salesman of that era, this book by Carnegie can truly be called a classic. It shows what we all intuitively know:

                        It doesn’t matter what your line of work is or what you want to achieve. If you are doing business of any kind, you need to make it about the other person.

                        Being nice helps, a lot. And while I might not fully defend the premise of this book because it doesn’t distinguish between genuine interest and faking it to get what you want; it still contains a treasure chest full of timeless wisdom.

                        Everybody wants to feel appreciated, and rightfully so. Learning to take a small effort to make someone’s day will make the world better no matter what your goal is.

                        I still spontaneously remember some of his guidance, and perhaps this quality is the reason why this book still draws millions of readers to this day.

                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                        12. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

                        by David D. Burns

                          Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective therapy used by psychologists today. It consists of identifying thought patterns that have a detrimental effect on your self-image and mood; and deconstructing these in order to break out of these destructive cycles.

                          If you want to know how this works, which moods are central in your life, what thought patterns are causing your depression, how to overcome self-judgment and guilt, how to defeat approval and love addiction and how your self-perfectionism is hindering you, then don’t look further.

                          Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped millions of people and it can help you, and this is the best book for the job. Packed with scientific research, exercises and examples, this is the best improvement your self is going to get.

                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                          13. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life

                          by Maxwell Maltz

                            What can a plastic surgeon tell us about happiness?

                            By dealing with his patients, Dr. Maxwell Maltz experienced firsthand that having your expectations come true doesn’t automatically result into a more positive life experience. Their outward appearances did indeed change but their inner insecurity remained.

                            This caused him to find other means to help his patients, resulting in visualization techniques. He found a person’s outer success can never rise above the one visualized internally.

                            This book carries a very honest and humbling story, loaded with fundamental truths about our psychology and how our own philosophy affects us. This is all told by a very compassionate writer.

                            Of some books it can be said that it will be valuable for years to come, and I am absolutely positive that this is one of them.

                            Print | Audiobook

                            14. Thinking, Fast and Slow

                            by Daniel Kahneman

                              This brilliant book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman is a lucid account of all the amazing research he has done over the years. He is the founder of behavioral economics – the way our psychology affects our decisions – and explains in simple prose how our thinking is divided in two systems: one fast and one slow. (Here’s an explanation on how these two systems work.)

                              The fast one is almost instant; it consists of the hardwired instincts that govern emotions, a remnant of an evolutionary past, an unconscious irrational machine.

                              The slow one is deliberate, self-reflexive and logical, but can easily be distracted and takes a lot of effort.

                              Both play a large role in our lives and Kahneman explores when the fast system fails and why the slow system is often not utilized.

                              Packed with mind blowing examples and sharp analyses, this book teaches you how to learn to make sound judgments, and use the best of both systems.

                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                              15. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

                              by Chris Hadfield

                                A few extraordinary people journey to the edge of our world and come back with a unique story to tell. Colonel Hadfield is such a person, and his story is perhaps the most important one in this list.

                                While the other books in this list teach you to be independent, visualize your future and dream big, this astronaut’s guide turns these all upside down.

                                A truly remarkable book, overflowing with mind-blowing stories that illustrate the life lessons he learned as one of the most accomplished astronauts that ever lived.

                                Full of compassion, warmth and genuine self-reflexive humor, he conveys to us to be prepared for the worst and never let yourself be swayed from enjoying every moment.

                                Part action story, part no-nonsense hard truth and part timeless spiritual wisdom, this book makes you feel like you stepped onto a rocket ship and experienced what he did while learning these most valuable lessons on the way.

                                eBook

                                16. Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat

                                by Paul Jaminet & Shou-Ching Jaminet

                                  No self-improvement list is complete without a nutrition book and the Perfect Health Diet is arguably the best diet book on the market now.

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                                  If you are overweight or not, feel sick, or just looking for an extra boost in health (and keep it this way), then look no further.

                                  From reading decades of studies the authors construct the optimal way to eat, destroying popular food fads in the process. They explain in sufficient details the optimal macro-ratios of which starches are safe, which vitamins and supplements to take and what foods, or what they call toxins, to avoid.

                                  This book is a great supplement to the Paleo Manifesto as it shares its basic evolutionary perspective; we were evolved to eat non-toxic, high fat, moderate protein and carbohydrates.

                                  And sometimes, going around with no food at all, can be a very healthy thing. If your body is not in optimal health, then it is almost no use to read the other books. Make this your priority number one.

                                  Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                  17. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

                                  by John C. Maxwell

                                    At one time or another, we will all fail. What matters most is how you deal with it once you do.

                                    Will you give up? Or will you use it as a stepping stone for success?

                                    I recently read an article about new start-ups in silicon valley. Its hypothesis was the more you had failed in the past, the more likely you were going to get funding.

                                    Why?

                                    Because failing teaches you invaluable lessons, and if you decide to continue after you hit the pavement, the more you have it in you to deliver.

                                    Now, this is not in anyway our instinctual reaction to failing. Most of us dread it, avoid it or refuse to fail at all costs. All three are by far sub-optimal. It is far better to accept failure where it arises, to accept responsibility and use it as a way to learn about yourself and your weaknesses.

                                    Only when you are absolute honest with yourself with respect to failure can you hope to grow. This wonderful book will teach you how to do exactly this. A honest book for everyone searching for a clean mirror.

                                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                    18. The Power of Now

                                    by Eckhart Tolle

                                      The Power of Now hardly needs any introduction. It is perhaps the book that has had the most impact on our collective consciousness in recent years.

                                      It inspired millions of people all over the world to live a more fulfilling and compassionate life, all through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness consists of moment to moment non-judgmental awareness. 

                                      It is a technique that alleviates depression, increases emotional intelligence and develops compassion. And only recently has come to the west, which remained weary and skeptical until science had validated a wide array of its claims.

                                      The brain can be trained. The Power of Now teaches you how to release your attachment to certain thoughts and states of mind, thereby clearing the mind to fully embrace the present moment.

                                      If you already have read this book and are looking for deeper understanding, readWherever You Go, There You Are.

                                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                      19. The Last Lecture

                                      by Randy Pausch

                                        At some point or another, almost all of us has come across The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. (If you haven’t, watch this powerful message here.)

                                        What would you say when you only have a few months left to live? This was probably Pausch’s question he posed to himself when he had to deliver his lecture a week later.

                                        But being confined to an academic setting and short time frame, he felt he had more to share, thus marking the birth of this book.

                                        Filled with stories about his childhood, it is a very down to earth exploration of what it means to chase your dreams, to be a good person and live a life that gives value to others.

                                        A beautiful mixture of humor and optimism, his tender voice will be a source of inspiration for everyone who will take the time to listen, something he tried to impart on his readers.

                                        A very lovely read. And don’t forget, ‘It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.’
                                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                        20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

                                        by Brené Brown

                                          I love Brené Brown’s books. She writes about an insight that I have found to be scary but true at the same time.

                                          Vulnerability, unlike we have been taught, is not a weakness, but a power to be tapped. Growing up with the idea that we have to hide certain parts of ourselves, to look strong and persevere at all costs always seemed a facade to me. And now she has the research to back that up.

                                          From that place of vulnerability comes a sense of worthiness, which for most of us, needs to be cultivated every day. Only if we get in touch with that tender spot of our hearts can we connect with others and develop genuine compassion, which are prerequisites, Brown tells us, for living a ‘wholehearted life.’

                                          The reality, however, is that we often close down, feel neglected and misunderstood, and rather want the vulnerability and perhaps even ourselves to disappear.

                                          This book is an amazing antidote for that common instinct. Want to be truly convinced? Check out her amazing ted talk here.

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                                          21. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

                                          by Carl Sagan

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                                            We all find UFO’s fascinating. We all really want to believe in magic or visiting aliens. (Surely the crop circles are conclusive proof!) And some of us believe the government is poisoning us with chemtrails.

