Growing up in the Catholic School system, I remember having a fast during the period of Lent to repent for my sins and live as Jesus did. I remember feeling the utmost emptiness in my stomach and I thought I was going to die. But I guess that was the point.
These days, fasting is on trend. You probably know someone who has done, is doing or is thinking to intermittent fast,(IF). If you Google search "intermittent fasting" over 59 million results show up! 59 million?!!?! Most of them being about how someone lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time, what to and not to do. You will also get a lot of hits around Keto and IF. Don't go down the rabbit hole without reading this first! I first learned that fasting isn't about weight loss. It's about bringing you back to a baseline.
There was a point this year where I was frightened about having Metabolic Syndrome. My father had type 2 diabetes when he died. Because of this, regulating my blood sugar has always been important. I felt like I couldn't quench my thirst for days, (a symptom of diabetes), my blood pressure was increasing and I was holding weight around my mid-section. Sure, I was active, but these things were setting off alarms for me.
So what have my results been?
Able to stop eating
Lowered blood pressure
Disclaimer ** FASTING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE ** But if the above interests you or a loved one, it may be a good option. You should also speak to your doctor about any major changes in your diet.
So, you may be thinking you want to try this fasting thing...
Where do you even start? Time-restricted eating, like any diet alternation requires organization and planning.
Humans have fasted throughout history. In the beginning, it was due to the scarcity of food, that they ate when they could find food. Throughout world wars and rations, humans have fasted. Obesity didn't start to be a health issue until after the Industrial Revolution. In today's world, where food is abundant for most, we are wildly trying to find the perfect "diet" so that we can lose weight.
So what makes sense to me?
What makes more sense to me when I break things down, that we don't need all of that food throughout the day. That it's good to feel "starved" during times and that sensation will go away. What also makes sense to me is that insulin is created in your body when you eat something...and if you are eating throughout the day, with food you don't really need, your fat storage will increase. So why not eat once, then you get your insulin pumped and throughout the day, your smart body will break down stored fat for food.
Whatever routine you choose, the results can be similar, I have tried both and have come to see what works best for me.
There are two main versions of IF which people follow:
16:8 clock - fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window.
I found this difficult to follow. I started my window from 11am - 7 pm, which in the beginning worked really well. Until I got invited out for dinner outside of my window. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Everything went out of the window several times over!
Some notes about this eating style:
Still eating normal style meals within the given window
This window is a good starting point for anyone who wants to see what IF is all about. You should notice some differences in your body. Here are somethings that I noticed:
My hunger and fullness hormones were working - I was full after eating my meals and didn't want to continue eating.
My bloating decreased a little, but not enough. I was still feeling bloated at the end of the night
My bowel movements were all over the place!
Energy levels relatively the same
Restrictive Eating - Eating once a day
I've been eating like this for the past two weeks. At first it seemed impossible to happen, but since I don't eat breakfast anyhow, I just had to last a little longer. I eat my meal between 4-6 pm. This has been challenging when I am not working during the day and if I have a harder early-morning workout.
Carbohydrates are limited to 30 grams per day (very keto-style)
Protein - 50 grams
Fat- 20 grams
I'm not measuring my macros, just keeping an eye on them.
Bloating decreased significantly
Decreased blood pressure (back down to normal, from 140/90)
Though not as frequent, better formed poops - this is important!!!
Good amount of energy
oh, and I've lost 5 pounds!
Then there's the full day fast, where you eat normally and then fast for twenty-four hours every two days. I haven't gotten to that point yet and I'm not sure if I ever will go down that road at this point.
I'm not promoting that YOU start fasting. I just want to let you know my experience and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
A few questions you may have:
Am I working out?
Yes, I still work out.
Strength training x2 week, Swimming x2 week, Yoga x3 week. And I just started a 30 day mobility and movement program which is using a great deal of muscle. I also try to walk and bike as much as I possibly can and keep very stretched out.
Does fasting work?
Fasting has proven results in human studies with decreasing the risk of cardio vascular disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Losing weight, if it happens is just a bonus!
What are you eating?
Really whatever I want. I described my macros above. I still eat chocolate. I eat pasta and rice. Quite a bit of protein. But definitely no refined sugars, no simple carbs, no potato chips. I'm still eating out, if that is going to be my one meal for the day. I'm drinking A LOT of water.
What about alcohol?
I don't really drink that much to begin with and I haven't since I started this. If I indulge, I would probably stick to vodka sodas or something very low calorie, low sugar. No beer. No wine. But that's just me. .
Here are a couple of the things I have been eating:
The most important thing I learned: how to take away the emotion of food.
When you are eating once a day, you learn to eat really whole, but simple foods. Things that can go together really quickly; a simple salad, easy cook meats and maybe a quick pasta or rice dish. But because I am just eating once a day, I'm not eating because I'm bored, tired or emotional. I just don't. It's not an option any longer.
And even though it may seem like this is so restrictive....it's called restricted eating...I feel like I have more freedom, if that makes any sense at all.
So I'm wondering about YOU.
Have you ever fasted?
Are you holding onto some extra weight?
Are you pre-diabetic, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
Do you have questions about fasting? IF so, what are they? REPLY and let me know what you think!
Until the next week,
Eat well. Work hard. Seize wellness.