My Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting

Well I’ve been officially doing Intermittent Fasting for about 12 days now. Two full work weeks have passed, and I have to admit, I’m really liking it so far.

And surprisingly, I don’t say that sarcastically.

(For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, you can read these two posts here and here to find out more about IF and how/why I’m doing this).

I’ve been documenting like a mad woman, and  have a few observations so far. Some of these are things that have surprised me and some that I expected. So in no particular order, here are my thoughts on IF so far:

  • IF is essentially an exercise in meditation. Ok, this may not be accurate, because I don’t meditate (even though I know I should). But really, the first several hours of each day, from waking around 6:30 until 11 or 12, I’ve been really training my mind to not focus on the hunger. I’m not going to starve, I know I’ll be totally fine and that I’ll be eating in a few hours, but sometimes it takes some serious mental energy to not stare at the clock and daydream about peanut butter and cookies.
  • I eat less overall (not on purpose). I did not start this with the intention of it being a “diet” or trying to restrict my calories in any significant way. What I have found, though, is that I have decreased my caloric intake simply because I’m not hungry between meals. Ever. Eating 3 normal sized meals within the span of 8 hours (and sometimes 7), doesn’t leave much time in between meals, and so my usual mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks have all but disappeared. This has probably decreased my daily intake by about 300+ calories.  I’m hardly ever hungry by the time my second meal time rolls around, and am really just eating because I know I should. Last night I had to basically force feed myself my 3rd meal, because I had to eat it a little bit earlier than scheduled (due to work). That wasn’t the most comfortable thing, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world either.
  • Morning hunger really isn’t that bad. I used to think that I always woke up hungry and that I had to eat as soon as I woke up. Now I realize that yes, sometimes I do wake up feeling hungry, but that feeling generally passes within a half hour. I’ll have a cup of coffee and generally be good until my first meal which is always either at 11 or 12, depending on my training time.
  • Hunger pangs do pass, except for when they don’t. Most of the time when I’ve gotten really hungry during the morning or evening after my last meal, the feeling has passed within about a half hour, which is totally manageable. I’ve also learned that keeping myself busy is an excellent way to ignore these, which has meant that cleaning has been happening in the mornings when I’m feeling especially hungry. Again, not the end of the world. But there have been two days over the past two weeks where the hunger pangs didn’t go away, and that was pure torture. A few days ago, I even made a point to leave for work early, so that I could walk around downtown to keep myself busy. For some reason, that ended up being my hungriest day, and by the time I got to work, I was in a very bad place. I even had to tell people not to talk to me until I ate something (and I meant it 100%. Luckily most of them know what I’m doing with this experiment). That was the only really difficult morning I’ve had though.

eat_all_the_foodsThis is how I felt that day.

  • Training fasted isn’t all that bad, except for when it is. For the most part, my strength when training fasted has been completely fine; I’ve even increased in a couple lifts over the past couple of weeks (moving my split squat up to 105 lb from 95, and inching closer and closer to 100 lb on my bench!). And generally when lifting, I don’t notice a difference in how I feel. There have been a couple of conditioning days though, where a) my legs felt like total bricks and b) I’ve gotten extremely light headed and short of breath very quickly.  These have been torture and make me feel like I’ve been smoking 3 packs a day for 5 years. Yuck. Granted, the first of these was in the first few days of this program, so I was clearly still adjusting big time. And I did finally have a good conditioning session on Wednesday, so maybe I’m past that now. We’ll see next week.

There we have it. These are my observations about IF so far. I’ll be doing this for at least another two weeks, and will then update you all with full disclosure. I’ll give you a sample meal plan from a regular day, talk about any body composition changes that may or may not happen (nothing has changed yet…but it’s only been 2 weeks. Let’s be realistic).

Would you consider trying Intermittent Fasting? Do you always wake up hungry or do you skip breakfast naturally?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone, and don’t forget to visit (and like) my new Facebook Page!

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14 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting

  1. That’s interesting. This is the first post I’ve read of yours regarding intermittent fasting. I find that if I go too long without eating, then the next time I eat I get pretty severe heartburn. Have you experienced this at all?

