Oh boy oh boy…here we go. Wait, but isn’t breakfast the “most important meal of the day!?”
I know some people aren’t gonna like this, but that’s cool. Feel free to contribute your opinions, just please read through the whole blog before you do.
Also please realize that what works for me won’t work for everybody. But I’m into this, and I think it’s worth sharing.
So, when I’m working at Dr. Lipman‘s office I get to spend a lot of the day hearing patient stories, researching things about health and nutrition and hearing what people are getting into and what’s feeling good for them. One of the things that was mentioned to me a few different times was the concept of INTERMITTENT FASTING. People were reporting that their results of intermittent fasting were better digestion, more energy, easier weight management and more.
Now, if you know me, you know I’m big into signs, synchronicities, feeling guided, etc. So when I hear about something multiple times in a relatively short time period, I usually take that as a sign that it’s time for me to explore it more. So, I immediately embarked on my research.
The concept of Intermittent Fasting (“IF”) is exactly what it sounds like – giving your body some ample fasting time, intermittently – whether it’s daily, weekly, or just once in awhile. There are a few popular methods, but the one I’ve been focusing on for the last couple of months is fasting daily, or what people refer to as the 16/8 method, which became popular from the site leangains.
16/8 intermittent fasting means you fast for 16 hours every day, with an 8 hour window where you eat. For most people who are into this, it means you stop eating after dinner, and then give your body 16 hours with no food. You begin eating again the next day after 16 hours. It’s pretty simple, actually. If you stop eating at 7pm, you begin eating again at 11am. Stop eating at 9pm? Eat the next day at 1pm.
Some other benefits I read about in my research:
*Increased fat burning
*Lowers inflammation in the body
*Better mental clarity
Here are some really great and in depth articles so you can see for yourself.
I decided to try it and see how I felt. That was 2 months ago and I haven’t looked back. I feel great when I do it. I don’t give myself a specific “cut off time” at night – I just count 16 hours from whenever I finish dinner. I leave the timing very open, because I don’t want it to affect my dinner plans/social life, and so far it really hasn’t.
My experience with 16/8 intermittent fasting:
One of the major things I have noticed with 16/8 IF is that I have an entirely new relationship with hunger. Here’s what I mean. Before I started IF, I would eat breakfast pretty much every day without really noticing how hungry I actually was. When I eat out of habit and my body isn’t actually physically hungry, it’s easy for me to get into a pattern of eating to PREVENT hunger rather than eating to satisfy hunger. Meaning – snacking throughout the day, always having some nuts or something with me “just in case” I get hungry, as if feeling real hunger is the scariest thing that could possibly occur. You might understand what I’m saying, because a lot of people are obsessed with snacking all the time. I’ve realized that’s not the way to get really intimate with what hunger actually feels like and truly listening to my body.
When I’m in the fasting period, sometimes the 1-2 hours before I eat I feel really hungry. More hungry than I’m used to letting myself feel. But I’m fine. It’s shown me that a little hunger isn’t that big of a deal. It’s taught me what it feels like to notice when I’m actually full, too. When you wait until you’re actually hungry to eat, your body’s fullness signals are much easier to feel. What a concept, right? It may sound simple, but most people (including myself) are really out of touch with what hunger and fullness feel like on a more delicate level.
So, I anticipated some of your questions and have done my best to answer them here:
What have been the main benefits you’ve experienced?
My digestion is so on point. I feel so good not piling food on top of food in my stomach, but actually giving my body tons of time to digest.
My energy and creativity feel heightened in the fasted state. It’s pretty rad.
I feel more stable in regards to appetite and weight. It’s not like IF has made me drop a bunch of weight (although people do report that IF leads to much more efficient fat burning), but I feel less up & down, like I’m just more in tune with what kinds of foods I need and how much food I need. Like I said above, my relationship with hunger and fullness feels more conscious. It’s nice.
OH, also, this might be too much information, but I have had hardly any PMS symptoms (mainly, non-existent or significantly reduced cramps) for the 2 months I’ve been IFing, which is definitely NOT the norm for me. Could be unrelated, but I’ll take it. Maybe IFing has improved the function of my hormones? If anyone else knows anything about that, please chime in in the comments.
Do you ever feel famished or weak in the morning and like you really need breakfast or you won’t be able to function? What happens then?
Yes. That has happened to me exactly 3 times in the past 2 months. And guess what? ALL 3 of those times, I had eaten sugar the night before. Interesting, right? When I don’t eat sugar, I really don’t have those crazy intense “I NEED SOMETHING NOW” hunger cravings.
So what do I do when this happens? I just eat something. The beauty of IF is that you don’t have to do it every single day to receive benefits. It’s not a big deal to break the fast early if you feel like it. I usually don’t feel like it, but if I want/need to, I do. Simple.
What if you want to work out in the morning?
I do. In fact, many people prefer to work out in a fasted state. Believe it or not, I feel much stronger and more in tune with my body in yoga class when I’m practicing in the fasted state. Same with walking and even running. Do some Googling, you’ll read about plenty of people that have experienced a lot of benefits from fasted training. And, as I said, if I felt famished or low energy and really “needed” something before exercise, I’d just have it. Really no biggie. So far, I feel much better when I don’t.
Can you have beverages when you’re in the fasting period?
Yes, of course. You can have tea, water, coffee (but please, don’t do diet sodas or any crap with artificial sweeteners, that’s not helping your cause). Some people are super into “bulletproof coffee” – that’s another really interesting can of worms to open if you like researching.
Don’t you miss breakfast foods?
Don’t be crazy. I love breakfast foods and I still eat them. Organic eggs with veggies and avocado? Green smoothies? Bring it on. I just don’t eat them within the 16 hour fasting period.
Can you eat whatever you want during the eating window?
In theory, sure, but I highly recommend trying it with a reduced sugar/grain intake. When my diet is comprised mostly of protein, veggies and healthy fats, I find my body is humming at a much different (and much more energetically sustainable) tune. You don’t need to be crazy about it. But tending towards less sugar/grains can be a cool thing to try.
Ok, so that’s all I got for now. I have no idea if this intermittent fasting thing is something I’ll keep up with or if it’s just an experimental phase, but I dig it right now and I feel really good.
Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? What do you think? What other questions do you have?