Updated: Nov 14, 2018
I want to say a few more words on Intermittent fasting as my last blog was written when I was green to the practice. Now I’m 5 months in, I want to give you an update on what been happening.
First, a quick refresher. Intermittent fasting is spending a large chunk of your day without food. Thus eating your daily meals in a smaller period of time. One might take their last meal at 6pm, then take breakfast at 10am, eating regularly until 6pm. This is 16 hours, and an example of intermittent fasting.
So after 5 months…
Lesson 1. I’ve gained a far greater control over food than I ever thought possible. It is now easy for me to follow a 6pm/10am routine. The small hunger I used to feel in the evenings before bed has gone. Similarly, in the morning time, I used to be ravenous at 6am – this hunger has now dissipated away. I can eat, or I can abstain. I can hold breakfast until midday with absolutely no difficulty. 16, 17, 18 hours or more is now a piece of cake. A piece of cake I have absolutely no inclination to eat, thanks to intermittent fasting.
In the past, I would be hungry at my alarm, and I would feel the same hunger before every meal and snack. That hunger often bought with it the urge to eat less than saintly foods. This is all gone. Poof. (That’s a sound effect, not Elton John).
I won’t say I no longer feel hunger, but the hunger I feel today has far less power. My hunger is now unsullied (GOT reference there).
I am genuinely delighted at the level of control I have achieved regarding food.
Lesson 2. When I started intermittent fasting, I ate huge breakfasts. By 10am, having been nil by mouth for 16 hours, I was starving, and told myself I deserved the extra. Sloth followed gluttony. Massive meals meant spells of lethargy, as my body requisitioned all available energy to digest the baby elephant in my stomach.
In months three and four, I corrected this – my appetite corrected itself – and I began eating smaller, “normal” sized breakfasts. I could easily eat more – I can always eat more – but I don’t benefit from it, so I don’t. My appetite is now so firmly under control, I don’t feel the urge to over do it.
Lesson 3. I couldn’t do it without exercise. In the early going, the hardest part was the hunger pangs at 5am, and knowing I had 5 hours to go before my Avocado and Chickpea Smash. (All recipes on http://www.circuitfactory.mealplanner). Without a shadow of a d, morning running saved me. Whatever hunger I feel disappears the moment I start to run, and it doesn’t return for hours after I finish.
This is not a running blog, so I will save you from the rantings of an overzealous pavement pounder, I will however, say this: I cannot think of a better habit, than to get some sort of daily exercise done the moment you wake up. I run for 15 minutes, but you can do whatever, as long as it gets your dicky ticker out of bed.
There’s a beautiful symbiosis between running and intermittent fasting. Not only does it remove your appetite, but if you fast the night before your morning run, the exercise is done on an empty stomach. The energy required to power the run must therefore come from somewhere other than recently digested food. Can you think of an onboard fat reserve that you might like to get rid of and never see again? Running serves the effectiveness of the fast. Fasting serves the effectiveness of the run.
So what are the downsides of intermittent fasting? The biggest one is planning. Intermittent fasting demands that you eat when it’s time to eat. For most people, 10am and 6pm are working hours, meaning that you’d need to have all your food with you when the clock strikes X. If you’re expecting me to give you a magic bullet that will solve this predicament, sorry to disappoint, you just have find a way.
Take a moment to consider the potential spoils of intermittent fasting – total and complete dominion over food for the rest of your life. How much value would you place on that? Surely getting food into your work place is a small price to pay for that?
Did I say no magic bullets? Ok, ok… make overnight oats. Put them in tupperware. Take them to work. Eat at 10am. Get lunch from the sandwich bar, and then eat the moment your work ends. You’re doing it.
Any tips on getting started? Yes. Running and almonds. We’ve already discussed running. If you don’t like it run slower. If you can’t run, row. If you can’t row, do 50 burpees. The workout is immaterial. You’re not doing it to break PB’s, the point of the run for me is to send your stomach into chaos, thus sending my appetite off a little farther down the river.
Almonds the most convenient snack. If you feel like you’re struggling with hunger late at night, get to the almonds and nibble at them like a timid fawn in a woodland glen. Over time, your hunger will subside. Ask anyone who fasts during Ramadan – week 1 is tough. After that, it’s easy.
I do CF at 7pm, can I still intermittent fast? Absolutely. Eat a good meal at 5pm. Digest for 2 hours. Train. Go home, shower. Finish your daily duties, and begin to prepare for bed. Late nights are a sworn enemy of intermittent fasting, as is all progress in life.
If I eat at 5pm, and train at 7pm, I will throw up all over the place!! Fine. Eat something small at 5pm. Then eat after class. Now you have to push your breakfast back, coz you finish later. Last meal at 9pm, first meal at 1pm – That’s 16 hours and a perfect display of intermittent fasting.
Eat at 1pm, are you off your sodding rocker? It isn’t that hard. Every muslim that fasts during Ramadan says the first week is tough, then it’s easy. The body adapts in 10 days. Just do your exercise when you wake up, and then go into your fast.
Remember, the reward for getting this right isn’t a goldfish in a bag – it’s total and complete domination over your appetite for the rest of your life. Think about that.
[Edit: Since writing this blog, I got a load of questions, so I decided to write another: How To Control Your Appetite: The Addendum]
Here’s a video that explains a bit more on the above: How To Control Your Appetite.
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