How NOT to Eat…
Healthy eating is growing in popularity as people are learning that obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and several degenerative neural diseases are only a few of the health problems that plague the U.S. population today. Something that all of the health problems have in common is the outward effect that it has on our appearance… and I’m not just talking about weight. Aging of the skin, hair, and eyes is instantly noticeable from our peers.
Healthy eating isn’t all about what we eat though… it is also about NOT eating. Aging is a result of several biological changes and a slow degeneration of the bodily tissues and their functions. One cause of aging is excessive energy exertion in the digestive process. This means that the more foods that we eat, especially calorie rich and nutrient poor foods, the more energy it takes to digest. Creating a habit out of eating large portions of unhealthy foods, often, leads to an increased rate of aging.
Enter calorie restriction and intermittent fasting. Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting (IT) are the practices of only eating during certain times or windows during the day or week.
In various studies performed on rats, calorie restriction and IT have indicated the possibility of increasing lifespan up to 30%! (Collier). The reason for this goes back to energy expenditure. The more energy the body wastes on digesting food, the less energy it puts towards regulating and defending the other crucial functions that keep the body healthy, such as detoxing the cells. When the energy actually goes to maintenance, it can extend the body’s lifespan.
As well as increased lifespan, IT subjects have shown improvement in motor functioning and neural plasticity. Subjects showed greater learning capabilities and better results in memory tasks. One study in its conclusion states,
“FR [food restriction] not only extends life span, but increases resistance of the brain to insults that involve metabolic compromise and excitotoxicity,” (Bruce-Keller).
There are several more studies showing numerous health benefits associated with calorie restriction and IT, (Anson)(Wegmen).
The last benefit of IT, really a pretty obvious one, is that it helps aid weight loss. Naturally, when the body intakes less calories and spends more time get rid of the excess and unhealthy fat in the body, the person will lose weight. It is important to note, however, that the calories that are eaten should be from plant-based nutrition full of antioxidants and phytochemicals. The body needs good nutrition to thrive properly and to aid its optimal functioning.
Examples of different intermittent fasting schedules:
- 8-hour window of eating followed by a 16-hour window of fasting (only water).
- 10/12-hour window of eating followed by a 14/12-hour window of fasting (NOT EVEN WATER)
- 5 days of normal eating followed by 2 days of calorie restriction to 500-600
- 6 days of normal eating followed by 1 day of fasting (only water)
- 1 day of normal eating followed by 1 day of calorie restriction to 500-600
- 3 days of fasting per month (one glass cold-pressed juice at lunch only) with normal eating the rest of the month
You can try each one of these and find what works for you. I have found success in both the 8-hour window followed by the 16-hour fast and the 6 days eating followed by 1 day of fasting. I highly recommend making the 1 day of fasting a day that you will be tempted the least. If you are someone who goes out a lot on Saturdays, I wouldn’t choose that as your fasting day!
Have fun with calorie restriction and intermittent fasting. This isn’t meant to be only for those who have a Spartan like will power. What works for you might not work for the next person, but it is up to you to try!
As always, it is recommended to consult with your physician before changing up your diet in significant way. We also include intermittent fasting in our Consciously Nutritious program (link here) if you are interested in a comprehensive look at nutrition.
Bruce‐Keller, Annadora J., Gloria Umberger, Robert McFall, and Mark P. Mattson. “Food restriction reduces brain damage and improves behavioral outcome following excitotoxic and metabolic insults.” Annals of neurology 45, no. 1 (1999): 8-15.
Anson, R. Michael, Zhihong Guo, Rafael de Cabo, Titilola Iyun, Michelle Rios, Adrienne Hagepanos, Donald K. Ingram, Mark A. Lane, and Mark P. Mattson. “Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100, no. 10 (2003): 6216-6220.
Wegman, Martin P., Michael H. Guo, Douglas M. Bennion, Meena N. Shankar, Stephen M. Chrzanowski, Leslie A. Goldberg, Jinze Xu et al. “Practicality of intermittent fasting in humans and its effect on oxidative stress and genes related to aging and metabolism.” Rejuvenation research 18, no. 2 (2015): 162-172.