Intermittent Fasting (IF) has suddenly become all the rage. In fact, friends of mine who before scoffed at the idea are now fasting because of all the benefits that fasting provides – from weight loss to longevity and overall health.
But IF isn’t exactly a new fad. Humans have been IF for a long time, though our ancestors didn’t call it Intermittent Fasting, more like, “Hey we don’t have food and won’t have food till we hunt again!” In fact, back in the day (before agriculture), humans went through regular cycles of food abundance and scarcity. In order to survive, our bodies had to adapt by being able to normalize insulin sensitivity so that we could effectively use (or store) every bit of food eaten. What this means is…
Fat Loss and Metabolism
When we’re well fed, our body has to produce insulin to keep blood sugar at a safe level. However, insulin prevents the body from using fat as an energy source. This means if you keep grazing (or eating the 6 small meals you’ve been told is ‘healthy’ and will keep your metabolism rate up) then your body will have to keep producing insulin in order to regulate your blood sugar levels. Every time this happens, your body is using glucose as an energy source. So you end up storing fat instead of burning it! IF helps your body normalize insulin sensitivity so that it turns to your stored fat for energy.
Low brain insulin is also said to promote longevity (at least in animals). It is said Intermittent Fasting also jump starts certain genes that can repair specific tissues that will not normally repair if there is an abundance of food. During famine, it is energetically cheaper to repair a cell than to just create a new one. The theory is that this repair allows cells to live longer.
But before you jump on the IF bandwagon, let me remind you that IF without the accompaniment of a healthy, real food diet might be a challenge. If your diet is full of junk food, sweets, pizzas, burgers etc, then fasting will only produce a huge sugar crash. Perhaps the first thing to do is to go on a food cleanse by eliminating junk food, sugars and unhealthy carbs. And as always talk to your health practitioner before starting anything! Personally I am all for IF and have been doing it for years. I’d love to know what you think!