I remember back when I was in grade school, my mother would never allow me to head out in the morning without eating “the most important meal of the day”, breakfast. We literally would not leave the house until I ate something. Sometimes I negotiated with her by telling her I’ll take my food with me and eat it in the car on the way to school. It worked, sometimes.
Mother may know best about some things, but when she tells you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it turns out she is WRONG. Skipping breakfast can actually be one of the most profoundly powerful strategies you can have to optimize your health. There is now a good deal of research supporting the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
One of the primary reasons for this is because it helps shift your body from burning sugar/carbs to burning fat as its primary fuel. For optimal effectiveness, in the case of daily intermittent fasting, the length of your fast must be at least 16 hours.
Essentially, this equates to simply skipping breakfast, and making lunch your first meal of the day instead. This is because it takes about six to eight hours for your body to metabolize your glycogen stores; after that you start to shift to burning fat. However, if you are replenishing your glycogen by eating every eight hours (or sooner), you make it far more difficult for your body to use your fat stores as fuel. With that being said, there have been studies that show some benefits starting at the 12 hour mark of your fast; but if you are looking for optimal benefits aim for 16-18 hours.
Proper nutrition becomes even more important when fasting, so you really want to address your food choices before you try fasting. This includes minimizing carbs and replacing them with healthful fats, like coconut oil, olive oil, olives, grass fed butter, pastured eggs, avocados, and nuts. It typically takes several weeks to shift to fat burning mode, but once you do, your cravings for unhealthy foods and carbs will automatically disappear. This is because you’re now actually able to burn your stored fat and don’t have to rely on new fast-burning carbs for fuel. According to Brad Pilon, author of ‘Eat Stop Eat’
“Health care practitioners across the board are so afraid to recommend eating less because of the stigma involved in that recommendation, but we are more than happy to recommend that someone start going to the gym. If all I said was you need to get to the gym and start eating healthier, no one would have a problem with it. When the message is not only should you eat less, you could probably go without eating for 24 hours once or twice a week, suddenly it’s heresy.”
Aside from removing your cravings for sugar and snack foods and turning you into an efficient fat-burning machine, modern science has confirmed there are many other good reasons to fast intermittently. For example, research presented at the 2011 annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans showed that fasting triggered a 1,300 percent rise of human growth hormone (HGH) in women, and an astounding 2,000 percent in men!1
Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system
A new study published by the University of Southern California states “In the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system, a study shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage — a major side effect of chemotherapy — but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.”2
Other health benefits of intermittent fasting include:
Preserving memory functioning and learning3
Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage
Improving biomarkers of disease4
Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health
Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as “the hunger hormone”
Lowers risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes5
Lowering triglyceride levels
Why not give it a try? Consider skipping breakfast, make sure you stop eating and drinking anything but water three hours before you go to sleep, and restrict your eating to an 8-hour (or less) time frame every day. In the 6-8 hours that you do eat, have healthy protein, minimize your carbs like pasta, bread, and potatoes and exchange them for healthful fats like grass fed butter, pastured eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and nuts. This will help shift you from carb burning to fat burning mode. Once your body has made this shift your desire for sweets and junk food significantly decreases if not disappears entirely.
Remember it takes a few weeks, and you have to do it gradually, but once you succeed and switch to fat burning mode, you’ll be easily able to fast for 18 hours and not feel hungry. The “hunger” most people feel is actually cravings for sugar, and these will disappear, as if by magic, once you successfully shift over to burning fat instead.
References and Sources:
You see it all the time, friends and family burping and farting at the dinner table; it’s become so commonplace that people don’t even say “excuse me” anymore. People are even carrying around antacids like it’s a pack of gum. Popping them with every meal. There’s a huge problem with taking antacids as you will discover later in this article.
Acid reflux, gas, bloating, burping out of the ordinary, stomach distention, irregular bowel movements, headaches, muscle/joint aches, these are all signs of poor digestion.
The #1 cause of poor digestion.
Stress. Commonly called “The Silent Killer”. Many people run around looking for pills to fix everything, but instead of medicating the cause you should be looking at the cause which is usually diet and lifestyle factors.
