Intermittent Fasting: Want to live longer? Skip breakfast!
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Have you heard of Intermittent Fasting? Recent studies are demonstrating that this way of eating can have many incredible benefits. While the most obvious benefit is weight loss, much more fascinating is the research showing that not eating for periods of time can actually slow the aging process in both our bodies and minds.
Recent research has taught us that longevity genes like sirtuins and mTOR guide the body to recycle old, damaged proteins in the cells when food is scarce. When this happens, proteins get used for energy that would otherwise sit around degrading and causing cells to die. This means that the cells get to live longer, healthier lives.
So, yes, fasting is an excellent tool for losing extra weight. But most important of all, fasting keeps us younger and healthier, longer!
So, how do I fast?
Intermittent fasting splits your week up into eating windows and fasting windows. There are three commonly used schedules, used by people just like you who still have to take care of their kids, get their workout in, and all the rest of life’s necessities.
The 16:8 is the most popular method. Out of each 24 hour day, you fast for 16 hours (including while you’re sleeping!) and eat during an 8-hour window. This is done throughout the week.
Another option is the 5:2 method. Five days a week, you eat normally, and on two days of the week, you consume only a tiny amount of healthy, whole-food calories (400 for women, 500 for men).
With the 24 hour method, you pick one day of the week where you don’t eat at all between one dinnertime and the next.
When you’re in a fasting period, you can still work out, drink lots of water and even have your morning cup of black coffee or black tea. When you’re in a normal eating period, you eat a typical amount—no extra eating is needed to make up for the fasting time.
A deeper dive into the effects of fasting
For inspiration, think back to our ancestors through the ages. Throughout human history, it was very normal to have to go without food for periods of time, and our bodies adapted to handle it quite well! Nowadays, eating every three hours every day never gives our bodies a break.
Why do I need to give my body a break from eating? What are the benefits?
When we eat all the time, human growth hormone (HGH) levels elevate up to 5 times higher than when we haven’t had food for a while. When HGH levels are up, our cells grow, grow, grow! Whether the cells have healthy protein or not, they can’t stop multiplying. However, when we deprive our body of food for a long enough period of time, our longevity genes give the body the command to initiate autophagy! This cellular repair process turns the damaged old proteins built up in our cells into fuel. Old proteins get recycled—removed and digested—and because of this cleanout, our cells live longer and are more protected from diseases.
Remember that proteins are some of the most important structures in our bodies because of the key functions they carry out, regulating many of the body’s processes. Very importantly, healthy proteins protect us from infections. But when a damaged protein can duplicate to create another damaged protein, the result is no bueno!
Various recent studies say that our bodies and brains reap many important benefits with these mechanisms triggered by fasting. We can lose weight, age slower, live longer, keep our brains healthy and alert, and reduce our risks of Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Who doesn’t want all that?
And beyond the healthy body weight, protein deep clean, and youth-extending benefits, fasting also MAKES LIFE SIMPLER. You cook less, spend less on food, and have more time for the things you love!
Can I exercise without energy from food?
When we exert energy, and there’s no recent food to break down to feed our cells, an ancient and fascinating process kicks in: ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state where the body finds an alternate fuel to the instant glucose energy that eating carbs provides. During fasting, hormone insulin levels drop, and existing body fat releases lots of fatty acids. The fatty acids travel to the liver, turning into ketone bodies (aka ketones) as a replacement energy source. Ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier, so they provide fuel for the brain AND the body. Any remaining glucose that the brain needs can be made from proteins and other sources.
When your body enters ketosis, you become an efficient fat and protein-fueled machine.
Okay, I’m in! I’m ready to start! I mean, stop!
Now you know— starting fasting and stopping eating can be a healthful eating pattern. Here are some resources to support you as you try it out for yourself.
If you’re interested in the genetics of aging and what we can do to live longer, check out the work of Harvard geneticist David Sinclair and get inspired! Find his book details here.
Also, here are a couple of quick, easy reads (or listens, if you like audiobooks) that will give you a beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting -
The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley
The Art of Intermittent Fasting by Connor Thompson
While fasting isn’t the right choice for everyone, it’s a fantastic way to lose weight and slow down your aging when it works for you.
Do check with your doctor before you start, no matter what your current health.
Fasting is NOT recommended when:
● problems with blood sugar regulation
● low blood pressure
● taking medications
● history of eating disorders
● woman trying to conceive
● woman with a history of amenorrhea
● pregnant or breastfeeding
● under the age of 18