For those of us who are health conscious, navigating the holiday festivities is a bit treacherous. But it doesn’t have to be this way, because when you optimize your fat metabolism, you can navigate the holidays with aplomb and without stress.  

How to understand the Fasting / Feasting Balance

The holidays offer a great opportunity to discuss a long standing thought/hypothesis I have about our evolutionary heritage, which is the concept of Feasting and Fasting rather than the commonly accepted groupthink that our ancestors regularly went through cycles of feast and famine.

I disagree with this notion for the most part. Sure, there were isolated instances where geographical regions had catastrophic weather events, where the biological “Cycle of Life” was severely disrupted from its normal cycle causing a famine for all species, but, for the most part, geographical regions had consistent cycles with all forms of life, including humans, either adapting and populating them in a natural balance, or migrating to another region where there was better carrying capacity.

So I am not saying ‘Feast and Famine’ did not exist. I am saying it was not the norm. However, the norm was Feasting and Fasting.

Humans, being the clever creatures that we are, figured out early on where stable food sources were available. We had to, and this is why we have thrived as a species. If famine were the norm, we would never have gotten to where we are today. The seasons and spoilage in pre-agricultural times dictated that stable food was found in the great ruminant herds and fisheries. They don’t call it ‘livestock’ for nothing because prior to and after domestication, ruminants are a food source you can literally bank on.

But there’s a catch... Whether hunting or herding, harvesting animals is hard work and requires a lot of time and physical effort. In effect, it’s an endurance event combined with sporadic surges of high intensity and resistance. 

Applying This To Modern Life

Fortunately, even today, pockets of nomadic herders and hunter-gatherers exist to show us how nature, when left alone, achieves the balance, and that balance is one of feasting and fasting.

We can easily mimic this cycle in our daily lives during the holidays to control our appetite and weight gain. When fat adapted, this takes minimal effort, but it is important to be aware of the following when fasting: 

  1. Formulate a strategy of engagement in your life during the fasting periods so you are fully engaged mentally and emotionally in whatever you are doing. Incorporate into your engagement regular physical activity to signal physical activity energy demand to prevent your metabolism from turning down its biological thermostat.
  2. Stay hydrated and satiated. OFM allows for the trivial calories found in broth, stock, V8 or Vespa to keep you hydrated and satiated to make fasting seamless. 
  3. Incorporate fasted physical activity into your feasting and fasting cycles. This not only helps attenuate hunger during and after your workouts but leverages the protein assimilation when feasting.
Pro Tip: Most people don’t realize that physical activity accelerates the fasting cycle, thus shortening the fasting window while leveraging the feasting window.

Practical Tips For The Holiday Season

On the flip side, there is the feasting, which should be fully enjoyed, stress and guilt free, with friends, co-workers and family. Again, a little bit of guidance makes all the difference to empower you to enjoy life to the fullest:

  1. Once again, make sure your hydration is on point. Appetizer foods like olives, pickles, cheeses and cured meats with your spirits while engaging fully with others is a GREAT strategy to start off any holiday event
  2. Allow yourself to engage fully and enjoy holiday gatherings as removing stress attenuates one of our most primal survival instincts; hunger. Ironically stressing about your food only heightens your cravings for it. 
  3. Avoid the carby and sweet foods and treats initially. Consume non-starchy vegetables, protein and fat-rich foods slowly and in moderation. Save the carbs and sweets for later when the drive to over consume has been virtually eliminated to the point where a bite is more than satisfying.

As you can see, when you are optimizing your fat metabolism, you come back into balance with your evolutionary heritage of feasting and fasting so you can fully enjoy the holiday feasts in alignment with your native physiology and live life to the fullest! Enjoy!

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