3

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Is fasting healthy for young adults?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 07, 2011 at 2:48 AM

I'm 18 years old and have started eating paleo about a month ago. I feel great and recently tried a 24 hour fast last week. It went well and I felt great all day, but I'm wondering if I should be fasting if I am still potentially growing. I also lift weights 3 times a week and am looking to gain muscle and lose fat. I'm currently 6'2" and hovering around 175 lbs. Is fasting healthy for me?

D3f3b91d1dd9ce60865654faeb2ec809

on November 08, 2011
at 05:40 AM

He can get all the nutrition he needs in one/two large meals a day. That's the approach I've been using for about a month now with great results (at age 16).

6cca02352c216b4ca8325fda7d83832c

(1042)

on November 07, 2011
at 07:27 PM

Travis, I think the opposite argument could just as easily be made, and IMO there is more evidence in favor of the idea that fasting improves health and longevity than there is evidence against it (see studies on calorie restriction for example). There is not enough evidence to definitely prove that long term fasting is good or bad, but just like our genes are adapted to eating a Paleo diet, they are also adapted to being deprived of food for periods of time, and short term studies on fasting confirm this.

E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 07, 2011
at 05:28 PM

sorry i dont share your definition of "food scarcity" nor your enthusiasm for speculating about the health of our ancestors .

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:44 PM

Our ancestors were healthy in spite of occasional food scarcity, not because of it.

E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:38 PM

irrational fear or total and utter inability to stop eating? i can never tell.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:36 PM

Maybe you wouldn't need to fast if your diet wasn't so high in fat. Overeat all week and have to starve on the weekend. Sounds great.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:32 PM

Actually, I bet that 99.9999% of people who fast would be better off taking that time to eat liver. The factor rate-limiting our increase in health is usually a mineral deficiency, not a lack of autophagy. The worst way to address a mineral deficiency is by not eating anything. I suppose it'd be worse to attach leeches to yourself, but you get the idea.

Cf32992bfa1907147c7cdc451bba9c63

(2890)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:20 PM

There are no long term studies on fasting. Nobody knows the long term benefits/consequences, especially in teenagers who are generally more responsive. The safest bet is to not fast.

Cf32992bfa1907147c7cdc451bba9c63

(2890)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:01 PM

In my last year of high school I ate everything in sight and weightlifted. I gained something like 50 pounds in a year. Then I went through a cycling phase where I got really lean and lost the 50 pounds and more. Now, I'm starting weightlifting again and I notice I gain muscle faster than most of my friends, but only on the lifts I trained in high school. You have a unique opportunity to permanently raise your muscular potential. If I could go back in time I would have used a sound weightlifting routine + a sound running routine + food to give myself a fitness foundation for life. No fasting.

2bdc990a200584a385650cf68475f095

on November 07, 2011
at 12:08 PM

"Listening to your body" is quite a tricky advice to give. While making the transition to Paleo many bodies wanted cake ;)

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 07, 2011
at 06:46 AM

Show me a man who is starving himself, and I'll show you a man who should have just eaten a steak.

8eade6b270dc874843f74fa599fa8754

(163)

on November 07, 2011
at 03:56 AM

Thanks for the advice Toad! I will probably stick to just skipping meals, especially in college where unhealthy options tend to be available quite frequently.

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9 Answers

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4
627cf3f5d1ddfb4c2f4c96169420f55f

on November 07, 2011
at 03:51 AM

Don't intentionally fast for 24 hours. Once a month is probably ok.

It's most definitely ok to skip a meal once in a while. If you are out and about or are busy and forget about eating then don't worry about it! This is most definitely ok, especially when the best food choices are not around.

Skipping a meal of pop and pizza is better than drinking/eating the pop and pizza.

But, again, eat food as you please. Just make sure it's primal/paleo of course then you have no worries :)

8eade6b270dc874843f74fa599fa8754

(163)

on November 07, 2011
at 03:56 AM

Thanks for the advice Toad! I will probably stick to just skipping meals, especially in college where unhealthy options tend to be available quite frequently.

2
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on November 07, 2011
at 03:24 AM

You could skip lunch or breakfast and lunch every once in awhile.

2
Medium avatar

on November 07, 2011
at 03:18 AM

There was a pretty good discussion about that in this post . . .http://paleohacks.com/questions/73626/can-intermittent-fasting-cause-or-worsen-adrenal-fatigue. I would add that fasting is great once in a while, our ancestors did it for periods of time when they had to find food, so our bodies are designed to do it, just not on a regular basis. The major problem of modern society in terms of diet imo is that we have the brains of our ancestors that are designed to eat as much high fat and high sugar foods as possible when they're available, only they're always available in abundance now. But the occasional fast helps the body detox and repair itself, and caloric restriction is associated with longevity in studies and in the healthiest cultures around the world.

