Can intermittent fasting really make you look younger? Will you reverse your age to feel and look years younger than your actual biological age?
You know, when I first started investigating the benefits of intermittent fasting for vegans (or more specifically, I.F. for vegans who follow a WFPB diet), I was blown away by the information I found.
I mean talk about exciting!
But does it really work like that?
I devoured the thousands of words, imagining myself looking renewed after just a few months of fasting: I’d have no excess body fat and my skin would gleam like a new born baby’s.
But what’s the science and reality behind this, and should we all dive headlong into a life of intermittent fasting?
In this post I want to offer some insight into the question of the effect of intermittent fasting on our looks as well as share with you my own experience of intermittent fasting.
Table of Contents
- The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting and Ageing
- Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Promoting a Youthful Appearance
- My Intermittent Fasting Experience
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting and Ageing
There’s still a long way to go before we can say that science has unravelled the secrets of intermittent fasting.
But there is enough research to show that there are a lot of health benefits which come from fasting.
Some of the benefits have been proven (e.g. autophagy, increased insulin sensitivity, human growth hormone levels etc.), but there’s still a lot more research needed, and some benefits are still anecdotal, such as mental clarity for example.
The full effects of long-term fasting haven’t been tested scientifically, though the act of fasting dates back eons and there are many people who have been fasting successfully for years.
It’s really the most probable natural state for our ancestors who would have had to hunt or gather nourishment and go extended periods without, whenever food became scarce.
Fasting as a WFPB Vegan
When first starting out, you may ask if fasting is hard, and the answer will depend a lot on the preparation.
For example, if you eat a lot of processed foods or drink a lot of alcohol just before fasting, that can set up cravings and make it more difficult.
Even what you drink during the eating window of intermittent fasting will have an effect on your fasting experience.
Another concern that some people have is whether they can get all the nutrients they need when only eating one or two meals a day. Or whether they can eat whatever they want during the eating window.
But as a WFPB vegan we already have various advantages when fasting. Firstly, we’re already used to eating a balanced, nutritious dish at every meal, so it shouldn’t be at all difficult to maintain that balance when eating less meals.
Secondly, a WFPB diet doesn’t include processed foods and all the refined sugar inherent in them, so we don’t have a sugar addiction to deal with when we start fasting.
Thirdly, even though not much attention is given to what you eat while fasting, it’s common sense that it’s absolutely fundamental that you eat well if your objective is to be healthy.
And if you want to feel and look younger, healthy food is the way to go.
Related post: Complete guide to intermittent fasting for vegans
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Promoting a Youthful Appearance
Autophagy and Fasting
Autophagy refers to a process which kicks in when the body is in a state of fasting. The body searches for diseased, damaged or inflamed components of the body’s cells, which it then breaks down and recycles.
So, via fasting, we can access an automatic process to clean up disease and reduce inflammation in our body.
Autophagy’s a well proven and scientific consequence of fasting.
The term autophagy was first coined by the Belgian biochemist, Christian de Duve, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his contributions to the understanding of the lysosome and its functions.
The original discovery of autophagy though, dates back to the 1950s. The first observations of autophagic cell parts were made by the Belgian scientist Albert Claude and his colleagues in 1955, who described the presence of “autophagic vacuoles” in the liver cells of rats.
Further research by Yoshinori Ohsumi and others in the 1990s and 2000s elucidated the molecular mechanisms of autophagy and its importance in various cellular processes, leading to Ohsumi being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2016 for his discoveries in autophagy.
Other Benefits of Fasting
In addition to autophagy, inflammation throughout the body is reduced, sensitivity to insulin and the levels of human growth hormone (HGH) are both increased. HGH further promotes repair and regeneration of body cells.
Intermittent fasting is also believed to improve the condition of our skin which can in turn lead to a more youthful appearance.
Intermittent fasting may also have a positive effect on mental health and mood, although studies are conflicting in this topic.
Fasting may be key to longevity, but perhaps not because of directly lengthening our life span but rather because of halting other issues which can lead to poor health and ultimately shorten our life.
Some people should avoid fasting. It isn’t a good choice for someone who’s suffered from or is susceptible to eating disorders. And anyone with health issues should fast under medical supervision.
Fasting for Younger Skin
Note: in the video he also recommends cod liver oil – this isn’t in alignment with my core ethics or lifestyle and I wouldn’t personally recommend taking it or take it myself.
Other Factors That Can Help You Look Younger
We need to think of intermittent fasting as a golden key which fits just one of the doors in a long row of doorways.
Without the other factors in place, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to search for reversing our age.
By eating a wfpb diet and keeping active by doing yoga or another form of exercise which you enjoy, and by creating and living a life which you love, you can reduce overall stress and give yourself the best chance of looking, and feeling younger.
As a Vegan it’s also important to take your vitamin B12 and any other vitamins which you have in your daily schedule.
And don’t forget that self-love is probably one of the most important ingredients for making you appear younger.
Just fasting alone doesn’t mean we will all suddenly look younger, even though it’s a pretty healthy habit to adopt as part of your weekly routine. You don’t even have to fast every day.
But there are some other things you should do if you’re serious about looking after your body and looking younger.
We should consider fasting as part of the 5 essentials in life – great nutrition, good sleep at the right time, plenty of the right kind of activity, what I call ‘soul food’ and finally an absence of poisons.
Summary of Potential Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Looking Youthful
It’s the culmination of lifestyle factors that can make us look younger and increase longevity. It isn’t an instant click of the fingers et-voila you look young again.
Like most things, we have to practise a healthy lifestyle over a longer period of time in order to really be able to appreciate its benefits.
But when you’ve done it, you may find that fasting has an incredible effect on your life and wellbeing.
My Intermittent Fasting Experience
I’m a long-term intermittent faster. I’ve always felt better skipping breakfast (ok, that’s an exaggeration as I loved breakfast as a kiddy!)
But for as long as I can remember as an adult I preferred skipping breakfast. That doesn’t mean I’ve never eaten breakfast, just that I’ve always trended towards missing it, before ever hearing about intermittent fasting.
People used to tell me how unhealthy it was. That I should eat something. ‘Breakfast’s the most important meal of the day’, they’d berate me. Blah blah blah, that’s all it sounded like to me. Sure, everyone said it, but my body disagreed.
I find that I have more energy when I only eat one or two meals a day (and if I don’t drink any alcohol. And not only because of the alcohol but also because of the sugar in it. It affects everything I do and makes me less productive.)
Eating 3 meals a day wears me out and makes me sluggish. Plus, I have so much more time when I’m only eating one or two meals a day.
I can’t say whether I look younger than I otherwise would because I have no markers to evaluate myself against. But I do believe that intermittent fasting is something which my body feels great on.
And while it’s true that it’s not a match for everyone, I really recommend you give it a try! Just have a go and see how you get on.
And who knows, maybe you’ll look 10 years younger than your biological age in a few years from now!