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Hungry mostly isn’t comfortable. We live in a world with instant gratification on so many levels and satisfying hunger is definitely one of them. At the first inkling if hunger, we normally start to look for means to fix the problem, like quick chocolate bar at the convenience store, grab a muffin at the café, or duck into Macca’s super quick. Hunger solved, you can get right back into your day. Now with a 1 year old, I understand how we have developed that need to satisfy the pangs of hunger quickly (lest you suffer through agonising screams of anguish). But does that really translate into adults. Is feeling hunger such a bad thing?
It may feel a bit uncomfortable, but it isn’t such a terrible thing for your body, metabolism or weight management. Our lives have evolved into a steady, reliable and consistent 3 meals/ day. With fairly standard size bowls and plates that we have learnt to understand as the “right” portion size (who decided they were going to be that size anyway?). And when we skip one of those regular consistent meals we feel “hungry” as our body has developed that habit of always eating around those times and approximately that portion size. Without knowing it, the body is very good at maintaining status quo, like most of our conscious minds it prefers not to have big dramatic changes. So when you skip a meal, your first response is “I’m hungry”. But the interesting part is when you decide to ignore that hunger, drink lots of water and just move past it. After a time, the pangs of hunger start go away. Your clever body switches to alternate sources of energy, which can be your fat stores. I am currently doing our Schkinny Days program (which will be launched in the New Year), and yesterday I got up at 3:30am and didn’t have a thing (except water) until 12pm. Sure I was hungry about 7am, but I just drank lots of water and decided to ignore it. At about 8:30am, I no longer felt hungry, I went for a quick jog, drank lots of water after the jog and then had a salad around midday. I felt fine, not once did I think I was going to pass out or lose concentration. Psychologically I knew I had some fat stores that would keep me from fading away so I just kept reminding myself that being hungry meant my smart little body was going to help keep me in shape!
An overweight elephant expends more energy than a mouse, which make sense right? It takes a lot more fuel to power an aircraft than it does a car. So the elephant needs to eat more than the mouse because he burns more fuel. He has a group of trim friends that always look great and he is sick of being overweight. Let’s say the elephant decided to start exercising and limit his calorie intake and he lost quite a bit of weight, yah for the elephant! So now the new trim elephant needs less fuel as he did before. Once the elephant lost his weight, he thought he could eat the same way as his forever trim friends eat because he was the same size and weight. But as he eats just like them, the weight starts to creep back on. Oh no! This is confounding for the elephant because he doesn’t too badly and it just the same as his mates and they aren’t getting fat, WHY WHY WHY???? He pleads….
The unfortunate but true answer is “adaptive thermogenesis”. From a technical definition it can be defined as the decrease in energy expenditure beyond what could be predicted from body weight or its components (fat-free mass and fat mass) under conditions of standardized physical activity in response to a decrease in energy intake.
But basically it means that a the formerly overweight elephant is going to burn LESS energy than his trim mates even though they are the same weight. So the formerly overweight elephant is going to have to EAT less than his trim mates. Our bodies have an overwhelming tendency to maintain a status quo, which I can see would have served us during periods of starvation to adapt energy expenditure, but doesn’t bode well for losing weight. Best thing to do? Shock your body! No, don’t plug the hairdryer in and fill the bath. But a rigorous change in diet and exercise can exactly the thing you need. Think a juice cleanse or brand new exercise regime to help get your body snapped out of adaptive thermogenesis. The trick is to maintain the new weight for at least 4 weeks so your body thinks this weight is a new “normal.”
This past week my partner was away for work and I have finished breast feeding so thought it would be the perfect time to get my cleanse on. There a lot of obvious benefits to a juice fast, like all liquid to be easily assimilated into the body, allowing the body to detoxify and cleanse naturally and boosting my system with massive amounts of fruits and vegetables. I know exactly how much produce goes into each juice, so when you are drinking the juices it just feels good to know I am putting all the right things in. But there were a couple of other benefits that I had completely forgotten about:
1. I forgot how nice it was to have someone else prepare my food. There was no thought, no effort, nothing involved. With an almost 1 year old and a full time business, it is easy to neglect me in the whole picture, so having everything pre-prepared was so GOOD. I didn't have to think about the babies food, milk, snacks, nappies, clothes, toys, etc, then think, what I am going to eat/drink today. It was such a pleasure to be totally taken care of, like my fairy god mother totally had my back for a week.
