Intermittent fasting. What exactly is it and why is it useful?
Intermittent fasting is starting to gain popularity, but the principle itself has been around for many years. In essence, it involves fasting, or going without food, for shorter periods of time than are usually associated with the term “fast.” Most followers of intermittent fasting go between 8-24 hours without eating.
So why do it? What are the benefits? Proponents of it claim they have increased focus, more energy, feel less bloated, and generally have an easier time managing their weight. That sounds pretty good right? I was curious what it would do for me so I decided to give it a try. Now before I go in to my experience, you might already be following a form of this. Many people don’t eat between around 9pm and 7 or 8am.
Eight hours wouldn’t really be different than any other day, so I shot for 12-16 hour intermittent fasting periods. I stopped eating at 9pm the night before, which is pretty usual for me. I woke up at my normal time of 4:30am and started to feel hungry around 6am, my normal breakfast time. Not going without breakfast was a bit of an initial shock to my body. It was used to a certain routine of eating at the same time every day.
That hunger gradually increased through the morning, peaking around 11am. By this time I was 14 hours into my trial and my stomach was pretty confused as to what was going on. “Two more hours,” I thought to myself. Something strange happened around this time. The feeling of hunger started to gradually fade and a state of mental clarity came over me. I was no longer as concerned with counting down the time until the fast was over. I was able to focus 100% on my work without being distracted by constant feelings that I should be eating.
Now these 14-16 hours are considered somewhat short in the world of fasting. There are people that are able to go multiple days without food. Am I at that level? No. Will I ever be? Probably not. But the 16 hours of fasting taught me that it was possible and sparked the idea of pushing it a little further. The next challenge will be to go for 24 hours. Of course, I’ll let you know my experience with it.
One last thing before I sign off. The fasting periods differ from person to person. Some people are comfortable doing the 12-16 hours every day while others only do it a few times a week. As for the 24-hour fast, I know people that will do it once per week, say on a Saturday or Sunday. So if the benefits sound appealing, give it a try and let me know about your own experience with intermittent fasting!