the millions of years of our evolution, life has not provided
our species with food sources like we enjoy in the free world.
Most of us have never in all our lives gone even one day without
And that is very unnatural.
And our bodies arent capable of dealing
with it. The development of agriculture and a steady food supply
is relatively recent, and our bodies have not evolved any adaptations
to this new condition of plenty. So our desire for sweets and
calorie rich foods a desire that has helped us survive
now is our downfall. The free world is becoming obese.
We eat several times a day, day after day after day. Non-stop.
The non-stop part is the real problem.
It was necessary in our evolutionary past to eat all the sweet
stuff we could find. And it was good to eat all the meat you
could eat when you killed an animal. Nearly all mammals
from your dog to lions wolf down dinner. Eat as much as
you can as fast as you can. Store as much fat as you can because
tomorrow you may not have anything to eat.
Until recently, people have always gone
through lean times. Your ancestors often went days without enough
food. Some of them went weeks and even months without enough
food. And the only ones who survived were those who were fat
enough. You body wants to put on fat. Fat equals life
itself when you dont have any fruits to eat or game to
kill. The only people who lived through the lean times were those
whose bodies had stored the most fat.
Your body wants to store fat so you crave
high calorie foods. This works just fine as long as
you go through lean times.
But now we dont go even one day without
food. Its probably a big deal to even miss a dinner. And
THAT is the real problem. Its not so much that we overeat:
Its that we dont go through any more lean times.
But you can. You can add lean times to
your life, deliberately. Go without food for a day. Its
called fasting. Try
it. Dont eat anything tomorrow. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Just
drink water and lots of it. Not one bite of anything.
What will happen? Well, let me tell you
about some lions and some mice. There were some lions in a zoo
and they were getting out of shape and listless. Their health
wasnt the best. So the zookeepers decided to feed them
every other day instead of every day. Same amount of food,
but they let them gorge one day and then receive absolutely nothing
the next. Its closer to the way they live in the wild.
And what happened with this feast-or-famine
feeding style? It was really good for the lions. Their health
improved. The lean times were good for their health.
Lean times are good for our health
Researchers have been testing mice
and when they feed them every other day, they also live longer
and they act younger longer, their coats remain shiny longer,
and they have higher levels of activity than the mice that eat
Theres something about not eating
that is very very good for mammals. Lean times are somehow essential
to good health. Our bodies apparently do a lot of good work when
they're not busy digesting food.
You see, your body must not only digest
your food and break it down into usable parts, but it must also
manufacture what you need out of those parts. But it cant
do both at the same time very well. And digesting food always
comes first (the body can't leave food rotting in the stomach).
So, as long as your body is busy digesting
food, it isnt producing the hormones and assembling the
proteins you need to repair tissue. The time it normally does
this is at night when youre asleep. And the other time
it does it is during periods of little or no food.
That means there are two things you can
do to improve your health. First, go to sleep with an empty stomach.
Stop eating three hours or so before you go to bed. That way,
when you fall off to sleep your body can spend all night rejuvenating
your tissues instead of digesting food.
When you go to sleep on an empty stomach,
you get a lot more rest and rejuvenation. And I want you to note
I did not say "go to sleep hungry." Theres a
time after you eat when your stomach is empty but you dont
feel hungry yet. Thats the state youre after.
By the way, another good thing about going
to bed with an empty stomach is it reduces heartburn.
The second thing you can do to improve
your health is to make sure you endure some lean times. You need
How often? Well, some volunteers agreed
to eat every other day like the lions and mice. And you guessed
it: It improved their health and even though they were told to
eat twice as much food on the days they ate, they still lost
When it comes to mammals, apparently were
at our best living a feast-or-famine life. We have a healthier
body and less body fat. Such a deal!
Now, do you need to fast every other day?
No. You would be extremely healthy if you did, but you dont
have to go that far. You will get improvement from any amount
you can do. Go without any food tomorrow and you will be healthier
for doing it. Going without food once a week has even more benefit.
