You may be thinking, “Why is the featured image a picture of an empty plate, how does that help me?” Well, hear me out for a bit because in this first post, I chose to discuss something that is fundamental to my approach to fitness and maintaining a healthy mind and body. No, it is not starvation. That’s not healthy in any way. I want to talk about intermittent fasting (IF). Some of you may have heard of it and some of you may be like “What the hell is that?” To me, it was one of the most revolutionary strategies I have implemented in my fitness journey and cannot imagine life without it now.
Many people when talking about IF throw numbers around like 16:8 and 20:4 or use terms like alternate day fasting. But to me it’s as simple as the following two words:
What! Heresy! I know what you’re thinking, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” “You have to eat breakfast to ramp up your metabolism!” These commonly spewed phrases are lies circulated by the fitness industry and other huge marketing companies to persuade you to consume their products.
Think about it, if we make people think that Breakfast is the most important meal and that it’s healthy to consume our product, we make more money! In addition, studies on IF have been done and have concluded that short fasts have a positive impact on the metabolic rate. Longer fasts, around 3 days, result in a marginal decrease in the metabolic rate, around -10%. So IF is safe, effective, and backed by science.
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Personally, the longest fast I have ever done is 48 hours. At times it was tough. But at certain points your body realizes it is not getting food for a bit and the hunger subsides.
IF is now ingrained in my day to day life. For someone looking for a strategy to fight off extra weight gain from the holidays or a new method to stay lean in 2018, it’s quite the nifty trick.
The idea behind this is that you will save calories for later in the day. This is great for the budding socialite who has dinner dates with friends in the evenings. You can head into the dinner excited. You don’t have to be “That guy/girl” anymore. No one likes to utter the worst combination of words known to mankind “I’ll just have a salad.” This works perfectly for me since I enjoy cooking large dinners and I get to try all the amazing restaurants New Orleans has to offer.
However, this is not a free pass to eat everything and anything and to go for five slices of pie since, “I have extra calories saved.” It’s a way to strategically save calories in order to eat more later on.
I prefer Cheesecake and can easily destroy several slices in one sitting.
A Personal IF Example
I’ll explain IF with an example from my Christmas day.
We planned our Christmas dinner to be at around 6:00 pm. I woke up around 8:00 am and got ready to go snowboarding. My family and I were on a ski trip in Park City, Utah (amazing trip, more on this in future posts potentially.) Drank my morning coffee around 9:00 am and headed to the slopes. I was on the mountain till around 3:00 pm and still hadn’t eaten anything. Despite pushing into around 20 hours fasted, I was occupied with snowboarding and wasn’t feeling hungry at all. I got back to the Airbnb around 4:00 pm with 2 hours till the main feast. Now feeling some hunger I had one of my favorite high protein snacks, Greek yogurt, to hold me over till dinner.
Depending on the day and my fridge contents, I’ll add anything from candy to fruit in my yogurt or just add sweetener.
So at 4:00 pm with 2 hours left I have about 300 calories consumed and a ton left in reserve for dinner. 6:00 pm rolls around and the family feasts on all the amazing home cooked food. It tastes even better knowing that I haven’t derailed my progress.
This is my personal example of a special day of IF, on a normal day I usually break my fast around 1:00pm for a total of 16 fasted hours.
It's Not That Hard!
One concern a lot of people have when I tell them I do IF is that “Oh, I could never do that. I would be way too hungry all the time.” I thought the exact thing and look at me now. I would often wake up feeling no hunger and stuff breakfast down my face because it was “healthy.” Now, I don’t even think about eating in the mornings. However, the first few days are always the toughest. You’ll likely feel hunger around the times you normally eat. This is because your body is producing hunger causing hormones since its internal clock is expecting food. You just have to get past these initial surges in “hunger,” the rest of the day is easier. However, there are some clutch strategies I’ll list out that will help make IF a breeze.
Tips To Make Fasting Easy
- Drink Black Coffee: Caffeine helps blunt appetite and will make skipping breakfast simple.
- Drink Water: Some people do say they get hungry after waking, but in reality, it’s your body telling you to hydrate. Drinking a bottle of water after waking may surprisingly solve this.
- Drink Sparkling water: Carbonated beverages also help blunt appetite. Personally, I prefer La Croix, there are tons of new flavors to try. Bubbles + Water + Flavor = WIN
- Stay Busy: This is arguably the best one. With an occupied mind, you will have less energy to focus on hunger and food. On Christmas day, I stayed occupied while snowboarding, but this can range from staying busy at work to running around doing errands on the weekends.
I enjoy drinking coffee now much more than I ever enjoyed eating Breakfast.
Concluding Thoughts and Further Reading
This blog post is just a brief explanation of IF with a relevant holiday anecdote but I can go into more detail of the science and different strategies if anyone is interested. Also, for one of the best articles on IF and one that really won me over check out https://leangains.com/top-ten-fasting-myths-debunked-major-update-nov-4th
Martin Berkhan is my favorite fitness expert and his blog is the main reason I eat and lift the way I do now.
One thing that I want to make clear though is that, in fitness and in life, it’s not always black and white. It’s always a balancing act between what’s going on in life and what goals you have. IF is just a strategy that I have found extremely helpful for me enjoy my life to the fullest while achieving my fitness goals, and I hope you find it useful too!
Please comment below and share with anyone you think would enjoy this!