                                            At the same time we are fascinated by the progress made by science, by all the new technology and medicines and the fascinating discoveries being

                                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                            22. Philosophy for Life

                                            by Jules Evans

                                              As philosopher Sloterdijk puts it; ‘philosophy is a beautiful child of an ugly mother.’

                                              Philosophy first arose when the old Greek polis states were at the brink of destruction. Philosophy, according to Sloterdijk, was not just a way to make sense of the world, to come to knowledge or truth, but to serve as a psychological immune system.

                                              This book is an amazing expression of this perspective. From the stoics to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Jules Evans writes about some of the amazing philosophical techniques we can use to train and improve our cognitive immune systems.

                                              He weaves ancient stories with modern applications, from heroism to cosmic contemplation. Philosophy for Life is a beautifully written book that makes it easy to understand the practical nature of philosophy.

                                              Perhaps the book would have been better if he would have gone deeper into the subject matter, but nonetheless he captures the essence of what philosophy can mean for the modern person. A must read.

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                                              23. Man’s Search For Meaning

                                              by Victor. E. Frankl

                                                If I had to pick one book from this list for mandatory reading, I would choose this one.

                                                For three years, Viktor Frankl labored in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He tells us about his experience and that of his fellow prisoners.

                                                Both chilling and uplifting, confronted with the idea that they would be trapped there for the rest of their lives; he gives us an account of those who found meaning and those who succumbed to nihilism.

                                                A blend between a memoir, a psychological investigation and a self-help book, Frankl delivers a powerful message:

                                                Finding meaning lies at the core of being human.

                                                From his own experience as a psychiatrist, combined with anecdotes from his time in the concentration camps, he tells us how important it is to find meaning in our own lives and what we can become if we don’t.

                                                Suffering, he conveys to us, is inevitable. But as to how we cope with it is dependent on ourselves. If we can find meaning, even in the worst acts our species have ever inflicted upon their fellow men, we will be able to move forward with renewed purpose.

                                                I also recommend you to check out this article to help you find out your purpose and passion that will motivate you to live in a meaningful way: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

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                                                24. Simplify

                                                by Joshua Becker

                                                  This is a fun little book written by Joshua Becker, a big proponent of minimalist living. We all know that quote from Fightclub: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” 

                                                  Well, this is ending.

                                                  Slowly we are outgrowing an era where the unquestioned mantra ‘more is always better’ dictates our behavior. Rather, we now find ourselves, our lives and our homes cluttered with too much information, too much stuff and just too much shit we don’t need.

                                                  This simple book helps you become aware of the freedom gained from living with less. It is a small book, easily read under an hour, but it carries a persuasive punch to start living live in a very different way.

                                                  eBook

                                                  25. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

                                                  by Kamal Ravikant

                                                    The fundamental ground upon which all true self improvement is build is called self-love. Because in the end, no matter which way you turn, if you don’t love yourself, you will sabotage yourself at one point. You will think that, for some reason or another, you are not worthy. And if you think that, why would you truly want to achieve anything?

                                                    And this is not just about achievement. This is about how you approach yourself every day; this is what you see when you look in the mirror.

                                                    We make so many snap-judgments about ourselves- often without being conscious of them- that are filled with negativity, haltering us before we can even begin to heal. This powerful book shows you the antidote.

                                                    Self love. Not to be confused with creating some narcissistic image of ourselves that some previous books in this list implicitly endorse, but self love, that inner gratefulness that no external condition can take away.

                                                    Self love, that infinite source you can share with others.

                                                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                    Final Thoughts

                                                    Now that you’ve got a list of the most inspirational books to improve your life, what should you do next? Read them all?

                                                    It’s of course best to read them all, but we only have so much brain energy to take all this knowledge. What if I tell you there’s a way to boost your brain power? Here it is:

                                                    How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

                                                    More Books for Your Inspiration

                                                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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