More and more people have discovered the awesomeness that is intermittent fasting (IF). The main idea is that either once a week you take a full 24 hours off from eating, or alternatively compress your feeding window to an eight hour span and skip a meal or two. There are of course multiple permutations of these ideas. Some people combine daily IF with alternate day fasting. The purpose of this paradigm is to simulate our ancestral periods of feast and famine.
Having a refrigerator and supermarket stocked with every conceivable foodstuff is a novel construct relative to our biological evolution. We weren’t made for this world. Storing fat for periods of famine is an adaptive mechanism. The problem is we’re stuck in an endless period of feast.
What I do: skip breakfast (black coffee only, hey I have to produce) and have a big lunch and dinner. It has made staying lean quite effortless, despite having pizza and ice cream every single weekend. I’ve been experimenting with longer duration fasts as well. Every six months I’ll fast for three days. This sounds way worse than it is. Anyone can do this. The longer (3 days+) fasts have taught me that hunger is a conditioned response. Once you’ve gone over a day and your body has finally resorted to raiding its fat stores, hunger fades into the background for a while. As an added bonus, it frees up tons of time you spend eating and thinking about what to eat.
You become resilient through fasting because you’re better able to handle a missed meal or two. If you’re traveling and unable to find anything but junk in an airport, though this is finally getting better, you can simply skip a meal and fast. You’ll save money on overpriced food and likely not feel like crap from eating something low-quality.
Fasting can be hard and you develop resilience by doing hard things. It gives you a reference point for future challenges in life. I feel like most people’s days are far too easy. The average person doesn’t challenge themselves enough to go beyond their current state. I’m not saying everyday should feel like a grind, but there should be a little struggle. When you fight through adversity in whatever form it may take, you grow. As Tony Robbins says: “We’re all either growing or dying, there’s no in-between”
The thing you have to keep in mind about fasting is that it is a stress on your body. There are loads of modern stresses our ancestors didn’t have to contend with such as commuting in traffic, mortgage/rent payments, working in cubicles, finding/keeping a job, saving for retirement, pollution, etc. Stress is a force on opposite side of the scale of good health. Too much stress and things start breaking. If you’re going to give fasting or IF a try, make sure you listen to your body. If you find yourself thinking about food every five minutes I’d say it’s time to eat.
The prevailing theory is that our bodies are adapted to this method of eating. Our ancestors would likely go long periods without food and once finding it, binging.
Fasting has anti-aging benefits helps you to better regulate blood sugar. Monkeys and other animals have demonstrated that caloric restriction increases longevity. These factors most importantly affect humans.
The reason I like the longer duration fast is that there is research showing that long periods of suppressed eating switches on a cellular process called autophagy. When your cells encounter an environment of lower than normal blood sugar, they are forced to use fatty acids as an energy substrate. This spools up the usage of mitochondria to process these fats (aside: this is another benefit of consuming a ketogenic diet). Your cells will destroy damaged or dead mitochondria and replace them with healthy versions over time.
If you’re interested in trying this I suggest starting small. Skip a meal and then add more as you feel good. Or you could do what I do and just dive the fuck in.
READERS: Let me know if you’re interested in giving fasting a try in the comments. Or maybe you’re already fasting and having an awesome time with it, let us know how we can do it better.