    • Actually, I did in the past! If I went too long between eating, I would either get really bad heartburn, or just sharp pains in my side upon eating again. Strangely enough, since I have started this, I have not had that feeling, but I honestly have no idea why 🙂

    • Hi MrsB! I’m glad you asked that. It’s actually a myth that you absolutely have to eat breakfast. There is a lot of research out there that suggests that not eating in the morning can optimize your body’s hormonal balance and fat utilization. BUT that being said, everybody is different, and that may not work for some people. Some people need to eat in the morning, or they end up overeating later in the day. Nutrition is hardly ever one-size-fits-all in my opinion! 🙂

  2. Wow, good for you. I am surprised you are fasting EVERYDAY in the morning…. I am a yoga teacher and just spent 3 months in India. Our lead guru talked to us about fasting and the many important health benefits, mostly giving our digestive system a break because it is ALWAYS working… he recommended fasting (drinking water only) for a full day every 8-11 days. Morning until the NEXT morning, 24 hours, and the resume with light foods. Another type of fast HIGHLY recommended was only eating one type of food for a day like, bananas, that way it is at least easier for your body to digest. FASTING in India is not only NOT eating, it could be eating only fruit for 3 days, or anything really. I enjoyed reading your experience with the hunger… my hardest thing is the moods. I can be really bratty then its time to drink some juice or something. Thanks for this post, and the reminder to get back into my own “fasting”. 😉 Good luck the next couple of weeks… looking forward to following you!

    • It is so interesting to me that fasting is a normal part of many other cultures, yet in the US if you talk about fasting, you are often looked at funny, or people assume you are doing it for religious reasons. I agree with your guru that there are many health benefits to fasting, and that the body is not always meant to be in a fed state 24/7! There are some people that practice IF by doing a 24 hour fast once (or sometimes twice) per week, but I am not sure that I could commit to that. As of now, I’m fasting from about 8 pm – 12 pm every day, and have found that that schedule really works for me. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I don’t always wake up hungry, but if I don’t, I’m always hungry within the hour. I think I might be able to deal with waiting until 11 or 12 to eat, but I would hate going to bed hungry! I feel like that would keep me from falling asleep.

    That’s all just hypothetical though – I could never last on IF! I need a full 14-15 hour timespan to eat. 😛

    • I totally understand where you’re coming from! There have only been one or two times throughout this thing that I’ve gone to bed hungry, usually I’m still satisfied from a later dinner, so it hasn’t been a problem. I have had a couple days where I’ve been coming home late from work (9 – 10 pm) with some SERIOUS cravings, and those have been hard to control when I’m exhausted and mildly hungry!

  4. I have read some people take BCAAs before training fasted and that helps (and apparently doesn’t count as breaking the fast)

    Like you I think the you must eat breakfast thing is a myth and completely depends on the person. This website has a lot on why breakfast doesn’t have to be eaten http://www.leangains.com/

    Enjoying reading about your time with IF!

    • Thanks for the link! I have been supplementing with BCAAs on days that I train, and although they taste HORRIBLE, I really do think they’ve been helping. And wouldn’t you know, the days when I thought I was going to die during conditioning, I didn’t have any BCAAs. Whether it’s actually connected, I’m not sure, but it could be!

  5. I would rather skip lunch than breakfast. I used to go without breakfast ALL the time and only have a cup of coffee but I can tell you I’ve noticed that my desk-jockey work improves if my tummy (& brain) are fed a healthy start meal. So while I don’t wake up hungry, and I know I can skip the meal (I still do occassionaly) its not my preferred method. Rock on with the IF! =o) Living through you on that one. I’ve been proud of myself for ignoring a few of my inhale sessions of Gummy life savers, I just think of the rats that would go to the fields for fruit loops…. funny how that sticks in my mind.

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    • haha, even with the success I’ve had with the 8pm-12pm fasting, I don’t think I could skip lunch! I’ve found that I have some kind of mental clarity in the morning before I eat, but I also need food during the day to keep my energy levels up! Nice work avoiding the Gummy life savors… Sour Patch Kids are my “must inhale these now” weakness 🙂

  6. I give you props for being able to do this. Honestly, I didn’t expect you, or anyone else for that matter, to be able to do this. So I am impressed! I know you never go into anything without heaps of research, so I am not worried you may crumple up and die. I do not foresee myself doing this, but maybe I can take it to a different level with less of a “no breakfast” thing. I know my body and I don’t think I could do it…nor that I would keep my job. Still, something to think about for me!
    I do remember at the Catholic School having days I wasn’t supposed to eat and basically passing out in class when I tried. I was lucky and my Mom totally understood the food thing so didn’t make me do it, but the few times I tried it was a mess for me.

  7. Pingback: 1 Month of Intermittent Fasting | I Train Therefore I Eat.

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