A05 It’s a Whole Level Above Fasting and Dieting
Channel: Tarek Kareem Harris
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Chapter five, isn't this all about fasting? The type of dieting? Well, no. But the way like most Islamic things is an easier and more fulfilled way of life. And fasting is a small part of a much bigger and more satisfactory picture.
Let's consider the meaning of the word diet. diet has two meanings. The first meaning is a phase of restricted or specific food consumption, whose main aim is to lose weight or avoid foods which cause an adverse reaction, you'd go on a diet. The second meaning of diet is what is generally eaten as part of everyday life. So carnivores like lions have a meat based diet, while herbivores like cows eat plants. People are omnivores, we eat from different classes of food. And as Muslims, we are omnivores with additional rules, we avoid haram foods.
We also have the choice to be vegetarian, as we know from the prophets words.
So in talking about the diet, I'm talking about the second definition, namely, the foods we normally eat on an everyday basis. It's not a phase, it's a lifestyle. And the formula has a number of components, each of which can be worked with alone, or in combination with the others. For example, choosing better ingredients, eating in a better way, when to eat, where, how, why and when.
Fasting is included, but with a clear view of what it does, and how to make it easy and effective.
The mindset is important to finding the right mindset to take charge of your body's health in a way that is effective and not burdensome.
And another part of the day away is to understand the basics of how your body handles exercise and growth and energy.
Finally, we need to have principles of behavior, which are consistent with our higher purposes and aims in life. In other words, they is connected to our very identity as Muslims.
All of these things begin really with the mind. Managing weight and health is achievable if you learn methods that are both easy and effective.
But it also helps you to become more effective in life in general, because its principles and rules are drawn from the same basic places, Islamic teachings in the Quran, the Hadith, and by learned scholars present and past, and the commentary and input from medicine and science, which we have been encouraged to learn by Allah Himself.
All these things come together in straightforward ways to make up a practical set of guidelines with solid foundations.
dieting, on the other hand, is a phase, the process which requires sustained mental effort to stick to it, and then becomes difficult to maintain after a while dieting doesn't really look at the general health to be honest. If it does, it's mostly touted as an additional bonus to health rather than a target as such.
Despite the claims made by the nutrition industry, there's very little evidence that some exotic berry or supplement or grain that they are trying to sell you has the specific power to prevent cancer or cause magical weight loss or some other condition.
And different diet plans, recommend or demand that you buy expensive or proprietary supplements, or use dramatic efforts, such as stimulants. Most diet pills contain high amounts of guarana, or caffeine. And all these things do is push your metabolism higher metabolism being the rate at which your body burns energy, and at the amounts contained in the pills. The caffeine and guarana are often too high to be sustainable.
The assumption about dieting is that you take on a temporary difficulty, a set of activities or special foods and rules, which are designed to get you to some kind of fixed point of weight or appearance. Perhaps it means well, but you can see that this is problematic. diets with all their particular demands are difficult to maintain. And once you stop your old habits return, and that's not your fault. It's very difficult to keep up your sprint beyond the finish line. So dieting leaves us without much real long term control. different diets declare demanding rules that you must impose on yourself. And those rules are often unclear or difficult to adhere to in the heat of the moment.
Take low fat foods
For example, fat is specifically responded to by the body as a sign of fullness and satisfaction. It's no wonder that avoiding fat causes people to crave more food, their real and biological cravings, the body doesn't release certain key hormones indicating fullness, if there is no fat in your food. What's more, low fat means missing certain essential fatty acids, which contribute to mental health and emotional stability. The brain and the nerves Did you know are mostly made of fat. And studies show how a lack of these fats can contribute to mental illness. So when we talk about comfort foods, this may indeed have some validity, a clue in the name. So if you lack the fat, you
start making up for it by eating something unofficial, like a biscuit, or by resorting to eating yet more fat free foods. If it's healthy, it doesn't count, right? If it's not officially counted, it won't add calories, right? how quickly it all slips back.
And if it's one of those diets, which specifies how many grams or calories you have to eat, that's mentally demanding. You use your precious mental energy counting and adding numbers up in your head or using tables or elaborate point systems. Unless you're some kind of robot birthday becomes complicated, and other things fall by the wayside as your diet dominates your thinking. Or you end up just eating the same boring recipe.
All of this is just almost impossible to carry on for very long without feeling worn out and miserable, and losing track of other important things in life.
And these are just the legitimate well intentioned dials. Then there are those dots which promise the earth for no effort at all. One neat trick they say, are one special set of pills or foods they claim. They prey on the fact that most diets don't work, and people become more desperate to try anything.
The same applies for things like cancer and long term pain. There are no end of weird and wonderful methods and so called experts, gurus, promising to cure what nobody else has so far done.
