Thursday, 25 April 2013

To fast or not to fast?

After reading many studies, articles and blogs let me say there’s a lot out there about the benefits of fasting.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that not all fasts are the same.

Now this can be hard to believe because there are so many methods of fasting being promoted and they all claim to fix the same things – LDL cholesterol, IGF, blood glucose, brain cell growth etc. And indeed they all pretty much do, as far as current studies can reveal. It’s what they mess up that’s the question. 

There is a wide selection of fasts to choose from. Do I eat every 12 hours? One meal a day? Do I fast every other day? What about the 5:2 diet? Eat dinner only except weekends? Fast monthly, every three months? It’s enough to do your head in.

I want to make it simple. I’ve read nearly everything out there and I’m here to simplify it all. 

I would say that the biblical model of sporadic full fasting (either 24 hours monthly, or 3 days every 2-3 months) is the healthiest way to go.

The very popular paleo-evolutionary fasting (alternate day, intermittent, 20-hourly etc) known as intermittent fasting or IF, is the least healthy way to fast.

Regular fasting upsets hormones, circadian rhythms, cortisol and fertility. It makes you edgy and puts your body out of whack. But, perversely perhaps, it also fixes LDL cholesterol, IGF-1 and blood glucose, creates new brain cells and generally repairs the body.

“The effect of intermittent fasting on hormones and circadian rhythms is devastating. When one hormone-producing gland gets out of whack, you can bet that others will be negatively affected“
But if you still want to fast, you might be asking ‘do I have to choose one over the other? Fast or not fast?’ Not with Biblical-model sporadic fasting. 

The body can be seen as an engine. The purpose of fasting is to shut down the engine and then conduct repairs. IF is like constantly turning the engine on and off, on  and off, so the engine is constantly in a stretched state of stress. It may be being repaired but at the expense of its proper running, and soon the engine starts to go out of whack. Biblical fasting , on the other hand, only requires fasting every few months. So you turn the engine off, do the repairs, then turn the engine on again. As your rhythms are only out of whack for a few days, your system comes back on line and gets back to normal pretty quick.

That’s how God designed humans, to fast only sporadically. Thus we benefit from all of the repairs fasting enables our body to do to our cells, but we resume our normal eating patterns quickly after the fast and the body’s rhythms can return to normal and stay that way until he next fast in a few months’ time. It may not be the key to quick weight loss, but isn’t it better to be able to sleep regularly and get pregnant if you want? 

Intermittent fasting may be concomitant with fat loss but there are better ways to lose weight, ones which don’t affect your biorhythms permanently.

If you want to want quick weight loss, try the much healthier Vitality Diet (which I posted in the previous post) which is a version of the current CRON diet (calorie restriction with optimal nutrition). The Vitality diet was developed by Hauser over 80 years ago and is identical in many ways with today’s CRON diet, which comes in at 8000KJ per day, which is around 1000KJ under the recommended intake. 

The Vitality/CRON plan focuses on the maximum amount of nutrients for the least calories. We're not just talking the same amount of nutrients on less calories, I mean nearly twice your average daily nutrient intake for a few less kilojoules. That's why it creates such vitality, and not the false alertness and edginess that intermittent fasting creates.

Plus there's the weight loss benefits. Do the Vitality Diet for 10 days and you’ll lose about a pound a day. Then continue with a high-nutrient diet and occasional fasting and keep your protein at no more than 1g per kilo of bodyweight.

The CRON/Vitality diets also leads to lower IGF-1 and lower blood glucose. Patients also report slowed degeneration of organs, tissues and faculties (in balance tests CRONERS over 50 years of age tested as well as a 20 year old). The increase in nutrients plays a large part in this, not just the calorie restriction.

With intermittent fasting we are not focusing on high nutrients, instead constantly switching between fast and feast, which may give us most of the benefits of sporadic fasts but at the expense of our fertility (for women), hormones and biorhythms. 

Most people choose IF because they don’t have the willpower for 3-day fasts, but note that the UK program Eat, Fast, Live Longer pointed to research which promoted full but sporadic fasts over intermittent fasting. It may be harder, but it’s better for us. And really, some things are only worth doing if they’re hard. Trying to make fasting easy will just lead to upsets elsewhere in the system:

"And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and dishevelled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth: that is the only reward they will ever get." Matthew 6:16

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