“Diets are easy in the contemplation, difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is just the opposite — it’s difficult in the contemplation but easy in the execution.- Dr Michael Eades
I might have exaggerated the article title but it did happen for me. I read many articles about the benefits of intermittent fasting but they did not indicate what they do during the intermittent fasting. Therefore I decided to share my experience here, some of the practices I adopted to increase the effectiveness and decreases the difficulty of intermittent fasting.
So, what is intermittent fasting?
As the name suggest, you spend a period of time fasting, eat during the break-fast window, and repeat. There are many types of intermittent fasting, the one easiest to get started with would be time-restricted, 16 hours of fasting and eating within an 8 hour window each day. Your aim is to make your body undergo ketosis for a prolong period each day, during which, your body converts fats into energy.
For illustration purpose:
- If you start eating at: 7AM, stop eating and start fasting at 3pm
- If you start eating at: 10AM, stop eating and start fasting at 6pm
- If you start eating at: 2PM, stop eating and start fasting at 10pm
- If you start eating at: 6PM, stop eating and start fasting at 2AM.
Why do intermittent fasting?
Well, because Hugh Jackman and Dwayne Johnson does it-
In all seriousness, Intermittent fasting is very beneficial, US National Institutes of Health, among other researchers, has found that aside from weight loss through an increase of metabolic rate, intermittent fasting improves memory and learning functionality, improve heart health, lower insulin levels, improve cellular repairs and reduce inflammation. Additionally, it makes one more resistant to disease and may improve lifespan.
Aren't humans suppose to eat three meals a day?
It's a cultural construct to differentiate humans as civilised, to differentiate us from other animals who spend their time grazing on food. As globalisation and economies grew, the culture became an intersubjective fact.
Before commencing intermittent fasting, I would like to note that prolong fast regime is not suitable for everyone and should be ideally tried under medical supervision. For instance, some individuals develop compulsive eating after a fasting diet (Polivy J, Herman CP. Dieting and binging: a causal analysis. Am Psychol 1985; 40: 193–201, 198.) and females are more susceptible to hormonal changes. Personally, I used to have chronic gastric and was hospitalized for stomach flu. My tummy reacts adversely to lactose and certain yeast in beer and white bread. However, I was feeling fine throughout the whole intermittent fasting period. Read on to note some of the practices I adopted which made intermittent fasting more effective and easier to do for me.
Brief details of my initial month of fasting:
I started intermittent fasting during the midst of my final semester exams, I have less social meetups (able to better time my meals), however, I did not have much time to train/workout. During the two weeks I:
- Ate mainly whole foods and included plenty of fruits and vegetable in my meals.
- I have 2big meals a day between 4pm-11pm, usually a big salad or yoghurt, granola and fruits for the first meal, meat with vegetable as sides for the second.
- I did not strictly count the calories but consume about 3000kcal a day (I’m 62kg and 165cm tall).
- For the most effective results, avoid heavy carbs like rice/potato/pasta.
- Drank about close to 3litres of water during fasting period, using one or two sachet of tea a day. This results in many runs to the toilet but it really helped to sate the hunger (I barely felt hungry). Personally, I feel the strain in my liver when I do not drink enough water during the day while on fasting.
- Spent a total of one hour a day doing light exercises and stretches- Every morning I did the 5 Tibetan rites. In the evening I do some body weight conditioning and stretching.
Results: I did not lose much weight, but I am leaner, and felt more energetic in the day.
Before: 63kg After: 62.5kg -
and now (PICTURE)- After the 2weeks, I still do intermittent fasting when my schedule permits, as I am travelling most of the time which makes it difficult to keep to the timeframe. Update: I'm working full-time now and still manage to fast 4-5days in a week. Remember, it's about the commitment and persistency! Hang in there and you'll get there.
If you want to dive in deeper and understand more before trying this, I would recommend reading "Eat, STOP, eat" by Brandon Pilot. Additionally, you can contact me regarding fitness and dieting.