I hope I can guarantee you one thing. Most doctors are not out to brainwash you, and neither are they furious about some diet secret that some online advert claims to magically reveal. That said, most doctors are not experts in nutrition, either. They haven't been trained in it. Unless they have specifically looked into the field. Most doctors are just as likely to believe the same received wisdoms about food as everyone else. What I'm saying is most doctors have been equally misled.
These are not just my opinions, they're based on fact, the research about diets is official and true. dieting has a greater than 95% failure rate. No wonder there's so many outlandish and unfounded adverts and mindlessly forwarded WhatsApp and Facebook posts suddenly seem very appealing to someone whose health weight or self esteem or in a poor state. It couldn't hurt to have a look, we tell ourselves and then we are hit with fairy tale claims and pictures of people holding out their enormous trousers out in front of their new slim bodies. It's free to find out more, just enter your information to join the movement they tell us so we give our email address, or even our
credit card details. And we head further in
and by doing so, we are unknowingly giving into forces that psychologists call things like commitment bias, sunk cost bias and cognitive consonance. These phenomena describe how the moment we spend more time on anything. The more irrational part of the mind, the knifes starts to believe that we'll find something good because we somehow want to justify the time we spend.
Our judgment gets lost and we spend the money that they want us to spend. And yet another failed attempt gets underway.
Most of us are told to not skip a meal. We're also told that eating small amounts often is better than eating twice or thrice a day. skipping a meal is harmful we're told and eating little and often is better because it puts less strain on your gut.
This is nonsense. I'm sure the food industry loves this kind of misinformation. We seem to snack all the time nowadays. brunches, teas, working lunches, coffee shop treats. It's as if we see food as an aside to keep us going and not the end.
important time of gratitude and acknowledgement of a last provision that it ought to be.
Taking this approach, it's no wonder that our insulin levels are always middling to high and or swinging up and down. Because we're always eating sugars and carbohydrates. When does the body ever get a chance to reset itself? When does the mind ever get a chance to just experience a steady state of consistent energy, when our blood sugar is not swinging up and down?
When the body starts to burn away excess fat, without needing to be exhausted and demoralized from endless exercise and dieting?
When can we enjoy that additional mental clarity and consistency that comes from having steady blood sugar levels? Very rarely, unless we start doing things very differently. And the answer lies in an entirely different way of thinking, challenging the accepted wisdom, and using actual evidence from science
underwritten by Islam.
eating foods free from sugar and carbohydrates, stops the insulin from spiking up. replacing those foods with rich tasty foods high in fat and proteins may just be worth it. So we look into that skipping meals may be just exactly what we need. going without food is like a reboot of the hormones and the digestion. More than that, it's like exercising the full range of the body's normal processes. Let me explain. Any normally functioning system needs to be able to switch from building itself up to the opposite, cleaning up after the growth, breaking down the excess.
And when we stay without food for longer than 12 to 16 hours. This switches the body to a state of cleaning itself up from the inside through a powerful series of hormones and other signals, which make it easier to fast, not harder. And this doesn't happen for calorie restriction. Where diets where you still have to eat. All those do is make your body go into slower building mode, reduced metabolic rate. That's not what we want. We need to skip food. That's one way to make sure that the switch is flipped.
With full fasting, the evidence is clear. metabolic rate actually goes up by up to 13% after three or four days. But the fasting state doesn't happen until around 12 to 16 hours after your last meal.
That means between four and 12 hours after eating, if you feel hungry, that's not real hunger, that's false hunger.
If you just forge through that state by remaining fasted, then your body will switch to burning fats, and your hunger disappears. Because you have activated a fresh energy source from inside yourself. Your own fats, you don't need to eat the food because your body starts using up that excess energy that it has stored as fats previously.
This is again borne out by evidence from medical trials where doctors found the opposite of what they expected. People who fast for longer actually see hunger levels decrease, as long as they still have fat to burn, you would have to be extremely thin indeed, to not have fat to burn.
If you fasted yourself, you may remember days when you stop being hungry. It is not being so hungry that your hunger dies. And it's not due to the stomach shrinking either. It's a clear result of your body switching into a healthy state of energy release by using its own internal sources.
People who fast also report increased mental clarity. And again, this is not something just they feel. It's borne out by medical trials, where cognition thinking of fasting people was measured and compared with non fasting people along several different scales, such as concentration, switching from one task to the other, short term memory and so on. Turned out that the fasting people showed improvement along the majority of areas, including mood stability, and anxiety control. The only thing that the fasting people didn't do as good was in something called immediate explosive physical energy. That's the kind of energy which athletes need when they're playing certain sports for
example. So for athletes who train when they fast, it's advisable to do their explosive Cripe training during eating
periods or near the time to iftaar. But for the rest of us, this makes no difference. Losing this explosive element is equally felt as a benefit in the mental functions. For those of us who struggle with emotional outbursts, there will be a natural reduction in this tendency when you fast
End of Chapter