Health/Fitness » Health

Try Fasting For Health Benefits

by John Maroussas
Saturday Mar 17, 2012

Evolution has produced some curious consequences on the human body. We evolved as hunter-gatherers. And Mother Nature did not anticipate that this activity would take place at Publix. We evolved to deal with, and even benefit from, periods of famine as well as periods of plenty.

Research (mostly, it must be admitted, on animals, but logically the same principles apply to humans) strongly suggests that our bodies benefit from periodic fasting.

Periodic fasting means going for an extended period of time without eating. This produces a variety of positive physiological changes:

-Reduced blood lipids (triglycerides and LDL cholesterol)

-Reduced blood pressure

-Reduced markers of inflammation (which can lead to cardiovascular disease)

-Reduced oxidative stress (which makes it easier for the body to deal with free radicals)

-Increased rates of cellular repair

-Increased fat burning

-Increased secretion of growth hormone

-Increased metabolic rate

-All of this means weight loss and all the benefits that weight loss brings, better appetite control, lower blood sugar and improved heart health.

Sounds too good to be true? Well it does raise a lot of questions, to which there are no current precise answers:

-How often should you fast?

-For how long?

-Does fasting mean consuming zero calories?

-Should you eat a normal diet on non-fasting days, or should you eat more?

-Should you change your exercise program?

Science does not have answers for these questions right now. Intuitively, we can surmise that the answers to these questions will all boil down to "don't take things to extremes." Put simply, the idea is promising enough to experiment with, and find the fasting regime that works best for you.

There is one thing to bear in mind: any weight loss program involves the risk of muscle loss, so make sure that you take plenty of BCAA supplements. If you don't want to equate fasting with starvation, it is a good idea to include a high protein/very low calorie drink on fasting days.

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