I was fasting intermittently long before the trendy name and numerous protocols came about. I've never been on any type of I.F. "program" and never really gave it any thought, I just don't eat unless I am hungry. Crazy concept, I know. Most people stuff their faces long before it's time to refuel. When the fuel tank is full and you keep fueling, bad things come about. This is why fuel pump handles have automatic shut off valves. Fuel station owners don't want fuel spilled all over their parking lots. Surely, you can imagine what kind of hazard that could cause.
Like the fuel tank in your vehicle, bad things come about when we over fuel ourselves as well. This is not opinion, it is fact. You can clearly see it for yourself by simply taking a step back and looking at the state of America's health. Instead of combusting and burning half of the city down the way the fuel station potentially could, the results of over fueling a human body show up over time. The effects usually show their nasty faces later in life, but don't get it confused, they do not age discriminate. These effects go by names like hypertension, diabetes, (certain types of) cancer, heart disease, etc. They are usually preceded by an obvious telltale sign...the storing of the extra fuel AKA being overweight/obese.
Does anyone else see a problem here?
Maybe I have some sort of super power that signals my inner dinner bell, but I doubt it. I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I do pay attention to what's going on within myself. It wasn't always this way and I still manage to eat like an asshole on occasion. Every time I do, I pay a heavy price. I never regret it because I own my decisions, but I do take the necessary steps to correct the issues I create. Otherwise, that price gets even more steep. One of those steps requires me to stop eating until my system feels like it's ready to eat again, not when society tells me it's breakfast or lunchtime. If that means not eating my first meal until 2 or 3pm the next day, so be it. It's always a feeling. Never a program.
The science behind fasting is pretty extensive. Benefits range from weight loss to blood levels of insulin dropping to increased human growth hormone (HGH) to less oxidative stress. I've also seen animal studies showing increased longevity as a result of fasting, but not a ton when it comes to primates (humans included). Either way, unless you have some serious underlying issue(s), missing breakfast a time or two each week is not going to kill you and will, more than likely, do you more good than bad.
Fasting or not, the modern day meal frequency ordeal is very peculiar to me. I find it absolutely amazing that this is even still a topic today. There really are people alive...today...in the world, who continue to promote the idea of grazing like a cow all day long while attempting to tie health benefits to the idea. Never in the history of mankind has this been "a thing."
But I get it. It can be hard to concede defeat after fighting so valiantly for that win. I use this verbiage because that's exactly what this seems like...a battle about proving the other side wrong. Shouldn't we be more focused on what's right? If we are going to take responsibility as messengers in this world, should we not pass a clear and truthful message?
When it comes to weight loss and fasting, if you consume the same amount of calories, but in less meals, you've still consumed the same amount of calories. I hope you can see how that does NOT equate to weight loss. Intermittent fasting (I.F.), more or less, sets you up for success throughout the day, but you still have to eat less if you are looking to lose body fat.
Let me expand on a few of the benefits I mentioned...
Why do we not want insulin hanging around? Simple. It stores fat. Don't get that confused with it being the devil because it does have its purpose. It keeps our blood sugar from going through the roof and plays a role in rebuilding muscle tissue, but you don't need it hanging around in abundance all day long. Instead, that fight or flight response needs to be primed up. Never know when you'll be fighting off a jackal.
Increased HGH. This is huge. This means two things. Okay, maybe more, but two really important things in the quest for better body composition...muscle gain and fat burning. Duh. Why not?
Want to age well and see to it that your brain stays healthy for a real long time? Amongst a few other things, I'd be doing my damnedest to control oxidative stress and inflammation. Two things that I.F. can help reduce.
For the "eat every 2-3 hours" crowd, I understand that as our intelligence increases and new technologies come about, we can and, sometimes, should adapt and grow. There needs to be some sort of logic behind what you are doing or asking for though. The biggest argument I hear in favor of grazing all day is to help regulate insulin levels. To that I ask, why now? Throughout the entire existence of mankind and now we should start grazing to regulate insulin levels?
There was a time, not so long ago, that humans, like the rest of the animal kingdom, woke up to hunt, gather, and work for their food. Sometimes we made it back to the village with food. Other times, we went to bed hungry and tried again the next day. For this reason, I think it a bit ridiculous that we now have a trendy name and practice. It is, literally, in the DNA of every living organism on the planet. The reason animals, insects, and everything in between locomote through space is to fuel ourselves and not become fuel. I don't know how to quantify this, but I do not believe it should be as easy as it has become. There must be a level of stress in achieving our bounty.
Maybe not this level of stress, but you catch my drift...
Barring any underlying blood sugar issues, something doesn't sound right. (But even that is addressable.)
I'm not talking about doing this everyday, especially if you've never toyed with it. Like most things in life, it might take some adjusting and getting used to. Most days, my first meal comes in the form of a big green salad with all sorts of good looking shit in it around 2pm, sometimes later. At this point in my life, I'm about feeling more than I am programming. You won't catch me checking the clock or calendar to tell me when to eat. I eat when I truly feel hungry. Sometimes, I push the hell out of that just to have something new to deal with. At the end of the day, I simply try to be really honest with myself.
I tell clients to try and go 14-16 hours between dinner and breakfast. That may be too extreme for some. Cool. Not a big deal. If you eat every morning at 8am, don't until 9am for a few days. Slowly create more space between meals. Maybe try serious fasting once or twice a week. Here are a handful of different protocols that are widely used...
I also like the idea of juice fasting. This may not be looked at as a true fast, but the benefits are still huge. There is very little digestive stress involved and tons of vitamins and minerals that you can get from a good juice.
Hey look, if you need help, guidance, or someone to yell at, that's what I do. If you live around the Hill Country of Texas, specifically, New Braunfels, San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin, etc, let's get together and chat.