“Stress is not a state of mind… it’s measurable and dangerous, and humans can’t seem to find their off-switch.” These words of warning come from renowned author and award-winning neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky in the documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer.
Poor Food Quality and Overcooking Food
Even if you have high quality food, if you overcook it you will kill the food, kill the enzymes, you’ll destroy too much of the nutrition in the food, and the benefits gained in cooking foods like high fiber in some meats that need to be cooked can be lost when you overcook it. For example when you eat red meat you should cook it as little as possible, searing each side but leaving the inside raw is the healthiest way to consume your red meat. If you eat a well done steak you’re just eating dead carcass.
Food quality has to be high or you’re not going to have adequate enzymes and nutrition. Always buy organic when possible.
Eating Too Fast
Absorb more nutrients and energy from foods. Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested. This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients and energy from the food particles as they pass through, while also preventing improperly digested food from entering your blood and causing a wide range of adverse effects to your health.
Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine. One of these enzymes is lingual lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fats, for example. Saliva also helps to lubricate your food so it’s easier on your esophagus.
The chewing process predigests your food into small pieces and partially liquefies it, making it easier to digest. Digestion is actually a very demanding task for your body, requiring a great deal of energy, especially if forced to digest improperly chewed food. Chewing properly allows your stomach to work more efficiently and break down your food faster.
When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach, it may remain undigested when it enters your intestines. There bacteria will begin to break it down, or in other words it will start to putrefy, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.
Being constipated is a great way to be tired and sick! When you are constipated dangerous bacteria have time to come out of spore form and proliferate in your intestinal tract, as do parasites. Once they have time to hang out in your intestinal tract, they begin migrating through your body to their favorite organs. Once there, they begin eating into your tissues to lay their egg (doesn’t this sound lovely?), producing high levels of inflammation. As inflammation increases, so does the stress hormone cortisol, which will exhaust your adrenal glands typically within as little as 4-6 months.
The most common cause of constipation is dehydration, when this happens toxins concentrate in the colon. Since the colon is the first place the body tries to harvest additional water in a dehydrated person, as the body squeezes water from your stale old poop, it also takes in very toxic liquid that puts a huge burden on the liver and detoxification systems in general.
If you’re eating 3 meals a day but are only pooping once every 3 days, or even once a day could be a problem, this means you have a lot of backup in the system.
Regularity is so important for your health because without it, toxins accumulate and are recirculated in your bloodstream. Constipation can also increase your risk of hemorrhoids or fecal impaction, in which your stool must be removed manually.
If you want to learn more about this, I’d suggest you read “Dr. Jensen’s Guide To Better Bowel Movements“.
Poor Food Combination Sources
The all-american diet consists of protein and starches at the same meal. Everybody does it; meat and potatoes, hot dogs in a bun, hamburger in a bun, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese. Do you see anything wrong with this diet? You do not want to mix proteins and starches in the same meal.
“Starches require an alkaline digestive medium to digest. If you put your fist in your stomach while it’s digesting steaks and all that, chances are, you wouldn’t have a hand anymore. The acid is intense… When you mix them both together – an acid-type of food and an alkaline – basic chemistry shows that they don’t digest. They neutralize. Then what happens? If the food is not digesting… it’s going through your body [undigested], throwing it into all kinds of turmoil.” – Dr. Wayne Pickering
If the food you eat is not digesting properly, not only can painful gas, heart burn, acid reflux and other stomach problems arise, but your body will also be deprived of critical nutrients.
The short definition of digestion is: you put food or liquid into your mouth, swallow it, and then your body breaks these molecules down into a size it can absorb. What your body doesn’t use is excreted as waste. These are the four processes listed above—digestion, absorption, assimilation and elimination. But food is actually broken down in a number of different areas, including in your mouth, stomach, and the first and middle sections of your small intestine, called the duodenum and jejunum respectively.
The truth is, your body is infinitely wise, with a natural inborn “instinct” toward health, and by following certain natural principles, you allow your body to do what it does best, which is to maintain an equilibrium of health. Dr. Pickering’s three basic principles of health are:
You are automatically healthy, by design, and sick only by default
You don’t catch disease; you “earn” it, as it stems from “crud in the blood from being drunk with junk,” as he says
You get well by what comes out of you, not by what goes into you