I watched an excellent Horizon documentary on the BBC last night: Eat, Fast and Live Longer.
The program tried to discover how eating habits might affect the ageing process, documenting a 101 year-old marathon runner (who has only ever eaten kiddie-size portions); the CRONie approach (calorie restriction on optimal nutrition); three-day fasting, and – more interestingly – alternate day fasting.
Early research shows there are benefits to alternate day fasting. In trials it has been shown to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels, factors that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and age-related disease. Okay, that’s it for the science bit!
Anyway, I decided to give it a go… starting today! The idea is that you have one meal on your fast day, around lunchtime. And that’s it! On your off day, you can eat what you like. It’s that simple.
Now, I don’t consider myself to be overweight. Yeah, I’ve got some love handles, but who doesn’t?
Clearly not this guy!
It’s easy to mock and poke fun at the west’s growing obesity epidemic, but it’s fast becoming a problem that extends beyond that of the individual. After all, the more we eat, the more resources are required to satiate our growing gluttony.
With global population levels predicted to hit 9 billion by 2042, pressures on land will undoubtedly increase, especially if we are becoming fatter.
Which is kind of where the tie-in to my blog comes in.
I like the idea of keeping our wilderness areas intact and maybe one day restoring them, yet tracks of the Amazon forest are being ripped and cleared to allow for – amongst other things – cattle grazing. And while I may despair at the statistics and images of deforestation – sitting comfortably in my ivory tower – it occurred to me that I might actually be adding fuel to the fire every time I tuck into a fast-food burger or a restaurant steak – and I haven’t even gotten started with overfishing.
That’s why I’m going to give alternate fasting a go, and try and have a few more meat free days along the way. I’ll try and keep you updated… that’s if I manage to keep from gnawing my own arms off between now and my next meal!
For a more rapid weight loss solution, watch this video over on Lisa’s blog every time the hunger pangs start.
Oh, one last thought for all the bloggers and writers out there: if you’re struggling with writers block don’t reach for the comfort food – you should be fasting instead. Research has shown that sporadic bouts of hunger triggers the growth of new neurons, some vestigial response leftover from our hunter-gatherer days.
Don’t believe me? Watch the program and see for yourself.