Richards: Consider an intermittent approach to healthy living (column) | VailDaily.com

Richards: Consider an intermittent approach to healthy living (column)

Ryan Richards
Make It Count

Back in May, I embarked on a six-day water fast. After discussing the experience and results, many loyal followers performed the challenge as well. Many readers since then have asked about my typical diet and how I approach eating in general.

For the past several years, I have followed an intermittent fasting program that I stumbled upon in college. Given the popularity of this strategy in recent years, I thought it would be insightful to highlight the theory behind this wonderful approach to healthy living.

Ori’s wisdom

In Ori Hofmekler’s famous work “The Warrior Diet — Discovering Nature’s Ultimate Secret For Burning Fat, Igniting Energy, and Boosting Brain Power,” Hofmekler suggests that we can deny our hunting instincts and become scavengers.

“When a wild predator such as a lion hunts and eats its kill, it eats in safety and only to the point of satiety,” Hofmekler writes. “Then it leaves and the surviving prey know that the lion is no longer a threat, at least for the time being, simply because lions don’t hunt when they are not hungry. They become peaceful. They lie on their back, enjoy the sun and sleep. However, when you put predators in a cag,e they often eat and eat and usually don’t stop until they get sick. They will eventually die if their captors don’t control their feeding. Too many of us, for instance, eat several meals throughout the day and evening, sometimes even when full — without reaching satisfaction. If this continues unabated, it’ll likely cause sickness.”

Hofmekler says there are several distinct differences between hunters and scavengers.

“Hunters/predators work in order to get their food,” Hofmekler writes. “They make a selection. They know exactly what they are after. Wild cats do not hunt cucumbers. They hunt rabbits and deer. They eat only when hungry. They have a sense of priority-and a sense of time. The scavenger is exactly the opposite. While hunters work hard to get their food, scavengers don’t. They pick up leftovers. While hunters will make a selection, choosing their food, scavengers eat whatever is available. While hunters eat only when hungry, scavengers eat all of the time. While hunters eat warm, fresh, live food, the scavenger often eats cold, dead food. While hunters like to eat when it’s safe so they can relax, scavengers eat “on the go.”

Put it into action

When I read Hofmekler’s work back in 2001, it changed my view about the standard American diet. Here’s how I typically eat, and how you can put this into action yourself.

Skip breakfast and lunch: Try fasting for 16 to 24 hours before eating. During the day, drink water, coffee or fermented liquids such as kombucha tea. If you must eat, stick to raw vegetables.

Eat during a 4 hour window in the evening: Start with vegetables and fruit, and let the digestive process begin. Eat more aggressive foods such as meat as the evening progresses. At a dinner party, or out with friends? Don’t worry about it. Just eat until you’re satisfied.

Stop eating when you’re more thirsty than hungry: Eating slowly and to the point of satiety is critical. Once you’ve become more thirsty than hungry, stop eating and save room for tomorrow.

Eat whole foods: Generally eat fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and whole grains. Stay away or minimize alcohol, sugar and heavily processed foods — common sense here. However, live your life. Drink the beer. Have another.

Intermittent fasting is fairly straightforward and simple. The benefits are fat loss, digestive health and convenience. Have fun with this great dietary approach, and enjoy your week!

Ryan Richards is a fitness professional who has been keeping the Vail Valley strong for over a decade. You can find him at ryanrichards.com or 970-401-0720.