I have been regularly following an 16:8 intermittent fasting routine, which is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating, since the start of the year. I religiously stuck to this routine, only straying over weekends and the odd special occasion.
Every so often I would extend the fast to an extra 8 hours, going a full 24 hours without food and my record is a full 48 hours without a calorie crossing my lips or so I thought but I will get back to this later.
What made the entire process easier was my partner in crime, my girlfriend, who too stuck did the 16:8 and the prolonged fasts. In fact she had a stomach ailment where a lot of food caused stomach cramps and bloating but after only two weeks of intermittent fasting these symptoms totally disappeared.
Although I did not have such pronounced benefits, I did experience the following:
A deeper appreciation for food
Since fasting, I really appreciate what I eat. Before I was fasting I would snack on this and snack on that and pretty much never feel hungry, but when you fast you do feel hungry and then when you eat, the food tastes a whole lot better.
I remember after our first 24 hour fast, we ate a mix of veggies, humus and meats… We dived right in with our hands, mumbling between bites that this is the best food ever! We followed it up with handmade chocolate from a local bakery because if you have not eaten for 24 hours why not?
Loads more time
Living a healthy lifestyle and being conscious about what you eat is not always easy, one really has to plan meals, shop regularly and ensure that you have the right food as not to spoil ones healthy eating.
With intermittent fasting, this became a lot easier, especially since we gave up breakfast, which always proved to be a little tricky.
Sticking with a mostly high protein and fat diet, my breakfast would normally consist out of eggs, broccoli and a piece of fish. This would take a while to prepare, eat and clean. With intermittent fasting, one wakes up, immediately starts being productive and only thinks of food when it is lunch time and lunch is normally cooked the previous night and packed for work.
You can read up more about “autophagy” here, but essentially what it is, is the body destroys old and cancerous cells. This is a known benefit of intermittent fasting and how I experienced it was that I had some dead cell tissue on a finger, which had been there for years. After four months of intermittent fasting the dead cell tissue had completely disappeared.
This one is very hard for other people to believe but I found myself to be a lot more focused in a fasted state. It is similar to being in Ketosis where your body starts running on fats instead of carbs and it feels awesome.
Unless you have been in ketosis, it is hard to explain but I will give it my best shot. I feel that there is kind of an urgency to whatever it is I am doing and I would go to extreme lengths to get it done. No matter what task, I always commit fully to it and give my utmost best. Normally I am distracted by the chime of my cellphone or my email notification icon but when in a fasted state, these distractions are still there but I find it easy to ignore them.
I can also easily jump between tasks without much hassle, yes I know that it is not ideal but in my profession it does happen that I am interrupted with questions and quick tasks and the intermittent fasting really helps with this.
I feel a lot more energised throughout the day, eating breakfast would sometimes cause me to crash and without eating again I would suffer from a hazy lethargy but with intermittent fasting this has all disappeared.
The energy is also evident in training, especially endurance training, when done in the fasted state, one almost reaches a level of euphoria where it feels like you can go on forever.
Sense of achievement
With all the above said, its still not easy to fast, at least twice a week someone would bring cakes, sweets and pastries to the office, which are always very tempting to indulge in. Usually by lunch the treats would be all gone, so when intermittent fasting you have to resign yourself to the fact that you will not be joining the team for croissants. So by practicing this self discipline you get a great sense of achievement.
I can go on with this list but these benefits were actually a by product of me getting excited and thus side tracked, the reason for this post is that today I started with, intermittent fasting take two.
Whats the difference to what I have been doing? Well I would normally take vitamins and supplements in the morning upon waking up, which I now have read can cause a release of enzymes which breaks the fast and some nights I would drink a mix of apple cider vinegar, honey and cayenne pepper as a sleeping aid but now with intermittent fasting take two, I have decided to cut out absolutely anything that may threaten breaking the fast.
So from here on out, I am sticking to black coffee, herbal teas and water whilst in my fasting period, I shall consume all pills and supplements after lunch in my eating window, which should be even more beneficial as a lot of pills are only fat soluble so eating them on an empty stomach may have been a waste in any case.
I will update here if I experience any profound effects!