In honor of Yom Kippur, which starts tomorrow night, I decided to write a post on fasting. Fasting has become a popular topic in health-conscious circles over the last few years. Bodybuilders and skinny girls alike are embracing juice cleanses and adopting Intermittent Fasting (IF) as a lifestyle. During a fast, some people abstain from all food and beverages, while others consume water, fresh juice, herbal teas, and/or fruits and vegetables.
Juice is having a moment. Fresh juice shops are popping up everywhere, consumers are debating the pros and cons of centrifugal and cold-press juicers, and Starbucks now sells Evolution Fresh's cold-pressed juices instead of Naked Juice's heat pasteurized products. Joe Cross’s documentary, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, is available on Netflix, which has enabled millions of people to see the life-changing impact juice fasting had on Mr. Cross and Phil Staples. Check back later for a juicy post.
For those who want to live the IF life, there are basically 2 options:
- 2-3 fast days interspersed with 4-5 normal days each week – During the normal days you eat what you want, in moderation. During the fast days you consume 500-600 calories or about 25% of your normal calorie consumption.
- 6- to 8-hour feeding window – you eat during the window and fast during the other 16-18 hours (half of which should be spent sleeping). *This is basically what I do – check back later for a day-in-the-life post.*
I went to law school and know a thing or two about liability, so I’m going to advise you to consult a doctor/naturopath before doing any type of fast. I see you, know-it-all eye roller. Nutrient deficiencies suck, just ask your pasty pal with anemia (we all have one). Dehydration is life threatening, and you can die after as little as 3 days without food and water. I don’t need to lose sleep over followers turned fasting-fiends.
Individual fasters claim to experience noticeably enhanced cognition and spiritual awareness, in addition to weight loss, skin improvements, and increased energy. In terms of concrete evidence, numerous scientific studies have been conducted in order to discover the health implications of fasting. Below is a summary of several observed benefits, some of which are generally accepted by the scientific community while others require additional scientific inquiry:
Just so we're clear, fasting is beneficial when combined with a healthy diet. Don't eat Pixy Sticks, Hersey's bars, Wonder Bread, Bagel Bites, and Ore-Ida french fries, in conjunction with a fasting regimen, and expect to live a long, happy, healthy life. My inner 12-year-old just died a little from disappointment.
- The FastDiet by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer
- Intermittent Fasting by Valerie Childs and Joy Louis
- The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler
- 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting by Kris Gunnars
- Fasting: health benefits and risks by Honor Whiteman
- How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Live Healthier, Longer by Dr. Joseph Mercola
- Fasting: The Key to Optimal Health by David Wolfe