The Right Way to Do Intermittent Fasting For Maximum Benefits
Interviewer: Namaskaram Sadhguru. Fasting on auspicious days has existed in India since time immemorial. But many Indians believe that it's unscientific and illogical; until, the work on autophagy induced during fasting has been awarded the Nobel Prize. Even I started doing intermittent fasting this year. So why are such beneficial ancient practices being labeled “orthodox” and then immediately implemented once there is a Western approval?
Sadhguru: That's because you don't have the right color of the skin! I've been talking about this for forty years. And I've seen hundreds and thousands of people who just become healthy and well, simply because they're not fueling up all the time when the tank is spilling. In the yoga center, everybody eats at ten o'clock in the morning and at seven o'clock in the evening. Our lives are very physically active. There are no automobiles inside the ashram. It's a large place, everybody either walks or cycles. Even if you have to go to the dining hall, it's a kilometer; if you want to go to your workplace, it's half a kilometer, one kilometer. Like this, all the time people are physically active. So everybody is very hungry. By the time it's 3:30 – four o'clock in the evening, they're extremely hungry. But we learn to live with that because empty-stomach and hunger are two different things.
Hunger means your energy levels start dropping. But empty-stomach is a good thing. Today modern science also is coming in line with this. But what we know by our experience, you will spend a billion dollars to come there. Because research is all about “how many million dollars,” that's how it is. Your body and your brain work at their best only when your stomach is empty. So we always make sure we eat in such a way, how much ever we eat, our stomach must be always empty within two to two-and-a-half hours’ time maximum. So we go to bed hungry always. People think they cannot sleep – they can sleep!
For twenty-five years on an average, I slept only two-and-a-half to three hours. These days, I'm getting a little lazy and sleeping anywhere between three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half hours, in spite of the level of travel that I have. If I say my level of travel in the next few days, you will fall off your chair. Yes! Should I tell you? No. Not necessary. Because in the next ten days, I'm in five different countries doing I don't know how many events, all kinds of events. So you’re able to keep this up simply because you don't over-eat. It's very, very important. Everybody eats two meals, I generally eat only one meal, 4:30 – 5 in the evening because I don't like to sit in front of the plate and worry about how much to eat. I like to eat well. So 4:30 – 5 in the evening if I eat a meal, it's only next day. Is this enough? Am I looking okay?
Sadhguru: I'm not looking like your patient. I'm not going to come to you because any correction and purification that needs to happen in the body, your stomach needs to be empty. It's very, very important. Otherwise, the purification on the cellular level will not happen. You pile up things and then you have all kinds of problems. The first thing is inertia in the body. There are many levels of inertia. If you don't notice all that, the amount of sleep that you have is inertia. All of you, you have come here to live?
Sadhguru: To live, right? Not here, here. I'm saying into this life. The intention of life is to live, isn't it? But because you talked about American doctors, this is all being picked up here also. All American doctors say minimum seven to eight hours you must sleep. So that means one-third of your life you must sleep. Another two, three hours, four hours, goes in bath, toilet, eating, this, that, you know. So literally, fifty percent of your life is just maintenance. Suppose you have a vehicle, you have a motorcycle or a car, if it goes to service one day in a month, all right to keep it; if it goes to service fifteen days in a month, this is a nuisance, isn't it so?
Most people have made their systems into a nuisance, because their own body is a big impediment in their life. Anything they want to do, their body will not allow them to do. So in this, there are many aspects. One important aspect is people are eating much more than what they should eat, simply because they've been told you must eat more, otherwise you will become weak. No, it is the way you keep your body. Everybody's trying to work towards a fuel-efficient car, motorcycle, everything. This means what - if the machine runs smoothly, it will consume less fuel, isn't it? So if you sit here and you are very much at ease, now it’ll consume less fuel. If you’re like this all the time, then it’ll consume more fuel, it will want you to eat. Compulsiveness will come about this.
You should see in United States, people come to our programs. Our programs will run ten hours, twelve hours. But they will come with some biscuit and something else. They say, “I have sugar intolerance, I have to eat.” I tell them, “You just be here, you're not going to die. I'll ensure because I don't want anybody dead on my hands, all right? I'll make sure.” First day, “No, no, no. I have to eat,” By third day, they gave up all that. Twelve hours without food, they sat there. They're perfectly fine. See, health is not something you can do from outside. Health is something you have to do from within. From outside when something goes wrong, you can seek some help. But all the time something is wrong with you, this means what? You're a faulty machine. Yes? All the time something is wrong with you – why? That's not how this is designed. This is designed for health. Every cell in your body is designed to create health, isn't it? They’re all working hard to create health, except you. So, minimum eight-hours gap is what is recommended in yoga. Between one meal and the next meal, there must be an eight-hour space. If you do this, you will see whatever your health problems, minimum fifty percent will go away in six weeks’ time. I'll guarantee you this.
If you do certain other things which may right now seem little extreme to you, if you have a little yogic practice, something meditative within you, then you will see ninety percent of your problems will go off. Ten percent if it still persists, we can treat it. Now it's become like this. The health care systems, especially where there are heavy insurance policies, people are eating and drinking all kinds of rubbish, go to the doctor and say, “Fix me!” This is not how it works.