I have been practicing intermittent fasting since January, and I think it’s time to share my opinion on this oh-so-controversial subject.
I remind you I am no doctor/dietitian/anything of the sort.
Just me. early retired me, plenty of time and enthusiasm, a genuine interest in healthy nutrition, preferably vegan (for me) but not only ( for the rest of the household. I seem to care about them, a lot.)
So I read. actual books. and on-line too. I use my brain to asses what works for me and didn’t-doesn’t-won’t.
Let’s get to the point- shall we?
My previous post on intermittent fasting is linked here: So- intermittent fasting??
I re-read the post so I won’t repeat myself, and found it interesting that some issues remained an issue- some evolved as an issue- and then some new issues emerged…
#1 Issue: Hunger…..
Naturally, when your body is used to eating 3 meals a day ( + snacking in between) the sudden change does not go without saying.
there was- and still is- some saying here…
Some days I don’t feel any hunger, on the contrary, I feel great, but there are days I am actually hungry. I mean really hungry.
There is a huge difference between my actual hunger( quite rare- maybe once in a week-10 days) and my psychological hunger (not so rare…a few days a week….)
So what do I do?
Sometimes I just eat and actually don’t feel so great afterward, since my body has adapted to fasting between 15:45 to 08:45 (I am aware you might think it strange to mention those 15 minutes before – but trust me- when you are hungry- those 15 minutes between 08:45 and 9 am seem like an eternity. )
sometimes I drink a cup of herbal tea, and sometimes I make myself a cup of apple cider vinegar drink– 2 tbsp ACV in a glass of hot water. yes- it’s “allowed” during fasting, and actually has many nutritional benefits.
Issue #2: I love eating.
That’s not the main problem I have with intermittent fasting, though I was absolutely sure that it would be.
The reason it’s not such a huge problem, I that I do everything I can to eat in between my fasting hours.
But- The thing is- though I manage to eat enough food- I find that whereas before IF I just ate the food I like with minimum planning ahead- now I need to carefully plan each day ahead, so I can make sure I eat enough protein and fruit -to sustain me through the next fast.
This means fewer carbs, no baked goods, pasta maybe 0nce a week, and salads are reduced to snack time because I am afraid that if I eat salad and some beans for lunch- by evening I will be hungry again. so instead of a large salad for lunch -I have a choice of legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, soy beans+ quinoa-bulgur- brown rice.
The obsessive planning ahead is a bit tiring, lucky for me I am retired, because I haven’t the faintest idea what working people do.
I am fully aware of the possibility that the hunger fears I have maybe totally false, and there are people out there managing to sustain themselves only on large salads and some protein shakes.
While that may very well be the case for other people- it’s not the case with me.
As I said I love eating, I respect my body, and I totally respect my body’s need for fueling after workouts to keep going at the great pace it is going.
I am no spring chicken, and I cannot risk inflicting any severe damage to my body so as to lose a few pounds or simply out of ignorance.
In order to build strength- I need to build muscle. in order to build muscle- my body needs fuel- the right kind of fuel- in the right amount.
My research taught me that for my weight (132 pounds) I need to eat 54 grams of protein a day, so my main concern is supplying protein and vitamins to my body, the rest will wait.
Issue #3: synchronizing post-work-out meals and fasting.
I am a type-A organized person, (mainly because of fears of letting go, sadly not because I am such a perfect person.If you think about it, it’s probably yet another imperfection in a long and tiring line of imperfections), and as a type-A organized person, I try very hard to schedule my post work out “eating windows”.
*An “eating window” is a controversial concept stating that after a serious (high intensity) workout- such as spin class, running, and such, your body needs to refuel in an eating window not wider than 60 minutes, in order to replenish glycogen restores in our bodies, and help mend the muscle tears our exercise has inflicted.
Meaning- that if you are exercising in a gym or outdoors- and there is a ride back, your food needs to be either prepared and waiting for you in that time window, or be taken with you to be eaten right after the exercise.
I am not absolutely sure this theory is completely valid since I keep reading that “the body is smarter than us, it can manage different foods together, and knows when it needs to be refueled”- and all of a sudden there is a semi-scientific eating window that isn’t necessarily connected to what our body is telling us, since there may be times that people are simply not hungry after a workout- but find themselves thinking “oh I must eat otherwise my eating window will be shut!”.
*By the way, don’t get me wrong- I am not complaining that I need to eat when I am not hungry. this is not the case. I am usually hungry, most definitely after my workouts, that start at 05:30-06:00 AM, when my last meal is at around 15:45 PM.
The thing is, on days I go swimming at the gym, I usually add core class+pilates -or yoga.
This means that I swim fasted for 2 km (70 minutes-between 5:45- 6:55am) , then I shower and continue to my classes -until 9 am. by the time I get home it’s 9:45.
By then I am famished, ready to eat anyone.
This means that all the ingredients for my post-workout smoothy need to be ready, so I can whip it up the minute I get home.
And please don’t let anybody stand in my way.
The smoothy is hardly enough to satisfy me after all those hours +that intense workout- so I make myself oatmeal porridge as well.
*the smoothy includes 2 frozen bananas, 15 grams of protein powder, (Vega salted caramel, yummy!) cold water, 1/4 cup of soy milk, 2 tbsp of chia seeds (pre-mixed with water), 2 tbsp of flax seeds, and 1 tbsp of hemp seeds.
for the oats- I put 1/2 cup of oats, 1 cup of hot water- in the microwave for 90 seconds, then mix in 2 tbsp of my date spread, a little soy milk, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, and some cinnamon. voila.
between swimming and my classes, I can get hungry.
The thing is I don’t have a pre-workout snack- because of the fasting, and this is a bit too much exercise for me in a fasted state.
A morning run is fine, so is the swimming- but the classes can be sometimes- a bit too much.
What I started doing lately- and does help (a little) is I bring a small glass container with my 2 tbsp of ACV and mix in hot water from my double duty bottle.
I drink the ACV beverage in the gym after swimming (and showering) and before classes, and it can keep me going till the end of the classes in good condition.
The ACV has many benefits- I linked an article – ACV benefits.
The potassium in the ACV is supposed to boost your energy levels ( plus help with leg cramps if you have them at night). but the articles warn not to overdo it on ACV-so don’t.
To conclude –
I feel that intermittent fasting is good for me, but I still have my struggles. I don’t mind missing dinners and not going out to eat because I don’t do that anyway ( introvert, told you), so all in all- I think I will keep doing my IF -with necessary modifications if needed.
Enjoy- the cooliflower.