Fasting 101

Eating less is more

For centuries we humans have known about the superhuman high potency benefits of fasting.Fasting switches off the metabolic 'noise' in your body. This helps one think at a higher level than those who are constantly in a state of digestion. Fasting also clears out old cells and increases stem cell production (new cells). The bodies way of saying out with the old in with the new and improved.  Even Mr Franklin was aware. 

'The best of all medicine is rest and fasting' - Benjamin Franklin

Let's get into into our complete guide on fasting.

Who should fast?

Fasting has all kinds of health benefits but it is not for everyone. It can interfere with the effects of certain medications for things like type 2 diabetes so it's always worth consulting your doctor if you take regular medication. It's also not the right lifestyle change if you are pregnant/breastfeeding or are considered underweight.

What’s the principle behind fasting?

When you eat a meal, you are ingesting more food energy than your body requires to use immediately. Therefore you body stores this for later, in the form of fat both in the liver and around the body. How much energy is stored is controlled by insulin, a hormone you release when you start to eat. 

When you don’t eat for an extended period of time, the levels of insulin in your blood decrease, therefore stimulating the body to burn stored energy or fat to provide energy to maintain the function of your cells. By fasting, you increase the time spent using stored fat and decreasing the time spent building it.

How it affects your body

  • HGH levels (human growth hormone) increase 5 fold
  • This is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland which plays a very important role in growth, cell repair and your metabolism. It can boost things like muscle growth and help with weight loss.
  • Insulin sensitivity drops, as well as actual levels in the bloodstream
  • By levels dropping, this stimulates your body to make stored fat levels more accessible for use
  • Your cells initiate cellular repair processes 
  • Your cells undergo the necessary repairs, as well as getting rid of cellular waste such as old proteins that are no longer needed. Longer fasts also boost the regeneration of stem cells.
  • Which genes are being expressed is also altered
  • This means more genes related to things such as protection from diseases are expressed in the fasted state.

What health benefits can you gain from fasting

  • Helps promote weight loss
  • Generally, the amount of calories you eat is reduced due to the reduced eating time frame. The fasted state also increases noradrenaline levels which is known as a fat-burning hormone, as well as generally increasing your metabolic rate.
  • The fasted state helps reduce insulin resistance by lowering your blood sugar levels 
  • It has been shown to reduce inflammation markers
  • It also improves your cognition by increasing BDNF levels (read more in our cognition article)

The different types of fasting 

  • The 16/8 Method - Restricting your daily eating habits to 8 hour periods, e.g. from 1 pm to 9pm. This is the best way to start intermittent fasti
  • Eat stop eat - Involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week
  • The 5:2 Diet - You consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week and eat normally the other 5 days.
  • The Warrior diet - Restricting your diet to consume food only within a 4 hour window and fasting for the other 20. This is for those who are more experienced.

What you can do on a fast

You are allowed to drink water and black coffee during your fast. The basic idea is that you don’t eat anything containing calories during your fast, and in your eating window you can eat how you want. 

'To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals' - Benjamin Franklin

Now bring that forward to the present day. Heres a quote from the leading longevity professor in the world Dr David Sinclair.

'Out of all the research I have been involved with for the last twenty years, the single best way to live longer is to eat less' - Dr David Sinclair

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