|Photo from: USC News|
Fasting literally means, "eating nothing," but there are ways to fast while still eating. Sounds crazy, right? There's a body of research on a phenomenon known as "Fast Mimicking Diets." It turns out that you don't have to completely stop eating to get the benefits of fasting.
Fasting is an integral part of nearly every world religion, and also shown to have some incredible effects on human health in terms of cancer, mental health, immune system, weight loss, and diabetes.
Many people practice a form of fasting called "Intermittent Fasting" where you simply skip certain meals, most often breakfast, keeping your body in the non-fed state for approximately 16-20 hours daily. Many people respond very well to this type of fasting. Many diet plans are built around IF'ing:
The Warrior Diet (2009): "...robust health and a lean, strong body can best be achieved by mimicking the classical warrior mode of cycling—working and eating sparingly (undereating) during the day and filling up at night."
The Wild Diet (2015): "...I enjoy the practice of eating my “breakfast” later in the day. I often eat my first meal of the day around noon or even later (Abel James)."
And most Paleo diets also take advantage of this style of eating, as explained by Mark Sisson of Marks Daily Apple:
Fasting is one way to have your cake and eat it too. Beyond the already proven benefits of a Primal Blueprint low-carb lifestyle, fasting once in a while seems to offer many of the same benefits of calorie restriction – you know, stuff like increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, some cool effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity, plus more – but without the active, agonizing restriction.
Beyond fasting each day for a short period, there seems to be even more benefits to fasting for a longer duration, 3-5 days, periodically.
Bragg's Miracle of Fasting explains:
With a 24 hour complete water fast weekly – setting aside 52 days and four 7 to 10 day fasts a year for body purification –you can keep the toxins removed and flush the rust and crystals from your moveable joints and muscles.
A new line of fasting research shows that a "fast" does not just have to be water-only. Valter Longo uses combination of low-calorie, high-nutrient foods to simulate fasting for the relief of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and other autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Longo has even patented a special blend of plant-based foods that health care providers may use to feed their patients to simulate a fast. Dr. Longo's company, L-Nutra, sells a line of "FMD" food packets sold as ProLon® and Chemolieve®
These food packets appear to provide about 800 calories per day to patients following this regimen.
ProLon® is a plant-based 5-day meal program. ProLon® is the first Fasting Mimicking and Enhancing™ Diet (FMED™) based on the scientific discoveries made at the University of Southern California on the positive effects of periodic extended periods of fasting on aging, organ function, and weight management. ProLon® is designed to achieve the beneficial effects of fasting while providing micronutrient nourishment (vitamins, minerals and others) from which the body is deprived during fasting and minimizing the psychological burden of pure fasting. It comprises proprietary plant-based soups, bars, drinks, snacks, herbal teas, vitamins, and supplements.
So, basically, they feed sick people soup, tea, and low-calorie snacks for 3-5 days, and see great results. This type of starvation is not cheap, either, I'll bet. You need an account to log-in to even see the prices, and it looks as you you may need to be a doctor to order the foods!
Want a cheaper alternative?
The Potato Hack, eating potatoes for 3-5 days at a time, costs next-to-nothing. And you certainly do not need an account to buy the product!
Weight maintenance can be greatly enhanced by incorporating fasting into your life. Fasting has many proven benefits, and can be done in several ways. Some people really like straight-up water-only fasts. Others enjoy skipping meals for an intermittent type fast. As an alternative, the potato hack can be used as a type of fast-mimicking diet.
Anyone else into fasting? Let's hear your thoughts.