Intermittant Fasting - Week One

A coworker of mine recently recommended intermittent fasting to me.  He explained that his goal was not to lose weight but rather feel more energetic and improve his health.  His experience with it was positive.  He did lose a small amount of weight (which he wasn't trying to do), but he said his energy levels had increased dramatically.

I will leave the explanation of intermittent fasting to your reading enjoyment here, and simply focus instead on the experience I am having so far.  There are numerous benefits associated with this type of fasting, and I was eager to partake in them but was also highly skeptical.

I am like a hobbit.  I graze all day.  I eat my first breakfast, even on weekends, at 5:30am.  I usually eat a second breakfast at 8:30am.  I snack and eat small meals throughout the day until the evening, where I usually cut myself off at 7:00pm (because of my GERD).  However, as you can see, the time frame between when I stop eating at night to when I start in the morning is really not all that long.

I elected to do as my coworker is doing, the 16/8 fasting, where I fast for sixteen hours and eat for eight.  My first challenge was choosing what hours to make my "eating time."  Originally, I liked the idea of eating from 6:00am to 2:00pm, because then I could eat first thing in the morning (I am absolutely starving when I wake up).  However, it would mean almost never sharing a meal with my husband during the week.  I finally chose to eat between the hours of 10:00am and 6:00pm.  This allows me to eat something in the morning, have lunch at work during the week, and then hurry home for dinner and a snack before I get cut off for the day.

I have been doing this for a week now, and so far it's been fairly successful.  The first few days were very challenging in the mornings.  I usually workout in the morning, and so by 8:00am I was ready to chew my arm off I was so hungry.  A few days in, this feeling passed and I was able to make it to 10:00am with only minimal whining and discomfort.  My coworkers laugh when they hear me shaking up my protein shake and say, "It must be almost ten o'clock!"  

The weekend was the most difficult.  Because of both homework and my other activities, I was not always thinking about the clock.  On Saturday at 5:00pm I realized it had been hours since I had eaten and only had one hour left to eat.  By the end of the day on Saturday, I had eaten only 1,302 calories, but I had burned 2,961 calories.  This was not intentional at all.  My normal calorie intake goal is around 1,900 calories a day.  But time got away from me, due in part to how active I was, and then the day ended and I had not only eaten too little but burned too much.  Sunday was almost identical.

My goal as I move into the second week of this is to remember to eat regularly during the weekend.  Especially because I tend to be more active on weekends (my daily step goal is 15,000, but over the weekend I exceeded 20,000 both days), I need to plan to both start and end the day with a decent meal.

My energy level improved over the course of weekdays, but by Monday morning I was exhausted, no doubt due to too few calories and too little sleep over the weekend. 

However, by Saturday morning I was down 6lbs since the last time I weighed.  I suspect some of this was water weight I was going to lose anyway (my weight had been higher than I expected the previous week), but for sure 3 of those 6 pounds were true weight loss.  Additionally, I have had fewer digestive issues, including bloating, no doubt due to giving my body those sixteen hours to recover from my usually monstrous eating habits.  My hobbit habits!

This is not a diet.  It's an eating pattern, and more like a lifestyle.  I intend to do this for several weeks and catalog how I feel and see if it's worth continuing.  For two years, I have tracked my calories everyday and doing this caused me to look carefully at what I was eating.  It's like a daily budget, and if I know something is 300 calories, I ask myself how badly I really want it.  If it's not worth it, I don't eat it.  What intermittent fasting has done so far is cause me to look at food in terms of how fulfilling it is.  Will it help me get through sixteen hours of fasting?  For example, the other night I had a major craving for corn with salsa in it.  But I realized this was not going to be the sort of nourishment that would help me get through the long night until 10:00am the next day.  Cut me a big old slab of lean beef, because that is the sort of thing I will wish I had come 5:00am!