Friday, September 3, 2010

Back from Vacation and Into a Fast

Back from vacation and busy catching up with work and the yard work, well as full primal mode.

I typically fast a couple times per week on an Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) type schedule (24-36 hours on/24-36 hours off) which for me has been the capstone to my primal transition. While on vacation with all of the nice fresh seafood and some awesome steaks - I ate the typical three a day (all pretty much primal) and by the end of the week I felt rather sluggish and slightly bloated which reminded me of why I love both ADF and Intermittent Fasting (IF).

They allow for the body to have some down time periodically to take a break from the work of digesting food and crank up some of the built in survival mechanisms in the body including increased immune function and GH release. I never realized before how the constant stuffing of my digestive system really dragged on my energy levels. After a decent 24 hour break from eating everything is empty and cranked up to efficiently receive the next round of food.

Many people are freaked out when they here "fast" - but these are not extended fasts that go on for weeks. It turns out you can get the benefits of fasting without going too long at all (16 hours is my minimum for calling a fast) while keeping muscle (no skinny fat). Logically our ancestors most likely never regularly ate three meals a day (or six or eight depending on who you listen to), rather they had feast and famine as well as some steady periods of nourishment.

Our bodies evolved to deal with this irregular pattern of nourishment efficiently - which is why on short fasts your body doesn't shut down and eat it's own vital organs like a lot of folks think. Imagine the paleo hunter who missed his prey on one day and was all foggy and slow the next when he had to hunt to survive - he probably would go hungry a lot or die. Now imagine one adapted to hunger - he misses out one day but his body has evolved to deal with this and cranks up slightly for that next day hunt. He is going to survive longer and enjoy more feasting when he is successful more often.

That is kind of how I feel now - alert and ready to go. I decided on Wednesday night at the end of the vacation that I would do what has been my longest fast. Mostly to reset the mind/digestive system and get back into hunting mode (clear the cobwebs so to say). It has been almost 48 hours and I am ready to break the fast later tonight and enjoy a weekend of primal meals. Definitely my longest fast and not a length of time I will do often (maybe 2-3 times a year after vacations sounds good) - but a good reminder of how in tune one can get with hunger and the body while also a reminder of how out of tune I was at one point. 

I don't want to go to in depth with ADF/IF here, just wanted a quick intro on some basic thoughts. Later I hope to have some more in depth discussion. Still meaning to document my physical activity transformation - hopefully this weekend. I am working on an accounting class for non-financial managers (very non primal I know) that started while I was on vacation so I need to catch that up first :)

Happy Hunting.


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