Reconnecting with what it means to be hungry. Food is everywhere in Western culture. While much of the world goes hungry every day, most Westerners live a life where food is constantly available. This brings up the question. Do we know what it feels like to really be hungry? According to gastroenterologist Michael Picco, total digestion of a meal can take 24-72 hours. The first 7-8 of those hours sees food passing through the stomach and small intestine, with the remainder of the time being spent in the large intestine for nutrients and water to be fully absorbed before the ultimate expulsion of waste. However, despite the fairly long amount of time it takes for a meal to even pass through the first phase of digestion, most Americans still eat a full meal every 4-6 hours, often with sugary or starchy snacks between meals. The addition of simple sugars in many foods also means that the liver is under near-constent duress to process out the steady stream of fructose with which it is confronted all day, every day. Ultimately, the schedule on which many Americans eat is not dictated by the day-to-day energy requirements of our bodies, but are simply put to the mercy of cultural expectation, i.e., "three squares a day!" But should culture dictate what we put into our bodies? Eating is a very personal experience. No one should have any right to dictate what goes into your body except you. So why do we often let something so impersonal as mass expectations set the schedule for what we eat? A fast of 24-36 hours can be instrumental in allowing the body to fully digest the last meal consumed. Continuing in occasional 24 hour fasts, or even just habitually skipping breakfast (allowing a longer time period for the body to process dinner) makes one far more attuned to the body's actual needs. What is to be gained? Intermittent fasting is useful for both fat loss and increasing lean mass. Everyone wants to shed fat. We need some meat on our bones to be healthy, but when you have more than you need, fasting can help get rid of it. And lean mass? That's muscle! We need muscle. Muscle is good. It makes us feel good and look good. So how does this happen? Let's look at a some research. Fasting increases the body's production of growth hormone. GH is a fat-burning hormone which actually increases during a fast. Martin Berkhan, an advocate of fasted strength training and the frontman for the Leangains fasting regimen recommends a schedule of eating and training which appears to boost muscle growth. Insulin sensitivity also appears to be improved during a fast, making it a good option for people interested in carb- restricted weight loss and moderation of blood sugar. Although far from being a scientific expert, actor Matthew McConaughey, well-known for his ripped physique, follows a fasting lifestyle in a manner most in accordance with the Warrior Diet. I would call him living proof, wouldn't you?
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