Fasting and starvation...one of the many things I swear by and believe is incredibly good for our health. Still a tiny but controversial, especially within my industry where thermodynamics is still very much alive and kicking (despite the fact it has no place in human nutrition), and the idea of eating regularly and often is the way to "keep your metabolism going." Since I still get quite a few comments about my general lack of carbs (really it's my lack of grains) in my diet and intermittent fasting (IF), I figured I might just break down IF a little. One thing at a time. Explain what it is, what it does and why I do it. Just for the ones out there who are curious to try it, but are afraid it's dangerous due to conventional (old) knowledge.
Intermittent fasting is basically a name for going extended periods of time without food. How long this is can vary. I particularly like the 16:8 (16 hours fasting, 8 hours of eating) or 18:6 (18 hours fasting, 6 hours eating). I feel really good when I stick to this.
If we just take a moment to think about fasting (and starvation) from an evolutionary perspective we'll quickly see that it's nothing new for humans; we've done it all throughout our history for extended periods of time due to either a lack of food or because of religion. It's a natural state for our bodies, much more so than being constantly fueled with food. The 3 meals per day combined with 1-2 snacks everyday is not normal for our biochemistry. So if you feel lethargic (which is not the desired result of IF) when you go even just 12-14 hours without food, you most likely have a roller coasting blood sugar that demands attention in the form of carbohydrates to prevent you from feeling tired, weak and hangry. If this sounds familiar, don't stick to a method that's not giving you the result you're looking for, be solution oriented. It's ALWAYS way more productive. For IF, this means that you need to include the bigger picture into how you're feeling, which means you need to oversee the foods that you're actually eating, instead of solving it by consuming more coffee and conclude that the fasting is the problem. I of course recommend a low carbohydrate, Paleolithic diet with plenty of saturated fats to solve the issue of the carb hunger. Aka, let your body run on fat instead of carbs, and the greatness (and comfortability) of IF will be optimized.
The benefits of fasting are many, but below are my 3 personal reasons for why I do it:
1.) The metabolic effects. My body is already fat fueled, so I don't have too much fat storing insulin in my system anyways, but this just makes sure I stay in ketosis, where I'm happy and comfortable. The reason why I want to make sure my body is running off of fat is simply because it's the superior, and most natural source of energy for humans.
2.) I want to live as long as I possibly can without disease, and fasting can help me with that. Giving my body a break everyday from the process of digesting and absorbing food increases the time in can spend on cellular repair instead, which is amazing for our little systems. Fasting has also been shown to lower the cancer driving growth hormone called IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor 1), so it can help protect against cancer. However, the benefits of reducing IGF-1 doesn't end there. It's also key when it comes to anti-aging, so it will help me look and feel young. I am vain and I'd like to avoid wrinkles and flopsy skin, and this is a little biohack to help me stay young looking just a little bit longer.
3.) IF stimulates HGH, human growth hormone. Some studies has shown that after 30, our levels of HGH is decreased by 25% every decade, so if I can fight this process a little by utilizing IF, I am all for it. HGH promotes and increases the synthesis of new protein tissues (hey muscle recovery and repair), and helps out in keeping our bones strong (bye future osteoporosis). Obviously all good stuff.
And there you have it, the main reasons I fast. Go test, test. See how you feel!