“Fasting and natural diet,though essentially unknown as a therapy,should be the first treatment when someone discovers that he or she has a medical problem”- Joel Fuhrman
Tradition and culture are an invincible part of our society. We too are so used to following them but most of the time blindly. This is the reason why many people think today that these traditional practices are mere superstitions. However, with the visitation of science, it has become quite evident that these practices do have a significant reason behind them. One such practice is “Metabolic Relaxation Day”. In this blog, I will try to modify the way fasting has always been looked upon in recent years and introduce a new dimension of fasting -which is not only reasonable due to traditions but due to its biological, physiological.neurological and spiritual benefits.
This blog is actually an insight into my journey from fasting to Metabolic Relaxation Day. A few years ago, I used to do traditional fasting, where you fast, pray and bribe God for the fulfilment of your desires and dreams (Bangalow, salary, desired life partner, good grades in exams, nice car and the malarkies goes on). You pray and fast out of fear or just for the shake of your customs, not for the love of your mind, body, soul. I did traditional fasting for the past many years and was getting mentally weak with time. The very thought of fasting triggered hunger, fidgety and adrenal fatigue in me.
Then I was introduced to the practice of METABOLIC RELAXATION DAY by my mentor, Rish Sharma.I was influenced by his scientific and spiritual approach of MRD. I noticed a profound contribution of lingo in my mindset and discovered a new dimension and broader perspective of fasting. I REPLACE THE WORD FASTING WITH METABOLIC RELAXATION DAY. With this new scientific, spiritual, contemporary understanding and newborn mindset, I started enjoying my MRD and began to reap its health benefits in a few weeks.
What is Metabolic relaxation or intermittent fasting is?
Metabolic relaxation day, as the name suggests, is a relaxing, holidaying and rejuvenating day of your metabolism process. In simpler words, it is calorie restriction or restricted feeding day. On these days your body recovers and heals from all type of common(Physical, mental, environmental ), chronic or oxidative stress. It is actually a delicious recipe for fat loss and is a quintessential healer.
Now, I do flexible MRD’s once a week, Twice a week, every alternate day or sometimes a whole week(and yes I am the person who earlier felt exhausted by the mere thought of fasting). How you practice depends on you and your well-formed outcomes. Remember to have a good track of all the changes you begin to feel post starting any new practice!
In our wellness centre to prevent and heal from the chronic diseases like- blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, inflammations, thyroid, asthma, arthritis etc, and weight management, we focus on the following practices-
- Metabolic relaxation day
- Emphasis on Bio-individuality. What works for one person may not work for another, so we focus on customized training.
- Exercises with varieties and intensity.
- Cutting out process foods, refined grains, sugar, milk products and fruit juices.
- Adding real, whole, Low glycemic index, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rich foods.
- Encourage our clients to eat mostly plants and think of meat and animal product as condiments.
- Eating weird grains( buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, brown rice ) and avoid gluten.
- 10,000 min step diet
- Moving your body every after 30 mins.
- Advise prioritizing 7-8 hours of good sleep.
- Recommend to actively relax.
- Enlighten to get connected with your body’s original design i.e hunter-gather lifestyle
“He who eats until he is sick must fast until he is well”
In the plethora of health and fitness, we have one thing in common – INFLAMMATION. Heart disease, autoimmune conditions, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and hormonal problems all are an inflammatory response. And as a functional medicine practitioner, I see the immense impact of inflammation on the health of people around the world every single day.
The powerful tool to drive inflammation level down is –Metabolic Relaxation Day!
It has worked equally well for me and my clients. Below you will find an experience of MRD by one of our clients, Kalpana Chahar, who lost 13kg in five months with the support of this tool. This tool works well with exercise.
Kalpana progress sheet
Kalpana’s experience of MRD
As I mentioned above, I personally use this tool weekly, sometimes twice a week. Once I did it for 21 days, relishing one nutrient dense meal a day(no need to be manic like me) and here are my personal experiences of MRD which I would like to share-
- Now, I feel more energized, empowered, enthusiastic, lighter, and great throughout the day.
- Calm and relaxed breathing. My resting heart rate(RHR) and breathing rate are lower.
- My body acts like a machine, well tuned and more energy efficient.
- Fast healing. Now, I understand my body has the potential to make its own internal medicines. I gradually gained a sense of control over my health and knew that I could help my body make its own longevity medicine.
- Clearer vision
- More sensitive nose.
- Fat loss.
- Leaner body.
- Improved body composition and fitness.
- Healthier skin.
- Emotional detox-Better Emotional hygiene.
- Improved sense of taste.
- Improved triglycerides.
- Thyroid test report normal.
- Self-control and improved willpower.
- Better resilience.
- Good gut feelings.
- Gut and brain working together and telling me if you stay committed to your practices i.e -eating well, eating right, practising MRDs, adequate sleep and proper rest, you will feel good. Always listen to your gut and brain voice- Eat right, eat less and chew longer. There is a hidden sweetness in the empty stomach.
- Now, I believe, I could greatly influence my destiny- Ageing healthfully and gracefully.
In actuality, Years of unhealthy eating and less physical activities had blocked all my senses and the helpful signals. It was as if my body was screaming – to hell with her and her nonsense. She is not going to listen to us anyway so let’s stop telling her what good and bad to eat and do and the consequences were following-
- I suffered from insomnia for 15-16 years.
- Unbearable pain in my joints
- Nagging lower back pain
- Severe neck pain
- Thyroid problem
- Daunting knee pain
- Muscle spasm
- Most of the time headaches and use to take painkillers.
- Itchy, Irritating Vaginal infections.
- Poor posture.
- Brain fog
- Asthma(For a period of 6 months I was on steroid and Asthalin inhaler)
Starting days were a bit taxing but with determination, discipline, and limbic impulse control, I started enjoying MRD. I noticed that now I crave for the good quality of plants food, I also noticed that I was satisfied with less.
Eating less but good quality of food with all ingredients required by your body to function efficiently, your body has less food to metabolize, less oxidation(wear and tear on the body) and healthier ageing.
“Fasting is the first principle of medicine,fast and see the strength of the spirit reveal itself”-Rumi
Now my body seems to know that all real foods and spices are full of Phyto, natural anticancer, antiaging, and anti-inflammatory substance.
We all born with a sixth sense–The wisdom of the body. But decades of not listening to it has caused our awareness to fade. Now my sixth sense is turned on due to MRD. I keep reading lots of books, articles and research papers to find why real foods or exercises or breathing or mindful living or eating clean or MRD are good for me. The more you read, the more you become committed to achieving your real goal.
UNLEARN, LEARN AND RETRAIN YOUR METABOLISM TO KEEP YOU FIT AND HEALTHY-
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own”- Bruce Lee
We pay very little attention to our metabolism. But why? Is it because it never immediately attack us? or is it because of our unawareness? We have all heard of heart attacks but have we ever heard of metabolism attacks? Actually neither the heart attacks nor the metabolism, it is we who attack them with our habits, lifestyle, lack of activities, exercises, sedentary lifestyle and the list go on.
Unfortunately, we share a very abusive relationship with our stomach and digestive system. And I think we don’t care much about this abuse because it doesn’t lead to our sudden death. Loading the stomach with all junks is criminal.
In Ayurveda, 13 different types of Agni is mentioned and one of them is Jatharagni(Digestive fire or metabolism). Majority of diseases are the outcome of malfunctioning of digestive fire which leads to poor digestion, languid blood circulation, poor complexion, brain fog, low energy level, weak immunity against diseases. Thus in Aryuveda, promoting proper functioning of digestive fire is used for treating the root cause of most diseases.
“Udaram Vyadhi Mandiram”- Ayurveda (The stomach is abode of all disease)
“All disease begins in the gut”-Hippocrates
This means that your digestive fire i.e metabolism should be active and efficient. You can keep the fire active through a metabolic relaxation day ( or intermittent fasting), disciplined lifestyle, nutrient dense food, regular exercises and dynamic attitude. Our basic problem today is that our digestive capacity (or fire) is diminishing and our consumption is increasing!
Our ancestors had a very different approach than us. At that time availability of food was not easily within reach, they went for long periods without eating.Their circumstances and lifestyle gifted them “Metabolic flexibility” and our lifestyle have gifted us “Metabolic Inflexibility”. They were able to withstand harsh conditions and long periods of time without food through metabolic flexibility.
Metabolic flexibility is the ability to respond or adapt to conditional changes in metabolic demand by shifting back and forth between using glucose (from carbohydrates) and fatty acids (from fat) for fuel.
The human metabolism is a complex system, but here’s what you need to know to understand how our bodies use food to produce energy: When we eat (especially carbohydrate-loaded foods) our insulin levels rise, which stimulates our cells to take in glucose. The cell’s mitochondria, then, use this glucose to make ATP or energy. Amount glucose that is extra than what the body needs gets stored as glycogen and fat that isn’t utilized gets stored as well. During periods of MRD, the body calls upon this stored energy. And the longer the MRD period lasts, the more the body will eventually break down the fats to fatty acids to use as fuel.
If you can’t stay without food for long, feel like you need to take a snooze after a meal, hard time to lose weight despite all efforts, feel lethargic most of the time, then you may be experiencing metabolic inflexibility. The good news is that you can reset your metabolism by changing your lifestyle behaviour and feeding habits. Take charge of your metabolism and shift your gear from metabolic inflexibility to metabolic flexibility!
MANY WAYS TO DO MRD :
MRD has been very popular and trendy in recent years. There are many ways to practice MRD and all of them are equally effective but which one fits best will depend on the individual.
Note-It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won’t work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.
8-12 WINDOW PLAN-
This method is also known as the Leangains protocol and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan. Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.
For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals. In your eating window, you can have 2,3 or more meals.
I drink a cup of black coffee without sugar, lots of water and herbal tea on my MRD.
5:2 DIET: FAST FOR TWO DAYS PER WEEK-
This diet is also called the Fast diet and was popularized by British journalist and doctor Michael Mosley.
The 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days of the week while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week. For example, you might eat normally on all days except Mondays and Thursdays, where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men), but eat regular clean foods the other 5 days.
