Intermittent Fasting – Tips and Advice

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This a random collection of thoughts I have after almost 5 months of Intermittent Fasting. This is not medical advice. You are responsible for your own health.

Before I could go the full 21-22 hours without eating, I first needed to get comfortable being hungry. I started something I called – Practicing Hunger. You could use this trick with any diet. When you first get hungry, look at your watch and then commit to not eating for 60 minutes. This builds discipline. Like any exercise, it isn’t going to be fun at first, but if you stick with it, you will get better at it.

For me it took months of Practicing Hunger before I could attempt my first IF, but I’m a slow learner. I know people who hit the ground running. The best way to do that is to keep delaying the start of your first meal until you are going the full 21-22 hours. Week 1 you might make it to 11 AM. Week 2 you might take it to 2 PM. Slow and steady. Eventually you will get there.

Do just one per week for a while. If you are overweight or have a family history of cancer, proceed to two once you are comfortable. If you are underweight, but want to take advantage of the autophagy, make coconut milk your best friend. It is highly nutritious and calorie dense. Make a curry.

The biggest mistake I made in the early weeks was coming out of the Intermittent Fast, I would overcompensate and eat extra large meals. It is not necessary. In the post What to eat AFTER you fast, Brad Pilon writes:

When you finish your fast you need to pretend that your fast NEVER HAPPENED.

No compensation, no reward, no special way of eating, no special shakes, drinks or pills.

The minute you decide to stop fasting, you need to wipe the fast from your memory, and eat the exact way you would normally eat at that specific time of the day (responsibly of course).

The easiest way to fast is to be ACTIVE. Inactivity will make the minutes drag and hunger greater. Think about it from an evolutionary perspective. Mr. Cave Man is sitting around the cave and he gets hungry. He knows if he doesn’t start his quest toward food, he will die. When you are fasting, don’t sit on your sofa. Move. Do a project. The hunger pings go away if the body senses you are moving toward a food source. If you are forced to sit an office, get totally immersed in your work.

Use caffeine, but don’t abuse caffeine. You are not getting any fuel from food, so a little boost from coffee or tea will help you keep going. Plus caffeine is an appetite suppressant.

If you are using IF for fat loss, focus on inches not weight. Most diets work in the early weeks because they reduce the dieter’s intake of sodium and as a result the dieter loses water. They step on the scale and they are a few pounds down, but their waist is the same size. My experience with IF is I was able to keep my weight, but reduce inches. My skin felt tighter. Tape measure first. Scale second. Your goal is reduce your widest point, not necessarily the digits on the scale.

Leangains published a blog with photos showing the progress of their clients that use IF. Notice the significant change in body composition, even with a small reduction of pounds. Mary lost just 3 pounds in 4 weeks, but the transformation was amazing.

Good luck if you try IF. Let me know how if goes.

8 thoughts on “Intermittent Fasting – Tips and Advice

  1. TigerAl

    Any thoughts on what people with hypoglycemia and/or low blood pressure issues could do in fasting situations? Lack of food could result in an inability to function normally and it is not just a matter of learning to be comfortable hungry.

  2. TigerAl

    Actually, I’m more concerned with the blood pressure drop than the sugar.
    BTW, I do know someone who insists that fasting improves clarity of thought and uses it for extended meditation sessions so that should be interesting as well. Will let you know how my experiment goes.

  3. I totally agree with clarity of thought. I had much more focus while fasting – provided I was active.

    Seems the blood pressure drop could be remedied with exercise and caffeine. Another reason to be active while fasting.

  4. Kelli Diane

    WOW! Really interesting, MAS. I have to say that while it goes against everything that I’ve learned, I know you (and your tendency to over-research) well enough that I’m so incredibly interested.

    I recently cut my caloric intake dramatically, but still eating small, frequent meals (mostly veggie or fruit based) and have been pleased with my body’s response and ability to establish new hunger thresholds. I might need to try this over the summer.

  5. It went against everything I learned as well, which is why it took me so long to accept the idea. It will be interesting to see what happens this summer when I’m more active (hopefully) and I’m not doing the cold weather tests.

    It is fun to step away from finance and come back to my love of nutrition.

  6. TigerAl

    Update: Completed my first 23 hr IF this morning without a practice session 🙂 I don’t usually eat anything between 7 pm and 8:30 am anyway so that could be why it was easier for me to get to 23 hrs on the first try.
    I did a breakfast to breakfast IF rather than your dinner to dinner option. It wasn’t hard at all and I feel good even though I did not sleep well last night, probably due to the hypoglycemia issue. BTW, I found out that the way to control my low BP without calories was with high sodium 0-calorie sodas (3 cans) and tea.

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