Intermittent fasting: Time tested methods for fat loss and emotional health.

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Buddha taught his disciples to avoid eating after noon so they could enjoy life without illness, buoyancy of strength and a comfortable life. In Buddhism there is a saying that Heavenly beings eat in the morning, humans eat at lunch, animals eat in the evening and ghosts eat at night. This sounds really strange if you take it literally. Certainly animals eat in the morning. The point of this is not about angels or ghosts, but rather about the effects of darkness and light on the human body. This may seem esoteric, but when you think about it within the context of daily life it becomes more down to Earth. People act like jerks when they are hungry. Sometimes they act like demons. By contrast, a great breakfast sets the foundation for an amazing day.

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Jesus, was a proponent of fasting. This may be why he is typically depicted with fabulous abs. While modern Catholic views on fasting are more flexible, it used to be that people were limited to one daytime meal per day. Most traditions of  Christianity  advocate fasting or  intermittent  fasting with a daytime meal.

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Many Chinese health practices teach that in order to live a long life one should eat until they are 75%-80% full at breakfast, 50%-75% at lunch and 25-50% at dinner. The main idea is to enjoy lighter meals as the day progresses. The ancient Chinese believed there was a congruency between how one should eat throughout the day and the natural cravings people have throughout their lives. Many kids seem to have hollow legs and have voracious appetites. Adults have a lesser need for nourishment and many elderly people eat like birds. This is a natural progression that happens through life. When kids eat like elderly people they can easily become malnourished. An 80 year old man who eats like a 13 year old is going to have a hard time making it to 81. Within the progression of a lifetime we can learn about how to eat throughout the day. To eat like a bird by day and devour greedily at night is a road to obesity, inflammation and oxidation. This causes stress and speeds the aging process. When people align their patterns of eating and sleeping with the time of day and their stage of life it makes digestion efficient, fat loss easy, reduces stress and improves comfort in daily life.

The central idea behind works according to circadian rhythms. Your stomach is more acidic in the morning and less so in the evening. Your body secrets enzymes and digestive fluid at different times of day. You saliva is more active by day and less so at night. This keeps you from drooling all over yourself while you sleep.

In China people who stop eating at noon experience fat loss report losing 4-7 kilos (10-15 lb.) within a month. After 6 months to a year their extra fat is gone. Their metabolism becomes efficient and their stomach shrinks allowing them to experience long term results. After this period of intermittent fasting they can go back to eating three meals a day. At that point they can eat until they are satisfied while maintaining a lean figure. This is an ancient form of intermittent fasting that is designed to lighten the body and enlighten the mind.

 

Self experiment:

Day fasting

I began intermittent fasting by skipping breakfast and lunch and just having dinner. It rendered by day unproductive. By the afternoon I was lethargic and grouchy. It was a similar experience I had fasting for Ramadan. This fasting style limits food and water intake to hours of darkness. It has moments of beauty in the spiritual sense, but I found that it made daily life difficult. I suppose it should be no surprise that this fasting style that favors the nocturnal originated in the desert. The intense heat can half appetite until the weather cools down at sunset. This fasting style is somewhat automatic for much desert life. The experience in both case was that I initially lost fat and later gained it back. There was a slight improvement, but its costs in terms of loss of productivity and being grouchy outweighed the worldly benefits.

Night fasting:

This is pretty much what everyone already does. By opting out of dinner you simply extend the time and become tired at night. This system works out perfectly. My personal experience fasting this way is that I didn’t feel like I was fasting at all. In the past when I have fasted it made me lethargic and grumpy. By eating in the morning my lethargic and sleepy time gets set for around midnight which is perfect because I’m already asleep. I took time to balance my gut first and didn’t have hunger pains. I also found that unpasteurized sauerkraut helped keep me from feeling hungry. The bitter and sour flavors had a cooling and drying affect and helped to maintain satiety throughout the evening.

Additional Benefits:

Improved sleep: My sleep greatly improved. It’s not like it was bad to begin with, but it just felt better somehow. If you have lots of sugar and fat in your blood, then the blood has acidic oxidative qualities that can injure the central nervous system. That’s really not a great thing to do because your brain needs to clean itself out at night. The whole process of sleep became more efficient and I felt great, even when I got very little sleep.

Cutting fat: I enjoyed more muscle definition and I didn’t feel like I was doing anything. In fact that rush at the end of the day and attempt to get dinner taken care of didn’t happen. It gave me extra time and because I didn’t feel light headed or sleepy it was actually productive.

Mentally: Felt happier, light hearted and more creative.

 

Buddha by Peewee Gonzoid

David Shephard

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