Why is Fasting So Good for You?
Different forms of fasting have been growing in popularity of late. A growing body of information is showing the health benefits of three kinds of fasting: intermittent, alternate-day and extended fasting.
The benefits of fasting are rooted in getting into a state of nutritional ketosis. This is not the dangerous state of diabetic keto acidosis that some diabetics can get into. Fasting and ketosis go together perfectly, like bacon and eggs. The opposite is true as well, when eating a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet (a ketogenic diet), it becomes much easier to fast.
It turns out that over 2,000 years ago Hippocrates (widely considered the father of modern medicine) was an advocate of fasting. Interestingly, he was not only an advocate for intermittent fasting, he advocated for eating a high-fat diet!
Fasting has been a part of human society for thousands of years, and there are benefits to it for those who are dealing with certain health issues – in particular, obesity and type 2 diabetes – in today’s world of constant food abundance.
Traditional hunter-gatherer societies virtually never develop obesity or diabetes, even during times of plentiful food. In the pre-agricultural era, it is estimated that animal foods provided about two-thirds of the calories in the human diet. Despite all the modern teeth gnashing about red meat and saturated fats, it seems that our ancestors had little problems from eating them.
Intermittent fasting simply means periods of fasting occurring between periods of normal eating. In years past, fasting for 12 hours was considered normal. Breakfast was traditionally served at 7 a.m., lunch at 1 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Then it was 12 hours until the next meal at 7a.m. the next day.
16-18 hour fasts incorporate a 6-8 hour window of eating per day. For example, you might fast from 7 p.m. to 11 a.m. the next morning. One of the most popular and efficient ways to forgo breakfast is to use a recipe called “bulletproof coffee.” It consists of your usual 8 ounce coffee with 1 tablespoon of butter or ghee, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream. It must be whipped in a blender or with a handheld electric stick blender to emulsify the fats. It results in a creamy, delicious drink loaded with saturated and medium chain fatty acids. For those non-coffee drinkers, this can be done with any kind of tea, such as chai.
Eating this way will help your body switch from burning carbohydrates for energy, to burning ketones. Burning ketones is much more efficient and creates far more energy and less free-radical damage than burning carbohydrates.
Advantages of fasting: it’s simple, it’s free, it’s convenient, it’s powerful, you can enjoy life’s little pleasures, it’s flexible, it’s the only proven way to live longer and, last but not least, it works with any diet. So, what are you waiting for?
For more information, contact Reno Integrative Medical Center, 6110 Plumas St., Ste. B, Reno, at 775-829-1009 or www.RenoIntegrative.com.
Fung, Jason, MD, with Jimmy Moore, The Complete Guide to Fasting, Victory Belt Publishing Inc., 2016
Moore, Jimmy with Eric Westman, MD, Keto Clarity, Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low Carb, High-Fat Diet, Victory Belt Publishing Inc., 2014