Fasting isn’t exactly a new concept. Dependent on the success of hunt or harvest, hunger and starvation were a recurrent reality for our ancestors. This put a strong evolutionary pressure on the body’s ability to survive despite the deprivation. And that is exactly what happened. The body compensated by making us more resilient.
Consequently fasting comes with a myriad of powerful health benefits. It…
- increases stem cell release
- increases DNA repair
- removes damaged cells (Autophaghy)
- increases insulin sensitivity
- activates fat burning
- stimulates mitochondrial energy production
- reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
- strengthens the immune system
- makes us resistant to stress
- promotes neuroplasticity and neurogenesis
- boosts longevity
So if you are interested in weight loss, cancer prevention, heart health, better memory, a lower risk of Alzheimer’s, better energy and a long life, fasting is for you. But if the sheer thought of a weeklong water fast is dreadful, there are other options. And this is where Intermittend Fasting enters the stage.
Intermittend Fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and not eating. Research shows that when you ditch your three square meals a day, you will already start reaping the blessings of fasting. All you need to do is reduce the window during which you eat, even without cutting calories.
The goal is to abstain from eating for 14 to 18 hours. If you skip breakfast and eat your lunch/brunch at 11am and dinner at 7 pm, you would give your body 16 hours of rest. If preferable, you can also skip dinner instead of breakfast.
Once your body has shifted into fat burning mode, it will be easier for you to fast for as much as 18 hours without being hungry. Your sugar craving will dissipate and your weight will be easier to manage. But if you are hypoglycemic, pregnant or breast feeding, fasting is not for you.
If you want to up it a notch, you can introduce one or two days per week where you only eat 500 calories/day, or go on a prolonged fast a few times a year.
Another option is to go once a month on a plant-based meal plan that lasts for five consecutive days, called the Fasting Mimicking Diet (ProLon®). It includes soups, crackers, energy bars, drinks and supplements and was designed by Dr. Valter Longo from the Longevity Institute at USC who did much of the foundational fasting research. Despite being on a meal plan, you will reap the benefits of fasting. After completing the 5-day diet, you return to your normal diet for the remainder of the month.
ProLon® is intended to be used by healthy individuals under a healthcare provider’s supervision.