There is the difference between recreational running and running because a lion is chasing you. For one, the intensity is different. In recreational running, you could probably have a conversation with someone running next to you. However, if a lion was chasing you and your life was at stake, you’d be running as hard as you could and would not be able to talk but might be screaming! You have a choice of what pace to run recreationally. If a lion were chasing you, you have no choice but to run all out.
Fasting is much the same way. As Dr. Jason Fung, MD says, “Starvation is forced upon you by outside forces. Fasting, on the other hand, may be done for any period of time, from a few hours to months on end. You may begin a fast at any time of your choosing, and you may end a fast at will, too. You can start or stop a fast for any reason, or for no reason at all.”
What is Fasting?
Fasting is merely the absence of eating.
Anytime that you are not eating, you are technically fasting. Again Dr. Fung says, “For example, you may fast between dinner and breakfast the next day, a period of twelve hours or so. In that sense, fasting should be considered a part of everyday life. Consider the term breakfast. The word refers to the meal that “breaks your fast”— which is done daily. The word itself implicitly acknowledges that fasting, far from being some sort of cruel and unusual punishment, is performed daily, even if only for a short duration. It is not something strange but a part of everyday life.”
Where’s the Disconnect with Fasting
According to the book, The Complete Guide to Fasting, by Dr. Jason Fung, we learn, “Through the power of advertising, big food companies have slowly changed how we think of fasting. Instead of being a purifying, healthful tradition, it’s now seen as something to be feared and avoided at all costs. Fasting was extremely bad for business, after all— selling food is difficult if people won’t eat. Slowly but inevitably, fasting has become forbidden. Nutritional authorities now allege that even skipping one single meal will have dire health consequences.
- You must always eat breakfast.
- You must snack constantly, all day long.
- You should eat a bedtime snack.
- You must never, ever miss a meal.
Fasting has been widely practiced historically. Yet, most of us have grown up believing some fundamental myths about the dangers of fasting. They are repeated so often that they are often perceived as gospel truths.
These myths include:
- Fasting puts you in “starvation mode”
- Fasting makes you burn muscle
- Fasting causes low blood sugar
- Fasting results in overeating
- Fasting deprives the body of nutrients
Dr. Fung, MD says, “It’s just crazy” Although they were long ago disproven, these myths still persist. Most people mistakenly believe fasting is detrimental to health. The truth is quite the opposite— there are a significant number of health benefits.”
The Health Benefits of Fasting
- Improves mental clarity and concentration
- Induces weight and body fat loss
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Increases energy
- Improves fat-burning
- Lowers blood cholesterol
- Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
- Extends life
- Reverses the aging process
- Decreases inflammation
Each of these benefits has been absolutely proven with science.
I never thought I’d feel so good not eating!
Sherry Z, Las Vegas, Nv
What Happens When You Fast
There are a natural order and phases for fasting.
According to Intensive Dietary Management, glucose and fat are the body’s main sources of energy. If glucose is not available, then the body will adjust by using fat, without any detrimental health effects. This is simply a natural part of life. Periods of low food availability have always been a part of human history. Mechanisms have evolved to adapt to this fact of Paleolithic life. The transition from the fed state to the fasted state occurs in several stages.
1. Feeding – During meals, insulin levels are raised. This allows uptake of glucose into tissues such as the muscle or brain to be used directly for energy. Excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver.
2. The post-absorptive phase – 6-24 hours after beginning fasting. Insulin levels start to fall. Breakdown of glycogen releases glucose for energy. Glycogen stores last for roughly 24 hours.
3. Gluconeogenesis – 24 hours to 2 days – The liver manufactures new glucose from amino acids in a process called “gluconeogenesis”. Literally, this is translated as “making new glucose”. In non-diabetic persons, glucose levels fall but stay within the normal range.
4. Ketosis – 2-3 days after beginning fasting – The low levels of insulin reached during fasting stimulate lipolysis, the breakdown of fat for energy. The storage form of fat, known as triglycerides, is broken into the glycerol backbone and three fatty acid chains. Glycerol is used for gluconeogenesis. Fatty acids may be used directly for energy by many tissues in the body, but not the brain. Ketone bodies, capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, are produced from fatty acids for use by the brain. After four days of fasting, approximately 75% of the energy used by the brain is provided by ketones. The two major types of ketones produced are ß-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate, which can increase over 70 fold during fasting.
5. Protein conservation phase – >5 days – High levels of growth hormone maintain muscle mass and lean tissues. The energy for maintenance of basal metabolism is almost entirely met by the use of free fatty acids and ketones. Increased norepinephrine (adrenaline) levels prevent the decrease in metabolic rate.
The human body has well developed mechanisms for dealing with periods of low food availability. In essence, what we are describing here is the process of switching from burning glucose (short-term) to burning fat (long-term). Fat is simply the body’s stored food energy. In times of low food availability, stored food is naturally released to fill the void. So no, the body does not ‘burn muscle’ in an effort to feed itself until all the fat stores are used.
I must have shifted somewhat because there are TONS of sugary things in my house and I’m not tempted.
Jennifer P, St. George, Ut
How Do You Fast?
First of all its easy. You go without food for a period of time. You’ll drink water and it’s wise to continue to take supplements such as vitamins and minerals. You can even exercise while fasting. That’s it.
Download The Ultimate Fasting Method
I have officially BROKE my first barrier!!!
Sherry Z, Las Vegas, Nv
The Biggest Benefit of Fasting is Not Weight Loss
One of the main benefits of fasting is a new concept called autophagy. It’s one of the most healthy principles in our bodies and is increased with fasting. It literally is the process of old dead cells being made new again. Autophagy is slowed down and we age faster with poor carbohydrate diets. Learn more about autophagy.
Dr. Berg on Intermittent Fasting