THE WARRIOR DIET: FASTING DURING THE DAY, EAT A HUGE MEAL AT NIGHT-
The Warrior Diet was popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler.
This diet also emphasizes food choices that are quite similar to a paleo diet – whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.
ALTERNATE DAY FASTING: FAST EVERY ALTERNATE DAY-
A bit extreme, so I don’t recommend beginners. Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.
FASTING MIMICKING DIET-
It is a modified, scientifically based and nutrient dense plan. Instead of abstaining from food completely like a traditional fast, you still consume small amounts of food in a way that produces the therapeutic benefits of fasting.
Black coffee, tea, buttermilk is typically allowed, although not necessary—and make sure they don’t contain any added creams or sugars. You can also take Coconut oil and some dry fruits.
VOLUNTARILY FASTING; SKIP MEAL WHEN CONVENIENT-
Another option is to simply skip meals from time to time when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
It is a myth that people need to eat every few hours or they will hit “starvation mode” or lose muscle.
The human body is smart to handle long periods of famine, it is just missing one or two meals from time to time!
So if you’re really not hungry one day, skip breakfast and just eat a healthy lunch and dinner. Or if you’re travelling somewhere and can’t find anything you want to eat, do a short fast i.e spontaneous MRD.
Just make sure to eat healthy foods at the other meals. Food quality is still absolutely crucial.
If you are already content with your health conditions and not find much room for improvement then please feel free to safely ignore all of this. And if you decide to try this out, then keep in mind that you need to eat healthy as well.
It is not possible to binge on junk foods during the eating periods and expect to lose weight and improve health.
BENEFITS OF MRD-
- MRD can help you to lose belly fat and maintain healthy body weight i.e your lean muscle mass and bone density.
- Blood levels of insulin drop significantly during MRD, which facilitates fat burning
- The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain and have numerous other benefits.
- Lower insulin, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
- The body induces important cellular repair processes(Autophagy), which removes waste toxic from cells.
- There are beneficial changes in several genes expression and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease.
- Promising evidence from animal studies indicates that MRD may help prevent cancer.
(Fasting cycles retard the growth of tumours)
- Short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories. When your digestive fire is nice, bright, active and strong you can digest and assimilate all the nutrients from the food you eat and not just that the fire also helps you get rid of the toxins from the food.
- MRD can reduce insulin resistance, lowering your type 2 diabetes.(Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention)
- MRD switch your body from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner.
- Studies show that MRD can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body which slow down ageing and prevent the development of numerous chronic diseases
- One of the most impressive benefits is it keeps your heart healthy by increasing HDL(good cholesterol ) and decreasing LDL and triglycerides(bad cholesterol) MRD improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.
- MRD may extend your lifespan helping you live longer by boosting mitochondrial function.
- More resilient to stress.
- Excellent for your brain health. It promotes neurogenesis( growth of new nerve cells) and also increases the level of BDNF(Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which is the fertilizer for your brain cells. Deficiency of BDNF has been implicated in depression and other brain-related problems. It prevents brain ageing and enhances the cognitive function. (Fasting promotes brain health)
- Balance Ghrelin and leptin hormone. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone, whereas, Leptin as your Satiety hormone. Ghrelin has been found to increase appetite and weight gain. Leptin is the hormone produced by fat cells which turn off appetite and makes us stop eating. Your leptin levels drop when you’re hungry and increase when you’re feeling full. So, if you want to lose weight on a long-term basis, you need to tune down ghrelin and tune up your leptin.
Eating all the time sounds like it will turn off hunger and ghrelin. Surprisingly, the answer is the opposite – fasting. Eating, remember, does not necessarily make you less hungry. In my personal experience, eating makes you more hungry.
If you are looking forward to kickstarting your metabolism, lose body fat, improve your lean muscle mass, brain health, enhanced cognitive function while getting some more extra bonus overall health benefits as an incentive, the practice of metabolic relaxation days is right for you.
As mentioned above, There are many ways to do MRD, choose your own plan with the variation that fits your lifestyle and helps you to prosper in the best way possible. Remember, everything does not suit everyone.
MRD may not be a good fit and ideal for everyone. If you suffer from low blood sugar, for example, going without eating all day may lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar causing symptoms like fatigue, heart palpitations and shakiness. If you have diabetes, it’s best to work with your doctor to determine if MRD is right for you.
If you are a child or teenager and still growing, intermittent fasting is not recommended either.
I hope this will help you to lead a better life. Thank you.
Invited Comments from Rish Sharma on MRD
For the further exploration of this captivating topic, I encourage you to click the following links:
–Dr Mosely on fasting
-Intermittent fasting for fat loss-Dr Jason Fung
-Dr Jason Fung – ‘Therapeutic Fasting – Solving the Two-Compartment Problem’
-Fasting: An Ancient Solution for Modern Problems
-Fasting for Health & Healing | Dr Fuhrman
I am grateful to Harshi Kumar for her support in editing this blog! And Kalpana Chahar for sharing her MRD experience!
I am thankful for all my present and past clients who are providing me with the opportunity to learn, to grow and enhance my skill. Without their invaluable support and feedback, our mission of goodness propagation would be incomplete.