Over the past year, Jeremy and I have been changing our diet based on what our ancestors thousands of years ago would have eaten. Aside from eating a low carbohydrate, high protein and fat diet, our ancestors would need to fast at times when food was not readily available.
Several studies on both animals and humans have been conducted and some of the benefits of intermittent fasting observed include:
- Initiating the autophagy process. This is the process by which cells recycle waste material, eliminate or down regulate wasteful processes, and repair themselves. This has been found to reduce the negative effects of aging and age related diseases. It has also been found to be beneficial to mental function.
- Benefits neurological health. Studies on humans have shown that intermittent fasting protects the brain against some of the worst effects of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other ailments.
- Animal studies show improved blood sugar management.
- Human studies show improvements in lipid panels. Specifically, triglycerides decreased for men and HDL (good cholesterol) increased for women.
Out of curiosity, I decided to fast intermittently and keep a log to record my experiences. I repeated the 24 hour fast four times and the general experience was reproducible.
I typically started my fasting in the morning after having eaten dinner the day before. As I skipped my first meal of the day, my mouth would water as I expected food. Instead of giving in to this trigger and eating, I would have a cup of coffee and watch the morning news. My goal was to keep as much of the morning routine the same as possible. After having coffee, my thoughts of food disappeared and I was able to continue with my day.
As the day continued on, I would find myself thirsty at times so I drank water and tea as needed. Over the following several hours of fasting, I noticed that my energy level and mental sharpness increased. Being unaccustomed to this high an energy level, I acted a bit wired in the afternoons. My husband noticed too. During some of the fasting days, I walked the surrounding hills around our house. I noticed that I never felt light headed or low on energy.
I monitored my weight the days before, during and after the fast. I lost 1.5lbs the days I fasted but the weight returned days later as I resumed eating on a normal schedule. I should note that I never binged or had the urge to binge when I resumed eating.
Overall, I was truly surprised by the experience. My energy level was exceptionally high and I had no hunger. This was a very different experience than when I skipped a meal on the SAD diet of years past and felt I would faint. I appreciate the freedom of not having to eat (especially when it is not convenient). I enjoyed the intermittent fasting experience and plan to continue this once a week.