Before grocery stores, refrigeration, processed, packaged foods, trucks, and farms, humans had to hunt and gather food. Three meals a day was not a standard. And in those days, three meals a day probably wasn’t even possible due to a lack of abundance and availability of food.
As a result of this lack of abundance, humans were hungry a lot of the time. Scientists tell us the human body adapted and evolved to this eating pattern and developed systems and processes to go along with it.
This is the idea behind intermittent fasting, which is very popular today.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting utilizes a period of not eating, or fasting, in combination with healthy meals. You fast most of the day, and then a window opens when your meals and calories are consumed. This changes the concept of “three meals a day,” and “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting backed up by science and research.
1. Body fat loss. Intermittent fasting causes an adjustment in hormone levels which cause the body to burn stored body fat for fuel. It also resets the appetite threshold which helps you realize when you are satiated. Also, fasting means you are eating less meals, and that results in less daily calorie consumption.
2. Improves mood and fights depression.
3. Increases human growth hormone by as much as five times. HGH increases strength and energy.
4. When the body isn’t digesting, it can prioritize autophagy. Autophagy is where damaged or malfunctioning cells are recycled or removed. These damaged cells become inactive in the body, and cause a damaging effect by the immune system.
5. Slows aging and increases longevity. Fasting causes changes in the function of genes related to longevity and disease protection.
6. Improves immunity by replacing white blood cells.
7. Fights type 2 diabetes and cancer.
8. Reduces inflammation caused by oxidative stress. Reduced inflammation fights against:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Types of intermittent fasting
The most popular type of intermittent fasting is 18:6. Adhere to a fasting window of 18 hours, and an eating window of 6 hours per day.
Time restricted eating (circadian). This method is similar to the 18:6 but takes into account that humans are diurnal. We are designed to work, eat, and function during the day. Metabolic enzymes are active during the day as well. They are activated by food and light. Twelve hours after activation, these enzymes slow and become less active. This slows metabolism and decreases insulin sensitivity and is not a good time to be taking in calories.
The Warrior Diet is another type of intermittent fast. It mimics the days when hunter/gatherers spent all day hunting, defending the tribe, and other activities that left no time for substantial eating during the day. When the day’s activities were finished, the tribe would then eat a large meal.
Intermittent fasting may not be for you
Fasting is a good stress on the body, but stress nonetheless. Anyone with a medical condition should check with their doctor. There can be side effects to fasting such as hunger, dizziness, and headaches. Talk to your doctor and make sure it is something that will work for you.
Denying yourself food when you are hungry is never easy, but it is something you can get used to. The positive effects on your health and longevity make the discomfort worth it.
I have never tried an intermittent fasting eating pattern, but I plan to start. It seems like an easy and worthwhile way increase your life span, health, and quality of life.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and is not intended for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your physician.