At this point you are wondering, where am I going with this blogpost? Don't worry, I will find a Paleo lining in this scenario. Shutting down the power once in a while is similar to intermittent fasting. The human body is a micro replica of the macro world that we live in. Just imagine, an engineer shutting down the grid power to test the back up generator. A true test for the generator can not be performed with out shutting down the power. Once the grid power is turned off, the backup generator test can be validated, and the engineer can report with confidence the performance of the backup generator. The human body is no different, the intermittent fast (skipping a meal) will do the same for the human body. The brain and the cells accustomed to receiving a constant supply of glucose will begin to send all kinds of alarms alerting us to go find food. The cells will use all available glucose in the blood and the blood sugar will begin to decline. The liver and the muscles with their limited stored glycogen will begin to use this energy. The brain and the cells will continue to sound all kinds of panic alarms to make sure we find food before we perish. Once the glycogen stores are depleted then body begins to eat away at the muscles. The proteins are converted to glucose with a series of chemical processes. However, the muscle being important, the body quickly learns to switch to burning fat. This condition does not happen until we are in a prolonged fast lasting multiple days. An intermittent fast or skipping a meal simply shakes up various systems in the body and shaking up things is always good. Here are few benefits of intermittent fasting that I can think of:
- How about simple economics? Skipping a meal once a week saves about $10. This can easily add up to about $500 per year. I regularly skip lunch once or twice per week. On the weekends, about 90% of the time I skip lunch. On the weekend a hearty breakfast around 9 a.m. and then early dinner around 5 p.m. works for me. I do have few cups of tea or coffee in the middle.
- Shocking the body has many benefits. Like turning off the the grid power to test the backup generator, skipping a meal helps clean up the body of the excess calories and the ingested toxins. The various organs like liver, heart, kidneys, and lungs go into an alert state and actually get a chance to rest a bit from processing the calories we constantly shove down the gullet. The repair process begins at many cellular levels.
- The organs going into an alerted state eventually end up making the entire body more alert. I have noticed that while fasting, my sense of smell becomes sharp. I am able to smell food and also I pay attention to other external stimuli that otherwise, I may have ignored on a full stomach.
- The heart rate decreases, as body begins to conserve energy expecting a prolonged fast. The blood pressure decreases. The blood sugar returns to its normal state. Lower metabolic activity in the body decreases the blood pressure and the heart beat. An alligator can decrease its heart rate to about 3 beats per minutes while it sits quietly by a river bank waiting for a prey. A decrease heart beat is always good for the heart muscle.
- The human body is all about survival. The energy on hand is used more wisely and slowly. Just imagine during lean times we cut our expenses to save money and make our dollars stretch, the human body is doing the same exact thing by conserving its energy and making the calories on hand last to ensure survival.
- Depleting the glycogen in the liver and the muscles is like draining a rechargeable battery and filling the battery again. This process of draining and then replenishing the muscles make the muscle cells more efficient.
- Intermittent and prolonged fasting teaches the body to start burning fats. Even a lean individual has several days of energy supply of fats, which can be beneficial during prolonged fasting. During prolonged fast the body switches to burning fats, Paleo folks have this figured out a long time ago. Low carbs, high fats, and moderate protein diet (Paleo) will condition the body to burn fats and not be caught up in the carb burning cycle.