Thirty-three days and counting. That’s how long it’s been since my part of the world shut down community engagement. Just a better way to express the unprecedented f**k up. The minority population of the exercise community, the athletes, serious gym goers etc, will always find a way to stay in the game, however, for the rest of the folks , this has led to serious lack of physical control and pushed us into a sedentary lifestyle with comfort food as the only compensation. Earlier we led a routine life inside and outside of work. There were buffers between meals. Now, our work and leisure, both are within limited space under remote supervision, well that’s the professional side. Personally, with no peers around, no help on food prep, the environment lacks motivation and a sense of discipline. What do we do? We must learn how to build mental toughness to ensure better control on our environment and get productive beyond work, else, you could easily see a revision in the average life expectancy rate of the world population in time to come.
So, as far as my line of work is concerned, I honestly have not experienced a slowdown which is a blessing I’d say. However, personally, it is a bit difficult for the most of us ‘casue as homosapiens we have been living in communities ever since and our species are programmed to function better collectively. As I am not training with weights at the moment, I don’t need a lot of food and that encouraged me to go beyond my conventional intermittent fasting lifestyle and practice longer fasts. The results have been extraordinary ladies and gentlemen. I quickly want to highlight 5 scientifically proven advantages of longer fasts. These are beyond the weight loss curve and include lifestyle & wellness benefits.
What happens when you occasionally fast upward of 20-24 hours and beyond. Let’s science this out.
- Growth hormone-Your body gets into a fasted state anytime between 12-14 hours from your last meal. The lower the carbs and sugar in the last meal, the quicker you will switch into fasting. Now, the first thing you experience is the production of growth hormone. As kids we have growth hormone being produced naturally and it helps to burn fat, build muscle and slows down the process of ageing. Once we cross the mark of 30, GH starts to decline, and the body starts to accumulate fat naturally. That’s you getting old(ageing process) So, the more GH you have, the closer you stay to the fountain of youth and studies have shown you can increase GH exponentially, (some studies have shown up to 1,300 percent-refer the link below) just by adapting the intermittent fasting lifestyle.
- Ketone production-Let’s assume our body runs on fuel instead of food. The options you have is petrol used in automobiles and jet fuel, which one would you choose. The answer is obvious. So, Ketone is jet fuel. These are fat cells produced in the liver in the absence of insulin. When you’re fasted and your blood sugar starts to decline, your body switches into adapting fat(ketones) as a fuel source and releases that into your blood stream. So, you’re burning fat ‘cause your body’s not been given food and you’re metabolizing fat instead of glucose (from food) as an energy source.
- Autophagy- The longer you’re in your fast, your body’s intelligence senses that no more food is coming and that’s the time autophagy kicks in. What is autophagy- it is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. “Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat. This process forces the body to start eating the toxins within the cell and cleanses your system. This progression also influences the metabolization of happy chemicals like Serotonin and Dopamine.
- BDNF- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is a protein which starts to repair brain cells and enhances neurological activity by playing a role in the maturity and maintenance of these cells. It improves memory and mental focus. There are studies which show a correlation between depression and low levels of BDNF. So, the more you practice fasting and the more you exercise, the higher will be the production of BDNF leading to better cognitive control.
- Leaky gut & Inflammation- Your food choices determine your gut health. if you’re someone who indulges in processed food a lot, there is a high chance your digestive system needs an overhaul. A leaky gut is a result of a poor diet. The Intestinal lining and the protective mucus layers are damaged as a result and lead to diarrhea, constipation, gas, declining immunity and a plethora of problems. Studies have shown that occasional 24 hours fast can significantly reduce inflammation and repair intestinal stem cells. So, the next time your nitrogen levels are beyond control and your peers think you’re anal, don’t pop in the meds, just abstain from your favourite snack for a while and you will see the result for yourself.
Once you take food out of the equation, you not only give your body an opportunity to re-set metabolically, but you also unlock areas within the neurological environment which have been dormant for the longest time. There is this super sense of alertness and mental sharpness which cannot be accomplished under a normal lifestyle. You can practice 24 hours fasting once or twice a month to start with and build it up.
There will be many a pandemic in time to come, that’s just evolution. But once you learn and master these biohacks, you can survive under any adverse condition possible. (without wanting to sound too intense 😉)
Let me leave you with this compilation below. Every time I need a push, I re-visit this poem (in the video) “Proof of worth” by Edward Albert Guest. Stay safe and stay healthy. We lift; therefore, we are!
Disclaimer- Please consult your doctor before starting a fasting protocol. The views expressed in this article are from my personal experience as a fitness coach/enthusiast and studies researched on different fasting protocols.