2. I forgot how much extra time you have when you don’t have to prepare meals. I had such a productive work week and got so many jobs finished because I wasn’t spending the 40-1hr prepping, making and cleaning dishes that is involved every night. It was such a good feeling. Like a mini holiday. Time is the only thing finite in our lifetimes, everything else is infinite, so having a little bit more of it to be productive, read my book, do some exercise, watch the baby explore and discover or just be was a little luxury.
There is now evidence that fasting could help contribute to regenerating new cells in the body to help fight against disease and ageing. One of these studies looked at how prolonged fasting (for periods of 2 to 4 days) not only helped protect the immune system but also helped to induce immune system regeneration in people who had undergone chemotherapy.
Here is how it works:
When you starve your systems tried to save energy and one of the things it can do is to recycle a lot of immune cells that are not needed, especially damaged ones. So the white blood cell count does go down, but then when food is re-introduced back into the diet the cells come back. Prolonged fasting has also been associated with lower levels of a particular growth-factor hormone , IGF-1, that has been linked to aging, tumour progression and cancer risk.
This research seems to have supported the recent study that showed that a low calorie diet that mimicked a fast can yield a wide range of health benefits including cutting belly fat, elevated stem cell renewal in the brain and slowed ageing. The study looked at a group that ate normally for 25 days/month and for 5 days per month did a low calorie diet based mostly on fruits and vegetables, with plant based fats and very little animal based protein. It’s about re-progamming the body to enter a slower aging mode but also rejuvenation through stem cell based regeneration! Exciting times ahead!
For more info, check out these links: https://news.usc.edu/63669/fasting-triggers-stem-cell-regeneration-of-damaged-old-immune-system/
Did you see Catalyst last week? Thank you to Jo for alerting me to it being on TV, admittedly I was in bed at 7pm on the night that the show was televised but she told me the next morning.
The basis of the show was investigating how some people can live longer than others and whilst a lot of their research focused on the DNA, they also discussed some research surrounding other ways to extend life. I am not one to propose we live the rest of our lives taking pills to live longer, but the show did discuss another method, one we all have easy access to, that could increase our longevity and most importantly, our health into those extra years.
The show looked at the presenter who attempted a diet that was designed to mimic a fast, so it was essential low in protein and sugar but also had good healthy vegetable fats, like from nuts. The aim of mimicking the fast was to get the body into maintenance mode by reducing the growth signals it gets from certain food types. The professor explains,
“Enough protein is very important, but people are now eating 50%, 100%, 200%, 300% more than normal and this is pushing the system to try to grow but there's no growth. And so the consequence could be that you put an accelerator on all these systems and you just really push them to the limit and then they fail.”
The results have been quite remarkable with improvements in inflammation, dermatitis, a major reduction in tumours, improvement in cognitive function, and a reduction in visceral fat (this is the bad fat around your middle section) without a loss in muscle mass.
The professor explains what they think is happening, “One is the killing of a lot of bad cells, but also a lot of not-so-bad cells but they may have been old. So you fast and every day of the fasting, the organs are getting a little bit smaller and they're getting rid of cells because they have to save energy. Then eventually when you re-feed, these organs and cell systems, they have to return to normal and that's really a remarkable way to replace and rejuvenate almost every component of the body.”
So it is this process of fasting 3-4 times per year for 5 days that could have an incredible impact on the liver, the blood system and many other systems in the body, in a way, making our body act the way it did when we were young.
Now I am sure you are probably busting to know what the diet was? From the Catalyst website, they explain it is very low in proteins (like no animal proteins – so no dairy, meat, etc) but with almost 50% made from carbohydrates from vegetables and the rest made of healthy fats from nuts. The amount of calories was approx. 700-800 per day with unlimited herbal tea and lots of water.
A similar dietary composition can be achieved with a Low Fruit Cleanse, we have vegetable soups, juices and nut milks that can create a similar fasting diet that may help you live longer and stronger. Contact us for any questions!