By Brian McKay

After a year that has seen weight gain of 25 lbs. and increasing tiredness, it is time for a change. That change is going to be what has become a big trend in Silicon Valley and is backed by substantial scientific evidence. It may sound brutal but fasting seems to be the way to go as a way to return to the previous weight and health that was.

 Photo courtesy of  Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

It might not be something for everyone. Starting out can be brutal. It requires perseverance and dedication but it pays off in many ways. In a world of fad diets, this might seem like just another. The nice thing is that there are no special meals, no books to buy, no expensive meal plans and science says it is very beneficial.

Humankind has evolved over time but we haven’t evolved as fast as we have come into the relatively new development that is abundance. 100 years ago, our bodies weren’t dealing with fast food. Our consumption of sugar has gone from nearly zero, 2000 years ago, to 4 pounds per annum in the 1700’s, 18 pounds in the 1800’s, 40 pounds per annum in the 1800’s and 100 pounds per annum now. An astounding 20 percent of all our caloric intake is now from sugar. That’s 20 percent that has no nutritional value to our bodies. That vessel you reside in doesn’t know what to do with itself.

50,000 years ago, our ancestors were hunter gatherers that experienced intermittent periods of abundance and scarcity. Hungry? If hunting hasn’t produced anything lately they were stuck waiting for the next deer that is killed or bush that produced something edible. Evolution is a slow process and we aren’t designed to eat high calories daily. In a country with the amount of food abundance and inactivity as the United States, is it any wonder we have an obesity epidemic?

As I am doing this diet, many say, “That isn’t healthy” or “Your body will adapt and slow your metabolism making it harder to lose weight in the future.” Neither statement is true.

So, what are the benefits of such a diet?

  1. Insulin levels drop – Fasting results in cellular based changes and a drop in insulin levels is great to facilitate further weight loss. Reduced insulin resistance means many who practice fasting have seen pre-diabetic diagnoses disappear.

  2. Human growth hormone increases – It can increase as much as 5 times and facilitate further weight loss. The increases in metabolism can be between 3.6% - 14%.

  3. Cellular repair and gene expression -  The body will remove waste material from cells and modify genes to the point of increased longevity. Some studies, like a recent USC study, show reduced risk of diseases and cancer.

  4. Fasting reduces belly fat – One of the biggest risk factors for disease is excessive belly fat. Practicing intermittent fasting has shown reductions of 4% - 7% in waist size.

  5. Heart health – Intermittent fasting has shown reductions of cholesterol and blood pressure in many studies. This results in heart health. A true benefit in a country where heart disease is the number one killer.

  6. Alzheimer’s disease chances reduced – Studies on animals have shown that fasting can delay or reduce severity of Alzheimer’s disease.

  7. It’s easy – There is no counting calories during a fast. There is nothing to subscribe to or pay money for.

 

Like all diets, there are several incarnations of a fasting diet that are utilized. The most popular is the 5 – 2 diet, which consists of 2 days of minimal calories (500 – 600 daily) and then eating normal the rest of the week. It is the easiest diet to adopt due to the short 2-day period that can be set for the same days weekly.

Other hacks of the diet can involve not eating from anywhere between 14 hours and 8 days. Some practicing intermittent fasting will vary lengths of a fast over time. The internet has a variety of sites that discuss intermittent fasting and the approaches of others using the diet.

This Business Insider article also explains the diet and how it is used by Hugh Jackman and Tim Ferriss, author of the “4 Hour Work Week”. Some fasting fans, like the former CEO of Evernote, Phil Libin, even report a euphoria after the 2nd day.

It seems that how often we eat might just be as important as what we eat.

Let’s hope you see me 20 lbs. lighter and much more energetic in several months.

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