Take Tom's 40 day challenege | Knutsford Times

Take Tom’s 40 day challenege

By on February 26, 2009

Over the 6 week period of Lent we want you to try to give something up – perhaps the whole 6 week period is too daunting but start off by giving something up for a day, a week, a weekend – perhaps it’s chocolate, cakes, alcohol, biscuits? Write in to Knutsford Times and let me know. The giving up of something should help your weight loss goals and show you that you are in control and you do have will-power and discipline.

The good news is that the Challenge is not all about giving up things that you enjoy. We also want you to use this period to try to focus on positive things to add to your daily routines which will help your goals. Try to add something, like catching up with a friend or one new exercise and try to stick to it for the whole of lent.

See what you can give up or add to your routine for the period of Lent.

The period of Lent in the Christian calendar is a time to give up something that we enjoy. But what are the physiological effects of this?

When I was attending University there was contention within Sports Science about whether or not fasting was beneficial to health. Fasting is an integral part of many of the major religions including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Whether the physiological effects are as beneficial as the spiritual promoted by these religions is dubious.

Fasting technically commences within the first twelve to twenty-four hours of the fast. Fasting doesn’t chemically begin until carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used for energy. Fasting continues as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy (resulting in loss of muscle) a person is technically starving.

When deprived of food we lack outside energy, meaning the body must turn to its own sources (autolysis). Autolysis breaks down fat stores in the body in order to produce energy. The liver is responsible for converting the fats into ketones. When this occurs, fats are released into the blood stream and are used by the liver for energy. Therefore the less we eat, the more the body turns to stored fats, creating ketone bodies, this accumulation is called ketosis.

While fasting, energy is diverted away from the digestive system and towards the metabolism and immune system. One reason that animals stop eating when they are wounded, and why humans lose hunger during influenza, is that fasting increases production of protein for replacement of damaged cells. This results in healthier cells, tissues and organs.

Reduction in core body temperature is a direct result of a slowing metabolic rate and general bodily functions. Lowering blood sugars and using the liver glucose reserves reduces metabolism. A slower metabolic rate, more efficient protein production, an improved immune system, and the increased production of hormones contributes to this long-term benefit of fasting.

It seems that there are many reasons to consider fasting as a benefit to one’s health. The body rids itself of the toxins that have built up in our fat stores throughout the years. The body heals itself, repairs all the damaged organs during a fast. And finally there is good evidence to show that regulated fasting contributes to longer life. However, many doctors warn against fasting for extended periods of time without supervision.

The idea of depriving a body of what society has come to view as so essential to our survival in order to heal continues to be a topic of controversy

About Tom Irvine

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