So I completed my Vegan August Challenge and liked it so much I have decided to keep it going through September. For this month I am adding Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is where you voluntarily abstain from eating or drinking anything with calories during a specific time frame each day. There are several ways of doing this. My particular route will be approximately an 8hr eating window where I can consume up to 1600 calories and a 16hr period where I no longer can have any calories. (I still drink tea and water).
Day 8 Three’s a crowd.
From the time we are little, we have it drilled in our heads to “eat three times a day”. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (or Supper as it is called in some places.). But if you will allow me to commit a mild form of blasphemy, Why do we do this? Our ancestors didn’t eat three times a day. Most certainly our hunter/gatherer “Super-ancestors: only ate once a day if they were lucky. The whole ‘three squares a day thing’ is really something the European settlers to America started. It eventually just became routine and ritual. I am not a nutritionist so I can only gauge how things affect me directly. If I do go the three meal route I tend to work better on the “English model” Big breakfast, smaller lunch and have dinner as the smallest/lightest meal. I know if I go to bed on a full stomach, I feel miserable.
As far as applying I.F. to the three meal concept it is doable just under a lesser time frame. For example Noon “breakfast”, 3pmish “Lunch” and 6pmish “Dinner” on a normal non-working day this works perfectly because in a perfect world I would be in bed between 11 and midnight and get up around 9am, With work though it’s me getting off around midnight and finally getting drowsy around 2am. ( I have an extremely difficult time “coming down” from my job when I come home. So having not eaten since 6pm really is a challenge when I get home a ball of stress.
Day 9 “Time is a like clock in my heart”
I’ll come clean. I am still having a very difficult time not eating when I come home from work. I am trying to explore some creative options. One is maybe moving my schedule around so that I am still in my window when I get off work. This would mean moving my window to 5PM to 1AM. This would also mean no meal before work. I feel like I may be able to do this easier than not eating when I get home. I have a couple days off coming up so I have some time to mull it over. (Or I could have a job where I worked day shift, but best not to get me started on that one.)
Day 10 “There are more things in Heaven and Earth”
I figured I’d work a Shakespeare quote in here somewhere. But the purpose of these 30-day experiments is to find better health practices that work for me, personally. I had done I.F. last year and really loved it. I found there was some difficulty avoiding food during the fasting periods but nothing compared to this time. I really tried to sort out the difference between last year and this one. I think I may have an answer. Last year, I worked out every day while doing the I.F. and this year I haven’t. I think the idea of depriving myself of food during a certain time period is creating some stress (albeit probably more psychological than anything). The working out helped me burn that off and I felt like eating after work out was a “reward”. Clearly it is easier not to be hungry when you don’t have time to set around and remind yourself. I truly believe losing weight and getting healthy is at least as much mental as it is physical.
Day 11 “If you’re always hungry, why the heck are you even doing this?
Well, as I mentioned in the earlier post, this may be just as mental as it is physical. We got “Brain Hunger” and “Tummy Hunger”. For me at least, I think the brain Hunger is the stronger of the two. Less food means deprivation and punishment. It really isn’t necessarily so, but tell my brain that. What I can tell you is there is a definite hump, and once you’re over that, you actually don’t feel hungry anymore. From everything I’ve read here’s why: You’re liver stores glucose which it gets from the carbohydrates you eat. The liver normally has about a 10-12hr supply available. Most people eat before the supply is exhausted. Even when we sleep we usually eat fairly soon after waking.
As you near depletion, your liver sends a signal to your brain that the supply is running out. This can create a low level and usually unconscious panic. You may become irritable and suddenly fixated on eating. But this is kind of a false alarm. After your liver depletes from glucose your body switches to burning fat. When the switch happens your body releases a growth hormone to help your body manage the process. Your body also releases a chemical that actually reduces the stress. Ostensibly, a leftover response so that the cavemen could stay focused on hunting something to eat without going crazy.
In addition, studies have shown that short-term fasting has shown to improve your immune system. Improve concentration, leveling out blood sugar issues and even life extension. The trick is getting over the “hump” and the psychological barriers a person may have to fasting.
Day 12: I present the case of “Tortoise v. Hare”
Maybe I am trying too much too fast. (obvious pun not intended) I am still struggling with night eating. I am going back to work tomorrow (Thursday 13th) and maybe I should try the eating window adjustment. I normally don’t wake up hungry, so maybe I can manage a 5PM to 1AM eating window (at least on workdays) Then on my days off I can just do the noon-8PM window. I still strongly believe in I.F. based on last years results but maybe need to tweak it to work better. I will try this and let you know the results on the next report which should be this weekend.