We'll begin by looking onto seasonal cycles and how these present an Ayurvedic perspective on Intermittent Fasting; other traditions also have the same practices. So let’s tune into the cycle of nature and the seasons of the year.
Fall’s harvest is rich in sugars from fruit and starchy carbs from root veggies and grains. The excess fuel from this high-sugar, high-carb diet is stored as fat, which the body uses as a source of insulation and energy for the long, cold winter ahead.
Traditionally by the end of Winter, the reserves of grains, nuts and seeds are dwindling. Early spring is nature’s fasting season—little if any new crops are being harvested.
It does not seem to be a coincidence that many ancient traditions observe various kinds of fasting rituals in the Spring. Native Americans would go on fasting vision quests, Christians observe Lent, the Jewish practice Passover, Ramadan for Muslims, and the Hindu holiday, Shivaratri.
These rituals are from times past, when the early Spring was a period of scarcity. Traditional life was a balance of feast and famine, with the feast being at the end of Summer, and the famine being at the end of Winter and early Spring. It’s now time for the famine season of the Spring, which is nature’s way to enforce a season of intermittent fasting, and perfect time to enjoy nature’s cleanse and detox. Let’s learn to enjoy this as a gift.
Spring is the best time of year to fast as this burns the excess fat that has insulated us over the Winter period. Fat burns slow and steady compared to the carbs of the Fall, which were used to protect us by raising blood sugars and spiking bodily energy. Unlike sugar, fat is a slow-burning fuel. It is long-lasting, helps us sleep well, handle stress, and become more introspective. This is why the cycle provides us with fat during cold times of year.
Our ancestors reaped the beneﬁts of intermittent fasting quite naturally, as the availability of food was scarce and what was harvested in the early Spring was very low in fat. The naturally-occurring, low-fat diet of Spring forces the body to derive energy from burning its own stored fat.
Ayurveda suggests that the Spring is the best time to fast as it is Kapha season. Kapha season is heavy and watery—fasting and seasonal eating are great ways to lighten up.
Intermittent fasting (commonly known as IF) has been linked to numerous health beneﬁts, some of which include:
1. Decreased diabetes risk
2. Decreased cardiovascular risk
3. Improved longevity
4. Protection against cancer
5. Decreased inﬂammation
6. Reduced blood pressure
7. Balanced weight
Here are a few easy Spring fasting strategies:
1. Fast one day a week, having only warm water or fresh vegetable juice. (Longer fasts on water should be supervised.)
2. Eat a good breakfast and lunch and skip dinner.
3. A daily 13 to 16 hour fast. After dinner, eat nothing from 6 pm til rising. Use warm water during this time.
One important factor to remember is to make sure you are eating lots during your 8 hour eating window. Starving yourself combined with fasting while exercising regularly is sure fired way for exhaustion and nutrient depletion.
Modern Day Version
In the modern day, Intermittent Fasting has become quite popular with many health gurus promoting it. Here is how a schedule of a modern day 16/8 cycle could look.
7:00-8:00 am: Wake up to warm water, meditation and washroom call
8:00-10 am: Walking, yoga, light exercise
10:00 am: Post fast light meal
12:00 pm: Largest meal of the day. (Keep protein and carbs high.)
3:00 pm: Snack
5:30 pm: Last meal of the day. Again, keeping protein and carbs high. No further foods past this time, only light water.
Very light Rehydration therapy can continue during this time.
Remember, you can create the type of fasting schedule you want based on your lifestyle. Some people fast for 14 hours, while others fast up to 24 hours. That is why IF can work for anyone.
Mind Body Green
There is so much more information available regarding intermittent fasting.
One interesting article with a modern twist can be found at the link below: