Skip breakfast? No thanks.
Avoid eating for 16+ hours a day? You’re out of your mind.
Intermittent fasting never sounded like fun to me. The word fasting is in the title. It would be a tall task to convince me to do anything that involved not eating for an extended period of time.
As with anything though, I tried to keep an open mind about the concept. I did a little research and slowly started to uncover some definite benefits of the process, especially specific to my life. After a few days of watching YouTube videos on the subject and reading articles about Intermittent Fasting, I decided to give it a try. Before I fill you in on how I’m doing with it so far, I’ll try to summarize the concept below:
Intermittent Fasting 101
First off, from what I’ve read and watched, intermittent fasting IS NOT A DIET. Everybody seemed to make that pretty clear up front (it’s kind of the rallying cry of all the fasters). It is just an adjustment on how you consume your diet. It doesn’t matter if you’re following an IIFYM diet, a clean diet, or a keto diet, everyone can intermittently fast. There are many different ways to fast, but the most popular (and the methodology I have fallen into) is the 16/8 method. This means that I’ll fast for 16 hours in the day, then during the remaining 8 hours of the day I’ll eat my allotted calories, macros, etc. I don’t alter my caloric intake or my macros from before, I am now just eating all of them in an 8 hour window.
More Sleep! (For me anyway)-For probably the last 3-4 months I have been getting up around 4:30 every workday to make a quality breakfast (eggs, egg white omelette, etc.). I didn’t like getting up and nuking some instant oatmeal, so I developed the habit of getting up nice and early to make a good spread of breakfast food. But now I just wake up, make coffee and head out the door to get to work. I would say I get an extra 30-45 minutes of sleep each morning. That extra sleep has made me a much more productive human in the beginning of my work day.
Less stress over meal prepping and meal timing-On a normal eating regimen, I would need to spread out all of my calories and macros over the course of the time that I am awake (so about 2400 calories throughout 18-20 hours). Each day was coupled with a meal countdown in my head. I wanted to be sure to wait a couple hours between each meal or snack to make sure I didn’t get too hungry. Now I am consuming those 2400 calories in an 8 hour period. This means bigger meals and not worrying so much about when to have them as long as they are in the 8 hour window.
Black Coffee: The God Of Intermittent Fasting (see picture above)-As it turns out, the only things you’re allowed to consume while fasting are water, black coffee, or tea. Water’s great, but it can get old quickly. Luckily for me, I have been drinking my coffee black for years and genuinely enjoy it. It has made the transition much easier knowing I can fall back on my old friend during the window of fasting.
Many Health Benefits-There has been actually a lot of health benefits linked to intermittent fasting that I was ignorant of until I looked into it. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure, increase blood sugar control, increase metabolic rate and increase growth hormone in your body. Crazy, right? Prior to research, intermittent fasting seemed like an unhealthy starvation tactic to me. All of these benefits are proving otherwise.
Fat Burner-If you are used to eating on a normal eating regimen, your body expects food and nutrients every few hours while you are awake. When you fast, your body will look to your stored nutrients (fats and otherwise) to burn since it hasn’t been fed on the normal schedule. This can induce greater and faster fat loss and show great results!
The first few mornings of the fast-Trying something new is always a challenge. When that new thing that you’re trying is avoiding eating until noon or 1, you can certainly experience a strong dose of hunger. What’s nice is that your body WILL adapt to whatever you do to it. After a few days, the body understands it’s not going to be fed until later, so it doesn’t bother you so much in the morning. In fact, it starts burning off some of that stored fat as it waits for its first meal as you read above!
Skipping Breakfast-This is my own personal “con”. I love breakfast food, and I can’t exactly make and omelette or egg sandwich at work in the middle of the day. We have incorporated some breakfast food into our dinners, but nothing beats a big breakfast in the morning (especially on the weekends!).
Social gatherings-Going out to brunch or breakfast is kind of off the table, unless you plan on just sipping coffee while your friends have a stack of pancakes. Also, if you have created a window of eating from 12-8, and your friends want to go out at 7:30 for dinner, you may have to extend fasting or feeding, kind of throwing off the schedule. Don’t panic too much about those, it can be flexible and fit into your life however you see fit, but just be aware that it may cut into your social gatherings depending on how strict you are with it.
As for my experience so far…
I have only been doing this for about 4-5 days, but I feel great! I have really enjoyed sleeping in a bit more, and the previous aversion to meal timing have subsided since I can eat my days calories and macros in the 8 hour window I choose. I’ve also seen some pretty quick results, losing about 2-3 pounds and still feeling strong at the gym.
I hope you all enjoyed my overview of intermittent fasting and my experience with it so far. If anyone is a wily veteran in the intermittent fasting game and has more info to share, please do in the comments below or on Twitter and Instagram (@MrAndMrsMacro). Have a great weekend people, soak in the sun!