Fasting, Religion, Creativity and Health

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I recently read a blog post on Scott Adams’ excellent Dilbert website.  Yes, that Dilbert.  The post is titled, Breakfast is Overrated. In the post, Adams states that he finds he has much more creativity and energy when he eats very little before noon.  He says when he finally eats his lunch, he usually needs to take a nap.

This mirrors exactly my experience.  When I wrote my novel, For Want of Knowledge , intentionally skipped breakfast, only drinking coffee until my daily word count was complete.  Even now I find that my desire to write at all diminishes when I eat.  I usually have to roll out a post before eating, and if I eat while writing a post, I many times will not finish.

I found a book online, called, The Hygienic System: Orthotrophy.  A portion of the book, chapter 24,  reads:

“Herodotus records that the invading hosts (over five millions) of the Persian general Xerxes, had to be fed by the conquered cities along their lines of march. He states as a fortunate circumstance the fact that the Persians, including even the Monarch and his courtiers, ate one meal a day.

The Jews from Moses until Jesus ate but one meal a day. They sometimes added a lunch of fruit. We recall reading once in the Hebrew scriptures these words (quoting from memory): “Woe unto the nation whose princes eat in the morning.” If this has any reference to dietetic practices it would indicate that the Jews were not addicted to what Dr. Dewey called the “vulgar habit” of eating breakfast. In the oriental world today extreme moderation, as compared to the American standard, is practiced.

Dr. Felix Oswald says that “during the zenith period of Grecian and Roman civilization monogamy was not as firmly established as the rule that a health-loving man should content himself with one meal a day, and never eat till he had leisure to digest, i.e., not till the day’s work was wholly done. For more than a thousand years the one meal plan was the established rule among the civilized nations inhabiting the coast-lands of the Mediterranean. The evening repast–call it supper or dinner–was a kind of domestic festival, the reward of the day’s toil, an enjoyment which rich and poor refrained from marring by premature gratifications of their appetites.”

Anecdotal of course, but in line with my experience.  I just watched my cat eat the food I gave him this morning.   Afterwards, he immediately went to sleep for an hour.  But it does make me wonder if prosperity has a terminal seed planted within it.  After reaching its peak, a society has access to lots of food.  People begin to eat more and more. Eventually a level of consumption is reached that outpaces the body’s need for nutrition and stunts energy and creativity.  The society begins to slow down, and other cultures who lag just a bit behind and don’t have as much begin to catch up.

The Romans apparently ate one big meal late in the day, and supplemented a couple of very small meals earlier.  The average Roman soldier was incredibly tough.  Few modern elite military forces could beat an average Roman soldier in marching.  A Roman soldier would march all day and then build a fortified encampment.  The average soldier probably weighed only 140 pounds.  Though his caloric intake had to be high, on the order of 5000-6000 calories a day, it’s unlikely he had the time or capacity to eat multiple meals in a day, aside from some bread or dates.  Yet he maintained a fantastic physical capability.

Also of interest are recent findings that very old practices, considered mystical and spiritual, actually have very measurable utilitarian value.  In America, the religious live the longest.  Who is likely to live the shortest life? The least religious women.  

Fasting is an ancient tradition, and chronicled throughout the Bible.  In the Bible fasting is done along with prayer, usually in preparation for a trying event, such as war or in times of grief.  Fasting has legitimate health benefits.  It seems to help in the fight against cancer, brain degeneration, and insulin resistance.  

I believe the ancients sensed things that we have proven through scientific study.  What we need a million dollar study to prove to us, the ancients endorsed simply because they saw it working.  While it’s true that ancient people did some things that are obviously wrong, many things they did were intuitive and profoundly effective.  In today’s world, many fall victim to the fallacy of Appeal to Novelty.  

Could it be that fasting grants “wisdom” ie, enhanced brain activity?  Maybe it’s something to fast on.

Obesity and McDonald’s

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Yesterday for lunch, I sat at my desk at work eating a Quarter Pounder with cheese and a ten piece Chicken McNugget from Mcdonalds.  Several people in the office commented with amazement that I was consuming such an atrocious meal, since I’m known for being knowledgeable and conscientious about food and exercise.  I even made a rule for my Soldiers that everytime I see them drinking a soda at work, they have to do one burpee for every gram of sugar in the bottle.  The burpee tax began when one Soldier had a 12 oz. bottle of Coca Cola on his desk.  I picked it up and read the label: 65 grams of sugar.

As I sat munching my delicious burger, one of the officers asked me how many burpees I was incurring from the McDonalds meal.  I told him, none, that sugar is the killer, especially liquid sugar.  An NCO chimed in with his negative comments, too.  I reminded them to look at my Physical Fitness test scores, and they conceded they couldn’t argue with my results.healthy?

