Our ancestors didn’t have access to food 24 hours a day the way we do. And they absolutely didn’t have the food choices or access to all of the processed food that we constantly consume. Early hunter-gatherers often ate only intermittently. This suggests that the ability to function at a high level both physically and mentally during prolonged times without food may have been fundamental in human evolution, and that our body’s may have adapted to perform at its peak level with intermittent fasting. When we eat intermittently we mirror the eating habits of our ancestors, who didn’t have access to fast food, grocery stores or refrigerators full of frozen pizzas around the clock. Our ancestors would cycle through periods of feast and famine, and modern research shows this cycling produces a number of biochemical benefits. In short, by altering what and when we eat, we can dramatically alter how our body operates. Fasting is historically familiar as it has been a part of spiritual practice for ages. However modern science has confirmed there are several worthy reasons for fasting. Fasting has a number of health benefits that most of us seek, from improved cardiovascular health and reduced cancer risk, to gene repair and longevity. Nowadays, it’s automatic for most of us when it comes to eating three meals a day so that when we skip a meal, we often feel guilt-ridden. However, our bodies are actually devised for intermittent periods of fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a canopy term that covers an array of fasting schedules. As a general rule, fasting involves cutting calories in whole or in part, either for a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily. Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. In basic terms, Intermittent Fasting is occasional famine done purposely in a strategic way. The idea is to cycle between periods of regular eating and fasting, during which we severely restrict our calorie intake or don’t consume any food at all. Some people fast for hours, while some may go for a full day or longer. Intermittent Fasting may mean something different depending on whom you speak with. There are numerous ways to fast intermittently; one of the more commonly known is the Alternate-Day Fast. This fasting practice is exactly as it sounds: one day off, one day on. When we include sleeping time, the fast can end up being as long as 32-36 hours. The drawback is that it requires us to go to bed with an empty stomach every other day, which can be tough for most when first starting out. The Alternate-Day fasting schedule has a much higher compliance rate than other fasting schedules. A variation that is quite common fasting systems is The 5:2 Diets, which involves limiting calories for two non-consecutive days a week and eating without calorie restraints on the other five days. Others may fast on a day-to-day basis by eating only during a specific time window.
The report given on fighting obesity usually centers on consuming fewer calories and exercising more and the benefits of foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, fiber and fish, and the value of reducing or eliminating snacks are often also publicized. However, evidence reveals that other fundamental aspects of diet such as when and how often we eat can also play a major role in our health. The most common eating pattern in modern societies of three meals daily, plus snacks, is abnormal from the perception of human development. For many different physiological reasons, fasting can help promote weight loss and muscle building when done properly. When we eat a meal, our body spends a few hours processing that food, burning what it can from what we just consumed. Because it has all of this readily obtainable, easy to burn energy in its blood stream our body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat we have stored. This is especially true if we just consumed carbohydrates or/and sugars, as our body prefers to burn sugar as energy before any other source. During the “fasted state,” our body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it is more likely to use the fat stored in our body, rather than the glucose in our blood stream or glycogen in our muscles/liver. The same goes for working out in a “fasted” state. Without a ready supply of glucose and glycogen to pull from our body is forced to adapt and pull from the only source of energy available to it: the fat stored in our cells. Our bodies respond to energy consumption with insulin production. Intermittent fasting can help teach our body to use the food it consumes more efficiently. Essentially, the more sensitive our body is to insulin, the more likely we’ll be to use the food we consume efficiently, which can help lead to weight loss and muscle formation. It’s high insulin that drives cellular inflammation also. That’s the key point of the benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting helps reset our body to burn fat for fuel. Accumulating evidence shows that when our body becomes adapted to burning fat instead of sugar as our principal fuel we radically reduce our risk of chronic disease.
Maybe it’s a social routine, or an intense craving for a sugary morning pastry accompanied with our favorite caffeine beverage as soon as we wake up, or a comforting midnight snack before bed that we’re not willing to give up. Maybe we’re unremitting eaters at a certain time of day. Remember, hesitancy can be emotional. Fasting has been used in all major religions for its ability to clear our minds, hearts and bodies. And in recent years intermittent fasting for health reasons has become accepted, and now there’s scientific confirmation to support it. During the fasting phase, many cells die and stem cells turn on, which starts a regeneration process and creates a condition for new, younger cells. The only way to know if intermittent fasting is right for us is to “listen to” our body. We may want to try one or several of the popular intermittent fasting methods. Or, do some research of our own and see what Intermittent Fasting method vibrates with us individually. Whatever your choice, at Gourmet Services Inc. we hope you chose wise and healthy.