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Intermittent Fasting

Updated: Aug 4

Fasting, a practice that has existed since ancient times, is considered one of the most natural activities for our bodies. Throughout human evolution, food availability was not always constant, and periods of scarcity were common, such as during winter. This suggests that our bodies are naturally adapted to fasting.

Feeling hungry and experiencing stomach growls during fasting is typical, as our bodies have become conditioned to expect food at specific times due to habitual eating patterns. These sensations are driven by hunger hormones and carbohydrate cravings. However, true starvation occurs when the body is significantly depleted of essential micronutrients, like vitamins, and macronutrients, such as fat and protein. During fasting, when no external calories are consumed, the body begins to rely on its stored body fat, leading to an internal calorie source.

The human body excels in adaptation, responding to stimuli, especially when encountered regularly. This adaptation process is known as hormesis. For instance, resistance training causes muscle tissue to break down and tear, resulting in larger muscles to better handle weight loads in subsequent workouts. Similarly, cold exposure stimulates the creation of "brown fat" and the "beiging of white fat," leading to enhanced energy production through increased mitochondria. Fasting is considered a positive stressor that profoundly impacts longevity and the body's ability to efficiently absorb consumed foods.

The body's reliance on carbohydrates as a primary fuel source can hinder its ability to burn fat compared to individuals following a low-carb (ketogenic) diet. Achieving metabolic flexibility or becoming "fat-adapted" allows the body to optimally use both fats and carbohydrates. While long-term adherence to a low-carb diet may lead to physiological insulin resistance, it is essential to distinguish it from pathological insulin resistance found in pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic individuals. Striking a balance is crucial, and cycling in and out of ketosis through a cyclical ketogenic diet may prove beneficial.

When embarking on fasting and utilizing stored body fat, it is crucial to prioritize the quality of fats consumed. As humans have a single stomach (mono-gastric animals), fats ingested are stored in their original form. Ruminants like cows can convert dietary polyunsaturated fats found in vegetables and grass into saturated fat during digestion. This ability is significant because polyunsaturated fats are susceptible to oxidation, leading to inflammation and various health issues. Thus, it is important to avoid unstable fats like hydrogenated fats and omega-6-rich fats from sources like sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, rapeseed oil, canola oil, and margarine. Opt for stable fats like coconut oil or healthy animal fats from animals fed a species-appropriate diet.

The key to a healthy diet lies in avoiding ultra-processed foods and selecting fats extracted by mechanical means (e.g., cold-pressed from whole food sources like coconuts or olives). Chemical extraction and hydrogenation should be avoided as they can be harmful to human health.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of fasting, a holistic doctor and former Olympic decathlete offers an accessible explanation in the provided video. This knowledge empowers individuals to make informed decisions and embrace fasting as a beneficial practice for their overall well-being.

Embarking on an intermittent fasting journey can be supported by utilizing helpful tools, such as fasting apps. These apps not only assist in tracking your fasting window but can also monitor your weight, providing valuable insights. Numerous free apps are readily available on our phones, making them a convenient resource to use until you establish a routine that feels natural and suits your preferences.

In conclusion, fasting stands as one of the most potent interventions that can positively impact our lives when approached correctly. By incorporating fasting into your lifestyle with the aid of tracking apps and finding a routine that works best for you, you can enhance your overall quality of life and reap the benefits of this powerful practice.

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