Fasting is not just for the devout. The way we fast for religion has been shown to have more of an effect on our behavior than our health. (1) But, intermittent fasting — also known as reduced meal frequency — has been proven to increase your lifespan, insulin sensitivity, stress resistance, efficiency in brain and heart functions, and promote weight loss. (2, 3) Simply rearranging meal schedules can help you achieve your health goals.
Who says that losing weight isn’t a holy intention, anyway?
Fasting Through the Ages
Our early ancestors were hunter-gatherers and that’s the way our body was made to operate, balancing the physical activity of hunting and gathering with eating and sleeping. Our body was made to survive a day where food became scarce or we weren’t so lucky with our spears. (4) Intermittent fasting was part of humankind’s way of life.
There have been a lot of changes since then. The invention of the wheel really got us rolling (pun intended). Civilization, medicine, electricity. Bing-bang-boom. People are lethargic, wasteful, gluttonous.
It’s time to return to our roots. Look back to a time where everyone had a purpose they were willing to fight for. Imitating cycles of fasting and non-fasting is more healthy than lounging around eating potato chips all day.
Our bodies were designed to be able to function for a day without sustenance. When we don’t consume enough food throughout the day our body finds other ways of getting the energy it needs. This can mean accessing long term energy from our fat deposits which causes weight loss. (5)
While time can heal all wounds, time can also do some pretty extensive damage. The nervous system is especially vulnerable to age. Amazingly intermittent fasting protects against the things age and time throw at us. It protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and seems to increase our lifespan. (6 ,7)
In a study done on rats it was discovered that female rats life span could be increased by 15% by intermittent fasting while male rats lifespan could be increased up to 20%. (8)
This kind of diet seems to affect men and women differently but produces positive effects for both. After people went on an intermittent day fast, diet research showed that men’s blood levels dropped while women’s cholesterol dropped. (9)
To intermittently fast you don’t have to decrease your calorie intake. You can intermittently fast simply by prolonging time between meals. Research has shown that intermittent fasting is just as effective on weight loss as continuous reduced caloric intake. (10)
So what is the best way to intermittently fast? Some people suggest fasting every other day. (11)
Others suggest instead fasting for a certain amount of hours per day. Still some suggest fasting in terms of meals, only eating 2 meals a day — instead of the typical 3. (12)
Finally others choose to regulate how they intermittently fast by looking at calories. If you choose to fast this way it is suggested that you consume approximately 1,000 and 2,000 calories per day. (13)
All of these people have performed studies that confirm that intermittent fasting does positively affect your health but there is no clear winner on which is the best way to intermittently fast.
However, prolonging the intervals between eating is not recommended past 24 hours. It is important to be safe while losing weight.
Research indicates intermittent fasting could help us live a longer, better life. With so many different ways to get started you are bound to find a way that works for you. Although you should be wary of starving yourself, intermittent fasting if done correctly is a great way to lose weight.