I didn’t bother going in to any more detailed explanation of why it was ok for me to eat the meal, but I’ll touch on a few things here.  First, calories are the big thing.  Calories in, calories out matter, and they matter a lot.  There’s are other important issues, but mostly it comes down to energy balance.  To give you an idea of my energy expenditure energy yesterday, First, our section did an hour of physical training which entailed the following:  20 minutes of continuous exercise, 5 pullups, 10 parallel bar dips and 20 lunges, rotating through as many sets as possible in those 20 minututes.  At the end, we all did a minute of situps.  For me that ended up being 47 situps.  I lost count of how many sets I did, but I’ll estimate around 20.  So that’s 100 pullups, 200 dips, 400 lunges.  Next, after lunch I went for a two mile walk.  This in addition to walking quite a bit during my normal daily duties.  We also spent about 2 hours moving big rolls of razor wire and moving some moderately heavy boxes around.  So as you can see, I’m fairly active.

My food intake for the day, my energy intake, comprised the following:

Breakfast: 3 egg cheese omelet; two pieces whole wheat toast with butter

Lunch: Quarterpounder with cheese; 10 piece Chicken McNugget

Supper: One 6oz filet mignon wrapped in bacon; one ear of corn on the cob; 2 16oz cans of beer; and handful of mixed nuts

Some quick online research on calorie content, and using Fitness Magazine’s calorie requirement calculator (male, 41 years old, heavy exercise, 173 pounds), tells me that my calorie intake yesterday was 2859 and my daily average calorie requirement to sustain my current body weight is 2960 calories.  Almost exactly on, but just a little under.  My appetite yesterday tells me that this is correct: I felt very slight hunger pangs before going to bed, but nothing serious.  The net result is no weight gain.  Period.

Many people are familiar with Super Size Me, a documentary directed by film maker Morgan Spurlock.  In the film, Spurlock ate only meals from McDonalds for 30 continuous days and “Super Sized” his meals whenever the cashier asked him if he wanted it so.  The result was a measurable deterioration in Spurlock’s health and well being.  He gained over 23 pounds.  Many people attributed this to the evils of fast food.  Ignored was the fact that Spurlock consumed over 5000 calories per day, and did no regular exercise during this period.  Well, at least his nutritionist in the movie tells him he’s eating that many calories per day, though it’s been pointed out that in order to reach that many calories per day, Spurlock had to have broken his own eating rules, that is, he simply ate more than he stated.  And, he has never released a food log showing what he actually ate, only stating that he Super Sized 9 times total in 30 days.  The following video explains:

The following video shows Spurlock for what he really is:  A Vegan zealot, out to prove to the world the evils of meat, and the healthfulness of celery:

So Spurlock did what every bad scientist does: Set out to prove what he already knew.  If Spurlock ate 5000 calories of bananas he would have gained weight and felt awful.  If he’d eaten 2500 calories a day of McDonalds and cut out the soda and fries, he would have been fine.

In fact, several people have lost weight on diets of “bad” food from McDonalds.

And… this man. 

Tim Naughton did an experiment and showed he could lose weight over the same period that Spurlock gained weight, eating only fast food.

Eating fewer calories makes people healthier in almost all measurable ways.  Haughton’s blood lipids all improved while eating only at fast food restaurants.

The nutrition professor below ate about 1800 calories a day for 10 weeks, consuming twinkies and snack cakes.  He lost 27 pounds and his colesterol went down by 20 points.  This is real science.  And frankly it drives people nuts.  Many people who say they “trust in science, not religion” are lying: They simply believe what they want to believe.

Here’s the Twinkie Diet:

So, my diet strongly focuses on these factors: calories, effects on blood sugar, intermittent fasting.  My calories remain reasonable, I stay away from foods that spike blood sugar–especially chronic use of sugary drinks and sugary foods low in fiber,  and finally, skipping about two meals a weak leading to a 16-18 hour fast.  Pretty simple.  I don’t count calories, except when I’m making a point to unbelievers.

Here are two monkies, studied by real scientists.  One monkey (there were lots of them, not just these two) who ate fewer calories had fewer diseases, acted younger, and looked better.

Think about it.  A Quarter Pounder with cheese has about 510 calories.  If someone ate only 3 Quarter Pounders a day, they’d take in only 1530 calories a day.  But many Americans are taking in 4000-5000 a day–and that’s why they’re fat and sick.

Crazy 8 Calisthenics Complex

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Try this, three times per week, combined with two days a week of skipping one meal. You’ll lose fat, guaranteed. No whining.

Reps should look like this:

1) 60 Jumping Jacks
2) Spiderman Pushups 10-15
3) Walking Lunges 10-15 for each leg
4) Spiderman Climbs 20 total
5) Squat Hold on Wall 45 seconds
6) Plank Hold for 60 seconds
7) Burpees
8  Running High Knees in Place 25 per side

Rest One Minute and then do it 2 more times

If you could just tell people not to eat so darn much.

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That’s what Walter Breuning says concerning his longevity. He’s 113 years old and hasn’t eaten supper in 35 years. In other words, he does the Warrior Diet, like me, only instead of normally skipping breakfast( Remember, I’m not dogmatic about it), he skips supper.  So did Siddhartha Gautama, The Buddha.

