Why & How I Practice Intermittent Fasting
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I practice intermittent fasting every day.
Intermittent fasting describes a practice where you consciously fast for a certain time window on a daily basis.
Some people have a fixed time period but I personally prefer to fast until I’m hungry. I try to have my last meal before 8 pm because your digestive fire (called Kapha in Ayurveda) may not be strong enough to fully digest late meals until the next day. You want to go to bed and wake up rested rather than spending your morning in zombie mode because your body couldn’t get the rest it needed.
This is best achieved by going to bed early (before 10 pm) and getting as many hours sleep as your body really needs. While you sleep, you fast. Most people break the fast with breakfast (that’s why it’s called break-fast). When you practice intermittent fasting, you extend the fasting period to the middle of the day (hence intermittent). This could be somewhere between 11 am and 2 pm, depending on when you wake up and when you’ve had your last meal the day before. I know some people who cope better with fasting from afternoon until morning next day because they are not comfortable with skipping breakfast or react negatively to fasting in the morning.
There is no fixed definition of intermittent fasting other than that it means you extend your fasting period by skipping or delaying your first meal of the day.
To give you a better understanding, I’ll visualize briefly how I practice intermittent fasting by describing a typical day of mine:
- Between 6:30 am and 8.30am I wake up naturally.
- After waking up, I brush my teeth, scrape my tongue and take my B12.
- Then, I drink a liter of water or tea within 1 or 2 hours.
- I write a gratitude list, publish an Instagram post and take care of other important things on that particular day (I always check-box the prioritized items on my to do list before I move on with my day).
- I go to the gym or do a short home workout (a few stretches are enough if you did a heavy workout the day before).
- As soon as I get really hungry and plain water does not satisfy my empty stomach anymore, I go to the kitchen and break the fast with whatever fruit I have at home at the moment. I prefer fruits with high water content such as melon, papaya and citrus fruits. This is usually around 12-2pm.
- After I’ve snacked on some fruit, I prepare my first meal of the day. I always start with a fruit and starch-based meal and eat a vegetable-based meal for dinner.
- My meals are very large (up to 1,200 kcal) so I usually don’t get hungry until dinnertime. Sometimes I have a snack in the afternoon (if I crave something or get hungry earlier than usual).
- I have dinner between 5 pm and 8 pm. Sometimes I eat another portion of oatmeal, dates or a different healthy snack after dinner if I’m still hungry. I don’t always count calories but I noticed I need at least 2,000kcal in a day to feel at my best. There are days when I eat up to 3,000kcal. I listen to my body and eat as much as I crave.
If you work outside of your home, I recommend you take your meal with you and wait until you’re hungry.
Always start with fruit on an empty stomach and continue with whatever you prepared for that day. Heavy meals including meat sometimes spend up to 24 hours in your stomach causing digestive problems when some fruit is consumed within that time window. The answer is not to avoid fruit but to avoid foods that are difficult to digest. Always eat as simply as possible and try to always eat fruit on an empty stomach.
When you start intermittent fasting, your body will need to adjust to the change. A trick is to add some apple cider vinegar to your water in the morning to suppress hunger until you’ve gotten used to not starting the day with solid food.
Anything over 15 kcal will terminate your body’s fasting mode so you could still consume the following within your fasting period:
- Ginger shots
- Lemon water
- Tea with a little bit of maple syrup
- Pure protein powder before a workout
- Coffee without milk and sugar
- Fruit-infused water
These are the benefits I noticed since I’ve started intermittent fasting:
- Improved digestion
- Real hunger cues
- Mental clarity in the mornings
- Focus on work
- Weight control
- More time (2 meals instead of 3 = a huge time saving every day!)
- You learn to control your hunger
- More energy
- Decreased chance to exceed your calorie requirement and gain weight in the long run
- You can eat bigger portions
There are many additional benefits such as detoxification but I don’t feel this as strongly as I feel the improvements listed above.
In order to find out if intermittent fasting works for you, you have to try it out for yourself.
Try to extend your fasting period for a little longer every day until you find a time frame that is optimal for you.
If you’re someone who could not live without breakfast, why not try to drink a liter of water and do a quick workout first before you have your breakfast? Even extending your fasting period for just an hour can foster great benefits.
I hope this helps some of you!