Way before the appearance of great ancient civilisations, nomads and hunter-gatherers across the globe reaped the benefits of intermittent fasting to keep going and not overwork body processes. In ancient Greece and Egypt, the ancients used intermittent ‘fasting’ to treat certain diseases as also to prevent them. Fasting was a universal ritual used for health, well-being and self-control benefits as described in early texts by Socrates, Plato and other religions.
Our ancestors used fasting to strengthen the body, as intermittent bouts of it kick off a set of corrective processes. It causes the body to release more Norepinephrine, an organic chemical in the catecholamine family that functions in the brain and body as a hormone and neurotransmitter, giving the person practising the fast more energy, alertness and focus.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a diet regimen that rotates between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or significant calorie reduction and periods of unrestricted eating. It is promoted to change body composition through loss of fat mass and weight and to improve markers of health that are associated with diseases such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Why It Makes Sense?
Ishi Khosla, a prominent clinical nutritionist, says, “Fasting as a concept is not new and has been acknowledged as a valuable practice by traditional health practitioners. Science has now established that fasting has definite health benefits for the body and brain. If done properly, it gives the body time to recover, rest and detoxify.” When you don’t eat any food for a set period of time each day, you do your body and your brain a whole lot of good. It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. For most of history, people weren’t eating three square meals a day and nibbling on snacks. Instead, humans evolved in situations where meals were far and few as no one could guarantee whether the next hunt would be a successful one, and they learnt to thrive when fasting. Present day humans don’t have to hunt for their food. Rather, we spend most of our days slouched in front of our computers, and we eat whatever we want, whenever we want — even though our bodies aren’t adapted to this behaviour. So Khosla advises a modified pattern that works around our lives than what has been practised so far.
How It Works
Different methods of intermittent fasting:
- · 5:2 Diet — The 5:2 diet approach advocates no food restriction five days of the week, cycled with a 400-500 calorie diet the other two days of the week.
- · Alternate-day fasting—Alternating between days of no food restriction with days that consist of one meal that provides about 25% of daily calorie needs. Example: Mon-Wed-Fri consists of fasting, while alternate days have no food restrictions.
- · 16:8 or 20:4 Diet— Eating all of your calories within an eight or four-hour window, while fasting during theremaining hours of the day.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Once you follow intermittent fasting, the diet regimen expands your limits and boosts your performance in a number of ways. Following are some of the major benefits:
· Boosts weight loss
· Increases energy and alertness
· Improves digestion
· Reduces bloating and inflammation
· Better sleep
· Improves mental clarity, memory and boosts brain function
· Promotes cellular repair
· Lowers bad cholesterol
· Promotes longevity
· Protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
· Makes cells more resilient
Ishi Khosla on Diet Trends and Modern Fasting –
“Though most diets and exercise trends have their origins in science, the facts tend to get distorted by the time they achieve public popularity. The benefits are exaggerated, the risks are downsized, and science and prudence get overshadowed.
Time and again, a new diet mantra appears and promises to be the fix. We hope that intermittent fasting does not meet the same fate. Often, people are shown eating heaps of high-calorie, high-sugar and high-fat junk food in the eating phase, implying that if you fast two days a week, you can devour as much junk as you like during the remaining five days.
So, what needs to be encouraged is a healthy diet and not unhealthy junk. Calorie restrictions and prudent choices must be an outcome of the diet.”