Longevity experts have long known that intermittent fasting, or “IF,” can be a key to a longer life. Now, a new study seems to have come up with the optimal way to use intermittent fasting to increase longevity.
Intermittent fasting is a weight control and life-extending technique where you eat a normal healthy diet within your required caloric range on one day and alternate that with eating a significant amount less 30 – 70% of your daily caloric requirement the next day.
Advocates of IF say that this is actually how our bodies were designed to survive. As early hunters and gathers in the wild, there was a lot of hit and miss. “Feast or Famine” was a truism for our ancestors and not just an expression. A tribal group could be flush with food one day and then go for many days, unsuccessful at obtaining food after that. It is only in modern society that we have indoctrinated ourselves to the idea of “Three Squares” every day.
Now a group of researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies seems to have found the ultimate time between eating to maximize the positive health benefits of intermittent fasting. In a new study published in Endocrine Reviews, scientists argue that the golden ratio of time spent eating to time spent fasting is 8 to 16 hours.
By not eating for 14 to 16 hours, you give your body a chance to utilize the glucose it accumulated when you last ate without having to process another load. Intermittent fasting in this “golden ratio” keeps the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood low. High blood sugar can cause diabetes and other metabolic conditions that affect long-term health and longevity.
Other Ways to Maximize IF for Longevity
In addition to practicing the 8:16 ratio, if you really want to get the most out of IF, you need to couple it with intense physical activity. Again, just as hunting, gathering, and fasting were a way of life for our ancestors, so was high-intensity working out, albeit not in a gym!
We were born to live a “fight or flight” lifestyle, and our metabolism reflects that. Our ancestors had to run constantly to hunt game or run from it for their lives. Not to mention continuous warfare with other tribal groups – it was a daily fight just to survive! Anyone fat and lazy was “culled from the herd” very quickly!
Looking at the skeletal record, anthropologists report that our most recent ancestors were much leaner, taller, and stronger than we are. It was this fight or flight “intermittent fasting” way of life that led to their very lean and strong musculature. Anthropologists believe that most men of generations past were less than 10% body fight, and even most women – allowing for more natural adipose tissue – were from 10-20% body fat. They believe the chief reason for this is the increase in the levels of human growth hormone that are produced in reaction to intense physical activity. HGH not only improves cell growth, but it is also one of the factors that lead to reduced stress and increased longevity.
Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that Intermittent Fasting for 12 – 24 hours along with a high-intensity workout increased HGH levels in the body by as much as 2000% in men and 1300% in women. Those are not typo’s – you read that right – those are increases in the thousands!
The bottom line is if you want to live long and well into the 21st century, you should take a page from our ancestors and go a little “primitive” and try intermittent fasting – it’s so simple a caveman could do it – and in fact they did!