It’s easy for us to understand how types of food we eat affect our health. We often see that manifested in terms of either buoyant or compromised health in our everyday lives. But when we eat may also have an impact on our health, positively or negatively.
Before refrigeration, transportation, and electric lighting, food was not as readily available as it is today and people were often forced to fast.
But things are obviously very different today. Dr. Vicki Catenacci, University of Colorado nutrition researcher states that, “People now eat, on average, throughout a 14-hour period each day.”
Current research is suggesting that such constant food intake may lead to health problems and those conducting these studies have begun tolook at whether fasting can provide health benefits for some people.
Fasting mainly focuses on the timing of when you eat. The current trend in fasting is what is known as intermittent fasting (IF).
Intermittent fasting achieves the goal of taking in less food energy each day than your body burns for normal activity by severely limiting calories during certain days of the week or during specified hours during the day. The theory is that intermittent fasting will help decrease appetite by slowing the body's metabolism.
With intermittent fasting programs, you interrupt your normal eating patterns. This is one way to achieve lasting weight loss.
There are various ways to fast intermittently:
You eat every day but only during a limited number of hours, such as 10- to 12-hour window each day.(1)
You eat every other day and consume no or few calories on the days in between.(2)
You restrict your calorie intake during the week but not on weekends.
Eating for 12 hours and then fasting for 12 hours is likely safe for most people,Dr. Valter Longo, University of Southern California longevity researcher explains. “That pattern of eating is very common among people who have record lifespans,” he says. “It seems to match both science and tradition.”
By the way, you can eat whatever you like….anything
What you eat it truly up to you. You might find that even if you enjoy less than healthy foods regularly, you can still lose weight with this plan. But just remember that your best weight loss and the most healthy benefits always come from eating healthy foods….not highly processed foods.
Ten Facts of Intermittent Fasting
1. Time-restricted eating or IF can but does not necessarily confer weight loss or cardio-metabolic benefits which is the goal of very many people who decide to fast. This is a factor of the way you intermittently fast. See footnote (1) below. One of the signs of aging is a bulging waistline and for post-menopausal women, it’s about more than just the waistline as the fat accumulation often extends all the way up the abdomen to just below the breasts. It’s called “hormone belly” these days. The fat accumulation of hormone belly is very stubborn to lose and doesn’t always “dissolve” with mere dieting or exercise. IF is reported to often help women with hormone belly reduce that fat accumulation. Hormone belly is an indication of diminished sex hormone production. Frequent IF can help revitalize the endocrine and sex glands, normalize hormone production and mitigate signs of aging.
2. The principal benefit of fasting is to give the digestive system a rest. Doing so brings vitality and a greater sense of overall well-being to the body. “Temporary unemployment of your mouth is actually a very good thing… The energies of the body are at all times divided between assimilation and elimination. The processes of expelling waste and toxins from the body never stop for a moment, but they do slow down when food is consumed. Much blood is summoned to the digestive organs making digestion the most energy-draining function. When digestion is shut down, the body will mobilize all the available resources for rejuvenation. Not only the digestive organs but also the circulatory, respiratory, glandular and nervous systems are able to rest as well. During fasting, the body will devote every ounce of energy to healing.” —Tonya Zavasta in Your Right to Be Beautiful: How to Halt the Train of Aging and Meet the Most Beautiful You
3. IF is an excellent cleansing method for the brain and circulatory system. Toxic metals we tend to regularly consume whether we know it or not such as fluoride, mercury and other heavy metals cling to the pituitary and pineal glands. This is called calcification. Fasting helps decalcify these glands making way for clearer meditation and intuitive abilities. (Fasting has its roots in religion and spirituality.)
4. IF has been shown to slow the accumulation of damage to the collagen matrix and also the rate of glycation.Glycation is a non-enzymatic process that permanently bonds a sugar to a protein. In the case of skin, the protein bonding to the sugar is our collagen— the main structural protein responsible for firming skin and reducing lines and wrinkles. Glycation is a serious beauty saboteur.
