Monday, July 31, 2017

Intermittent Fasting

I had first heard of intermittent fasting last year.  I’ve tried the 5:2 fast, which lets you eat normally for five days and 2 days out of the week you only eat 500 calories.  Jimmy Kimmel went on Howard Stern and talked about using this method to lose all of his weight.  He doesn’t even exercise.  Then I tried the Eat Stop Eat method by Brad Pilon which uses nonconsecutive 24 hour fasts.  Using this method, you would end up eating 1 meal a day if say, your fast was from 7:00 PM Monday night to 7:00 PM Tuesday night.  Then there is my favorite and the one that I am currently using, the 8/16 fast made popular by Lean Gains author Martin Berkhan.  For this fast you would basically eat during an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours.  For me, this would mean skipping breakfast and eating my meals between the hours of 11 AM and 7 PM. 

The science of intermittent fasting fascinated me and made a lot of sense.  Calorie restriction had slowed my metabolism down trying to get me back to my pre-programmed set point, but intermittent fasting isn’t calorie restriction.  When your body is in a fasted state it needs to burn energy for fuel and the first thing it reaches for is the sugar from the food you’ve eaten and the glucose stores in your liver and muscle.  Sugar is like the cash in your wallet and fat is the money in your savings account.   After about 12 hours of fasting your body starts to reach into your fat stores to burn for fuel.  On the other hand, when you have the traditional healthy breakfast in the morning thinking that you’re doing to “healthy” thing to speed up your metabolism, you’re ending your fast mode and now you’re in fed mode.  Whatever food you’re eating is getting used for energy fuel and there’s not really a need to dip into your fat stores.  Why touch your savings when there’s cash in your pocket?  Also, since you’re eating normally during your eating window your body isn’t signaling that you’re being calorie restricted and your metabolism isn’t slowed down.

I have to say that after really getting into intermittent fasting I infinitely prefer it to calorie restriction.  Mentally, I don’t feel guilty for eating during my eating window because I feel like I’ve earned my meals.  I also like using my body’s natural hunger cues and cravings to guide my eating during the day and not having to really think about what I’m eating because I’m not focusing on calorie restriction.  Mentally and emotionally it’s very freeing.

The good news is that in the two weeks that I’ve been intermittent fasting, I haven’t gained any weight even though I’ve indulged a lot in the desserts that I never allowed myself to have while counting calories.  So that’s where the no sugar and alcohol August comes into play.  This is my own personal baby step, body experiment to see if my body wants me to be the weight that it is or if my own indulgent behavior is keeping me at this weight.  If I can get down to 130 pounds just by intermittent fasting and cutting out sugar and alcohol, then I’ll know that it’s possible and I’ve just been selfish and lazy.  If by the end of the month I don’t see a significant change, then I’ll take that as a sign that by continuing to diet, I’m just deluding myself with the phantom hope of thinness and that I’m making myself and those around me miserable.

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