Again: Fast

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“A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors. I do not mean a restricted diet; I mean total abstinence from food for one or two days. I speak from experience; starvation has been my cold and fever doctor for 15 years, and has accomplished a cure in all instances.”~ Mark Twain

Yet another study showing that periodic fasting has health benefits. This one studied a group of Mormons. Mormons have lower risk of Coronary Artery Disease than the people surrounding them who are not Mormons. The Mormon faith prohibits known factors of heart disease, such as smoking, and also restricts other behaviors that have possible effects on health, such as alcohol consumption and drinking coffee and tea. This study adjusts for those tertiary factors and focuses on the effects of fasting, which is also part of the Mormon faith.

When it was all said and done, the scientists found that fasting reduced the chances of a person having Coronary Artery Disease.

Don’t listen to those who tell you that fat people just aren’t eating enough meals and that skipping chow will only make you fat. Eating too much makes people fat, plain and simple.

A simple roadmap to defeating Metabolic Syndrome and finding new strength and energy

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We love carbs. Not so much because it’s really what we like, but because food processing makes them easily available at all times. It’s not so easy to carry a chicken wing around in your pocket. Not unless food poisoning is on your schedule.

Carbohydrates aren’t all bad; they’re a prime source of food during high-intensity exercise and our brain is fueled primarily by sugar. While the body is capable, over a period of time, of becoming more efficient at using fat in high-intensity work, most studies show carbs work better when athletes are asked to work at levels higher than 70% of their VO2 max for extended periods. 

But there’s a dark side to the carbohydrate. If not burned up, they can lead to fat gain and in the long run, to what is known as Metabolic Syndrome, a systemic breakdown of several vital body mechanisms stemming from insulin resistance. Picture insulin like any drug you may take. The first time you take it, it has an immediate and powerful effect. But over time, your body adapts to the drug’s presence and it requires more of the substance to get the results you want. It’s the same with insulin. Keep cramming processed, high glycemic carbs down your gullet and your body becomes “numb” to insulin in your blood. The insulin doesn’t work as effectively at removing the sugar from your blood and so it keeps pumping out more of it; the body doesn’t like insulin in the blood for too long and wants to store it in fat or muscles. The long-term effects of elevated blood insulin are devastating: Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline, cancer.

Get it? It’s bad.  

So years and years of soda, chips, ice cream, cookies, and white bread add up. Your gut expands, your blood pressure increases and you age quickly.

The news gets worse when you avoid exercise, which increases insulin sensitivity. In other words, your body needs less insulin to remove sugar, when you exercise regularly. Strength training is especially effective at increasing insulin sensitivity as is High Intensity Interval Training.

There’s good news though, and I’m going to give you a simple road map to new health, improved athletic performance, greater sense of well-being and weight loss. I’ll keep it simple; you don’t have to be hard-core top make it work. Stick with it and I think you ‘ll be impressed and when the results start coming through–you’ll never want to give it up. It’s simply too good to throw away.

Step 1) Intermittent fasting. Twice per week, I want you to skip one meal. The results are in–fasting is good for you. Live longer, look younger, increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the rate of cognitive decline. I’m intentionally taking it easy on you. I don’t want to scare you away with the way I do things. Sometimes I don’t eat for a whole day or I skip two meals on one day and one the next and continue to alternate fora week at a time. But you can get results by only skipping two meals– I’ve seen it in myself.

Step 2) Natural Food. Eat food throughout the week that is found in nature. Salads, fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts. I’ll even let you eat chocolate–as long as it’s dark chocolate. One day per week eat whatever you want–yes even cake. Don’t worry about how much you eat at each meal as long as you skip your two meals per week.

Step 3) High Intensity Weight Training. One day per week, hit the gym. Do 1 set of 6-8 reps per upper  body part. The last rep should be an all-out effort to the point that you can’t do another rep. Adjust the weight accordingly. For lower body part, do 15-20 reps. This is a full body workout. So you can do bench, curls, leg press, leg curl, arm curls. That in and of itself will be enough–if you go all-out with max effort. If you can’t make it to the gym, do max pushups, max bodyweight squats and max situps. Literally gas yourself.

Step 4) One day of intervals or distance running. Sprint for 20 seconds for six repetitions with 30 seconds rest between intervals. It’s gonna hurt but it’s 2 minutes of work. Suck it up Soldier! OR run for at least 20 minutes at a moderate pace.

What you say, that’s it? Don’t I need more exercise? No, you don’t.Can you do more exercise? Of course. This schedule leaves you plenty of space to add what you want. Maybe you play a sport or love running. Good, this will help with weight management, but as far as strength is concerned, one set to failure once per week is shown to be as effective as multiple sets three times per week! And you’ll save your joints.

Try my recommendations and let me know how things work out. I’ve given you a starting point, if not the guide to athletic supremecy. With it you’ll be able to live your life without having to constantly think about the gym or what you’re eating. And life’s about living, right? If you want advice, I’ll be happy to give it. I can at least tell you what’s worked for me-I’m very happy with my results.