Dr. Umesiri is an Assistant Professor at John Brown University. He is a Christian author and speaker. His latest book is Fasting for Life: Medical Proof Fasting Reduces Risk of Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes. He may be reached through www.francisumesiri.com. He is married to Toyin Umesiri, a Walmart associate. They have three beautiful children.
So: The first two weeks of intermittent fasting will suck. “Like anything else, fasting becomes easier the more you do it,” Fung says. You’ll likely experience side effects (lack of concentration, irritability, headaches, maybe constipation), and you may feel hungry, but you shouldn’t feel weak, he adds. Learn how to cope with these and know that if you can power through the first 7-14 days, you’re golden.
The findings were clear: Fasting just five days per month improved people’s health outcomes. The group that fasted lost weight (about 7 pounds on average), lost some body fat, lowered their blood pressure, and decreased their IGF-1, a genetic marker for diseases such as cancer. (Their total cholesterol, blood glucose, and triglycerides didn’t budge.)
I recently got in touch with Kane, a reader who’d emailed me in the past, to hear about his experience with fasting because I’ve been noticing the buzz growing louder lately. Famous enthusiasts include reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian, musician Moby, and model Molly Sims. Actor Chris Pratt has been Instagramming about his Bible-based fast. In the media world, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman and MSNBC host Chris Hayes have mentioned their fasting routines. Over the past couple of decades, as dozens of diets and weight management schemes have come in and out of fashion, fasting has steadily gained popularity.
7. Are you craving foods? Paying attention to your relationship with food during fasting is helpful to assess what’s working and what isn’t to build longer-term habits. For example, having a sweet tooth may be a major issue for you typically, but avoiding sugar and restricting calories may change things. Or maybe you notice you are craving greens or meat or another food. This may be from eliminating so many foods that the body is missing certain nutrients.
So what accounts for this heightened mental state? It seems fasting triggers a dramatic switch in the body’s metabolism, according to a paper Mattson and colleagues published in February in the experimental biology journal FASEB. In humans, fasting for 12 hours or more drops the levels of glycogen, a form of cellular glucose. Like changing to a backup gas tank, the body switches from glucose to fatty acids, a more efficient fuel. The switch generates the production of ketones, which are energy molecules that are made in the liver. “When the fats are mobilized and used to produce ketones, we think that is a key factor in accruing the health benefits,” says Mattson.
On my fasting days, I would wake up, have coffee, and start my day without any food. This would continue until about 5:30 p.m., when I would prepare a dinner that didn’t vary from my regular dinner in terms of either what or how much I ate. So, my fasting dinner would be something normal for me, like stir-fry, pasta, soup, sandwich, sushi, etc. This dinner looked like any other and occurred at the usual time. This made it simpler — I was just resuming eating with no special fanfare.
Fasting also appears as a sign of mourning. Following Saul's death, the people of Jabesh- Gilead lamented his passing by fasting ( 1 Sam 31:13 ) as did David and his companions when they heard the news ( 2 Sam 1:12 ). David goes so far as to say that he commiserated with his enemies when they were sick, fasting and dressing himself in sackcloth ( Psalm 35:13 ). Such behavior was a sign of his mourning over them (v. 14). Zechariah describes the commemoration of Israel's tragic days of past defeat and judgment as times of mourning attended by fasting ( 7:5 ). But these days of fasting in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will one day be turned to times of joy ( 8:19 ). Jesus speaks of the time of his departure from his disciples as a time of mourning when it will be entirely appropriate to fast ( Matt 9:14-15 ; Mark 2:18-20 ; Luke 5:33-35 ).
As long as you’re aware that it isn’t nutritional magic, Sasson isn’t against intermittent fasting altogether. “I’ve worked with patients who need positive reinforcement to see that their weight went down to feel better, and they feel in control for the first time,” she says. “That self-efficacy, that feeling that they could do it—for some, that might be important.”
Lastly, I always start each day (on fasting days I take them with my meal) with a dose of bioavailable multivitamins to fill any nutritional gaps. If you plan on doing the same in the future, just remember to go for all-natural and organic multi-vitamin because synthetic vitamins tend to have no oral bioavailability. New Chapter (the one I linked above) has a high oral bioavailability and is one of the best multis on the market.
But it wasn’t until the 1940s that the first experiments began as an outgrowth of CR studies. Researchers started withholding food from lab animals on alternate days, says Michelle Harvie, a research dietitian in Manchester, England. And in 1946, The Journal of Nutrition published the first study on fasting, showing that rats deprived of food every third day lived longer and were less likely to develop tumors than control animals. Later work showed that fasting spurs metabolic changes similar to those of CR.
Along with obligatory prayer, it is one of the greatest obligations of a Bahá'í. In the first half of the 20th century, Shoghi Effendi, explains: "It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires."