Updated: Nov 14, 2018
When you spend the majority of your adult life interested in a specific field, it’s easy to assume a sort of conceited snobbery on the topic. Please don’t bother me, I’m busy knowing all there is to know. Of course, sooner or later, something will come up that will prove that you don’t actually know it all, and that you are, in fact, a knob. 7 months ago, if you had told me that I would stumble upon something that would completely transform my relationship with food, I would have asked what was in your hookah pipe. Nevertheless, this is precisely what happened. The “thing” was Intermittent Fasting (IF), and other than the act of exercise itself, I can’t think of anything that at has had such a profound effect on me.
If I find something I like, I try to foist it on everyone around me. To protect you from this distasteful zeal, I want to preface this blog by saying that IF might not be for you. Human beings are so diverse, and I think it takes a certain psychological disposition to really get it. If you have it, you’re gonna love it. If not, c’est la vie.
The following observations don’t come from a science journal. They are simply a collection of my own personal experiences with IF…
What is it? If you skip, or take a very late breakfast, and have an early dinner, you will insert a huge chunk of time in your day without food. E.g. Dinner at 6pm, breakfast at 10am = 16 hours. This is Intermittent Fasting.
What are the effects? Dramatic reduction in appetite. I thought my appetite was a subconscious phenomenon that occurred independently of my own behavior – I get hungry, and have to eat, regardless of my own behaviour. IF taught me that my appetite was largely determined by my actions. My body demanded 5 meals a day because for 37 years, I had trained it to expect precisely that. When I began to fast, my appetite dropped precipitously, and I learned that I didn’t actually need that much food. Now I eat a couple of meals a day, and I’m rarely hungry. When I am, my hunger is much more controlled. If someone walked up to you with a big red button, and said “press this and you can tame your appetite” would you press it?
What are the benefits? You’re eating less calories, so you will lose weight / burn fat. You feel lighter. Energy will be more stable throughout the day, as you won’t get the energy dump that often accompanies digesting food. You will save time, as it’s one less meal you have to prepare, sit, and eat.
Is it hard? The first few days were quite tough. If you want to get into IF, you have to prepare yourself for a tough entry, after that, it’s easy.
The Holy Grail mentions 3 meals and 2 snacks, is this now invalid? Definitely not. The “conventional” route has been followed with great success for many years. IF is just an alternative way.
What about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? When everyone says the same thing, we often just accept it as fact, and never bother to test the veracity of the claim. If I asked you: How many meals a day do you need? You’d probably say “Three.”And if I asked you why? You probably wouldn’t have much of an answer outside of “this is what I’ve always done,” because you’ve never really tested it. IF tested the breakfast hypothesis, and I found – at least in my own experience – that I didn’t need it to feel and function just fine.
I train in the morning, can I still Intermittent Fast? Absolutely. My routine usually involves a short morning run, and then a workout. My first meal is usually around midday.
If I don’t eat, where will I get the energy to workout? Recently digested food isn’t the body’s only source of energy. We all have a readily available layer of energy underneath our skin. The energy for your morning workout will literally come from your corpulent bottom.
Should I be eating larger meals to compensate for eating less? In my experience, when you IF, you can get away with eating a bit more, because you’re body will burn it up during your fasting hours. As with all things, listen to your body and let your stomach guide you. Eat until you’re satisfied, but try not to stuff your face – that is never good.
What about eating protein after exercise? This is a bit like the breakfast question in that general consensus says you must. I certainly thought that myself, but when I began fasting, I didn’t shrink. In fact, less a few pounds, I’m the same weight now as I as was when I began.
I’m trying to gain weight, should I intermittent fast? No. Bulking up requires increasing food intake, and IF tends to reduce it.
When I wake up, I’m starving. Go for a run, and your appetite will disappear. Do that for a while, i.e. run instead of yielding to appetite, and after a few days, you’ll find the appetite is gone, with or without the running.
I do CF at 7pm, and I’m starving after, can I Intermittent Fast? Yes. You can eat after CF, and still IF. I fast from 6pm to midday because it suits my schedule, but this guy eats all his meals between 2pm and 10pm, and he doesn’t look too bad on it. Just push the last and first meals back, and adjust the times to suit your lifestyle.
Do I have to give up my morning coffee? Strictly speaking, you should, as the coffee triggers the digestive process. Water is the only truly legal IF beverage, but I’m a rebel, I drink coffee, and my results have been more than fine.
I am using Food Boxes, but I want to IF? A Food Box is perfect for IF because it has 2 meals per day, and when you settle into IF, you will eat about 2 meals per day. Just push the breakfast towards lunch.
I’m pregnant, can I do it? In the words of Cliff Richard “Congratulations!!” but NO, I don’t think it’s a good time to start something like this. Speak to a doctor, but it’s highly likely, he will agree with me.
I have a deficiency in X, can I still Intermittent Fast? Again, I would talk to a doc. My intuition tells me that it’s probably not a good idea for you to restrict food if you’re already deficient in something, but, each case is different, so go and see a specialist.
I think that covers the main questions, if not, drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer them for you.