9/28/2019

intermittent fasting: find your way


recently there's a lot of interest on the benefits of intermittent fasting especially in terms of longevity and prevention of chronic and degenerative diseases. new researches on this subject are published almost monthly. intermittent fasting means avoiding anything caloric for a given period of time (be it a portion of the day of a full day every week). the most popular example of intermittent fasting is the 16/8, which means a timeframe of 8 hours a day for eating and 16 hours of fasting. other popular ways of intermittent fasting are the 20/4 (4 hours of eating and 20 of fasting), the warrior diet (eating one meal a day, usually in the evening) and the 6/1 (a full day of fasting every week). for people who can't stand fasting there's another possibility: two days a week of extreme caloric restriction (in the range of 700-800kcal/day), which means big portions of vegetables (obviously with no oils) to fill the stomach. so there are a lot of options and everyone interested can choose the one that fits better with her/his lifestyle and personal preferences.
i have experimented different approaches of intermittent fasting with different results. i have to say that fasting isn't exactly my cup of tea: i like to eat and i eat a lot, my days are quite long (starting at 4 AM and finishing at 11 PM) and intense with a lot of physical activity during the whole day. plus, i can't stand timeframes and time limits in particular for something so crucial (and natural) as eating. putting some food in our mouth should be the most immediate answer to the feeling of hunger and in my opinion delaying the act of eating to a scheduled timeframe is totally unnatural, and going against our nature is usually wrong and unhealthy.
but then, why intermittent fasting has so many benefits for our health? well, once again considering the lifestyle and the habits of other primates can suggest the answer. our cousins gorillas do their form of intermittent fasting, so do our cousins chimps and many other non-human primates. it isn't their will to avoid eating for part of their day, but they are forced to do it by the laws of nature: at a certain time, the sun goes down and they just can't find the food till the next morning. this means about 13 or 14 hours of fasting every day. in human terms, this would be called a 14/10 protocol of intermittent fasting. for non-human primates, it's just what they can do.
and we should do the same: forget about clocks and time limits and eat when you feel the need of it during daytime (as long a we eat physiologically according to the needs of our species, obviously). when the sun goes down, rest. you'll eat the next morning when your eyes will be again able to identify a food source.  i'm pretty sure that this would be the best approach to intermittent fasting for humans too. still, i can't do it. the rhythms of our life are so unnatural that it becomes quite hard to live this way, and even if we're doing our best to live as naturally as possible, there are still many things that force us to be awake and active while we should be resting, and the eating patterns are a consequence of it. i think you know what i mean. for example, how many times you find yourself still working after dark? it happens almost daily to most people. how many of your social or leisure activities start after dark? for me, it happens regularly at least twice a week, with my martial arts training starting at 7:30 PM and continuing till 10:30 PM. should i go to bed without eating? it would be totally wrong, considering all the oxidation going on in our body after intense physical activities and whose effects can be successfully minimized with a large portion of vegetables.
so, after trying many different approaches of intermittent fasting, i found my own way, i call it “the reverse warrior forgiving strategy”: i have a large meal based mostly on fruits and raw starchy vegetables (packing about the 90% of my caloric needs) at breakfast, right after my daily workout that usually takes place between 4:30 and 6 AM. then during the day i have other two meals based mostly on vegetables, so it's a caloric restriction regimen that covers about 23 hours a day. the only exception takes place about twice a week, when the last meal of the day (yes, the one usually known as dinner) comprehends some fats (in the shape of oily seeds), as fat is better metabolized during the night. i know it's not the way our species would live in nature, but it's the best solution (and more sustainable over time) i have been able to find in this phase of my life.
if you're interested in giving intermittent fasting a try, my advice is trying the different protocols and to verify what fits better in your daily life. if you're not satisfied with any of them, find your own.