Intermittent Fasting & Paleo: How Important Is It?
I love the idea of Paleo and want to give it a try…but I’ve read a little about the intermittent fasting component and to be honest, that’s what’s putting me off. I have been on and off diets my whole life, and I know myself well enough that when I’ve tried things like ‘cleanses’ or ‘fasts’, they do not end well. For me, it turns into a several day starvation diet followed by eat whatever you want for a period of time. I understand the principle, but I just don’t see myself doing that. How important is this component?
It is, by far, not an integral part of being Paleo. True, ‘cavemen didn’t likely eat several small, balanced meals each day’ and yes, they did likely go long periods of time without eating and then gorge on whatever meat they’d hunted or berries they’d gathered, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to go about modern Paleo living.
My approach is such that if one is eating a balanced, Paleo diet, that’s significantly more important than including fasting. Changing one’s daily menu from highly processed foods, fried foods (actually ‘non foods’!) to fresh vegetables, wild proteins and natural fats is a giant leap in the right direction and practically speaking, I find that most clients prefer to eat the frequent, small meals throughout the day versus fasting.
This is not to say that if intermittent fasting is done properly and for the right reasons (in other words not as part of a binge and purge cycle, as I’ve seen many clients fall into the habit of all to often) that it doesn’t have a place in Paleo, as certainly there are studies describing how it can improve insulin sensitivity and possible increase longevity, amongst other health benefits.
The caveat is this: fasting for the wrong reasons, without knowing what you’re doing and why or how to do so properly and safely can potentially create a situation where one is doing nothing more than starving themselves for a period of time and then throwing it all out the window after they decide they’ve had enough and, like the reader above, end up eating everything and anything in sight.
I’d strongly encourage the balanced, frequent small Paleo meals approach as a general ‘statement to the masses’ versus preaching that everyone needs to fast.