5. Starvation certainly does not begin when we miss our first meal! Fasting is not about starving and does not overwhelm you with hunger. Here is the truth shared by author Zavasta (mentioned and quoted above) about how long you can actually go without food: “If you ever find yourself in a situation where food is not available, you are safe for several weeks is you have salvaged some water… You can have one consolation in your misfortune, fasting can become a rejuvenating experience… you will not only feel better but look better as well.” “That we must eat to keep up our strength is a deep-seated belief in our society… energy saved on digestion can help to pull us through difficult times.”
6. Just like we must do periodic house cleaning, fasting is a necessary part of healthy clean living in your body. IF gives your body frequent opportunities to get rid of waste. You may notice that as many people get older, their skin takes on a duller and in some cases, darker muddled appearance. As always, the skin is the first to show what’s going on in the body. Muddled murky skin is a sign that much waste material is being harmfully retained in the body. IF works to cleanse the body of waste.
7. The body relies heavily on stored fats and not protein for energy during a sensible intermittent fast (a 10- to 12- hour window for consuming food during the day). Fat reserves and non-functional tissues are called upon to provide nutrients for more vital organs and systems like brain, heart, lungs and nerves. In fact, fasting optimizes the way your body uses protein. You will notice an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in body fat.
During a fast, required proteins get re-synthesized by decomposed cells. As cleansing progresses, the body becomes more efficient at burning fuel, less dependent on glucose and utilizes fatty acids more efficiently. Regular intermittent fasting combined with a weightlifting routine will produce high quality muscle.
8. Frequent IF boosts new cell production. This gives you a clearer more radiant complexion and makes beauty last.
9. Frequent IF boosts the production of growth hormones while making you quite immune to chronology. In this sense, when fasting, you might experience past illnesses very briefly and in reverse order. These are not side effects of fasting. They are healing symptoms. “We are trying to halt the train of aging, and fasting is like pulling the emergency stop lever.” —Tonya Zavasta
10. While fasting is generally quite safe for most people there are some who should not fast. These include:
people with diabetes and who take insulin or other medications to control it
mostly anybody with blood sugar issues; fasting can help with blood sugar balance but it can also cause the opposite
people who take medications for blood pressure or heart disease
pregnant or breastfeeding women
those who have been prescribed any medication that must be taken with food
those with seizure disorders
people who work the night shift or operate heavy machinery
overstressed people; fasting may cause them even more stress
(1) Studies have found that people who regularly fast more than 16 or 18 hours a day have a higher risk of gallstones. A new study assigned overweight adults to routinely fast for 16 hours daily (popularly known as the 16:8 diet), eating all their meals between noon and 8 p.m. The subjects gained almost no benefit from it. Over the course of three months, they lost an average of just two to three and a half pounds — only slightly more than a control group. Most of the weight they lost was lean mass muscle tissue.
(2) This type of fasting is called the 5:2 diet according to Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. With this system, you eat normally for five days of the week, but restrict food intake to just 500 to 600 calories on the two fasting days. A variation is alternating fast days in which you consume a quarter or less of your basic calorie requirement with feast days during which you eat whatever you choose.
“Not so fast: Pros and cons of the newest diet trend.” Harvard Health Publishing, 31 July 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/not-so-fast-pros-and-cons-of-the-newest-diet-trend
“To Fast or Not to Fast. Does When You Eat Matter? National Institutes of Health News On Health, December 2019, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2019/12/fast-or-not-fast
“Effects of Time-Restricted Eating on Weight Loss and Other Metabolic Parameters in Women and Men With Overweight and Obesity: The TREAT Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Network, 28 September 2020, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2771095?guestAccessKey=444bbcb2-7e13-4dc6-998f-5de5e27aa19e&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=092820
Zavasta, Tonya. Your Right to Be Beautiful: How to Halt the Train of Aging and Meet the Most Beautiful You. United States, BR Publishing, 2003.