Almost anyone in life who is overweight has tried various diets to see if they can find one that works and can be maintained as a lifestyle. Very few succeed. I personally have been down that road, Atkins diet, Calorie restriction, exercise it off, and almost everything short of cutting my throat. Of course, some would rather die than diet, and some do.
Obesity in our country has been considered a crisis in adults for some time. Today, it is children that are now in the same boat.
Upon close examination, it is easy to see what created the environment that caused this national predicament. First, we have a greater abundance of food than has been seen in the history of humanity; we have at our beck and call that which some would call “not food.” I refer to what is commonly known as junk food. Even that which is “real food” in cans and pre-prepared is loaded with simple sugars and processed carbohydrates. Most of us need help reading the unpronounceable ingredients added beyond the food.
Another factor that has evolved in the past 100 or more years is our eating schedule. Historically, humans did not eat three meals a day. We also ate seasonally, fruits during the season, vegetables when harvested, fresh meat, and so on. We did have preservation techniques, but that gave only a limited supply in most cases. Today it is common to eat three meals with in-between meal snacks. Counting a bedtime snack, many adults and children eat six times daily. Most of those “meals” consist of highly processed “food.”
To add another twist, for those that claim this or that is humanity’s natural diet, one only has to look around the globe to see that is not true. People living near the arctic circle have traditionally lived on meat and fat only. Tropical islanders have, in some cases, lived strictly vegan. In Asia, some people have lived primarily on whole-grain rice. However, in all cases, the food folks lived on was not processed beyond cooking or preservation available without chemicals. Having simple carbohydrates and sugar, in any form, was not the norm.
In my last post, I mentioned that I lost 70 pounds by intermittent fasting. In its pure form, it is not a diet, even though it is commonly combined with changes in diet. Intermittent fasting could be more correctly stated as intermittent feeding. After all, we all fast every night and “break our fast,” commonly with breakfast. This is the origin of the word, to break our fast. When we hear the word fast, most think of fasting for more than a day. Most religions have a period of fasting for spiritual reasons. History is full of philosophers, doctors, and medicine men who have advocated long fasts for health reasons.
The first time I heard of time-restricted eating was from someone that said, “You can eat anything you want but stop at 2 PM, and you will lose weight”. I love ice cream and knew I would not lose a pound if I ate it all day up until 2 PM. However, that started me down a rabbit hole, resulting in losing that 70 lbs.
Some of you know that I do a ton of research before I embark on any major activity. One for one, every doctor and nutritionist that promoted intermittent fasting made it plain that if you continued eating junk, you might lose some weight, but your health would suffer. All of them encouraged eating whole foods. Eliminating sugars, processed carbohydrates, and antibiotic/hormone-laden meats was encouraged to get the best results.
All the sources I use for information on intermittent fasting emphasize the health benefits, not just weight loss. Most people start the program for weight loss but stay because of the general health benefits they discover. There are many variations on eating times vs. fasting times to fit anyone’s schedule. You could start with 8 hours of eating and 16 fasting, easy, peasy. Also, you could have splurge days, such as holidays, family get-togethers, etc. I personally have done a daily feeding schedule of 6 hours, 4 hours, and one meal a day, OMAD, for a time. Yes, it takes a few days to train your body to the new schedule. Yes, you have to tell it no, sometimes when it makes threats. Fortunately, they are empty threats, and nothing bad happens. Nothing is set in stone on how you schedule your feeding hours, and the price is right – less than zero since you will save on snacks and extra meals.
Some doctors have clinics that treat type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and the effects of chemotherapy and obesity with fasting. There are many other health benefits too numerous to mention here. As I said, I have done a lot of research, purchased and read six books, a medical paper on intermittent fasting published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and too many videos to count. Of all those, if I had to recommend one, it would be “The Complete Guide to Fasting” by Jason Fung, MD. I have watched Dr. Fung on YouTube as well. If anyone would like a copy of the New England Journal of Medicine article, I would be happy to send you the PDF file.
Even without the testimony of philosophers, sages, doctors, saints, monks, and others, we may look to history to see that humanity rarely ate all day, every day, while living hard lives. When they ate, it was whole, unprocessed food. If nothing else, this should tell us something, don’tcha think?