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What is fasting and what are the reported benefits?

Fasting

What is fasting and what are the reported benefits?

When considering how to improve your health, it is important to consider how to make improvements from the inside out. Strengthening internal systems takes patience and practice,  but the effects of methods like fasting have many different health benefits. Some of these benefits include:  weight management, brain power and cellular protection which all support healthy aging.

Fasting is an ancient tradition, our ancestors would go for long periods of time between meals while they were hunting and gathering. Today, we can think of fasting as a way to rest and reset the digestive system, which makes it more effective. There are several different kinds of fasting that can yield different benefits.

Different forms:

  • One form of fasting is to fast on alternating days, meaning one day you can eat normally and the next day you fast. This form can be modified by eating a small (¼ of the normal intake) amount on fasting days. One benefit that has been reported with this method is weight loss.
  • Another form of fasting is prolonged fasting, which is fasting for 2 days or longer. When the body undergoes a longer fast, it activates a process called autophagy, which is a known regeneration process. During autophagy, the body clears away damaged cells in the body. Valter Longo describes how prolonged fasting and subsequent refeeding, sends signals to the body to systematically shrink and rebuild organ systems. The most notable benefit of prolonged fast is the impact it has on lifespan.
  • A third type of fasting is called time-restricted eating which involves eating during times when the body’s metabolism is optimal. This could look like fasting for 16 hours (7 PM- 11 AM), and eating all your food within an 8 hour window (11 AM- 7PM).

 

Considerations:

  • It is important to consult a physician before beginning a routine.
  • Exercising in the fasted state has some reported benefits (unless you’re doing intense anaerobic exercise).
  • The food that is consumed after the fast is very important. One of the best ways to break a fast is eating protein because it raises the body’s IGF-1 levels. To make it a balanced meal, pair the protein with a small portion of carbohydrates (in the form of vegetables) and a healthy fat.
  • There’s evidence in the scientific literature that suggests consuming black coffee within the fasting window, does not impact the positive benefits.

 

Finally, fasting has many proven benefits, not the least being its ability to delay the onset of aging related diseases as Rhonda Patrick has shown. Begin experimenting with structured fasting while allowing your body time to adjust to the new stress of less. Learning to incorporate these techniques can be a powerful tool for enhancing health. As always, check with your healthcare provider to ensure that fasting is safe for you.

 

To learn more about the many benefits of fasting set up an evaluation with Joby Stanford. Through this time you can talk about your goals and see how you can begin to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

Sources:
FoundMyFitness Topic – Fasting
Found My Fitness – A Fasting Q&A with Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Mike Maser
Dr. Satchin Panda on Time-Restricted Feeding and Its Effects on Obesity, Muscle Mass & Heart Health