First, let me put your mind at ease. Most people can be skeptical about fasting because they think of it as starvation or that their bodies are going to go into starvation mode and ruin their metabolism. I thought the same thing before I did the research. But interestingly enough, eating 5-7 times each day is relatively new and has only advanced as the obesity rate has gone up.
So just to be clear, I want to differentiate between starving ourselves and fasting. “Starvation is the involuntary absence of food. It is neither deliberate nor controlled. Starving people have no idea when and where their next meal will come from. Fasting, on the other hand, is the voluntarywithholding of food for spiritual, health, or other reasons. It is the difference between suicide and dying of old age.”1 I am not advocating for extreme dieting, weight loss, or eating disorders. I am simply presenting you with the research.
Obesity and Diabetes
Over the last 20-30 years, obesity has become a pandemic. “At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese and the prevalence of obesity has tripled from 1975 to 2016.”2 Diabetes can be a huge part of the obesity pandemic. The real frustration is, both diabetes and obesity are almost always preventable.
Insulin insensitivity is the main cause of type 2 diabetes which is closely linked to obesity. When we eat, our bodies secrete a hormone called insulin that allows those nutrients, especially sugars, to get into our cells for energy use or storage. When we are constantly eating we will have elevated levels of insulin. Our body eventually loses sensitivity to insulin causing our blood sugar levels to be out of wack. “Fasting is the most efficient and consistent strategy to decrease insulin levels.”3 “Contrary to popular belief, all foods raise insulin.”3 Obviously, carbs raise insulin levels much higher, but the best answer to fixing our insulin problems is to not raise insulin at all. Hence fasting. “Regular fasting, in addition to lowering insulin levels, has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity significantly. Most diets reduce highly insulin-secreting foods but do not address the insulin resistance issue.”3
There is a state that our body goes into when we eat, called the “fed state.” Once we have digested all of the food, the energy is either used or put into storage for later; our body then goes into the “fasted state” after several hours which means our body has to start using the storages for fuel.
Let’s say that I made a delicious, juicy steak last night to eat for lunch today that is readily available to me in my fridge. How much sense would it make for me to go to the store, buy another steak, come back home, trim, marinate, cook and then eat the steak when I already have one readily available to me in my house? It is the same for our bodies. When we eat, our body digests and absorbs the nutrients into our blood so they can be dispersed to where our body needs them most. Why would our bodies burn stored fat (which requires more energy to be transformed into glucose) when there is already a readily available source of energy in our blood already? It doesn’t. Our bodies use up those storages primarily when we are in the fasted state. So when you eat every couple of hours, this causes us to always have glucose readily available and therefore our bodies become efficient at storing fat, but not burning fat.
Key takeaway: Fasting can be a huge asset in helping to combat obesity and diabetes.
- Fung, J. (2019, July 15). Fasting – A History Part I. Retrieved June 07, 2020, fromhttps://thefastingmethod.com/fasting-a-history-part-i/
- 10 facts on obesity. (2017, October 16). Retrieved June 09, 2020, from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/obesity/en/
- Fung, J. (2017, October 29). Fasting Physiology – Part II. Retrieved June 07, 2020, from https://thefastingmethod.com/fasting-physiology-part-ii/