FASTED: Why does fasting make sense?

If you’ve ever gone on a diet – and I have! – you’ll know that the minute you stop the diet, the weight comes back.

I think I can say I tried everything in diets. I’ve done Weight Watchers (twice!), Jenny Craig (expensive!), Joel Fuhrman’s Eat To Live (very expensive!) and dozens more. I lost weight on all of them, to varying extents, only to regain the weight the moment I stopped. They were all paths to failure.

Continuous calorie restriction, which is what all diets are based on, slows your metabolism right down. I’m probably not telling you anything new here. That’s why diets don’t work.

We all knew what would happen to the contestants on The Biggest Loser. We all know why there are no reunion shows five years on!

FASTING IS DIFFERENT

Fasting is different. Because it is on again, off again, your metabolism doesn’t slow down significantly. So the weight stays off.

Your body never “thinks” it is starving and never slows down your metabolism to compensate, because just when it starts to “think” that – hey presto! – you stop fasting. Only to start again a few days later.

In this way, you keep your metabolism on its toes the whole time, never knowing what to expect, and never slowing down.

HOW LONG SHOULD I FAST?

You can fast as much or as little as you like. It’s really common for people to fast 16/8. This means they’re fasting for 16 hours of every 24 hour period, with an 8 hour eating “window” every day.

This seems to be the most common and convenient way for people to fast, and you can do this if you like.

16/8 it is a great way to start, when training yourself for longer fasts which are more useful and effective. But longer fasts are definitely a better way to go.

You see, evidence seems to suggest that ideal fasting length is at least 48 hours (two days), and possibly longer.

This is because it takes at least 12 hours for a lot of people to fully enter ketosis, the point at which they have switched over to burning fat for fuel instead of sugar.

It takes about 18 hours for autophagy to kick in, and 24 hours for inflammation to drop and for cardiac and brain function to improve.

Furthermore, it is at about 48 hours into a fast that stem cell stimulation really kicks in, and your body undergoes all the healing and repair it needs in a huge way.

Watch this video by Dr Berg for more information on fasting.

FIT, FED AND FASTED

Fit, Fed and Fasted teaches you how to work up from fasting just a couple of hours a day through to managing regular longer fasts, unlocking all the benefits they have to offer.

IS FASTING DIFFICULT?

Yes, in the same way that riding a bike is difficult if you’ve never done it before.

That’s why you learn, a step at a time. Learning step by step makes fasting accessible for just about everyone.

FED: What diet makes sense?

We think of civilisations such as the Incans and the Romans as ancient. But humans have only been living in cities and cultivating crops for a tiny fraction of our existence.

For the vast majority of time anatomically modern humans have been on the face of the earth, we were hunter-gatherers, living a nomadic lifestyle and eating what nature provided for us.

When we look at humans who still live this way today, their diets have several things in common.

  1. Their diets all include animal protein
  2. Their diets are seasonal, eating what they can find when it is available
  3. The majority of their calories come from animals, not plants
  4. Food can be scarce at some times, and at other times is in incredible abundance. Humans eat what and when we can, taking advantage of every opportunity for calories
  5. Nothing is wasted.

This is very different to modern Western eating patterns, in which

  1. We often include no animal protein, or animal products at all
  2. We often largely ignore the seasons, with almost all foods available almost all year around. Seasonality and locality are virtually irrelevant
  3. The majority of our calories come from plant products, plant oils and processed plant foods
  4. Food is incredibly abundant all the time. It is difficult to avoid food and food availability
  5. Vast amounts of food are wasted.

THE EXPERTS SEEM CONFUSED!

Medical practitioners talk about a “high quality diet” but what this means seems to vary according to eat “expert”. Some experts seem to push a plant-only diet (which historical humans have never eaten!), while others seem to advocate no change from modern, disease-causing dietary habits at all.

Little of it seems to make a lot of sense!

RETURN TO EVIDENCE, HISTORY AND COMMON-SENSE

This is why I think it makes sense to throw out modern trends and fashionable diets, and instead look at ancient evidence, backed up by millennia of historical human eating patterns.

If we look at the evidence of history, a healthy eating pattern clearly:

  1. Includes a majority of calories from unprocessed animal sources, ideally local. This includes whole animal products such as offal, high fat cuts, skin and bone products (marrow). Choose cheaper and fattier, rather than lean and expensive, cuts of meat.
  2. Include seasonal greens, fruits, nuts and herbs. Grow a garden if you can. Eat edible peels / skins and stalks.
  3. Avoid all processed plant oils. Instead cook with hard animal fats, locally sourced if possible.
  4. Make fasting a part of your lifestyle, mimicking feast / famine cycles of natural living.
  5. Waste nothing. Compost leftovers or, if possible, keep chickens to dispose of food that cannot be consumed. Then eat old / spent chickens once their laying cycle is ended.

Over coming posts, I’ll talk more about great meal options that are healthy and affordable, and ways to eat well even when you’re unavoidably eating out with friends at junkfood chains.