You will hear more about this craze of intermittent fasting over the coming few years as a way to control weight and for its many proposed health benefits…including a way to cure cancer…but it’s not new. Russian clinics have been going for over 60 years and there are clinic in Germany as well.
But these clinics are controlled by medical staff and they don’t see it as a cure for cancer. And they use longer term fasting as a method to control weight, to help cure asthma and other bronchial conditions, and certain skin allergies. The fasting periods are usually about 10 days in length and some even up to 40 days, depending upon what condition they are treating.
But what about intermittent fasting which uses a method of predetermined and strategically-timed periods and non-fasting as an alternative to caloric restriction methods…which are diets that have a success rate of only 2% long term?
If you are going to try this I strongly suggest that you consult your family doctor – particularly if you have a health problem.
There are various methods of doing this which I will cover later, but what are the health benefits? There are several including lowering Bloodpressure, lowering blood lipids and reducing internal inflammation (which has enormous repercussions as far as Heart Disease etc.) it also increases fat burning, growth hormone (if you are into building muscle) and metabolic rate. Other benefits is being more mindful of eating in having a better perspective of whether your hunger is psychological cravings or is actually physiological. Finally, another huge benefit isthat fasting improves your brain’s ability to produce new connections between brain cells (obviously this lessens your chance of Alzheimer’s etc.)
The timing of the meals optimizes how our body naturally evolved in metabolize nutrients…so closer to our natural evolutionary pattern of eating. So what are the suggested patterns of eating?
- Alternate Day eating (36 hour fast, 12 hour eating)
- Random Meal skipping (skip 2 meals per week )
- Eat/Stop/Eat (24 hour fast twice a week)
- Lean Gains (a method used by bodybuilders / 16 hour fast and 8 hour eating window and exercise at the end of the fast time)
- Warrior Diet (20 hour fast/4 hour eating window)
But one that my wife and I use is a 24 fast once a week. We find this easier to cope with and use it as a method to reboot our immune systems and this pattern has to last at least 6 months to have any long term effect (we didn’t want to use the alternative of this which a 7 day fast). It did give us slight headaches the first few times, but the body got used to it. I also found myself looking at the contents of the fridge several times during the day – but I wasn’t hungry do put it down to psychological cravings. You could wean yourself onto this method by trying the Random Meal Skipping method?
If you think that this fasting is not for you just be aware of two factors. One is that being hungry is not an emergency and is our ancestral way of eating (3 meals a day is only a modern phenomenon with its many health implications). The second factor is that a lot of people from around the world use fasting as part of their way of life.
If you are thinking about trying fasting ensure you use a nutritionally sound diet (natural foods etc. etc.) and keep active, particularly in the fasting periods by walking.
(When your diet is wrong medicine is of no use. When diet is right, medicine is of no need!)