"Instead of using medicine, rather, fast a day."- Plutarch
For the past two years or so I have dabbled into the world of Fasting. Fasting is the act of voluntarily abstaining from food or drink. This is something most people have heard about regarding certain religious beliefs from a wide variety of religions. Widely used in the ancient times and throughout other parts of the world, fasting is growing in popularity in the United States. Although a lot of people are using fasting as a means to burn body fat, I have decided to use for it other reasons.
If you read my post about being a Lifer, or the one about how I care not to look like a God, you know that I am more concerned with the health of mind and body then the look of it. For that reason I have decided to introduce organic foods and grass fed meats to my fasting diet while removing anything made at the hands of man. I, like many other people, felt like shit while I was eating processed foods or foods laced with toxic chemicals. This is a huge concern for myself and I hope others are starting to realize how poisonous our food supply really is.
I first heard about intermittent fasting through the forums at Bodybuilding.com as many people talked in such high praise about Leangains.com and it's creator Martin Berkhan. Many people feel he is the godfather of intermittent fasting, I agree he brought it's attention to the fitness industry, but fasting goes back to first recorded human history and medicine. Very brilliant minds such as William Shakespeare, Herman Hesse, and Benjamin Franklin all were active "fasters". Franklin once said "the best of all medicines is resting and fasting." and Herman Hesse said if a man had no food, fasting was the most intelligent thing he can do. After I discovered "leangains" I was very intrigued by the way I felt doing intermittent fasting and continued to learn as much as possible about it. I stumbled upon Brad Pilon's "Eat stop Eat" book and most recently Jason Ferruggia's The Renegade Diet. Brad Pilon writes about fasting for 24 hours and Jason follows the leangains model of a 16 hour fast followed by 8 hours of eating.
Since the dawn of modern bodybuilding and the supplement industry becoming a billion dollar per year market we have been told to eat every 2-3 hours, that breakfast is ABSOLUTELY crucial, and that in order to keep the metabolism stoked you need to keep "Fueling the Furnace" by eating 6-8 times a day. I believed it, I always ate breakfast, and I had meals every 3 hours, and I hated it. I grew tired of walking around with food or counting the hours before "feeding" time. I stopped listening to the lies once I wandered off into the world of fasting that many people look down upon. If it is so bad for the body, why do doctor's recommend it? Why would one of the founding fathers of Western Medicine state "to feed the body when sick, is to feed your sickness"?
When I first started fasting I did it for the convenience of eating when I had time and to get away from "needing" meals every 2 hours. What I didn't realize was how awesome I would feel. The first two weeks were tough, I won't lie, and I nearly gave into the hunger pangs that riddled the foundation of my body, but I acted like a man and held tough. After the initial first weeks when the body is beginning to alter from the fed state to the fasted state my energy levels skyrocketed, my mind became clearer, and most importantly I became stronger. I was fasting for 16 straight hours and eating only in an 8 hour window. I started with my lunch, then a meal after I trained, and finally a huge dinner. After dinner I wouldn't eat again until lunch and more then half that time was spent sleeping. A lot of people actually fast and don't even think about it. How many of you have gone from dinner the night before to not being able to eat until a late lunch because you were so busy at work?
Fast forward until just recently after reading like a nut on Paleo diets and Primal eating and the toxic chemicals in foods to help the shelf life I got sick from something I ate, but before this I still felt like I was missing something and so I went to the local farm. I happen to be quite lucky having this amazing local farm no more then 5 minutes from my house. They had everything. All organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and more importantly grass fed beef, buffalo, and free range chicken. I never knew how good "real" food actually tasted and the way my body feels at the moment is amazing.
After almost two and a half years of fasting, although at times I stepped away from it, I feel great, I feel younger, and I feel healthy. I have used intermittent fasting with a 16 hour fast/ 8 hour fed schedule and I have included 24 hour fasts all while gaining strength, muscle, and times of body fat reduction. I am anxious to see where my organic eating goes and if I go to a friend's house and they make me pancakes I will eat them, because they are good. This is a lifestyle more than a diet and it won't hurt to have some treats here and there, and I love beer, but the majority of what goes in my body will be healthier food and it'll happen after a daily fast. AND Yes, I love carbs and I'm not a Paleo hacker. I eat rice and potatoes!
Some quick facts about what fasting does:
Increased Growth Hormone- a hormone vital in fighting the aging process, recovery from training, and overall energy levels.
Decreased Insulin- During the day. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone and people who lift weights need it but only during the right times. Obesity can be linked to high insulin levels due to the fact people are always in a fed state. Staying in a fed state never gives the digestive system or body a total chance to recover.
Better Sleep- Could be due to the fact your biggest meal comes before you head to the bed? Carbs after 7pm at night don't make me fat and help me fall asleep faster.
Increased Energy- During the day, during the fast, with insulin levels low- I have more energy.
Convenience- I find it more convenient to eat after work when it's time to settle for the night. I don't really lug around meals and coolers filled with chicken anymore.
Promotes Fat Loss- Even if you are aiming to build muscle, it'll be tougher to gain fat, and losing fat is always helpful...
System Cleansing and Body Regeneration- During a fast your body is focusing outside of the digestive system, repairing tissues, organs, and other important shit. When the digestive system is in overdrive from eating every 2 or 3 hours you are never giving the body a chance to use those nutrients effectively to restore the damage that occurs from everyday activities. This is a contributed factor to the rise in obesity in the United States. People keep eating while not letting the food (or should I say energy) do it's job and it gets stored as ugly fat. Maybe this is why we see a rise in abnormal hormone functions...? Plus you get that toxic shit out of your blood stream quicker..
This is not medical advice or something you have to follow, this is solely my opinion and if you disagree that's ok, but I am nearing 30 years old and I feel like I'm 12. My strength levels are continuing to rise while sticking with the 5/3/1 program and I am building muscle. My goal is to be healthy. I want to give my wife beautiful babies and I want to see a fourth generation come. I want to be able to continue to lift heavy and run while not breaking down. I choose to fast to make this possible. If it fails me, I learn. If I live to eighty and can wipe my own ass and lift a barbell, I achieved my goal. I will continue to eat organic foods, not because I want to be hip and do what's "in", but because I feel better and I do not want toxic chemicals in my body. Some may feel this is pushed out of proportion and that our food supply is doing okay with genetically modified garbage, but why are American's sicker than any other country? Why do other countries refuse to import our food?
Check out the following sites for more info: (Leangains and the Precision Nutrition articles are free)
“Fasting must be recognized as a fundamental and radical process that is older than any other mode of caring for the sick organism, for it is employed on the plane of instinct and has been employed since life was first introduced upon the earth. Fasting is nature’s own method of ridding the body of ‘diseased tissues,’ excess nutriment and accumulations of waste and toxins.”
-Herbert M. Shelton (DC, ND) The Science and Fine Art of Fasting