Fasting is a powerful tool for rejuvenation and general health. It has been used for thousands of years. However, when we think of fasting we immediately associate it with “going hungry” but when managed properly it is a process that is easy to achieve.
There are many Science-backed benefits that can be provided by intermittent fasting:
- Increased autophagy (cellular repair)
- Higher insulin levels
- Higher levels of human growth hormone
- Protection against disease, so supporting longevity
- Improved body composition
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions
- Less oxidative stress and systemic inflammation
- Lowered risk of heart disease
- Improved cognitive function support and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases
- Lowers inflammation and auto-immunity
- Increases your metabolic rate and assisting with weight loss
Whichever type of fast you do you will gain some level of benefit. Every time you give your body much-needed rest from digestion, you are allowing it to get to work cleaning out the junk that inevitably accumulates in the body’s cells. Most of these rejuvenating and regenerating benefits occur during the re-feeding phase, not the “starvation” phase. Hence, the quality of your diet plays an important role if you’re looking for more than mere weight loss. Also, weight-loss alone won’t fix your health problems.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Every intermittent fasting approach, regardless of its specific structure, includes an “eating window” and a “fasting window”
TRF (Time Restricted Feeding)
Overnight – when you skip food for 12-16 hours. For up to 12 hours you are still absorbing and processing food. Biologically 24-30 hours is a good time to fast with a good 8 hours for digestion. Unless you go up to 30 hours without food, your body isn’t really fasting. This is when you lose weight.
When you are eating all the time it encourages your body to grow which accelerates the ageing process. By age 35 to 55 you are carrying more cells with DNA damage. The more you push these cells with high meat intake etc, the more damaged these cells become.
At age 35-60 you don’t want to overfeed. (This doesn’t mean putting less food on your plate but through periods of fasting.
After 65-70 your body is declining in terms of absorbing food and muscle mass, so you probably need a bit more protein.
35-55 is the best time to benefit from scheduled eating.
When you are fat adapted and fasting you have higher levels of energy rather than feeling weak.
Calorie restricted diets basically deprive the body at a chronic level.
Alternate Day Fasting
Just as the name suggests, with the alternate day fasting method, you will eat regularly one day and fast the next. The fasting window typically lasts for about 36 hours.
STF (Short Term Fasting)
These include the 5:2 diet or 4:3 or even every 2nd day when you only have 600 calories. This is beneficial for Metabolic Syndrome which leads to diabetes and pre-diabetes.
PF (Prolonged Fasting)
When you are fasting for more than 3 days in a row- 3, 4, or 5 days you are putting your body into major stress. When you are just water based fasting this is dramatic- intervention dieting. PF is a higher level of intervention which pushes the stem cells in the organs and blood stream are brought on board to help the body survive. These new stem cells then replicate and reverse ageing.
3-4 days of fasting stresses the body enough to push the stem cells to replace the elderly and damaged cells. Not only does this help the body to reverse ageing but it helps the body to deal with major chronic diseases.
Research has shown that fasting or having just water for 5 days can be risky and compliance can be difficult, so a nutritional plan that mimics fasting, called the Fasting Mimicking Diet (“The Fasting- Mimicking Diet” Joseph Anton)
This can still achieve the same benefits. On the 1st day the body copes with fewer calories. On the 2nd and 3rd day it starts cutting down on expenditure. After 3 days the body feels that it is in a critical situation and needs to protect itself so this is when it destroys the elderly and damaged cells and pushes out stem cells.
Stem cell secretion starts at day 3. Then when you start eating again it helps to boost the new stem cells.
You can do this fast once a month or every 2, 3 or 4 months depending on the reason why you want to do Prolonged Fasting. A healthy 30 year old just looking to stay that way could do it once every 2- 4 months.
A 55-60 year old who is showing signs of ageing and weight related problems might want to do 5 days every month for 3 months, then every 2, 3 or 4 months.
A common mistake with doing Intermittent Fasting is that some people restrict calories too much. It is important to eat enough calories to meet your bodies’ needs. That is by eating nutrient-rich foods. Experiment with fasting and if something doesn’t work for you or you are feeling hungry, try drinking black coffee or herbal teas. This program is to develop a long-term approach to eating, so you may go through a period of adjustment.
For optimal health Intermittent Fasting needs to be combined with cyclical nutritional ketosis.
Who Shouldn’t Fast
Always check with your doctor if you have any sort of medical condition and are considering fasting, especially if you have diabetes (or any other blood sugar related issue), a history of eating disorders, have very low blood pressure or are taking certain prescription medications.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeing you shouldn’t fast. Children should never fast.