Fasting – Does it conjure up images of deprivation? Does it have a religious connotation for you? Have you ever tried it? Have you found the right type of fasting for you?
I have been experimenting a lot with fasting over the last couple of years. I would like to share my results with you.
Please feel-free to comment with any other information you would like on this topic, I am happy to help you.
My Fasting Experiment
I started by juice fasting for a couple of days, twice a year back in 2012 and had mixed results with it –
- Psychologically I felt good – I felt like I had pumped my body full of vitamins and minerals.
- My energy after each of the three days was high, I felt light and energetic.
- Only doing 3 days was short enough to feel achievable.
- I had a headache, quite a bad one, on Days 2 and 3.
- I didn’t sleep well for 3 days.
- Adding fruits to the juices (so that they were palatable) made me bloated and a bit spotty.
So I took away the good points of this juicing experiment and added a fresh (mainly vegetable juice) a couple of days a week for breakfast.
Then back in August 2012 the BBC aired a Horizon documentary called Eat Fast and Live Longer
It became known as the 5:2 diet and has a loyal following.
The basic explanation of 5:2 is that twice a week you eat approx. 400 calories per day if you are female and 500 calories per day if you are male (you can work out exactly how many to eat using their tool).
So I decided to give it a go…
- The rules are very simple. I like that. No complicated guidelines.
- As vegetables are very low in calories I found myself eating lots of them on fast days.
- I dropped weight quite quickly (great if that is your goal).
- I found myself rebound bingeing on non fast days. I really was hungry the next day.
- I got obsessive about counting calories.
- The weight that I DID drop resulted in mainly muscle loss and not fat loss ( I am not bothered by weight, prefer to get strong and lean).
Another thing I did notice was that my brain was sharper when I was fasting. I gained incredible clarity on the morning of fast days. It got me thinking…..
If I could produce my best work when I haven’t eaten then how can I adapt that to suit me?
So I started doing lots of research into how I could incorporate fasting protocols in a way that ramped-up the benefits and didn’t have major negatives.
I stumbled upon a great piece of research by a Doctor called Bert Herring. I watched his Ted Talk (and you know I love Ted Talks!)
His suggestion is that we eat in a 5 hour window each day and that following his FAST 5 Diet results in many benefits, weight loss included. I highly recommend that you watch it.
It really got me thinking. Here is a way of fasting that has huge mental and physical benefits and could work for me.
The only issue I had personally (and you may resonate with this too), was that I needed a longer eating period in the day that would enable me to socialize if needed.
I extended this period to an 8 hour window and have been doing it for a pretty long time, with a few extra ketogenic boosters thrown in for good measure.
I have talked about this in another blog post – you MUST find a diet that works for you. I cannot stress this enough. It must fit in with your life otherwise it will become another diet that you try for a few weeks and not a LIFESTYLE that you can stick to.
So if you want to try this 8 hour approach, here you go!
- You eat in an 8 hour window (therefore fast for 16).
- You can pick whatever window you like – 9 to 5, 10 to 6, 12 to 8 etc. I choose 1 to 9 and sometimes 2 to 10 as I like the extended morning fast when I get my writing done, my brain is SO CLEAR!
- Try and break your fast with a low-carb meal with a nice dollop of fat in it. It is perfect following your fast period. My favourite is to have eggs and avocado.
Don’t you just love easy rules?
Tips and Tricks
- When you start your stomach may rumble! Try drinking herbal tea during your fasting periods.
- A lot of hunger is psychological, busy yourself in your fasting periods.
- You will find it much easier with a low carb, moderate protein and high healthy fat intake for your meals. You will find that way, that you become less and less hungry.
- If you do regular exercise, drop the intensity for the first week or so. Then introduce the intensity after 7 days.
- Exercise and this 8 hour lifestyle work really well together. I walk as much as possible during my fasting window. It is a great way to start using up your body fat stores.
- It is totally possible to exercise fasted, just be kind to your body and go slowly.
- Stay well hydrated and try a home-made isotonic drink to consume if you are exercising more than an hour (or if the weather is hot). In half a litre of water, squeeze a little lime juice and a decent pinch of sea salt.
Benefits I have noticed:
There are so many benefits to list here but I am just going to share the top ones:
I have stayed the same weight – 51 kilos but I have dropped to 17% body fat and gained lean muscle.
I can now run totally fasted in the morning up to 2.5 hours effortlessly (I built up very slowly).
I don’t obsess about food, I really enjoy my food and look forward to eating.
My skin is completely clear, no acne.
Other PCOS symptoms that I had, have gone.
Muscle soreness after exercise has almost non-existent.
My depression has improved 100%.
I have lots of energy.
Ooooooh I could go on but I appreciate you may want to go and watch all the links and get stuck in. Please don’t jump straight in. Go get yourself checked out by a Doctor and get the clearance to go ahead and try it if you think it may suit you AND….
Remember what I said in my Perfect Diet link – it has to suit you. This is your lifestyle, you may need to tweak it, you may come up with suggestions for me to try!
I hope you enjoy the research into this and it inspires you to make healthy changes. It has changed a lot for me and I hope it can for you too.