Fasting

Is Fasting the Key to a Healthy Diet?

Article Image

Different kinds of vegetables, including paprikas, zucchini and tomatoes, lie on display at a government stand that offers information on nutrition at the Gruene Woche agricultural trade fair January 18, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Gett

Only in an era of abundance could an industry—a particular mindset, really—churn out innumerable fad diets promising to be the silver bullet that will finally (finally!) offer perfect health, weight loss, and inner radiance.

At the moment the top sellers in diet and nutrition on Amazon promise you “total health and food freedom,” warn against “hidden dangers in ‘healthy’ foods,” guarantee “fast metabolism,” and declare a “revolutionary diet” that, among other things, helps you “combat cancer.” That’s a tall order for something that, for most of human history, was so scarce and difficult to procure that securing enough to eat was itself considered a blessing.

This is not your ancestor’s diet. Yet it appears that we can turn to our forebears for an important piece of nutritive advice: fasting. In one of the most in-depth pieces I’ve come across on this topic, it seems intermittent fasting is helping many deal with metabolic and immune functions.

Lest you think this a sales pitch—I’ve found the silver bullet!—let’s start at the conclusion. University of Illinois nutrition professor Krista Varady studies alternate-day fasting for a living. She readily offers up the fact that intermittent fasting—taking varied breaks from eating, either on a daily schedule or on alternate days—is “probably another nutritional fad.”

She has observed that every decade or so fads switch and rearrange. To declare fasting to be an end-all is ambitious; human psychology is generally not designed for the long-term. Novelty usurps integrity and discipline. That said, Varady concludes of fasting,

I still think that it can really help people out, and I think people who are able to stick to it really reap a lot of metabolic benefits.

The article opens with a 1973 case of a man who survived for 382 days ingesting only “vitamin supplements, yeast, and noncaloric fluids,” in what has to be a…

Should You (or Should You Not) Be Working Out on an Empty Stomach?

As the amount of fitness information available is getting bigger, the chances of being exposed to bad advice are also growing, creating more fitness myths than ever. Yet, one of the most debatable myths that has been out there forever is the myth of working out on an empty stomach.

It has been a prevailing thought for decades that you shouldn’t eat or drink prior to working out, and it seems that only recently the public has started questioning its accuracy.

“Fasted” versus “Fed”

The common belief of the effectiveness of the “hungry workout” isn’t unsupported; actual research backs it up. The British Journal of Nutrition1 and the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism both published studies that show data in favor of “fasted” as opposed to “fed” training when it comes to the percentage of fat lost per workout.2

Additionally, a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology shows that fasted training provides a better anabolic post workout response to weight training, meaning it provides a better environment for building lean mass.

Namely, the conclusions indicate that “prior fasting may stimulate the intramyocellular [stored fats] anabolic response to ingestion of a carbohydrate/protein/leucine mixture following a heavy resistance training session.”3

Moreover, by providing better absorption of the post workout meal nutrients, fasted training has the great potential to improve insulin sensitivity, and is, therefore, an important agent in the fat loss process.

As insulin sensitivity shows how easily fat and muscle cells in our body take in glucose, regulating insulin sensitivity helps lower the blood sugar levels, which is one of the most important factors in weigh loss. The Journal of Physiology published a study4 that shows significantly greater insulin sensitivity improvement for the fasted training group as opposed to fed training group.

Finally, fasted training proved beneficial to endurance performance. In a study5 published in the Journal of Strength and Conditional Research, ten professional cyclists maintained lean mass, lowered fat mass, and maintained performance.

Why fed training is better?

However, there is another side to the story that trumps the beliefs of efficacy of fasted workouts. As sports dietetics specialist Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., R.D. explains, while the body’s response to a high-intensity fasted workout is to burn glycogen, the stored up carbohydrates, eventually, the body starts to adjust to the new system and starts storing fat from the next meal and burning…

Missing Breakfast is Not Good For You! Here Are 10 Best Breakfast Foods and Quick Recipes For a Good Morning

Chances are, you have heard someone tell you not to skip breakfast. This is usually followed with, “it’s the most important meal of the day!” But when you slept through your alarm and you need to wash your hair, finding five minutes to get dressed beats finding five minutes to grab something to eat. Sure, you will hear your stomach growling before you get to work or class, but it’s no big deal, right? You can just eat a big lunch and you’ll be fine. Well it turns out that isn’t the case. In fact, skipping breakfast can lead to more than hunger. According to one study, men who skip breakfast increase their risk of heart attack by nearly 30% 1. And women who skipped their first meal of the day put themselves at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by about 54%.

