Are you really fasting?

Post inspired by The Longevity Diet by Dr. Valter Longo

Intermittent fasting, in my humble opinion, is a bit of a buzz word right now. Definitely growing in popularity, people are trying it out and supposedly seeing some of the benefits from it. A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine talked about how he participates in intermittent fasting. I probed him more about it, and he talked about how he usually skips breakfast and fasts until lunch. I asked him a little more about his diet and how it was going, and he added that he does it every once in a while. The day before he had breakfast but that morning, he was fasting.

Conversation ended, but that last part kind of stuck with me. It made me question what he was doing - was he really fasting or was he just not eating that morning? What’s the difference? If you have breakfast one day, and then don’t the next day, to me that sounds like you skipped breakfast, but people seem to get away with spinning it as “fasting” now-a-days. Seems like a buzzword-fad to me?

Dr. Longo seems to share this sentiment. He states that the hype around intermittent fasting “allows people to improve and pick and choose periods of fasting…giving the impression that just because they all involve some period of ‘abstention from food’ they are similar or equivalent and all provide health benefits” (101). That however, is not true. There is definitely a difference between “skipping a meal” and “fasting.” Dr. Longo defines that fasting can only be “periods of abstention from food lasting two or three days or more” (101). Fasting is not skipping breakfast that day or not eating a meal. If you chain those days together, then you start to get the effects and benefits of fasting. But don’t cheat or label what you are doing anything else, the only person you are really hurting is yourself.