After being a slave to my blood sugar for years, I knew fasting wouldn’t work for me. I tried those juice fasts everyone did back in the day, and I was ready to kill someone on day 2, so that was it for me. I was NOT trying it again, I didn’t care who said what. Enter a hormonal imbalance and a hefty tire around the middle, and suddenly I was a little more open-minded.
I was all in for the low carb diet and even adding fat back into my diet. My energy skyrocketed when I did that, and the pounds melted off, until that dreaded last ten pounds. Reluctantly, I agreed to try Intermittent Fasting for a few days, mostly because my mentor promised I would see a benefit and I wanted to prove him wrong so he would stop hounding me about it.
The theory behind intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is that it forces your body to use its stored fat instead of having a steady supply of food to use. By restricting calories to certain intervals, it prompts your body to release Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and insulin, both of which are the primary hormones that cause release of fat stores. Insulin also regulates blood sugar, and when properly released into your system, you can use your stored fat for energy instead of crashing.
I decide to go for a 16 hour fast because that apparently has the best benefit. I thought I was going to die at about hour 12. I was used to getting up, having bulletproof coffee and working out, followed by breakfast. But on this morning I watched the sunrise over black coffee, worked out fasted and was then flat on the floor until hour 16. Keep going, my mentor said. I was promised it would be worth it and that it would take a few days to adapt.
It took three days to adapt. Those three days were rough, I have to admit. On day three, I limped through my workout, made it to hour 16 and gulped down a bulletproof coffee, and then it hit me. I had more energy than I knew what to do with. My brain was firing on all cylinders and then some. I was insanely happy. A new day had dawned for me, and I was officially in.
So much for proving my mentor wrong. It was looking like I was going to have to tell him he was right.
I kept it going to for a few weeks, during which time I was so energetic and happy I could barely stand myself. I even had someone tell me I was too happy and needed to be brought down, because no one wants to be around that. (To that I said ‘Fine!’ and walked away. If I am too happy for you, that is your issue, not mine.) My waistline decreased noticeably, and so did my appetite. It all but went away and I would forget to eat. Who forgets to eat!
I still wasn’t entirely convinced for some odd reason, so I let the fasting go when I went away for a weekend. I noticed an immediate change in energy and mood. When I returned I went back to it, and BAM! Back to being happy.
Ok, I said to myself, this is the real deal. I played with timing, anywhere from 12-16 hr fasts, even going as high as 26 hours on a couple of occasions. I have found 16 hours to be my sweet spot, when I get the most impact on energy, appetite and mood.
Unfortunately, as I write this I am just coming off a lengthy illness, during which time both the keto diet and IF fell off for me. My mid-section can tell, so I am getting back into both again and it feels amazing to be doing so. I graduated into 16 hours of fasting this time, so I didn’t feel like I was ten seconds from a murderous spree. It took about a week and I am back to 16 hour fasts and back to feeling the way I like to.
If you are interested in trying IF, graduating into it is a good way to do it. Start with 12-14 hours, whatever you can handle, and work up from there. Before long you will start to notice changes in your appetite and it will feel natural to go longer and longer. Once you have experienced the elevation in energy and mood, you will want to keep going. Experiment with different fasting and feeding periods to find what works for you. A 9am – 5pm feeding period works for me, and fasting overnight. (I do take exogenous ketones pre-workout to give me enough energy to get through a strenuous workout; watch for the blog post on that.) You can vary your fasting/eating times to tailor it to your schedule.
Don’t believe me yet? Here are a few resources for you to do your own research.
Here is a Google search of people who have had success with IF.
Here is a post on LifeHack, a biohacking website.
Here is an article from Healthline Magazine.
Here is a post from Diet Doctor.
As with anything I post about, I recommend you do your own research. If you decide to try it, let me know what you think. I would love to see you on one of the above searches as a success story!