This all blows my mind. And as a point of reference, Agnus Barbieri of Scotland fasted for 382 days through medically supervised fasting. He was going to try a few days and see what happens; that turned into a week; then a month; then 382 days. When he reached his goal weight of 180 pounds, he stopped. And unlike Biggest Loser contestants, he found a happy weight of 191 pounds and that’s where he stayed. So for all the bunnies out there who think you have to graze all day, you’re wrong. One or two meals a day is better for you than 6 meals a day. Here are some facts:
-Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. The feeling of hunger goes away with more time away.
-If you have a surplus of body fat, you will actually not become catabolic while fasting. In fact, the opposite. Human growth hormone actually increases during fasting.
-Insulin is the key to losing weight and overall health. Packaged oatmeal, bran muffins, and other carbohydrate sources are great foods to eat to NOT lose weight. They only trigger more insulin and sugar release into your bloodstream. Insulin encourages fat storage, not fat burning.
-Cortisol is 2nd important for dieting. A person could be on the same restricted calorie diet with the same activities, but not lose weight. Stress (relationships, work, environment), lack of sleep, and not obeying circadian daytime cycles (here that night owls?)—it is short-circuiting your weight loss goals. Sleep, get your face in the sun at sunrise and sunset, walk, meditate, do tai-chi and yoga.
-Go hard or go home (NOT!!!!!). When I do a long, difficult run that wipes me out for days, cortisol is raging in my body. This triggers intense hunger and I sleep poorly. Going hard is counter to weight loss goals. Always remember, you burn sugar first, then you burn fat. If you workout hard for 25 minutes, likely only 5 minutes of that time is in fat burning.
-Low intensity activities like walking, light jogging, tai-chi, yoga, and playing will cause more fat loss than intense workouts. Why? You stay in the fat-burning aerobic zone, not the intense anaerobic zone. It is measured at a maximum heart rate of 180 minus your age. But really, if you can talk or limit exercise to breathing out of your nose is key.
-Autophagy—so if you’re not eating, where do you get your essential nutrients? This is where autophagy comes into play. It is literally eating your own dead cells and recycling them for reuse. Essential amino acids and minerals are reused. This also has a role in autoimmune and cancer health since autophagy has longevity benefits in those diseases as well. You reach autophagy after about 15-18 hours of fasting. The more days you can fast, the more autophagy. It creates efficiency in your body.
If you believe in the idea of evolution, then science only tells us that fasting works. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here today. Our earliest ancestors went long periods without eating. Then they would harvest an animal and eat heartily. Our body has a mechanism that enables us to function efficiently when fasting. We wouldn’t be here today if that wasn’t true. Instead, our brains focus better and bodies have plenty of energy without food in our bellies.