Throughout our history humans have faced periods of extended famine. We are equipped with the capacity to survive these periods because of our ability to access our fat stores as long as we consume adequate water (water-only fasting) (The Pleasure Trap by Lisle and Goldhamer). As a whole, western societies have swung wildly in the other direction with food at the ready 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We are in a constant state of feast! In this state our bodies always have glucose available and we don’t utilize our fat stores for energy. Additionally, this ever-present glucose in our blood stream puts our bodies into overdrive to control our blood sugar putting our pancreas into high alert and ultimately results in insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Fasting works because it allows our bodies to up-regulate the enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat because of the absence of glucose in the blood stream.
There are many types of fasting:
- Dry Fasting:no food or water for extended periods of time
- Water or Juice Fasting: water or juice is allowed but no food is allowed
- Intermittent Fasting: periods of regular eating and water only fasting are alternated at various intervals
- Time Restricted Eating: food is restricted for twelve hours at a time
While fasting has many benefits, it can be quite hard to do successfully. Restricting what you eat for a long period of time is difficult especially with so many temptations all around. However, time restricted eating appears to have the same benefits as the other types of fasting while being quite easy to implement. A study in the Journal of Cell Metabolism had mice eat one of four diets: high fat, high fructose, high fat and high fructose or normal mice kibble. The study divided each diet group in half so that one half was allowed to eat whenever they chose and another was restricted to a twelve-hour window of eating. The mice that were allowed to eat whenever they chose showed weight gain while those restricted to a twelve hour period showed no weight gain regardless of the types of diet consumed. According to Satchidanda Panda who oversaw the study, time restricted eating doesn’t just prevent but reverses obesity.
Time restricted eating shows a lot of promise and is quite easy to implement. It only requires the individual to restrict his/her eating for 12 hours. What does that look like? If your last meal is at 7pm then your first meal the next day should be at 7am. Couple that with a healthy diet consisting of whole unprocessed plant-based foods and you have a recipe for health and wellness!