The notion that your body needs to regularly consume glucose for energy has become a deeply ingrained myth. As a result of this misguided advice, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer prevalence have all spiked, burgeoning into national if not global epidemics. The truth is, most long-term low-fat, high-carb diets prevent healthy mitochondrial function, thereby making a greater contribution to disease than most people are willing to even consider.
Dietary fats are actually the preferred fuel of human metabolism. In 2016, the British National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration issued a joint report on obesity based on the analysis of 43 studies, warning the policy to encourage people to eat a low-fat diet is having a "disastrous impact on health."1,2,3 According to the authors, the current guidelines have been manipulated and corrupted for commercial gain by the food and beverage industries, and are based on flawed science.
Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet and Reducing Meal Frequency Can Solve Many Common Ailments
In conclusion, the report suggests a low-carb, high-fat diet — and eating less by cutting out between-meal snacks — may be the answer to the obesity epidemic. The benefits of this type of diet is the primary focus of my most recent book, "Fat for Fuel," and my complementary online course, which guides you through seven engaging lessons to teach you how your body works at the molecular level, and how different foods affect your body.
Traditional weight loss advice suggests all you need to do is count calories, eat less and exercise more. Somewhat better recommendations specifically recommend cutting down on sugar. However, while many will initially lose weight doing this, it usually doesn't take long to gain the weight back. Before you know it, you're caught in a loop of yo-yo dieting. There's a better way. A great many of the disease epidemics facing us today could be turned around by educating people about the benefits of:
A diet high in healthy fats, moderate in protein and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber)
Longer water fasting
It's important to realize that calories are not created equal, and this is why counting calories doesn't work for weight loss and health in the long run. The metabolic effects of calories differ depending on their source — a calorie from a Twinkie is not equivalent to a calorie from an avocado or a nut. That said, excessive snacking is a significant contributing factor to obesity, so, to lose weight and keep it off, you may need to reduce your meal frequency.
The Case for Fasting
I recommend limiting it to two meals per day, either breakfast/lunch or lunch/dinner, within a six- to eight-hour window each day. This meal timing is a form of intermittent fasting, as by eating all your meals within a certain span of time each day, you end up fasting daily as well. Longer water fasts also offer powerful health benefits, although you need to work your way into them.
One strategy I've found to be extremely helpful is to gradually increase the time of your daily intermittent fasting until you're fasting 20 hours a day. After about a month of this, doing a four- or five-day long water fast will not be nearly as difficult, as you're already used to not eating for extended periods.
I was skeptical about water fasting for a long time, but after learning more about the metabolic benefits of it, the relative safety and testing it out for myself, I've become convinced it's a powerful tool that is vastly underutilized. The clarity of thinking alone, which occurs around Day Three or Four, makes it worth it.
That's not the only benefit though. Importantly, water fasting activates autophagy, allowing your body to clean itself out, and triggers the regeneration of stem cells. Remarkably, whereas low-calorie dieting will cause morbidly obese people to develop skin folds that must be surgically removed after significant weight loss, this typically does not occur when you lose the weight by water fasting. Your body actually metabolizes the excess skin as you go along, because it's in such efficient regeneration mode.
Even having as little as 200 or 300 calories a day is enough to abort the autophagy process, though, which is why I started doing complete water fasts. I now do a five-day water fast on a monthly basis, and since I was used to doing 20-hour daily intermittent fasting, I experienced no significant hunger at all. It was really pretty effortless right from the start.
If you're severely overweight or have Type 2 diabetes, water fasting may be the answer you've been looking for. Recent research4 confirms that fasting can effectively reverse Type 2 diabetes in a relatively short amount of time. In this trial, Type 2 diabetics were placed on a severely restricted calorie diet where they ate just 600 calories a day for eight weeks.
By the end of their fast, all were disease-free and three months later, having returned to their regular diet, seven of the 11 participants were still disease-free. Fasting has also been shown to trigger the regeneration of the pancreas in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics5 — a testament to the regenerative power unleashed in your body when fasting.