Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Intermittent Fasting

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A few months back I decided to restart the process of  intermittent fasting into my life.   It has now been about two months and I thought it would be a grand time to discuss my methods and what I have discovered.

I actually learned about intermittent fasting quite by accident.  It started simply enough(and I wrote about it here ).   I leave my house super early and I just can’t stomach eating that early.  I was finding that by the time I got to work I just wanted  to get the day started and would forget to eat whatever breakfast item I packed.  It was purely accidental and I knew I would get a lot of slack for ‘skipping breakfast’ so I didn’t mention it much.  But one day, I mentioned it.  I had a few conversations and low and behold, I found that I was  doing something that is actually quite poplular.  Even better, it worked for me!  I followed the intermittent fasting plan for a few months and then somehow got off track.  Recently,  I picked it back up.  

What is intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is the method of fasting on a regular basis for a set period of time.  There isn’t a whole lot of testing and results on intermittent fasting. However some people say that it works because your body is burning fat during those regular times of fast. 

There are many variations of intermittent fasting. Some people will fast for 24 hours and then have a 24 hour period where they can eat.  In this way they are alternating days of fasting and eating.  Some people will do a 5:2 fast.   This is where they eat normally for 5 days and fast for two. Some fast all day and only eat once a day.  I could go on and on with the options. There are so many variations.

The method of intermittent fasting that I follow is the 16:8 method.  Simply put, I fast for 16 hours a day.  I allow myself to eat in an 8 hour window.  For me, I break my fast at lunch, which is usually somewhere around 12 or 12:30.  I typically am done with dinner by 8PM.  That works well for my schedule.  

If you read about intermittent fasting and specifically the 16:8 method, many people say that they love it because they can eat anything that they want within that 8 hour tracking involved.   Maybe someday I will get to that point.  However, I have an addiction to food.  I can do quite a bit of damage in an 8 hour window.  Therefore, I track every bite, regardless!   

Why Intermittent fasting works for me
Intermittent fasting works for me for variety of reasons:
**  The first reason is simple. It reduces temptations.   I have an addiction to food.  I can not walk away from my addiction and remove myself from the temptations of my addiction.  No, I have to face my addiction every time my body feels hungry.  And even more realistically, I face my addiction each and every time a meal hour is upon me. Three times a day I have to stare my addiction down.   I can lose control very easily  and let the addiction control my food choices.  But by eliminating one of those meals, I am eliminating 1/3 of the temptation each day.  I really enjoy the reduction of that worry....and my body certainly doesn’t miss the meal.

** The second reason that this works for me is that I do still count my calories.  By eliminating the breakfast I am freeing up those calories that I would have eaten and it allows me a bit more freedom within my caloric budget later in the day.  (For example.  A 1200 calorie budget...if broken evenly between three meals allows for 400 calories each meal.  With no breakfast involved, I can take those 400 unused calories and apply them to the other meals)

** The last reason this works so well for me?  I have never been a big breakfast eater and have only ‘forced’ myself to eat because I was told that I had to eat breakfast to be ‘healthy’.  I always struggled with this concept.  I’m eating breakfast to lose be healthy.   But that is just adding more food and more times to fail into a food addicts life.  I know the whole concept of ‘starts off your day and all that’ but I have always preferred to NOT eat and I have seen no diffeeence in functioning without breakfast.  So, this plan of intermittent fasting  works well with my natural tendency and schedule!

What happens if I am ravenous?

So what happens if I am just plan hungry and it’s. Or my window to eat?   Well, I am not sadistic!   There have been a few instances where I find myself so utterly hungry by 9AM.  (Real hunger...not just the thought that something would taste good at that moment....real honest hunger!).  I have no problem saying ‘I’m going to be  eating something before the 16 hours is up!” In fact I keep some individually wrapped fig  bars in my desk at work just in case this happens.  (Amazon Affiliate link).  They are delicious and really hit the spot.  But honestly, the kind of hunger that gnaws at your stomach making it truly ache, the hunger that gives me a headache...that happens very rarely during my 16 hour fast.

Furthermore, I also know that heading out for a long bike ride at 10AM on an empty stomach is probably not going to go well.  So by all means, I will break that fast earlier so that I can properly fuel my body, even though it is not yet time to break my fast.  I am aiming for health, not rigidity.  This plan is not set in stone and sometimes it does require a little shift of thinking and adjustment!

I am sure that intermittent fasting is not for everyone.  I am also sure that it hasn’t always been the perfect solution for me nor will it probably always be the perfect plan for me in the future.  But for right now, right here it is working well for me.   I like the freedom from worrying about one less meal!