I decided to go without food two days a week. I chose Mondays
and Fridays because they are very busy days for me and Ive
found its almost a blessing to not have to stop and eat.
And, when I want to eat, having something to do that needs to
be done helps me think about something besides my desire for
I personally find fasting peaceful. Yes,
sometimes I feel hungry, but a glass of water helps a lot and
the hunger fades. It just comes in waves. It is NOT a constant
I think the first time you go without food,
it feels rather scary. You might instinctually worry that something
bad will happen if you dont have enough food. But nothing
bad happens. I go about my life not really aware Im fasting.
I walk around town doing my errands or ride my bike. I dont
feel faint. I dont pass out from exertion. Once I even
did a very strenuous hike to the top of a mountain. Though I
felt like I didnt have my normal oomph, I still was able
to do it. The Apaches used to go for several days without food
when they were riding hard and didnt have time to stop
and kill game and cook it. They thought nothing of it.
If youre healthy, you can go a day
without food. In fact, your body would love to have a day without
having to digest anything. You cant wash the floors when
the room is full of guests.
Ive been fasting Monday and Friday.
And it has changed my life. For one thing: Im losing weight.
I find it much easier to not eat than to watch what I eat. Much
easier. Theres no trying to control my appetite by stopping
once Im eating, which I find difficult. It is just easier
to not get started. Besides, everything I see will still be there
tomorrow. I can eat it then. Not really a big deal. There are
so many benefits to fasting like a lot of extra time
that not eating is actually sort of fun.
I feel free of it all when I fast. I dont
have to figure out what to eat or go shopping for food. I dont
have to cook anything all day long. I dont have to clean
any dishes. Plus, the day is free of meal interruptions. I can
keep doing what Im doing and dont have to stop for
lunch or dinner. It makes for productive, satisfying days.
What has surprised me is Im not twice
as hungry the next day. Most people must have some of this response
because even the volunteers who were told to try to eat twice
as much on the food days just couldnt seem to do it, so
they lost weight even though they werent trying to.
There is also another benefit to all this.
On the days I eat, Ive stopped worrying about overeating.
It doesnt matter much any more. I can relax. I can eat
what I want. Well, I eat good food, nutritious food, but Ive
stopped being so concerned about how much I eat and shifted my
attention over to making sure I fast enough.
The problem the developed countries are
having with obesity isnt so much because were overeating.
The problem is we are underfasting. And if you will concentrate
on increasing your fasting time, first by going to bed empty
so you make the most of your nightly fast, and second by imposing
at least a weekly fast, then you will be giving your body what
it so desperately needs: A little famine.
By the way, periods of famine actually
improve not only your physical health, but your mental health
as well. When they deliberately starved volunteers during WWII
to simulate the starvation that many people in Europe were enduring
and how best to recuperate from that, they found that even though
these men had become skin and bones, when they recovered their
weight, they were actually healthier than theyd been. Blood
pressure was lower. Depression and anxiety was lower. These people
were truly better off for their period of starvation. It did
not damage their health like youd think such a horrific
experience of months of starvation would do. The body evolved
to count on lean times. It was such a regular occurrence in the
evolution of human beings, primates, mammals, and probably as
far back as single-celled animals, that our bodies are actually
harmed by the lack of lean times.
Fasting is every bit as important to your
health as exercise and stretching and eating the right foods.
And one last comment: Eating every other
day increases your life. You will live longer if you fast. And
those years will be much better years. You'll be healthier. You'll
Try it. For the next month instead of trying
to eat less, just fast more. Thats all. Just go without
eating for one whole day. And do it again and again. Even as
much as every other day.
Once youve seen how good it is for
you, consider fasting for longer. Investigate fasting. Its
the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.
Read more about fasting: Best
I've read a lot of books on fasting. I
didn't think many of them were very good. But I found two I really
liked, and I recommend them if you're interested in trying a
Fasting: An Exceptional Human
Principles of Fasting