We all want to enjoy more energy, greater resistance to disease and a leaner body and a longer “health span”. In case you haven’t heard that term before, it is defined as the number of years that you remain healthy, vibrant and active.
After all, what good is it to live to 90 years of age if the last 30 years of your life are spent in and out of doctors’ offices, debilitated by chronic illness and hobbled by aches, pains and infirmity? Of course, as you know, that is how millions of people spend the last decades of their life.
The way most people age is like climbing a mountain. They reach the peak around 50 years old. Then for the next 20 or 30 years, they gradually slide downhill – losing their smarts, their strength, their health… and finally their dignity.
But some people – about 10% of the population – “fall off a cliff.” They maintain their wits, abilities and health until the very end. When their number is up, they die peacefully and with dignity. Scientists have a name for this. They call it the “rectangularization of the survival curve.”
The good news is that there’s a very simple (and no-cost) way to increase your chances of being among the latter group. It is a dietary strategy that will help you live longer, make your body leaner, and dramatically reduce your risk of disease.
The good news is that this is not some fad diet. It is a pattern of eating as old the human species itself.
I’m talking about fasting.
There’s a good chance you’re familiar with…
The Longevity & Health Benefits of Fasting
Dozens of controlled animal studies have shown that caloric restriction can lead to increased healthy longevity. In fact, one study, published in the journal Gerontology, showed that fasting rats lived 83 percent longer than rats that did not!
As expected, human studies also show clear benefits when it comes to increased fat oxidation and the reduction of abdominal fat1 (which is not only unsightly, it also increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more).
And the health benefits don’t end there…
Studies show that periodic fasting is one of the most effective ways to regulate blood sugar2, reverse insulin resistance3, restore sensitivity to leptin (a hormone which helps control hunger and energy metabolism)4, prevent cancer, protect the brain5 and reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s6, promote stem cell regeneration, reduce inflammation7,8, improve immunity and calm digestive distress.
Most of these benefits are the result of two deeply restorative, anti-aging and detoxifying processes that are triggered as a stress response (hormesis) when your body goes without food:
- Autophagy – This is a metabolic process where old, weak and broken cellular structures are repaired, recycled and renewed through a form of self-cannibalization.9
- Mitophagy – This is the process where old and damaged mitochondria – the energy powerhouse inside every cell – are restored and replaced with new, healthy mitochondria.10
These two processes are the ultimate form of detoxification and anti-aging. By recycling the component parts, they literally turn old and worn out cells into ones that are new and youthful. The result is more energy, less inflammation, less pain, more resistance to disease – and literally a younger biological age.11
And there is no more effective way to upregulate these twin pillars of cellular renewal than periodic caloric restriction – also known as fasting.
The “Fasting Hack” that Won’t Leave You Starving
When you think of “fasting” you might picture the idea of going days or even more than a week without food. And that can be a very good thing for your health – on occasion.
But for most of us it is simply not practical or desired to go without food for days at a time on more than a rare occasion. The good news is that you don’t have to. In fact, a study published in the journal Autophagy and another published by the National Academy of Sciences showed that even short-term fasts – lasting as little as 16 hours – can achieve “profound” levels of autophagy.12,13
Other studies have also shown that periods of “intermittent fasting” – especially when combined with a low-carbohydrate diet – have a powerful upregulating effect on autophagy and mitophagy.
And there is a very simple way to achieve this profoundly restorative metabolic state on a DAILY basis.
All you need to do is to stop eating by 8pm every evening… and then skip breakfast.
This is also known as a 16/8 intermittent fast – or an 8-hour compressed eating window. In other words, you eat approximately the same number of calories as you normally would. But you only eat between the hours of 12 – 8 pm… while fasting the remaining 16 hours of the day.
This is a way to enjoy ALL of the health and longevity benefits of “fasting” without going days without food. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry showed that intermittent fasting produced MORE and better metabolic benefits than permanent calorie restriction!14
What’s more, as your metabolism and hunger hormones reset, you will likely find that you aren’t even that hungry in the mornings. The “hangry” feeling you might experience as a carb-addicted grazer who eats four to six meals and snacks a day will vanish. And those feelings of intense “I have to eat NOW!” hunger go away.15,16
Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?
If you’re under the assumption that “Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day” you might have to get over a bit of corporate programming to follow a 16/8 intermittent fast.
Would it help if you learned that the origin of this idea was a 1944 marketing campaign by General Foods for the purposes of selling more cereal?
Humans were never meant to eat three scheduled meals (with snacks in between). Our ancestors ate when food was available and when it was acquired through toil and effort. We adapted the ability to function at a high level during extended periods without food. This was fundamentally important in our evolutionary history – and it is hardwired into your physiology.
For optimum health, adopt the natural cycle our ancestors enjoyed. Enjoy regular cycles of “feasting” and “fasting” to allow for cellular growth during eating… and cellular cleansing during fasting. And consider skipping breakfast on a consistent basis to make this as easy as possible.