In modern days we are becoming more and more aware of what is in our food or what is not. But in human near history just the easily available food of modern times was not as sure. Since evolution takes thousands of years, what pre-food abundance power does the human system still posses? As a recently re-invented athlete I put it to the test by experiencing it myself in this review.
First a few facts. The time before death due to starvation depends on a lot of factors. Factors like body mass, daily energy, surrounding temperatures, age, etc etc. Generally speaking a human can survive approximately 40-75 days without food, only on water. Obviously if you get lost in a blasting humid jungle you’d not reach half of that, well unless you like eating spiders like these spider eating trekkers that got lost.
Fasting is a foodhype but is is a folly foodtrend like I talked about before in this post? There is many research indicating that fasting has many benefits. But what does that mean for us and how can we use those benefits? By far the most plausible fasting research done is that of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is short stints of not eating during a week (example: from 16 to 48 hours) and then repeating that over a period of time. The 5 most used intermittent fasting methods are:
1 “fast 5 diet”. You only eat here during 5 hours a day.
2 “the meal a day”. Only eat 1 meal a day and fast for the rest (no sugars).
3 “Moderation”. Similar to the 1 meal a day but not completely stop eating but instead moderate daily intake.
4 “2×5”. Two days a week no eating at all.
5 “1x”. Every other day fast a complete day.
For my test I tried one method that suited me most. It had to be practical doable too and should serve it’s purpose too. Currently i’m training as an athlete and my desk research showed that for me a 16-36 hour fasting period should be enough to deplete my glucose levels. So I started testing and quickly found out that anything under 24 hours for me is too short. My first real urges for sugar intake started after 24 hours. Eventually for my test experience I used 1 period of 36 hours a week for 12 weeks. So here is my findings!
1. We are really really high on sugar, all day every day.
I wrote about this before in the sugar rush: The ultimate addiction post. But just how high is really evident when you start fasting. It took me 4 weeks to really get it as at first its a bit of a struggle to get thru normal hunger feelings. But when those settle, you too will get hit by this realization. We/our society laces out food with high refined sugars that, once your body runs out and returns to normal, can be detected when returning to normal eating. I totally changed my morning diet after I literally couldn’t eat my normal fruity-sugarlaced-yoghurts-and-granola with banana anymore because it suddenly tasted waaay to sweet. Just the banana was sweet enough with plain non sugar yoghurt.
2. Food pressure comes mostly from the outside.
Not eating is not fun in the eyes of your peers. The most difficult part for me from fasting is that it’s not social or fun for your peers. This results in the unavoidable peer-pressure. You really have to be a party-pooper sometimes and it always ‘becomes a thing’ when you are with peers, when you really just want to be casual about it. But hey, they too get used to it and there are harder things in life.
3. It works! I think…
I have to admit, in my current athlete mode it works though in most of my definitions of ‘things that work’ are really hard to factor out any other sources of involvement. As I can’t really test out some benefits as liver functions or immune system improvements I have only my body and mind as a ‘thermometer’ of succes. Since starting to fast I can definitely say the amount of sugar I take in has reduced a lot. I’ve become more aware of sugars and foods which you can’t really get enough off nowadays. I have a light version of psoriasis (a skin condition)) which is auto-immune related that requires only about a 10th of the care since starting. My mind seems stronger agains body urges or binge urgings. It’s more easy to not go into a crisps or drinking craze ;). Generally my body looks more healthy then before. Arguably ofcourse this is only a part of my current health pattern and singling out fasting only would be not fair.
Currently I’m in a different pattern that involves a lot of sugar and no fasting because I’m preparing for a match that needs me to stack up at the moment, but I definitely recommend intermittent fasting for all normal human patterns and I will surely keep this up myself.
Stay safe when fasting and read into it properly before using. Be sure to comment!