Experiments in Fasting

The Merits of Not Eating?!

Lately I’ve been reading and listening to a number of books and podcasts in the health field that have been discussing the merits of fasting.  Perhaps you’ve been hearing more about it too.  Its seems to be hitting the mainstream lately.  The science behind this ancient non-activity is quite fascinating.

There are so many benefits to fasting and so few downsides, I’ve found myself experimenting with fasting and have been pleasantly surprised.

Firstly, aside from the benefit of giving your overworked digestive system a break  there are plenty of reasons to include try fasting, whether it’s on a regular basis or occasional intervals.

Here are a few reasons to try fasting:

  • promotes healthy FAT loss without losing muscle mass
  • stimulates the production of stem cells in your body
  • promotes cellular autophagy, which is the clearing out of dead/useless cells from the body
  • cellular mitochondria production is increased
  • human growth hormone is increased
  • helps to regulate insulin production and release
  • gets you into fat burning mode while you fast and possibly after
  • saves a surprising amount of time when you don’t have to prepare and eat food
  • you feel better than you’d expect

Obviously that’s a lot to digest and my explanations are that of the layman.  To dig deeper, below are the links to a couple of podcasts that I found quite interesting.  These conversations get into the science of fasting and what makes it so unique but in an accessible way.

Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast with Dr. Dan Pompa

Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast with Dr. Jason Fung

Rhonda Patrick of Found My Fitness with Dr. Valter Longo

The conversation with Dr. Jason Fung was so great in fact that I purchased his book on Amazon so I could delve deeper.   The Complete Guide to Fasting did not disappoint.  I enjoyed his simple approach to fasting.  I’d provide some direct quotes but I’ve loaned the book to my dad for the time being!

The resources section of the book outlines several fasting protocols whether you’re wanting to try short intermittent fasting periods, 24 hours fasts or longer multi day fasts.  There is plenty of valuable advice for helping you get through a fast and I have admit that there are a few things that surprised me with my own experimentation.

  • Hunger is very much a mental construct.  The first few times I wanted to try a 24 hour fast that lasted from dinner one evening until dinner the next evening, I was so hungry I didn’t think I’d make it.  Now that I’ve done it a few times and experimented with 36 and 42 hours fasts, I’ve been surprised how easily I’ve managed the occasional hunger pang.  It actually gets easier not harder, just as Dr. Fung discusses in his book.
  • Not only that but I feel good when I’m fasting not drained and listless (though I certainly did feel that way the first couple of times).
  • When I’m not fasting I find it much easier to make great food selections.  I think it’s because I’ve invested so much time into not eating, that when I do I owe it to myself to eat the best quality food and believe me I savour every bite!
  • I could still drink coffee and tea and what a difference continuing my morning coffee routine made in being able to fast.

It’s important to remember that you should check with your doctor if you’re interested in trying fasting, especially if you’d like to experiment with longer fasts (I’d recommend building up to that as I am…It’ll much more pleasant than otherwise) or if you’re taking any kind of mediation.

Have questions or comments or want to share your own experience in fasting?  Fire away in the comments.

Stay Fresh,

Fresh Bites Nutrition

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