Years ago I noticed that my performance was worsening, and my body was not recovering from injuries as easily as in my younger days. Additionally, I started getting illnesses, and problems that “older people get” which prompted me to make a change. Being a science geek (my degree is in biology), I started researching and educating myself on methods to enhance my recovery, increase longevity, and optimal health. One of the strategies I learned about for maintaining performance, health and fitness is fasting.
Additionally, I learned that off-season athletes (not in-season) can benefit from fasting, as it increases growth hormone (for growing muscle), induces cellular repair (for tissue repair and recovery), and reduces belly fat.
After reviewing the data, I started fasting and here’s all the proof I needed that it was working:
After about eight months of fasting, I went to the doctor for a physical. When I was called back for my results, the doctor commented that my lab numbers were better than most 20 year old's (I’m in my fifties now), and asked what I was doing. I told him a healthy diet and exercise. Looking puzzled, he asked if there was anything else I was doing, so I told about my fasting regiment. With that he nodded and smiled. Obviously my results could be construed as anecdotal evidence, but I’ll take it! Here are some proven benefits of fasting:
Fasting changes the function of cells, genes and hormones - Your cells also perform important cellular repair processes, and change which genes they express. An increase in cellular repair also means you recover you recover faster from physical training.
When you fast, your insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases (helping you to grow more muscle).
It triggers a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes old, broken down cells, and induces various cellular repair processes (to help repair muscle, ligaments, tendons, and skeletal tissue).
It helps you lose weight and belly fat - (helps you eat fewer calories, while boosting your metabolism).
It can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body which provide benefits against aging and the development of numerous diseases.
It is beneficial for heart health - by improving numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.
Fasting can reduce insulin resistance, and lowers blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
It may help prevent cancer and has been shown to reduce side effects caused by chemotherapy.
Fasting is good for your brain - it can increase the growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage, and may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
It can extend your lifespan, helping you live longer. Fasting has become very popular among the anti-aging crowd because it works.
Given the known benefits for performance, metabolism and all health markers, it makes sense that fasting could help you perform better, and live a longer and healthier life. Fasting has tons of physiological benefits, it truly is the fountain of youth! If you want to increase your performance, recovery, and strengthen your immune system, give fasting a try. A few types of fasting include:
The 16/8 Method.
The 5:2 Diet.
Eat, Stop, Eat.
Alternate Day Fasting.
Fasting Mimicking Diet.
And many more.
Personally, I follow the 16/8 protocol (eat in an eight hour window, and fast for sixteen hours), and do one 24 hour fast per month as maintenance. However, if I want to lose weight, the 5:2 fasting method is easy to do. Additionally, if you're looking to recover from disease, injury, or improved longevity, I've found a prolonged fast like the 5-day Fasting Mimicking Diet works best.
Disclaimer: You should talk to your doctor before beginning any fasting program, especially if you have any medical conditions, or are underweight. Below are some studies that has been done showing the benefits of fasting: Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system: https://news.usc.edu/.../fasting-triggers-stem-cell.../ Fasting boosts stem cells’ regenerative capacity - age-related loss of stem cell function can be reversed by a 24-hour fast: http://news.mit.edu/.../fasting-boosts-stem-cells... Prolonged Fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4102383/
A Fasting-mimicking Diet could spur cellular repair and improve health...
Citation: *Excerpts of my article include data from: “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting” Written by Kris Gunnars, BSc on August 16, 2016
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