Fasting: The Basics
It seems as though there are new dietary fads that come out every year or so that attract everyone from soccer moms to physicians. Trends like paleo, keto, vegan, plant slant and carnivore might be some familiar buzz words that have been thrown around lately. The main thing with dieting is that there is no one size fits all meal plan that can optimize every bodily function for everyone. If a certain nutrition regime interests you, I would recommend trying it and closely monitoring your results. Some may work better than others depending on your underlying history and your goals. My favorite rule in terms of nutrition is that you must know the difference between fun and food. Understand that the food you put into your mouth is the fuel that constantly replaces the cells in your body. Hence the phrase, “you are what you eat.” Would you rather be made out of cinnamon rolls or carrots?
This article is not so much about what you eat, but about when you eat. We are talking about fasting. Fasting has been around throughout human history, although it did not always require much willpower. In the 21st century, our problem is not a lack of food. Our problem is too much food. To quote the famous historian Yuval Noah Harari, “half of humankind is expected to be overweight by 2030. In 2010 famine and malnutrition combined killed about 1 million people, whereas obesity killed 3 million.”
What is fasting? There are several varieties of fasting and so far the data has shown many benefits to the practice of time-restricted eating. Intermittent fasting is a great place to start if you consider trying a new routine, and there are many different strategies. For example, one of the most common methods is eating within an 8 hour period of the day, and fasting for 16. I find that waiting until noon to eat every day is more tolerable than eating one meal per day, several days per week. However, this exercise is not really about comfort anyways. Sometimes it is uncomfortable being hungry because we have conditioned ourselves to eat the second we hear a grumble. But if you tap into this mental state, you might find some incredible physical and mental advantages.
Intermittent fasting schedules can vary. Another common practice might be to eat one meal per day, twice a week, or doing a 24 hour fast once per week. Many methods have shown incredible results, but the key takeaway is that after your body burns through the calories that you eat, it begins to burn the fat that you have stored.
And fasting is not just for people trying to shed weight. Some of the top professional athletes in the world have been practicing restricted eating methods for their whole careers, and some of the most brilliant thinkers of our time claim that their brains function the best in a fasted state. As the saying goes, "a lion runs fastest when he is hungry."
Aside from weight loss, fasting has been shown to improve many other bodily functions such as cognition, heart health, physical performance (especially endurance sports), diabetes, and tissue health. If fasting interests you, I would recommend starting on a daily 16 hour fast. While this might sound intense, you will essentially just be skipping breakfast.
As always, improving your nutrition alone will not change your life, but it could be the tipping point to improving your overall health and life. Once you implement a healthier diet, your subconscious mind will start to recognize you as the type of person who eats healthy food. As good habits solidify themselves, you will see a shift in all other aspects of your life. Habits are the most applicable form of a positive feedback loop, and only you have the ability to guide your life. Our goal is to tap into your potential and help you become aware of your future self.
We encourage you to comment and share any tips of your own regarding fasting or any other health recommendations. At the end of the day, we are here to provide our community with as much practical health information as possible. You decide what to do with it!