It is also very popular these days to say, "fasting is not for everyone"… hence, if you're looking for a reason to avoid fasting, that's the easiest one to pick.
Note that there are cases that may prohibit long-term fasting, such as with young children, type I diabetics (on insulin medication), or in the case of clinical myopathy (muscle wasting disease). Nonetheless, even in these or similar cases, the exclusion of fasting is not necessarily wise, as fasting could be potentially useful as a therapeutic strategy. Fasting has shown to improve conditions of metabolic disorders, lower the need for insulin medication, and help relieve inflammation.
So how can fasting benefit you?
To figure that out, you need to take a look at the science behind fasting. You need to know how fasting induces its beneficial effects on your body, and what meal frequency allows you to take maximum advantage of that.
How Fasting Benefits Your Body
Scientists acknowledged three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your body, as it extends lifespan and protects against disease:
- Reduced oxidative stress – Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
- Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency – Fasting increases insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, and thereby retards aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
- Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging – Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.
There is Only One Fasting Regimen that Makes Sense in Practice...
So given the above, what kind of fasting regimen will benefit you most?
If you learn the facts behind human biology and how your body is programmed to thrive, you will realize that almost every popular IF program today, including alternate day fasting, once or twice a week fasting, and once every other week fasting are, in the best case, only partially beneficial.
Most IF programs cannot and will not yield the results you're looking for. The reason: Your body operates around a 24-hour cycle that dictates your innate circadian clock. Most IF programs are not designed to accommodate that cycle.
Most IF Programs Disregard Your Circadian Clock
Your innate clock is an essential factor in your life as it controls all your circadian rhythms. Called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), it is located in your hypothalamus, where it regulates how your autonomic nervous system operates along with your hormones, your wake and sleep pattern, your feeding behavior, and your capacity to digest food, assimilate nutrients, and eliminate toxins.
What happens when you go against your innate clock?
If you're routinely disregarding your innate clock – working during sleeping hours, or feeding at the wrong time – you'll sooner or later pay the consequences with symptoms that may include disrupted sleep, agitation, digestive disorders, constipation, chronic fatigue, chronic cravings for sweets and carbs, fat gain, and lower resistance to stress.
Note that chronic disruptions in circadian rhythms have been linked with increased risk for chronic inflammatory disease and cancer. Most IF programs overlook this issue. Their timing of feeding is either random or wrong.
But the timing of your feeding is not something you can afford overlooking. There is a dual relationship between your feeding and innate clock. And as much as your innate clock affects your feeding, your feeding can affect your innate clock. Routinely eating at the wrong time will disrupt your innate clock and devastate vital body functions; and you'll certainly feel the side effects as your whole metabolic system gets unsynchronized.
Your Biological Feeding Time is at Night
So when is your right feeding time?...Continued in Part 2
Your body is programmed for nocturnal feeding. All your activities, including your feeding, are controlled by your autonomic nervous system which operates around the circadian clock. During the day, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) puts your body in an energy spending active mode, whereas during the night your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) puts your body in an energy replenishing relaxed and sleepy mode.
These two parts of your autonomic nervous system complement each other like yin and yang. Your SNS, which is stimulated by fasting and exercise, keeps you alert and active with an increased capacity to resist stress and hunger throughout the day. And your PSNS, which is stimulated by your nightly feeding, makes you relaxed and sleepy, with a better capacity to digest and replenish nutrients throughout the night. This is how your autonomic nervous system operates under normal conditions.
But that system is highly vulnerable to disruption.
If you eat at the wrong time such as when having a large meal during the day, you will mess with your autonomic nervous system; you'll inhibit your SNS and instead turn on the PSNS which will make you sleepy and fatigued rather than alert and active during the working hours of the day. And instead of spending energy and burning fat, you'll store energy and gain fat. This is indeed a lose-lose situation. Unfortunately, most IF programs fail to recognize this.