That’s the most usual comment I get during the holy month of Ramadan.
I have been fasting the entire month of Ramadan since teenage. And let me admit, I don’t remember losing any weight at the end of the month ever! Infact there are instances when I actually gained 😁
Reason for that is simple, fasting is typically followed by feasting 😉. If you look up the special delicacies of Ramadan in your city, weight gain wouldn’t surprise you at all. No exercises and overgorging home-cooked oily food at Iftar are not just the only culprits, I’d also blame restaurants’ specialties like the haleem, the kebabs, the biryanis, the phirnis and their cousins.
But there is another side to this coin too. It’s a voguish term called “Intermittent Fasting”. With this blog, I actually wanted to reflect on intermittent fasting. It is an antithesis of several diet plans out there that suggest you to have 4-5 or even 6 meals a day. I am sure you would have heard of the approach – “smaller portions, several times a day“. But intermittent fasting requires you to fast for hours straight and thus drawing parallels with the Ramadan fasting. Is Ramadan just a religious version of Intermittent Fasting?
Statistically speaking, food consumption has actually skyrocketed specifically in the rich World. Obesity is at its peak. World’s largest food corporations have successfully brainwashed the consumers that we need to consume not just more but more often. More can be attributed to something as simple as the amount of food per portion served in the restaurants of any developed country. More often is where the 5-meals-a-day diet comes to mind.
So does that mean intermittent fasting is the answer to all this? Not really. To begin with, intermittent fasting isn’t backed by science. But let’s look at a few cases for it,
1. More the merrier
The brain is made up of 100 billion nerve cells known as neurons. Everything that we eat affects the brain. Let’s not forget something that made headlines in the recent times – Sugar has the same impact on brain as Cocaine. Now I am not genius enough to explain this finding so let’s keep dopamine and serotonin out of the picture. Let’s just agree to the fact that food can indeed change your mood. Hence it is possible that the more often you eat, the better you feel and, conversely, the easier it is for someone to convince you to eat more often.
A quick note on Insulin here. It’s a nifty little hormone that helps store the food that you eat as Glycogen (form of energy). When you have enough Glycogen in the tank, the incoming food starts to get stored as fat. When you overeat you gather fat that results in weight gain.
StarveCirt, as defined by Urban Dictionary, is the act of starving yourself to lose weight. This concept is the 180 degree opposite of point 1. Now believe it or not your body is a genius system. It can adapt to anything you throw at it. For instance if you change your lunch time from 1 PM to 2 PM, a few days later you may no longer feel hungry at 1. Similarly, if you participate in starvecirt for a few days by reducing the size of your lunch, you should be able to go through the day with lesser calories. Bottomline is, if you continue your usual day-to-day activities with lesser food intake, you are essentially creating a calorie deficit. Burning more calories than consuming and ultimately losing weight in the process. This concept is also discussed in one of my previous blogs – The absolute #1 fat loss tip!
3. The Caveman Theory
Centuries ago, when our ancestors lived in jungles, they had no refrigerators or microwaves. So if you want breakfast, you hunt for it. That’s too much for those of us that like to have ‘bed tea’. Actually, hunting all day and having one meal at the end of the day was the norm. That was also acceptable to the human body. In principle, this is what Ramadan fasting leads you to. One meal a day.
Also, here’s a video shared by Mvslim, creating awareness about exercising during the holy month,