Updated: Jul 15, 2021
We are biologically designed for fasting, which can enhance our health significantly. Since we are pretty much the same cellular structure as our hunter-gatherer ancestors, our biological needs are still similar. As hunter-gatherers, we would not have been in a constant, round the clock feasted state. As seasons changed, we would bear stretches without much food, and at other times, we would consume large quantities of (healthy, natural) calories whenever given the chance. We can learn a lot from our ancestors when it comes to balancing our macronutrients and eating in healthy ways.
At Atma, we work with a portion of the community suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of cognitive decline through the Bredesen Protocol. This protocol is a comprehensive, whole-person approach to brain health. One of the important practices in this protocol includes a fasting method titled 16/8. In this practice, you fast for 16 (half of which are spent sleeping for many of us) hours, and consume all calories over an 8 hour period. In order to optimize digestion and detoxification, you should stop eating 3 hours before going to bed.
I tried this out, and it worked pretty easily for me although some people find it better to start with 12 hours of fasting as well as avoiding night-time snacking. If I learned anything about fasting, it’s that some people need to ease into it and work up a tolerance to longer stretches of going without caloric input.
After adjusting to a 16/8 routine, I was able to implement two non-consecutive, full (24-hour) days of fasting each week. My 24-hour fasts were not caloric-restricted as I often consumed bone broth and healthy fats throughout the day. My calories were certainly reduced, but I was able to tolerate easy-to-digest liquid proteins and fats, which helped to support me.