Breakfast on Wednesday morning is engineer Paul Benigeri’s favourite meal of the week. Why? “I haven’t eaten in 60 hours,” Benigeri tells Business Insider in a sunlit café in San Francisco, after clearing through a frittata with no spinach and extra goat cheese.
Benigeri and his coworkers at Nootrobox, a subscription service for “smart drugs,” or cognition-enhancing supplements, are part of a Bay Area group of biohacking enthusiasts called WeFast. The club believes that intermittent fasting promotes longevity, increases focus and productivity, and leads to a healthier diet.
I recently attended the group’s weekly breakfast to find out the appeal of starving yourself.
The group meets every Wednesday morning at an Italian counter-service restaurant. By the time they sit down to break the fast, most members of the group, which formed in 2015, haven't eaten in about 36 hours.
Intermittent fasting is a nascent Silicon Valley fad in which people go without food for anywhere from 14 hours to several days. It's increasingly popular among startup workers.
While it may sound like torture, these young entrepreneurs may actually be onto something with intermittent fasting
When the body goes into fasting mode, it stops producing as many growth-related hormones and proteins, which are also linked to cancer and diabetes. Instead, the body takes a little break to repair cells -- a crucial process for improving longevity.
This 'maintenance state' may be the key to unlocking longer lives.
Research in animals from the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California supports this idea. Mice that fasted for two to five days a month showed reduced biomarkers for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, as well a rejuvenated immune system.
The group recently expanded its subject pool from mice to humans.