Fasting is one of the healthiest thing you can do. It may seem counter-intuitive because of the constant barrage of pro-eating advertising and relentless conditioning but it’s true. Fasting is simple, accessible, zero cost and empowering. Fasting is so good for us that it is the 4th part of my optimal health strategy. Let’s take a closer look at why.
The benefits of fasting
The benefits of fasting are numerous and are closely linked to those of my Optimal Health Strategy 3: Nutritional Ketosis. Everyone knows that you can lose weight by fasting, but the closer we look the more we can see that this is of relatively less importance. Most people historically fasting out of necessity or for religious reasons may not have been aware of the many advantages they were getting. Fasting…
- Improves mental clarity and our ability to mentally focus
- Improves metabolic fat burning
- Induces body fat loss
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Increases energy
- Extends lifespan by reversing the ageing process
- Is a powerful tool for self mastery
- Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
- And decreases inflammation
- Lowers blood cholesterol
On top of these desirable benefits, fasting has several huge advantages as a health strategy.
Advantages of fasting
- It’s simple to do. In fact, it couldn’t be simpler than not eating anything.
- It FREE! There is nothing to buy, there is no equipment, no accessories, nothing you need to get. In fact, you save money because you reduce your monthly food bill.
- It’s convenient. You can fast anytime, anywhere, and it does not impact on your lifestyle in any way. On the contrary, it frees you up and gives you more time because you do not have to spend time buying food, preparing it, eating it, and then clearing up afterwards. If you are travelling you can avoid all the difficulty of sourcing healthy food as well. Fasting is a massive way to simplify life over the fasting period.
- It works with any diet. It doesn’t matter what diet you follow, whatever your eating habits are you can benefit from fasting.
- It’s totally flexible. You can fast for as long or as short a time as you like. There is no strict regime, nothing to remember, no schedule to stick to. You can fast whenever you want to and stop fasting whenever you want to. Plus, you can everything that you normally do without any inconvenience.
- It’s a powerful means to reverse disease. Fasting can bring about major results with chronic conditions such as diabetes more effectively than any other intervention. When weight loss stalls with other methods fasting can push through the barriers. There is no upper limit to fasting, no maximum dose. Within reason and provided a few caveats are observed you can fast as long as you like.
- PLUS you get to enjoy the pleasure of eating! This could be a big one for many people who struggle with changing eating habits. Although eating real healthy food is essential, it is not necessary to ‘give up’ desserts forever. For all but a few, it is unrealistic to follow that Ketogenic diet if you have a wedding to attend or a specific celebration to attend. Fasting allows us to balance our eating habits. It’s not about feasts and famine, it’s about feasting and fasting.
What is fasting?
Fasting is the voluntary abstention from food. It is a deliberate and conscious choice in the context of there being plenty to eat. It is absolutely not starving our selves. Starving is when you do not know where your next meal is coming from, perhaps in times of famine or war or incarceration. The crucial distinction here is between the chosen, the voluntary, and something that is not chosen, something that is forced upon us by circumstances or otherwise.
Fasting is a long lost secret buried under relentless conditioning through advertising and untruth. Practiced for millennia the mainstream view within the Matrix has been discounting it for decades. The food industry has propagated many myths about eating habits. It has encouraged us to eat three meals a day plus snacks and to never miss a meal. We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and all sorts of other unproven yet commonly accepted.
The history of fasting
Throughout our human evolutionary history periods of not eating have been the norm. 3 meals a day was never a survival need and consequently is not a health need.
Fasting has been practised by virtually every culture and religion on the planet. Jesus, Buddha and the Prophet Mohammed, three figures of the most predominant religions all advocated its benefits, often as a ‘cleanse’ or ‘purification’. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine in ancient Greece, was a keen advocate of fasting noting that mental acuity in activities such as puzzle solving improved in a fasted state.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) wrote,“ The best medicine is rest and fasting”. And Mark Twain (1835- 1910) the famous American Philosopher was also a keen advocate along with many other historical figures, suggesting that a little starvation could do more to cure men than the best medicines and best doctors.
Fasting appeared in medical literature in 1915 with it being mentioned as a safe and effective treatment for obesity. However, the latter part of the 20th century saw talk of fasting die out completely, even in the face of the obesity epidemic in the 1980’s!
Myths about fasting
There are several myths about fasting expanded upon by Jason Fung in his excellent book mentioned below. If you are familiar with this blog you will be unsurprised to hear that they are all un-true. These myths include;
- You get really hungry.
- Your body goes into starvation mode.
- You lose muscle mass.
- It causes low blood sugar.
- It deprives the body of nutrients.
- It leads to over eating.
Many of these myths are put into the public consciousness by the big food corporations, because of course there is no money in food, and the idea of people not buying there food is not in there interests. However many people jusmp to the conclusion that this is a problem of the free market and of capitalism. It is not. For a detailed explosion of the myths against capitalism click here.
Types of fasting
There many different kinds of fasting, all variations on the theme. The benefits vary, but there is something achievable for everyone. Strictly speaking fasting would mean no food intake and drinking only water. However, most kinds of fast allow non calorific drinks such as tea, coffee and bone broth. Any kind of sugary additives are not allowed.
- Intermittent fasting
- One day fasts
- Alternate day fasting
- Extended fasting
- Juice fasting
- Fat fasting
Intermittent fasting is restricting your daily window of time in which you eat. By simply skipping breakfast you can effectively fast from the previous evening – say 7pm – through to lunch time the next day at 12 noon. This means you are fasting for 17 hours of the day. This is a great way to adjust the body to burning fat and readying one’s self for longer fasts.
One day and alternate day fasts are self-explanatory, although there is a little more to it. Extended fasts are when the real benefits kick in. I suggest Jason Fung’s book as the place to learn about this if you are interested.
The ultimate fasting resource
The best resource for fasting is undoubtedly the fabulous book by Jason Fung called “The Complete Guide To Fasting”. It contains all the information you need and a complete ‘how to’ section. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in health and longevity.
Check out these other posts in the Optimal Health Strategy series below.
- Optimal Health Strategy 1 – Maintain a Healthy Gut.
- Optimal Health Strategy 2 – Eat Real food.
- Optimal Health Strategy 3 – Nutritional Ketosis.
I have been practising fasting for many years and keenly advocate bringing it into your lifestyle. I sincerely hope this information helps you on your journey towards health and longevity. I invite you to join in the conversation and leave a comment below.