Three Meals a Day Keeps the People at Bay
By Joshua Handlarsky
Let us take a journey through time, going back to our hunter gatherer days as a species. “Don’t forget to eat lunch at twelve o’clock” I yell to you, as we are being chased by a Sabretooth Tiger. You trace the suns positioning in the sky, and you realize it is noon. Your pace slows a bit as you try to get the snack out of your pouch, and I turn back to see that the tiger is having himself a hearty meal. Do you think this is the way we operated? You must step out of the mindset that we have now, living in the most peaceful time in history. If our bodies were not built to withstand lengthy periods of time without caloric intake, we would simply would not have survived.
How did the “snack,” or “six meals a day” to keep your metabolism going strong become the norm? There is evidence that suggests that these time-restraint constructs built around eating stemmed from the time that Europeans came over to the “New World” and saw that the Native Americans were eating sporadically, as they became hungry. In her book Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, author Abigail Carrol discusses this idea and that Europeans deemed this uncivilized and believed that civilized people set boundaries around their eating, thus separating themselves from the animal kingdom. This leads me to two ways of eating that are gaining popularity and is the antithesis to “three meals a day” … intermittent fasting and intuitive eating.
There is a lot of promising research (mainly in animal studies) that is showing the positive effects of practicing fasting on a regular basis. Many people are finding it to be an effective weight loss strategy, and equally or perhaps more importantly a sustainable one. Breaking down the science of fasting to its most basic explanation would be that it is extremely effective in lowering and stabilizing insulin levels. Why is this so important? Because insulin is a transporter hormone created in the pancreas that delivers glucose to the mitochondria (power plants of the cells) to use as energy for the body or to be stored (as fat) for later.
If you are constantly spiking your insulin levels, which happens whenever you take in calories, especially refined and processed carbohydrates (white bread, cake, ice cream, candies), you are opening those transporter channels. If you are not giving you body the chance to ever burn off its stored glucose, and constantly replenishing it, how will you ever dip into your fat stores and lose weight? Even more dangerous that that, is your body becoming insulin resistant and losing the ability to say, “we have enough energy, don’t send anymore.” This is the process of how people can become diabetic, which occurs when your bodies receptors become resistant to insulin.
Let us break down the various fasting protocols, benefits, and potential drawbacks of fasting, and see if any appeal to you. There are varying opinions about how long it takes to get into a fasted state and truly burn through your stored glucose. The most agreed upon idea seems to be a sixteen hour fast for men and a fourteen hour fast for women, to start reaping the benefits of fasting. These benefits range from losing weight, promoting HGH (human growth hormone) in men by up to 1500%, and up to 1200% in women, autophagy (your body’s ability to recycle old cells due to not having to expend an enormous amount of energy on digestion), and increased mental clarity and focus (religions have been using fasting as a method to reach a higher level of existence throughout history). I am sold, no more food for me… not quite.
Although there seems to be so many benefits from fasting, there can be some drawbacks as well. These can range from fatigue, irritability, mood swings, lack of energy, etc. Here is the thing, there is a threshold. Once you cross it, you see that the hunger you experience is usually not “real hunger,” and it is more due to the fact that your stomach is sending signals to the brain “feed me” because of the conditioning you’ve gotten it used to. Start winning the mental battle and reconditioning your body to understand what real hunger is again! This is where I see the power of fasting a such an amazing tool. Now, lets jump into the different fasting protocols, and see which one could potentially work for you.
There is the 16/8 (lean gains) method where you fast for sixteen hour and have an eight-hour eating window. There is the 18/6 method where you fast for eighteen hours and have a six-hour eating window. There is the 20/4 (warrior diet) method where you fast for twenty hours and have a four-hour eating window. There is OMAD (one meal a day) where you fast for twenty-two to twenty-three hours and have a one to two-hour eating window. There are also prolonged water fasts and other more extreme methods, lets just focus on these four. You can drink any non-caloric beverage during your fast. Some good ones are black coffee, green tea, and sparkling water (which can potentially suppress your appetite). Also, your sleep time factors into your fast. With each advance in your fasting window, your eating window shrinks proportionately. The idea is that the longer you fast the greater the benefits become.
There is no one method to try and stick to. This takes trial and error experimentation, and the beautiful part is that you can vary your regimen based on energy expenditure that day, traveling, holidays, family get togethers, etc. You are no longer eating “on the clock.” Instead you are starting to listen to your bodies intuition and eating accordingly. This does away with the whole diet mentality, calorie counting, and spending a large amount of time prepping your meals. We see the power of fasting spilling over into multiple areas of life. Less time cooking, shopping, cleaning the mess up… while naturally increasing mental clarity, helping you lose/sustain weight, and retaining muscle. How many more important things would you be able to get done by freeing up an additional twenty hours of your week? The whole concept speaks very loudly to the idea of less is more, and in today’s busy world it can be a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.
Joshua Handlarsky is a Health & Purpose Coach. He helps busy entrepreneurs and professionals craft their diets and workouts, to outperform the competition! He uses the combination of his health and wellness background and business experience, to provide proactive problem-solving solutions, and develop carefully crafted strategies catered to every individual. Master the art of saying no to anything that does not move you towards the life you desire!
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