To fast is to abstain from all kinds of food and drink (other than water or coffee from a french press for example). After 1-3 days of not eating anything, the body will enter ketosis. This happens when the body exhausts it’s supply of glucose and glycogen and begins running solely on fat. It will use the fat for energy as ketones, which
Food might seem easy to get today. Just a quick walk down the road to the corner store, or a short drive to your local grocer.
We've got it made compared to our recent ancestors. Just 10000 years ago, before we discovered farming techniques, our only method of obtaining food was to forage or hunt. Often times it was slim pickings, there could be several days in between meals for a prehistoric human.
Just like our ancestors learned to adapt to food shortages, so can we. This viewpoint aligns well with the Paleo design, eating only food that was easily accessible and could even be eaten raw. There must have been times where food was sparse or meals were only eaten once a day and the body is capable of adapting and may even benefit from breaking modern patterns.
How can fasting be beneficial?
Fasting isn’t just used in preparation for blood donations and surgeries. If you haven’t heard of these benefits you are missing out.
Stronger Immune System
Without constant sustenance, studies1 show that dormant immune cells begin to actively renew themselves. The study also showed how a 3 day fast can protect the immune system against chemotherapy bouts. Reduced quantity and frequency of food intake, as well as intermittent fasting reduces oxidative damage and increases stress resistance2. Oxidative damage has been linked strongly to cancer3.
Exercise and fasting
You might ask - how will I exercise or workout while in a fasted state? There is even evidence to show that performing in a fasted state has its own set of benefits:
Stimulates muscle growth by increasing the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH)4
Short-term fasting can increase testosterone5.
Working out in a fasted state can further improve fat energy utilization and normalize insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance6.
Higher energy levels
With no incoming calories, fasting forces the use of body fat as fuel. Constant consumption of carbohydrates like in a modern diet results in poor efficiency at burning body fat, and leads to lower energy levels the longer it has been since your last meal.
Normalize insulin sensitivity and blood-sugar levels
Normalizing your insulin sensitivity is key for optimal health as insulin resistance is a contributing factor to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Healthy brain function
Intermittent Fasting results in increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)2. This can prevent brain dysfunctional diseases and degeneration seen in cases of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and strokes. BDNF plays an important role in learning, cognitive function, long-term memory development, and higher thinking. Those participating in high-intensity mental activities like chess or poker could benefit from this benefit.
How can fasting be done?
Intermittent Fasting is the most common type of fasting that you’ll hear about. It essentially gives you a feeding window where you don’t have limits on the amount of food you’re supposed to eat, but you instead eat quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates until you’re full. - Short fasting periods of less than a day, and generally one or more meals within a certain window of time.
An effective way to do this is to take advantage of the time you’re asleep! Assuming you’ve got a healthy sleep schedule that means 7-9 hours of fasting done without even thinking about it. Most intermittent fasting schedules recommend 10 to 16 consecutive hours without eating each day. As mentioned before, exercising in a fasted state proves beneficial for health, and this is an easy way to take advantage of that every day if you lead an active lifestyle.
I’m not going to go too much more indepth with setting up the fasting plan, I’ll leave that to the experts. If anything in this post has caught your interest I would definitely recommend giving fasting a try, here are some solid resources to get you going: