Fasting Has Been Practiced Throughout Human Evolution

April 10,2019

Did you know that humans evolved as animals capable of functioning without food for extended periods of time? In ancient times, people did not have supermarkets, refrigerators, or even food available around the clock. Sometimes they fasted because they couldn't kill or find anything to eat. In this respect, intermittent fasting from time to time is likely more natural than eating three or four meals every day of the week. With fasting, there are no menu plans and the process is more of a change in eating pattern than a diet. However, when you fast, insulin levels go down and human growth hormone levels go up. In addition, your body changes the expression of genes to initiate important cellular repair.

Intermittent Fasting Methods for Weight Management

When fasting, you either eat very little or nothing at all by splitting your day or week into "eating" and "fasting" periods. These periods of intermittent fasting support weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation. Several popular fasting methods are listed below:

  • 12 Hours a Day Method - This is an excellent eating pattern for beginners as it has a very small fasting window. In fact, much of the fasting occurs while you are asleep.
  • 16:8 Fasting Method - The 16:8 diet requires men to fast for 16 hours each day and women fast for 14 hours. People usually finish an evening meal by 8 pm and then skip breakfast the next morning.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat Fasting Method - Short-term fasting can facilitate weight loss by increasing your metabolic rate with the release of a fat-burning hormone. When you limit the window for eating, you are creating a fasting period in which the body will have to use its own stored glycogen from carbohydrates and fat as fuel.
  • 5:2 Fasting Method - With the 5:2 Method, people eat normally five days a week but only consume 500 to 600 calories on the 2 non-consecutive days of fasting.
  • Meal Skipping - This simple style of fasting allows people to skip meals when they are not hungry but eat when they are. It offers a more natural feel but it is still important to eat healthy foods at mealtime.
  • The Warrior Diet - This relatively extreme eating pattern involves consuming a few servings of raw fruit and vegetables during a 20-hour fasting window, then eating one large meal at night.

By reducing caloric intake, any of the popular fasting methods should work for long-term weight maintenance as long as you don't overeat to compensate for scheduled fasting periods. Interestingly, a recent study that focused on the effects of fasting indicated a significant loss of harmful belly fat that builds up around organs and causes chronic diseases.

Intermittent Fasting Is Not For Everyone

Members of the Islamic, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist faiths for both religious and spiritual reasons have practiced fasting for centuries. Moreover, with today's fitness trends, alternating between periods of eating and fasting has become a popular trend for those pursuing a health and wellness lifestyle. Another benefit of fasting is that it simplifies healthy eating with less time spent shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning up. Nonetheless, people who are underweight or have a history of eating disorders should not consider fasting as an option. Although intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety record, not eating for a while can be dangerous if you are poorly nourished or living in bad health. People with medical conditions should not fast without consulting a doctor. At PrimeMED, our board certified physician will conduct an annual physical, order some lab work, review your medical history, discuss your goals for weight management and recommend a safe and effective approach for fasting. To schedule your visit at our Jacksonville, St. Augustine or Orange Park office, call 904.269.0500 today.