The eating window

t-boneIt’s possible to measure fasting in hours rather than days. Maybe we should start calling it time spent without eating. Or even turn it around by just focusing on the time when you’re eating, instead of the time you’re not eating.

I’m not sure what’s the best way to reframe fasting. But the way we frame something is important. Most people think of fasting as not eating anything for a long time, probably imagining Jesus in the desert for 40 days, or protesting prisoners not eating until their demands are met.

Who cares? Right now not too many people care. But there’s growing evidence that we should care. Eating less frequently during the day (or possibly fasting every now and then during the month) could have real health benefits. If it turns out that a little  fasting is good for you, but calling it fasting will make it a harder sell.

Think about this, Mark Mattson who’s a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging eats during a six hour window in the evening (not eating for 16 to 18 hours a day is called intermittent fasting). He’s considered a leader in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms, one of the most highly cited neuroscientist in the world.

“His Laboratory showed that intermittent fasting has profound beneficial effects on the body and brain including: 1) Improved glucose regulation; 2) Loss of abdominal fat with maintenance of muscle mass; 3) Reduced blood pressure and heart rate, and increased heart rate variability (similar to what occurs in trained endurance athletes; 4) Improved learning and memory and motor function; 5) Protection of neurons in the brain against dysfunction and degeneration in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and Huntington’s disease. He further discovered that intermittent fasting is beneficial for health because it imposes a challenge to cells, and those cells respond adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and resist disease.” according to the NYT.

Intermittent fasting isn’t mainstream (yet). But as the evidence that it’s good for us accumulates and is reframed, it might get some traction.