Intermittent fasting first piqued my interest several months ago when I came across the concept reading a completely unrelated article. I read about it, and then I forgot about it. While a novel concept, fasting just wasn’t for me. I had tried a three day fast before, and while I noticed some benefits, it felt like torture smelling food while passing restaurants on day three so I gave up. Not eating three squares a day just was something I was not willing to try again, so I never considered it.
Stubborn weight and a reconsideration of fasting
Then I came across more intriguing information on this concept a few months later, when I happened to be frustrated with the stone wall I was hitting trying to lose a nagging 15 pounds that I just couldn’t seem to take off. I read about the benefits of intermittent fasting, which wasn’t days of going without food (or at least solid food), but rather a daily approach to eating that seemed more moderate. I was most interested because a lot of people reported this helped propel them into weight loss mode again after stalled weight loss efforts.
Compressing your eating schedule and increasing your “resting” of fasting period
The most popular schedule for intermittent fasting is to compress your eating every day into 8 consecutive hours. So, say your first meal is at 9:00 AM, your last meal would have to be eaten by 5:00 PM. Likewise, if your first meal is at 12:00 PM, your last bit of food for the day should be eaten before 8:00 PM.
This seemed more moderate, and also seemed like it might be something just about anyone could do with a little practice and commitment. Essentially, intermittent fast gives your body a 16 hour “resting” period between eating. This resting period has proven to have several health benefits, including a boost in weight loss efforts.
Other health benefits observed and documented over time with consistent intermittent fasting are better appetite control, lower blood sugar levels, and lower inflammation levels in the body. It also tends to have a higher compliance rate than other nutritional approaches to lose or control weight, like simple calorie restriction.
This brings us to the obvious benefit of intermittent fasting. You are likely to restrict your calories using this eating schedule, simply due to the fact that you are narrowing your window of time for consuming food. Because your body gets used to not eating for those first several hours of the day (believe me, this happens a lot faster than you think it does), you tend to eat the same amount as you would for your first meal if you had eaten breakfast as well.
Your stomach tends to “shrink” during those 16 hours without food, so your first meal really seems satisfying as long as you make sure you are taking your time to chew it thoroughly and practice “mindful eating”.
It’s amazing how conditioned we are to think we need three square meals a day, and how conditioned we are to think breakfast if the most important and necessary meal of the day. I’ve personally found that I’m more productive and focused in the morning on this eating schedule, especially now that I’m used to the practice of maintaining an eight hour eating window.
The benefits end up being more than weight loss
It has greatly enhanced my appetite control, my blood sugar control, and believe it or not, my productivity in general. I can even work out during the fasting period now without experiencing any negative effects like “crashing” or lack of energy.
I actually feel more energized, and better able to work out – probably because I don’t have any food weighing me down and my body is able to focus 100% of its energy on physical activity instead of digestion. It is important to stay hydrated with a good, pure source of water during these resting or “fasting” hours.
Try sipping on water with a fresh lemon wedge squeezed into it throughout the entire morning, this helps not only hydrate and supply your body with minerals, but also helps stave off any hunger signals that might come through.
Most people need to give it time to really notice these benefits, usually a few weeks. The body supposedly flips into a different mode of burning energy after it becomes accustomed to an intermittent fasting schedule. It starts to burn more stored energy during the fasting period, which means it can make it easier and much faster to lose weight since you have to experience a calorie or energy deficit in order to realize weight reduction.
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