This week we’re talking about fasting, the power of periodically foregoing food, and the significant health benefits that can proceed from doing it intelligently.
Pilar shares what led her to embark on a seven day, medically-supervised water fast (yes, she consumed nothing but water for seven days, and lived to tell about it!). And Dallas shares what he knows about the increasingly popular intermittent fasting phenomenon.
We talk about the potential pros and cons of fasting, and why it’s not for everybody. We wind up with fasting experiments and suggestions you can try on your own, and offer up resources for further study.
Finally, Pilar comes back to report on how her week-long fasting experiment went, and why, even though it wasn’t all roses and rainbows, she’s likely to do it again.
“Fasting” Episode Highlights
- The history and ancient wisdom of fasting, and its potential dark side (e.g., eating disorders and orthorexia)
- The difference between fasting (long-term and intermittent) vs. restricted diets and detoxing
- The essentials of intermittent fasting protocols, including potential benefits and risks
- The reasons for doing longer-term and more “extreme” water fasts, and why they should always be medically supervised
- The phases the body goes through during and after the fast
- Warnings against fasting when it isn’t a well-reasoned part of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet
- This week’s experiments
- Postscript: Pilar shares her water-fasting experience and invites questions (follow-up episode, anyone?)
This Week’s Experiments
If you don’t currently observe any sort of intermittent fasting protocol, try limiting your eating to daylight hours.
- A longer break between your last meal of the day and bedtime can support good digestion, improve assimilation and metabolism, and help you maximize rest and repair during sleep.
If you have been doing a regular fasting protocol for a while, try pausing it for a bit and just eating however you feel inclined. Notice how that feels, and observe how your relationship with food may have changed since you originally embraced fasting.
Learn something new about fasting, challenge your assumptions, then experiment accordingly if you feel inspired.
- Check out the resources below (from popular books and articles to scientific papers to a fun This American Life podcast) and pick one to dive into.
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- The Perfect Health Diet by Drs. Paul and Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet promotes intermittent fasting as a way to help the body detoxify and repair itself.
- Ori Hofmekler’s The Warrior Diet, one of the first books Pilar read on the logic and value of intermittent fasting.
- TrueNorth Health Center, where Pilar went for her week-long water fast.
- Two articles on the pros and cons of intermittent fasting and tips for getting started: Experience Life’s “The Case for Intermittent Fasting”, and “Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss” from Dr. Jennifer Marano, co-founder of TrueNorth Health Center.
- Yet another potential benefit: “How Fasting Changes Your Gut Bacteria” from Dr. Steven Lin.
- The underlying science: “Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications” by Drs. Valter Longo and Mark Mattson and “Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1/PKA to Promote Hematopoietic-Stem-Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression” by Dr. Chia-Wei Cheng et al.
- The New York Times interview of several leading fasting researchers in “Fasting Diets are Gaining Acceptance”.
- Two classic pro-fasting books by respected medical doctors: The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore, and Fasting and Eating for Health by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
- This American Life podcast featuring fasting as a spiritual practice in “Promised Land”.
- Michael Mosley shares his own life-changing fasting experiment in the documentary “Eat, Fast and Live Longer”.
- The Quantified Body podcast’s “5 Day Water Fast Results” episode — the story of a water fast undertaken to fight cancer and other chronic diseases.