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The Silicon Valley Execs Who Don’t Eat for Days: ‘It’s Not Dieting; It’s Biohacking’

Fasting has gone high-tech, so to speak, in California’s Silicon Valley, where tech executives have turned intermittent fasting into a fad. Participants are experimenting with extended periods of fasting — and touting the benefits, both physical and mental, The Guardian reports. While some will eat nothing but water and coffee during their fasting periods, the most popular diet involves eating normally for five days and then next to nothing — 500 calories or less — for two days. They also are keeping track of ketones and glucose. They call it “biohacking” and they say it’s changing their lives for the better.

No matter what you call it, I’ve supported intermittent fasting for a very long time. It’s something anyone can do, anywhere. Your diet can have an enormous influence on how long you live and your likelihood of contracting disease, and intermittent fasting, done correctly, can help you take control of your health in a positive way. However, you don’t need to fast for days at a time to achieve the benefits.

Fortunately, evidence suggests you can get the molecular benefits of long-term calorie restriction by only periodically restricting calories and, more importantly, by restricting mostly proteins and sugars. And while a ketogenic diet can help with this, I don’t believe that a chronic (long-term) state of ketosis is the way to go. I learned this from personal experience, when I found that engaging in six months or so of chronic nutritional ketosis can have some adverse effects. This is why I promote feast-famine cycling as a key way to engage in this eating pattern.

I explain this cycling in my new book, “Fat for Fuel.” The key to success on a high-fat diet is to eat high-quality healthy fats, not the fats most commonly found in the American diet (the processed fats and vegetable oils used in processed foods and fried restaurant meals). When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates ketones that burn more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals that can damage your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins and DNA.
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