Daily Fasting Improves Health and Survival, Independent of Diet Composition and Calories

Interesting study on a possible positive side-effect of the one meal a day approach commonly followed by the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sanghas.

Daily Fasting Improves Health and Survival in Male Mice Independent of Diet Composition and Calories (Cell Metabolism Journal)

Maybe the Buddha had it in mind when he taught what is recorded in MN70? :slight_smile:

“Reverends, the Buddha abstains from eating at night, and so does the mendicant Saṅgha.
Doing so, they find that they’re healthy and well, nimble, strong, and living comfortably.
You too should abstain from eating at night.
Doing so, you’ll find that you’re healthy and well, nimble, strong, and living comfortably.”

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Okay, so I’m looking at suttas related to dieting, and the proper approach in right ways to think about it. So I read the passage from Kitagiri, and I was digging it til the very end. Then I found this:

" I will not relax my energy until I have achieved what is possible by manly strength, energy, and vigor.’ A faithful disciple who is practicing to fathom the Teacher’s instructions can expect one of two results: enlightenment in the present life, or if there’s something left over, non-return.”"

Oh great! I don’t have any of those. What’s a GIRL to do? Oh dear Buddha!

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Replace manly with human. :slight_smile:

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Looking for craving might yield better results!

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What’s a GIRL to do?

Don’t take it literally. Its supposed to be a description of strong consistent effort, not that you have to literally be a man

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The Fat Cat and I are thinner now that we both stopped eating dinner. SHE is doing fine and has stopped expecting dinner other than a token kibble or two.

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I have been looking at the scientific research behind fasting for a while now; according to some studies there seem indeed to be benefits in eating one meal a day, or restricting food intake in a short time window (‘time restricted eating’ or ‘intermettent fasting’).
However, my impression is that scientists still understand very little on this subject; one of the authors of the paper you quote, Rafael de Cabo, says the subject is in its infancy. For example, some well know researchers actually think it’s bad for one’s health to restrict food intake in a small time window. In particular Valter Longo, who is quite respected in the field (and invented the Fast mimicking diet), thinks that you should eat in a 12 hours window to avoid the risk of developing a number of conditions, such a gallstones formation


Anyway, I often thought it would be interesting to see whether there is a higher incidence of gallstone formation for people in the Sangha who have practiced eating all their food in one small time window for many years? Though even a small quantity of sugar in your tea would technically break your fast (as it is understood scientifically) so in practice monastics too would probably consume calories over an extented time during the day.

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I have successfully lost weight by avoiding dinner this past year. Climbing has become easier–there’s less to lift. :laughing:

And it is a surprising relief to not worry about dinner.

Based on this study, that loss of weight mitigates gallstone susceptibility even for vegetarians such as I.

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What does Buddhism have to say about safely gaining weight? I am underweight and my medical doctor has advised me to gain weight. I could eat pastries all day which probably would be the quickest and quite possibly the most pleasurable way to do this, but not the wisest and almost assuredly not the method most consistent with Buddhist practice.

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It turns out that the parallel ends rather differently:

MĀ 195 - Translation Analayo
“The Blessed One teaches me the Dharma; the Well-gone One teaches me the
Dharma. May I for a long time derive benefit [from it]! May I attain welfare,
peace, and happiness [from it]!”

:heart:

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One of the odd things about avoiding dinner is that I have to “turn the appetite switch on” in the morning and “turn the appetite switch off” after noon. The surprise was the need to turn the appetite on in the morning and carefully choose food to last throughout the day, eating it steadily and mindfully. Today I chose pie for breakfast because it was there :laughing:

(But I also filled in with other stuff for balance)

I wouldn’t try EBT fasting if my doctor told me to gain weight. Nor would I avoid pastries altogether. :smile:

What suffering you endure: Milkshakes and pancakes, and pastries…Oh My!
:slightly_smiling_face::wink::roll_eyes::sunglasses:

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Thank you for the interesting link, I am a vegan and I didn’t know that there was a positive correlation with gallstone risk. :unamused:
I am also not eating dinner, amongst other things it makes it easiear to meditate when I can do it full time (which is not very often these days unfortunately); and I also feel better physically. But Valter Longo’s advice to have food over a 12 hour period had left some doubts in my mind.
Interesting you lost weight doing this; for me it helps maintain a lower BMI after losing weight with a long term water fast - which by the way I found a very pleasant experience (expecially after the third day or so, when you are in ketosis and your hunger magically disappears and you feel energetic and light. Didn’t really help me with meditation but I am healthier now, and all my biomarkers have improved).

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A good question! At roughly the same time that I Got Serious about Buddhism, my husband was diagnosed with various ailments that explain his low body weight and other struggles to stay healthy.

Kamma is a funny thing: His nutritionist put him on a very meat-heavy diet (with lots of carbs too; it’s not a low-carb weight loss diet). It’s raising his weight, but it’s also creating some friction with my wannabe vegetarianism.

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:thinking:

Well, if you cooked breakfast and lunch and…
…he cooked dinner, then you would be able to satisfy a precept by…
…not eating dinner. :grin:

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I have days where I don’t eat anything till mid-afternoon, it seems to work fine. I’ve got by on two meals a day for many years, and eating three meals a day just feels excessive to me. Though I still manage to eat too much. :yum:

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I came across this paper;

In short it was shown that time restricted feeding alone favorably changed the bio-markers and genes related to autophagy, thus by merely compressing the feeding window one could achieve many of the desired effects usually associated with prolonged fasting.

Actually the abstract does not say that at all. Time restricted feeding (as studied and defined e.g. by S. Panda) refers to eating all of one’s daily meals in a given window of time, related to one’s circadian rhythm (In a way it’s quite smilar to what monks do except that if they have cream tea or chocolate in the afternoon, scientifically they break the fast (for some scientists even tea or coffee without sugar nor milk break the fast)).
What the paper refers to is intermittent fasting (not time restricted feeding) for a relatively short period (36hr). It shows that for people who exercise you have less autophagy of skeletal muscle. This is in agreement with the advice e.g. of Peter Attia who when fasting does some resistance training not to lose lean mass. Having also some experience in fasting myself, I also found resistance training beneficial. As I mentioned above I find fasting quite beneficial for health reasons, and also very pleasant and even blissful (those who think that you feel hungry and irritable have not tried it for long enough; after a few days you completely stop feeling hungry). However I did not find it helpful for my meditative practice.

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I have found that avoiding dinner has helped me deal with drowsiness, sloth and torpor by giving me an understanding of the relationship between food and mental states.

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In addition to following the Ketogenic Diet, I also do fasting. Some days I eat only once (usually lunch), and some days I also add an early dinner (I try eating at least 3 hours before going to sleep). I fast anywhere between 16 and 24 hours a day, and I’ve done 2 and 3-day fasts in the past. I’ve discovered that I can’t get myself to eat more than 2 meals a day, otherwise I’ll feel bloated and lethargic. I’ve lost more than 30 lbs. in a year and my energy levels are the highest ever, including maintaining focus during meditation.

Yes, I wish more people would make the connection between food and mood, attitude, etc.

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