As a pet food company, it might be surprising that we'd suggest your dog skip a meal. But that's exactly what we'll be doing in this article...
As Dr. David Sinclair—the world's leading longevity expert and Harvard University researcher—says, increasing longevity comes down to three simple words: "Eat less often." [*]
Just like for humans, the latest scientific research shows that dogs may benefit from intermittent fasting (IF). It may even extend your dog's life.
Intermittent fasting is a feeding plan that rotates between fasting and feeding on a regular daily schedule. In practice, this usually means your dog will skip breakfast, with lunch being his or her first meal of the day.
Research shows that intermittent fasting is a way to manage your dog's body weight and prevent (or even reverse) some types of disease.
Sound too good to be true? Let's dive into the science behind intermittent fasting.
Returning your dog to their natural diet
Dogs are extremely similar to their wolverine ancestors, and in fact still share 99.8% of the same DNA.
In the wild, carnivores do not have constant access to food like they do in our homes, and they certainly do not have elevated dog bowls! This means they have an irregular eating schedule that their body has become accustomed to through evolution.
This evolutionary process caused their bodies to actually produce essential horomones and chemicals during the periods between meals that are needed to stay healthy.
Top 3 scientific benefits for dogsIntermittent fasting temporarily puts your dog into starvation mode and activates AMPK, which is associated with higher longevity. During that process, the following happens:
- Cell regeneration. Due to the periodic absence of food, a dog's body goes through a process that destroys unhealthy cells (a main cause of aging) and replaces them with newer healthy cells.
- Destroy bacteria and viruses. Fasting elevates macrophage activity, which is their first line of defense against harmful bacteria and viruses. This process promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria, resulting in better gut health.
- Weight loss. Data shows intermittent fasting boosts metabolism and reduces insulin levels, decreasing inflammation and promoting weight loss.
What's happening here?
During intermittent fasting, your dog's body starts producing ketones. Yes, the same ketones produced on a keto diet.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
"Ketogenesis, or the increase of ketones in the bloodstream, initiates activity in a variety of cellular signaling pathways known to influence health and aging. This activity enhances the body’s defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress and initiates the removal or repair of damaged molecules. The impact of ketogenesis carries over into the non-fasting period and can improve glucose regulation, increase stress resistance and suppress inflammation."
— NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH —
Putting the body through temporary caloric stress causes a positive chain reaction that promotes better health.
We want to affiliate our dog with eating habits that shake up their normal routine. Intermittent fasting is a proven method of achieving this.
How to start intermittent fasting
The easiest way to put your dog on an intermittent fasting schedule is to restrict their food intake to an 8 period every day.
For example, if you feed in the morning at 11AM, feed them again at 7PM. This schedule restricts your dog's eating to an 8 hour time period. Then don't feed your dog again until 11AM the next day. This means your dog will have fasted for 16 hours.
Start intermittent fasting with your dog
Want to bring your bond with your dog to the next level? You can practice intermittent fasting alongside your dog to receive the same health benefits we've discussed in this article. Consult your doctor before starting any new diet.
Until just 12,000 years ago, our ancestors were hunters and gatherers who lived through periods of feast and famine for millions of years.
If we are constantly feasting—like dogs and humans do today—our body isn't given time to properly repair itself. This creates the opportunity for disease and cancer to grow.
Intermittent fasting is a modern technique that provides the benefits of "feast and famine" without the difficulties of living in the Stone Age!
How do I compensate their diet?
Your dog will still need to consume the same calorie amount every day—you'll just be packing it into two meals. That means your dog will need a more nutrient dense food.
Did you know most dog foods (yes even the fresh food brands) have up to 49% net carbs? This mostly consists of empty calorie fillers like rice and potato. That won't work for intermittent fasting.
When you start your dog on a two-meal-a-day eating cycle, make sure you also transition them to a nutrient dense food to make sure they still receive the proper vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients daily.
We created Perfect Kibble with this in mind. It's the most nutrient dense dog food available, with a low carb macronutrient profile made specifically for dogs who are intermittent fasting.
The bottom line
Intermittent fasting is one of the easiest ways to help your dog live longer. It saves you time, and it activates AMPK to start a variety of health benefits.Discuss on Twitter View Discussions