But even if you know how important breakfast is, we live in a fast-paced world. Often times, there just doesn’t seem to be any room to make a meal when you first wake up. And going through a drive through or getting one of those suspicious breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks usually leaves you with more guilt than nutrition. So you go without. This seems like a smart move. After all, if you eat nothing, it’s better than eating something fattening or sugary probably. Well, that’s a myth, too!

Why you need to eat breakfast.

You’ll gain weight if you skip breakfast.

Though it can be tempting to skip breakfast due to a lack of time, appetite or options, skipping breakfast can actually lead to weight gain, not loss. This seems completely unfair, I know. But skipping breakfast makes your body freak out and crave sugary and fatty foods to compensate for the lack of nutrients. Therefore, when you do eat, you’re probably not going for that salad covered in vegetables. Because your hunger level is so high, you’ll be more likely to eat a lot, and none of it will be especially healthy. Before you know it, this habit of skipping breakfast and having an unhealthy lunch results in a shopping trip for bigger pants.

Hangry: A bad mood caused by hunger.

We’ve all been there. When you’re hungry, you get frustrated. When you don’t eat, your energy levels dwindle, causing everything to seem like more of a chore. In summary, EAT.

One study found that men who ate breakfast had a more positive mood than those who skipped. When you skip the most important meal of the day, your blood sugar drops suddenly which can lead to irritability, fatigue and even headaches. And if you’re sitting at school or work with a headache and an empty stomach, it doesn’t take long before you hate the world. Eating regularly helps to support a good attitude. So do yourself, and those around you a favor and don’t skip breakfast 2.

Skipping breakfast may not feel like a big deal. After all, you ate dinner. But when you sleep, your body goes into fasting mode. Therefore, when you wake up, you need…

12 of the World’s Most Impressive Easter Services

Easter, the most holy of all Christian holidays, is celebrated with special services all over the world, Some of these Easter services may even inspire you to plan a pilgrimage.

1. SALEM CONGREGATION SUNRISE SERVICE // WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA

The Salem Congregation Sunrise Service is the oldest continuous Easter sunrise service in America. It was first held in 1772, in the same manner Moravian churches held the service in Germany since 1732. Now, 245 years later, people come from all over the world to experience Easter sunrise in Winston-Salem. The Church Band, which is made up of around 100 members from all 13 churches of the Salem Congregation of Moravian churches, is used for all outdoor services such as funerals. It assembles at midnight for a breakfast, and then at 2 a.m. they march through the city playing hymns to begin Easter Sunday and to wake everyone for the service. This year’s service will begin at 6 a.m. outside the Home Moravian Church for a procession to the Salem Moravian Graveyard, known as God’s Acre. The service will be live-streamed at WSJS.com.

2. ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH // ADDIS ABBABA, ETHIOPIA

Dating from the 4th century, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church counts its membership in the tens of millions. Devout adults give up all animal products during a 55-day Lent and then eat or drink nothing at all in the three days before Easter. The Easter (Fasika) service in Addis Ababa, the church’s headquarters, is a music- and light-filled celebration that begins on Saturday night. Early on Easter morning, worshippers go home to break their fast. From the church website:

Easter, the feast of feasts, is celebrated with special solemnity. The church is filled with fragrance of incense and myriads of lights. The clergy are arrayed in their best vestments. All the people hold lighted tapers. Greetings are exchanged, drums are beaten, hands are clapped and singing is heard everywhere: “our resurrection has come, hosanna.” Men are heard saying “O Lord Christ have mercy upon us.” They pray for a blessing, “O God make it to be a festival of our good fortune and of our well being! Let us have another threshing floor and another year if thou wilt.”

See an Easter service at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Washington, D.C. here.

3. CATHEDRAL OF CHRIST THE SAVIOUR // MOSCOW, RUSSIA

The Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow is the tallest Orthodox church in the world. Patriarch Kirill, head of all the Russian Orthodox Church, presides over the Easter (Pascha) midnight mass. He begins the mass wearing white vestments, but changes to red before the end of the mass. See pictures from the Easter liturgy here.

4. LINCOLN MEMORIAL SUNRISE SERVICE // WASHINGTON, D.C.

For the past 39 years, the Capital Church of Vienna, Virginia, has led the Easter Sunrise Service at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. This year’s service will begin at 6:30 a.m., and the interdenominational event is expected to draw several thousand people. The spectacular view of the sunrise over the Washington Monument is definitely a reason to wake up for the early-morning service.

5. CATHEDRAL OF SAINT MARY OF THE FLOWER // FLORENCE, ITALY

Getty Images

At the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower (or simply the Duomo, as it’s commonly known), Easter mass goes out with a bang. The tradition goes back to the Crusades…