Most people I know either have no idea what fasting is or think it’s about starving yourself almost to death? And hardly anyone knows what intermittent fasting is, or that it would benefit them to know. And besides that, no one at all wants to feel like someone is taking away their enjoyment of food.
Eating to live vs Living to eat
Well, guess what? The practice of scheduling meals to miss will help you enjoy your food even more. And that’s not all, going a few hours without consuming food is proven to improve health and help you lose excess pounds. Let’s see how that works in the rest of this post.
Intermittent fasting is not about simply shutting down your eating. Instead, it is about scheduling the times you will and will not eat on certain days.
Let’s be honest though, fasting means to abstain from something. In this case, it means to abstain from food intermittently. The way you do that is to schedule “windows” for when you do and do not consume food. If you like the results, you can learn to schedule longer windows without food, but that’s not required.
How To Schedule An Inter-Day Fast
Intermittent fasting focuses on paying close attention to specific windows during the day when you do and do not eat.
The first step is to start taking note of and seeing for yourself that the largest part of your day does not involve eating. (That is presuming you are not eating continuously between meals?)
You Are Fasting Daily Already
If you think of a typical 24 hour day, you see times spent eating, bathroom time, working time, watching TV, and other activities such as regular exercise. Then there’s scheduled time for sleep. The time you have set for sleep could be as long as 8 hours or so, right? If you have dinner at 7, go to bed at 10 and get up at 6 – you’ve fasted for 11 hours already.
It may come as a surprise that you are already fasting every day of your life. In fact, we all have regular periods of going without food baked into our life.
Why Not Use It to Your Advantage?
Once you see that you are already living with fasting and eating windows built into your life, it’s easy to expand on that. The key is to merely pay closer attention to the windows and expand the fasting windows into more hours with no food. The best option is to drink no fluids other than all the water you want.
The Bottom Line of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet or a particular method of eating. However, you can build it into any weight loss diet for super-fast results. I would guess that most people using this way of eating as a lifestyle are eating whatever they want during the eating windows. And as much as they want.
Here’s My Personal Experience
- First week. When I started out, I simply skipped all food between dinner and breakfast. I usually have dinner around 6 pm and my first step was to cut out all food between then and 7 am breakfast. That gave me a fasting window of 13 hours, and I did that for 5 of the first 7 days. I understood from the outset that I need that window to be longer, but giving up snacks at night was fasting to me.
- The second week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays of the next two weeks, I skipped breakfast altogether. Skipping breakfast meant I was going from 6 pm until noon without anything to eat, but morning coffee and a lot of water. That is an 18 hour fast and considered by most participants to be all you need for optimum results.
- My fasting now. Now, I fast for 24 hours two days a week. I eat breakfast and leave off all food until breakfast the following day, drinking my normal pot of coffee in the am and water all day. I personally think fasting one day a week is what all of should do, but I enjoy the benefits of two days too much to change.
My Own Fasting Experiences
Intermittent fasting means intermittently not eating. So, merely skipping any meal certainly qualifies, and only scheduling a couple of meals to skip each week produces results. In fact, I suspect the results are the same whether you skip a meal or a day, only multiplied.
My Intermittent Fasting Results
- The day I set my mind to not eating anything between dinner and breakfast, was a big deal for me. I had become accustomed to the dinner meal continuing on until I went to bed. I found my self eating snacks of every kind while I watched TV at night. Giving that up definitely felt like a fast to me, but by the time a week rolled by I was ready to add a breakfast fast.
- After a couple of weeks of skipping breakfast twice a week, I noticed two things: First I had lost a few pounds. Second, and most importantly, I began to notice that it was much easier to control my cravings. In fact, I was aware that they were leaving.
- The first day I fasted from breakfast to breakfast was a real eye-opener. I eat lunch at noon every day. By 2 pm it definitely felt like someone had taken my favorite toy from me. The fact is that I didn’t get hungry all day (any time I felt the need, I drank a 16oz bottle of water), but could tell without a doubt that I was breaking a long-established habit of eating. That’s when I realized that most of my eating is a habit, the same as an exercise habit, and has nothing to do with hunger.
- After a couple of weeks of fasting for 24 hours two times a week, usually Wednesday and Saturday, I wasn’t eating nearly as much at any one meal as before. When I want to, I do and feel completely at ease about eating all I care to eat after 40.
- For the first month or so I lost a pound or two a week, before my weight settling at my ideal weight and remaining there.
- I have more energy 7 days a week than I’ve had in years. I am sure that’s because of losing weight, not eating nearly as much junk food as before, and allowing my stomach to rest a couple of times a week. I would have thought not eating for a day would leave me ravenous for food, but it has actually had the opposite effect.
- Only after fasting intermittently for a few weeks did I get a handle on eating when I’m hungry and not when I’m bored or emotional.
Do You Have to Fast for 24 Hours?
Absolutely not, so don’t let my own experience put you off. Most people who practice intermittent fasting regularly with great results, never go past 16-18 hours.
The majority of people are quite suspicious of the idea of fasting, even when they hear about all the results from people they actually know. In fact, most people I know don’t really believe it works at all.
But the truth is that planning ahead of time to miss a meal and then sticking with the plan, has a lot of advantages.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Enhance weight loss
- Enhanced ability and motivation to maintain a healthy and ideal weight
- Increased energy levels
- Aids in decreasing bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Guards against type II Diabetes
- Decreases insulin resistance
- Promotes health and longevity
- Dramatically increases personal discipline
- Cuts food cravings
But the truth is, you should not think of yourself fasting at all, especially in the beginning. When you start out, don’t think of yourself so much as going without as re-scheduling the times you will feed yourself.
Re-Thinking How and When You Eat
Re-think your eating times into windows of a day. Instead of thinking of your day divided into awake – asleep and what times you will feed yourself meals and snacks — see your days as eating and fasting windows. Since you already have a set time to sleep, just add a few hours to the no-calorie time and you have intermittent fasting.
Losing weight is just the beginning.
Even though the benefits are far greater than weight loss, that’s where most people start this adventure. By sticking to the plan a few weeks, you will lose excess weight and see for yourself the amazing benefits of taking control of your eating habits.
Of course, it sounds too simple to work. It is simple and gets even more so with just a little effort. It works without giving up the foods you love or changing eating habits on most days of the week. For myself, I’ve found intermittent fasting the best way to make a habit of disciplined eating while improving my weight and health.