1
6cca02352c216b4ca8325fda7d83832c

(1042)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:24 AM

I am giving you my opinion about the effects of fasting, but the two best sources for all the scientific facts about fasting are the book Eat, Stop, Eat and the website leangains.com. I thought I knew some facts about fasting until I read some of the article on that website. The most comprehensive one is probably this: http://www.leangains.com/2010/10/top-ten-fasting-myths-debunked.html, but check out as many of the articles from the "most popular" section as you can.

In my non-professional opinion, the only two potential problems caused by fasting of any type are not consuming enough nutrients and not consuming enough calories. Of course these may or may not be problems depending on numerous variables, including your age, activity level, exercise routine, genes, stress level, etc., which is why people have such variable experiences with fasting. If your appetite is good enough that you are able to consume enough calories in one or two meals a day and your diet contains enough nutrient dense foods that you are meeting all of your nutritional needs when you do eat (which it should if it is Paleo as you say), I don't see any reason why fasting for a reasonable duration or frequency would harm you, and based on the information provided in the above two resources, it is likely to benefit you in some way.

Until you are 21 or 22 I would not do any prolonged fasting (more than 24 hours at a time) because you will still be developing, as one of the above answers mentioned, but IF several days a week should be safe and potentially beneficial. Just make sure to consume as calorie-dense and nutrient-dense foods as possible when you eat. Grassfed beef or calf liver, pastured eggs, grassfed butter, and virgin coconut oil probably top the list of such foods in my opinion, in that order.

1
Medium avatar

on November 07, 2011
at 03:51 AM

My counsel is a rough blend of Rogue Nutritionist & Eric. Don't go whole hog (brain development very much in progress) but don't hesitate to mix it up a bit, skipping a meal now and then.

Concerning all things brain: the book "The Brain That Changes Itself" is a worthy read. Google before buying, to be sure.

And let me add: Regardless of what you decide to do re your question, right-on for being so proactive about your health, so young. I discovered diet-exercise in my 20s and it was the best discovery of my life. Good genes are terrific things to inherit, but good lifestyle decisions are critical to practice, given the evidence that smart behaviors influence gene expression in positive directions.

1
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on November 07, 2011
at 02:57 AM

I wouldn't recommend fasting to someone your age. You are potentially still growing, and your brain is still myelinating until about age twenty-one. I'm not sure that fasting would be negative necessarily, but I wouldn't recommend risking it...I think of someone still developing as needing the most optimal nutrition available, the same as a pregnant or a nursing mother.

D3f3b91d1dd9ce60865654faeb2ec809

on November 08, 2011
at 05:40 AM

He can get all the nutrition he needs in one/two large meals a day. That's the approach I've been using for about a month now with great results (at age 16).

0
D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on November 08, 2011
at 05:38 AM

I like to do a short term fast when I find myself bored of what I normally eat and start craving SAD foods. It gives me a psychological boost to continue eating wholesome foods. It may not be optimal, but it's much better than falling back into old unhealthy habits.

0
E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:12 PM

starving? wtf Don't listen 2 such ignorant statements. I have been fasting for ages ( almost 4 years) and in stronger than ever. Is not going to harm you, on the contrary, If you aspire to achieve optimal health and longevity you should definitely give fasting a try. First, make sure to eat well ( dont stuff yourself or become obsessed with food) avoid toxins, absorb all your nutrients and then stay hydrated. Try daily 16 / 20 hour fasts and see how it goes. Its a lifestyle, and once you are adapted it has incredible benefits.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:36 PM

Maybe you wouldn't need to fast if your diet wasn't so high in fat. Overeat all week and have to starve on the weekend. Sounds great.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:44 PM

Our ancestors were healthy in spite of occasional food scarcity, not because of it.

6cca02352c216b4ca8325fda7d83832c

(1042)

on November 07, 2011
at 07:27 PM

Travis, I think the opposite argument could just as easily be made, and IMO there is more evidence in favor of the idea that fasting improves health and longevity than there is evidence against it (see studies on calorie restriction for example). There is not enough evidence to definitely prove that long term fasting is good or bad, but just like our genes are adapted to eating a Paleo diet, they are also adapted to being deprived of food for periods of time, and short term studies on fasting confirm this.

E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 07, 2011
at 05:28 PM

sorry i dont share your definition of "food scarcity" nor your enthusiasm for speculating about the health of our ancestors .

Cf32992bfa1907147c7cdc451bba9c63

(2890)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:20 PM

There are no long term studies on fasting. Nobody knows the long term benefits/consequences, especially in teenagers who are generally more responsive. The safest bet is to not fast.

E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 07, 2011
at 04:38 PM

irrational fear or total and utter inability to stop eating? i can never tell.

0
16e2ac1f38e9011a188a9777227803a3

on November 07, 2011
at 11:43 AM

I'm 19 and intermittent fast daily.

Listen to your body first though, not paleohackers.

2bdc990a200584a385650cf68475f095

on November 07, 2011
at 12:08 PM

"Listening to your body" is quite a tricky advice to give. While making the transition to Paleo many bodies wanted cake ;)

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