I’m Trying Intermittent Fasting!
Posted on September 21, 2018
News flash: I am not a medical doctor, PLEASE know that this post concerns my research, experience, and conclusions and is not medical advice!
Over my adult life, fasting has played a role in my approach to wellness and spiritual practices. I enjoy fasting except for the problem of not sleeping well during the fast. Feeling better is ruined when you are sleep deprived! After some research, I learned that starving your body of food elicits a biological survival response and a pleasant night’s rest is of little concern when your body thinks something is seriously wrong.
As a result of the sleep issues, I limited my fasting over the last couple of years. Then six weeks ago I heard about the evolving research on something called intermittent fasting. The research I found showed an enormous upside with little adverse risk, so I felt comfortable trying it out right away.
There are two types of intermittent fasting: the first eating like normal, five out of every seven days and only 500 calories the other two days. The second approach is to allow 16 hours between your last meal one day and the first meal on the next day (many researchers say men should go 16 hours and women 14 hours, lucky!). Most studies show you want to stop eating by 6 or 7 in the evening to optimize healthy digestion and metabolism during the night and next morning.
Why would anyone deprive themselves of food for 16 hours at a time? Here is some research well summarized in a recent Time article & this great infographic:
- Weight-loss. When we run out of food to turn into energy, we start burning fat, yeah!
- Reduced blood pressure and resting heart rate.
- Decreased inflammation in the body.
- Reduced risks for some cancer and neurological diseases.
- Reduced impact of stress.
My approach (on typical days):
- Try to eat dinner before 4 pm or 5 pm at the latest. When I travel this is more difficult, so I usually take the next day off from fasting. If I’m training I still like a healthy breakfast, if I’m traveling or have a day off I start the 16-hour clock after my last bite or drink.
- The early dinner lets me eat breakfast at a reasonable hour of 8 or 9.
- I drink water and tea only outside the 8-hour window for eating.
- I feel great! My work (presenting or trying to produce creative content) would exhaust my brain and body after about 5 hours of hard, focused work. Even though I eat the same for breakfast and lunch, I feel I have a great deal more energy in the afternoon…like LOTS more!
- Unfortunately, I don’t weigh myself very often, so I didn’t get a baseline to see if I lost weight. I feel like I have less belly fat and gained muscle mass easier though this is all antidotal. Shame on me for not getting data!
- I eat less. Trying to fit in breakfast, lunch, and dinner in between 8-4 means I’m never hungry! I eat less for dinner and cut out evening snacks.
- Sleeping great, even better than before starting fasting.
- Food is food! One thing I love about fasting is it puts food in context. I still enjoy fantastic food and great meals. However, day to day, I eat to get nourishment.
Conclusion, I love intermittent fasting and plan on doing it into the foreseeable future! I feel better, have more energy, and look healthier (at least I think so). I’ve got a crazy training/travel schedule coming up, so I’ll let you know how it all plays out!
Note: My wife tried a Fasting Mimicking Diet which contains food to trick your brain into thinking it is going without food for four days. She loved it and there is also some cool research surrounding this approach as well.
Hey MATT long time no talk! It’s so great to see what all you’ve been up to. I’m sure Tyrone would enjoy seeing sometime he is in Colorado. We currently live in UT.
I really enjoy intermittent fasting as well. I was introduced through a program called the 131diet. Have you or your wife heard of it? It’s a very complex program on the study of one. You guys might find it interesting.
Would love to catch up sometime.
I have also tried fasting for spiritual/cleansing reasons. I am excited about the post and I think I’m going to give it a try. Thanks so much for all of the self care issues you tackle; keep ’em coming!