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An Attempt at Intermittent Fasting

Rroutinely starving yourself will make you healthier.

This sounds more like torture. More like a test of wits. Can you withstand not allowing your body to have food when it’s it’s begging for a double double or some pasta or some ice cream?

It’s called intermittent fasting (IF)–it’s not a diet plan, it’s an eating pattern which involves cycling between periods of fasting and feasting. There are varying schedules, but I’ll be sticking to a cycle that involves a 16-hour fast (9pm-1pm) and an 8-hour eating hour frame (1pm-9pm).

Trying out Intermittent Fasting

I’ve been doing IF for about two weeks now.

The weirdest part is that I sometimes I’ve had to tell my friends that “I can’t eat right now.” No more late night munchies. The other weird part is that I haven’t been eating breakfast–and I’m okay with it.

Although I didn’t always have breakfast, I always firmly believed the idea that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

Turns out that that’s not necessarily true.  Yes it’s important. But necessary? Not at all. The necessity of breakfast is a modern idea. It’s actually not that important.

“But David, breakfast food is so delicious!”

It is. There’s a diner near my house (Heritage Pantry, for those in the Long Beach area) that serves a breakfast dish called the L.A. marathon. Two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausages, a slice of ham, a piece of toast, two buttermilk pancakes… I just eat “breakfast” at lunch time instead.

How intermittent fasting works

After you eat a meal (aka feast), there are fresh nutrients (glucose) flowing through your bloodstream. These nutrients are the easiest source of energy for your body to access, so your body will burn off those calories first.

However, during the “fasted” state, your body doesn’t have a fresh supply of nutrients in your blood. In turn, your body will more likely use the fat that is stored in your body as energy. So you burn fat!

If you work out during your fasted state, your body will pull directly from the fat stored in your body.

“But you shouldn’t work out without nutrients in your body,” you say. Correct!

This is where you have to figure out the best fasting schedule for yourself. Figure out when you plan to work out and make sure you have your first meal right afterward to begin the feasting period.

In essence, intermittent fasting forces your body to effectively use the calories you put into it. Fasting promotes weight loss and muscle building when done properly.

Why you should give IF a shot

Contrary to dieting which is really difficult to do, but easy to understand, IF is much easier to do, but harder to comprehend.

However, before you decide to completely trash the idea of intermittent fasting, I encourage you to try it out for a week or two to find out how it makes you feel.

There are plenty of reasons for trying IF, here are mine:

  1. IF is not a diet–it’s a pattern of eating. There’s no need to completely change what you eat or how much you eat. You only need to focus on when you eat. Ideally, you should make sure to obtain all the necessary nutrients through your feasting period.
  2. IF makes your day simpler. If you’re like me, you probably already skip a meal or two daily–probably breakfast. If it isn’t normal for you to have six small meals a day, or even three regular meals, it’ll be easier for you to try out IF. Plus you won’t have to worry about “missing a meal.”
  3. IF saves time and money. One less meal means less money spent on food, less time and energy spent preparing food, less time spent deciding what to eat, and less time eating. That’s a lot of time spent. Imagine you spend an hour per meal, this includes cooking, eating, and cleaning up. If you cut out one meal a day for a week, that’s seven hours freed up per week. That’s seven extra hours that you can spend getting work done (or sleeping).
  4. IF improves discipline and encourages personal development. Fasting isn’t a joke. It’s difficult at first, but you get used to it. You learn to function on less food–you learn to function more efficiently. You’ll strengthen your will.

No, you won’t die. Whether it be because of poverty or religion, people all over the world go days, weeks, even months without food. You won’t die if you don’t have food for half a day.

People tend to say “damn I’m hungry,” “I can’t stop thinking about food,” “I need food or I’ll die.”

You will get hungry and feel like shit because your body is so used to eating every time you feel the slightest bit hungry. Give it a week and you’ll get used to it.

Hunger is a state of mind.

Feel free to join me.

Since my fasting period is 16 hours, I’m going to try a 24 hour fast on January 20th. What’s eight more hours? I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Have you tried intermittent fasting? Do you have any tips? Let me know if you decide to try it out!

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Image source: MakNYC