This article helps explain why I chose fasting – and continue to whole-heartedly support it – as the most powerful tool for health… and the absolute most SIMPLE way to DETOX your body, control your Weight, and boost Productivity.
(This article focuses solely on “intermittent fasting” so it’s worth noting that some of these benefits are more pronounced with prolonged fasting. However, what’s not fully understood is whether you get the benefits you need by simply practicing intermittent fasting regularly. I would intuitively say, “Yes, you do get the same benefits from IF over time as you do from prolonged fasting”.)
What are the main points from the article?
Preclinical studies consistently show the robust disease-modifying efficacy of intermittent fasting in animal models on a wide range of chronic disorders, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurodegenerative brain diseases.
These effects carry over into the fed state to bolster mental and physical performance, as well as disease resistance.
[More of the] benefits include improvements in glucose regulation, blood pressure, and heart rate; the efficacy of endurance training; and abdominal fat loss.
Cells respond to intermittent fasting by engaging in a coordinated adaptive stress response that leads to increased expression of antioxidant defenses, DNA repair, protein quality control, mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy, and down-regulation of inflammation.
Intermittent fasting elicits evolutionarily conserved, adaptive cellular responses that are integrated between and within organs in a manner that improves glucose regulation, increases stress resistance, and suppresses inflammation.
During fasting, cells activate pathways that enhance intrinsic defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress and those that remove or repair damaged molecules.
That all sounds good! But the question remains:
What’s the “right / optimal” amount of fasting for YOU?
I would go ahead and throw out any numbers from non-human studies because the metabolism of other animals will differ greatly from that of humans.
(Not that we can’t get the same benefits from the animals in these studies; I certainly believe we can and do. It’s just that the so-called “dose” or amount of fasting will differ.)
Unfortunately, although the promotion of the article references an eating window of 6 hours, the article says nothing specifically about it. It’s probably in one of the 80 references – so good luck finding it without spending a lot of time!
Based on my research, we start getting benefits of fasting fairly quickly… that is, once the body adjusts to getting its energy from fat instead of carbs (to put it in very simple terms). However, if you’re going from a standard modern diet, it will take some time to progress your way there.
In practical terms, you can start small (let’s say 13 hours of fasting) and work your way up until you find something that “works” for you.
If you want an objective measure, you can get a ketone monitor. (Keep in mind that more ketones aren’t necessarily better. That is, if you have high ketone levels, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your body is effectively using them. In fact, if you see high ketone levels on a urine strip, you know those are the ketones that your body is excreting.)
What’s the evidence to support IF?
The article shows studies of intermittent fasting for Stress Resistance, Health and Aging, Physical and Cognitive Effects, OBESITY AND DIABETES, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, CANCER, NEURODEGENERATIVE DISORDERS, ASTHMA, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, AND ARTHRITIS, and SURGICAL AND ISCHEMIC TISSUE INJURY.
If you want to learn more about fasting for these specific areas, I recommend reading the article and the corresponding references.
With all these amazing benefits, why doesn’t EVERYONE fast?
The article gives 3 main reasons why…
(1) A diet of three meals with snacks every day is so ingrained in our culture that a change in this eating pattern will rarely be contemplated by patients or doctors. The abundance of food and extensive marketing in developed nations are also major hurdles to be overcome.
(2) On switching to an intermittent-fasting regimen, many people will experience hunger, irritability, and a reduced ability to concentrate during periods of food restriction.
(3) Most physicians are not trained to prescribe specific intermittent-fasting interventions.
How can fasting work best for you?
You can do your own research, try it on your own, and find what works for you.
Do you want to make sure you’re getting the benefits, and at the same time, understand how fasting works?
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What’s your experience with fasting?
How does it help you?
What have been your struggles?
Leave a comment and let us know!