Should I Try Intermittent Fasting?
I must admit, when a friend first told me about intermittent fasting several years ago, I was skeptical and disinterested in giving up my daily routine and skipping breakfast (one of my favorite meals). Plus, I’ve read countless articles on the importance of a solid breakfast. But as I looked into the research, the evidence was compelling, especially for diabetic and overweight individuals. While I’m not obese or diabetic, I was interested in some of the other potential benefits such as:
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is simply skipping a meal or two (depending on your goals and physical condition) and shortening your daily “eating window.” When performing recreational intermittent fasting, 16-18 hours without eating seems to be the standard. If diabetic or obese, your doctor may advise on longer fasting time periods up to 36 hours for severe conditions. Since I’m not trying to lose weight, I typically skip breakfast 2-3 times a week and eat lunch between 1-2 pm. During the fasting periods, I drink water and black coffee. I fast during the workweek and rarely fast on Saturday, Sunday and Monday because I find these days the most challenging.
Seems pretty simple right? There’s no doubt that the simplicity of intermittent fasting has led to its popularity. It cuts out the complex diets that:
- Count calories
- Weigh food
- Have points for food
- Restrict calories
What happens during a fast?
According to Dr. Jason Fung (leading advocate for fasting), insulin levels increase after eating which stores sugar in the liver and produces fat in the liver. When fasting, insulin levels drop then the body burns stored sugar and fat. To learn more about the science, I would recommend listening to one of Dr. Fung’s seminars or read his book. This is a great starter video:
Intermittent fasting has definitely had a positive impact on my life.
Here’s a list of the positives and negatives from my personal experience:
- Increased energy
- Increased focus
- Reduced snacking when not fasting
- Slight increase in immune system
- Better workouts
- It's free and simple
- It was difficult to begin fasting and to overcome the ingrained notion of always eating 3 meals.
- It can be challenging to refrain from overeating during the shortened “eating window” periods.
Bottom line, if you are up for a challenge and a positive life impact, try intermittent fasting for 1 month and let me know what you think by commenting below.