Synchronicity in life is really an amazing thing. When you step back and look at all the clues and strings that bring you act. Today’s post has been coming for some time. The seed was implanted years again when I read the Primal Blueprint and Mark discussed intermittent fasting. Of course at the time I was thinking to myself that I like to eat and won’t I lose muscle tissue (that damn conventional wisdom makes it hard to accept new concepts sometimes, like you can eat fat and not get fat). Cue in me moving into a shed, taking up hunting and making an effort to live a more primal/paleo/hunter gatherer (whatever you want to call it) existence. Now turn to my inspirational training and journey. I read Gandhi earlier this year and I think it’s quite well-known that he fasted frequently for writes. I researched goat’s milk butter and there again I saw that Gandhi recovered from fasts with goat’s milk. The wheels start turning in my head and again I think back to that hunter-gatherer man, who would make a kill, eat his plenty and then he may not eat again for another date. Click into my head of a book on sunlight that I read, that we would load up on carbs and fruits in the summer when it was plentiful in preparation for winter when things would be scarcity. The problem today is that a scarcity of food is not really our problem, so we don’t know what scarce is like because we have an assortment of food available year round. If our ancestors had to go through periods without eating and if Gandhi could not eat for social equality, then I could go a day or so without food. Now cue in my father. I swear the man is in my head sometimes! Anyways, I had been fasting for about 24 hours when I went over to my parents, to discover that he had been fasting for 2 days. He had been studying Mark, but also he had been watching a lot of animal shows. He has a fascination with lions, specifically. He’s watch as the male lion would steal the killed animal, eat, lay down and not eat for a couple of days. The lion is a chiseled piece of granite, I mean honestly, who fucks with a lion? Exactly! The signs continue as my father calls a meeting with me last week to see if I will fast with him for 5 days (partly because he knows I’ll say yes where my mother will give a definitive hell no, and also because I’ll give honest feed back). Now, I flicker goes off again that I had gotten an email that Mark had written about fasting last week. I hadn’t been on his site in a while, so I check it out and of course he is doing a series of blogs on the benefits of fasting. Clearly this is the next step in my weight loss/health/spiritual journey. With all these signs I had to try. After 32 hours of practice fasting yesterday I am now ready for my assessment (I’ll have to let you know how the five-day one goes next week because I intend to run analysis before and after and am anticipating a little dip in muscle, but I have a good amount and I plan on using my inspirational thoughts to remind myself of how strong and healthy I am throughout the journey because I look mostly for it to be a spiritual/meditative challenge than for a physical weight loss venture). First I find after about 18 hours of fasting I feel great. My stomach feels less bloated and I instantly feel better. Energy wise I am set to go. As I am a fat-burner and burn off fats (plus I have enough body fat to spare and run off of now as well), I don’t experience lows like a sugar burner would. Sunday I spent the morning bike riding and drove to Turkey Run for a 3 hour hike and I still wasn’t really ‘hungry’. This brought about my title, that we think and have been told that we need to eat all the time, but are we eating because we are actually hungry or because we want to. I pause every time I feel I ‘need’ to eat and ask myself to listen to my body and then rethink if I just want to eat something because that’s what I’m used to or am I actually physically hungry? Most of the time I found that it was not the latter option. What are some reasons to fast then, besides primal endeavors?
- studies on mice that fasted every other day, found that they lived longer and weighed less
- dealing with an acute stress rather than the chronic stress of constantly restricting and worrying about calories
- takes less time to be effective
- improves insulin sensitivity and decreases the risk of resistance
- what I found mind-blowing was that in 1965 a Scotsman fast for 382 days! He drank water, took vitamins, potassium and sodium supplements. He went from 456 to 180. Holy shit, this really got me. If Gandhi can fast for human rights, and a 400 plus Scottish dude could fast for over a year in the ’60’s I sure as hell can make five days!
- studies have shown intermittent fasting to increase fat oxidation and weight loss
- better adherence rate than just calorie restriction
- it increases growth hormone
- increases catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) increasing energy, while burning off fat for said energy; awesome!
- healing: because there isn’t much going on in the digestive system, then your energy systems are able to focus elsewhere, like the immune system
- promote an inner stillness, enhancing spiritual connection
- promote greater mental clarity (which is what my dad described after 3 days that he had a heightened sense of awareness, that made sense because primarily if he hadn’t eaten he would need to be mentally sharp to kill his next meal)
- ancient tradition practiced for thousands of years for curing illness of all kinds, rejuvenation, clarity and decision-making, cleansing and strengthening
Wow, why was I just now supposed to follow this pattern? Oh well, the point is I find this all very compelling and like what I’ve experienced with my minor trials. I’ll keep you posted on my future experiments, but trying intermittent fasting of 12 hours here or 18 hours there may not be harmful. Trial and error, everybody has to try to see what works best for them. I think fasting is worth a go if you’ve got some body fat to spare, if you’ve got plenty of muscle tissue to begin with, practice a BC lifestyle: hormone control, fat-burner, smart exercise and avoidance of chronic cardio and chronic cortisol, get plenty of sleep, etc. Like with most things, there can be a lot of variables, but we have to experiment with what works for us. There will probably be more coming in the future.