Our Bodies are Built for Intermittent Fasting
Today, we’re going to talk about fasting.
It sounds intimidating to say the least. Fasting.
Fasting always made me think of dour monks sitting in a cave somewhere, sustaining themselves on meditation and achieving enlightenment. Hardly a pleasant experience, and certainly not something relevant to modern living.
Yet, fasting has made the biggest change in my life and improvement in my health, and I’ve actually found it to be perfectly suited for our modern and fast-paced lifestyles.
Sounds ridiculous? Let me explain.
stepping back in time
Here’s the thing. Currently, we see instances of people surviving without food for weeks - both voluntarily (fasting) and involuntarily (starvation). It’s uncommon and unfortuante now in the modern world, but previously it was not so uncommon that a crop would fail, or a drought would drive away game, and people would have to go hungry.
Back in the day, we didn’t have a McDonalds or a Taco Bell on every street corner. We didn’t even have grocery stores - we just had what we could grow and what we could forage and store for a limited amount of time.
While you would always prepare for the future and hope for a bountiful crop from your food, it didn’t always happen. Natural disaster, pests and plagues, drought or torrential rainfall, invading armies and herds of elephants could wipe out your food.
At that point, you would be screwed. There would be a point where you would run out of food - a foreign concept to us now, but a very real and scary possibility before modern food production.
Let’s go primal
Going even further back to when we were hunter-gatherers, you were entirely dependent upon Mother Nature for your food. You would hope that you would be able to forage enough roots, nuts and fruit for the future, and that your hunts were successful. But there would be times that you wouldn’t be able to find food - and you would have two choices: either die, or continue to survive by going without food.
What happens to your body when you don’t have food?
Our bodies are able to survive without food for several weeks, so long as we have an adequate source of water. The body’s mechanism of using fat as fuel starts kicking into gear after we burn off the excess carbohydrates we have stored in our brain, muscles and blood - which doesn’t take long, a few days at most.
After that? Your body starts to pull from your fat stored around the body. It breaks it down into energy for your body to use.
It’s weird - your body kind of goes through this phase where it’s super, super hungry - but then it starts tapping into your body fat and then you’re suddenly not hungry anymore. It is suddenly able to sustain itself without you needing to feed it because it has found a fuel source- your fat, just sitting around, waiting to be used.
We may think that we need to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we actually don’t. I’m to the point where I’m only actually eating food once a day, and I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been. I can do intermittent fasting to the point where I don’t even realize I’m not eating breakfast or lunch and eating seems lik e more a novelty than a need.
You see, when we intermittent fast, we are tapping into an ancient, primal ability to survive in a way that we have been doing for centuries. The idea of three square meals a day has been a fantasy of humankind for the longest time, but isn’t necessary to our survival.
How is this possible?
I used to think that I had to eat three square meals a day. Maybe it was due to my mom insisting that we were fed well throughout our childhood and adulthood (which, coming from first generation immigrant parents wasn’t such a weird concept). Perhaps it was due to the fact that I was constantly hungry due to my unique metabolism, sometimes eating once every two to three hours.
I wouldn’t think it possible - but having been able to fast for long periods of time, I now realize that the preconceived need to have three meals a day is just an idea - and not required by the body.
I’ll get into how to start fasting in the next post: Keto 101: Intermittent Fasting (and How it Can Help You Lose Weight)