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Intermittent Fasting

by Suz on March 5, 2012 · 15 comments

in Paleo

I’m love it when people ask me about Paleo, which happens more and more often.  They are normally very interested as I explain to them why I don’t eat grains, or avoid fat.  I explain about fitness and how I don’t do chronic cardio – they’re still interested.  I explain about the importance of sleep and sunshine – they’re even more interested.  This is the point at which I’ve learnt to stop. 

Every time I’ve mentioned Intermittent Fasting they look at me like I’m crazy – and I realise I’ve completely lost them.  To someone carbohydrate adapted the thought of not eating every few hours is unthinkable.  The response I often hear is how dangerous fasting is, as, apparently, your body will immediately go into “starvation mode”, storing fat and using muscle for fuel.  They never have any evidence to back up this belief, it’s seems to be just a repetition of conventional wisdom they once heard.  From a source they can’t remember.

I did a lot of research before I first tried Intermittent Fasting.  I think it’s best done on easy, stress-free days and as yet, I’ve not fasted on training days.  My preferred method of Intermittently Fasting is to have my evening meal and then not eat again until my evening meal the following night.  Because my diet is very low in carbohydrate (so I don’t have to worry about avoiding wild fluctuations in my blood sugar levels), and not shy in fat, I don’t feel hungry and find it easy to wait until the evening for my first meal of the day.  I also find on the day of the fast and the day after, I often have a lot more energy than usual. 

I think fasting is a good exercising in learning hunger isn’t something that must be feared and avoided.  It makes a lot of sense to me from an evolutionary standpoint – we haven’t always lived in times where food was constantly available.  I’m also very interested in studies suggesting fasting  appears to be very beneficial from a biological perspective.

What do you think about Intermittent Fasting?  Do you fast?  How do you explain it to people?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Wen March 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

It’s good to understand the difference between fasting and starvation. Short fasting makes good sense, gives the digestive system a breather and reinforces that we can skip a meal or two without dire consequences. Plenty of water is a must though.
Fortunately a Paleo lifestyle makes fasting easier. No need to explain to anyone if you choose a quiet day of daydreaming!

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Suz March 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Very true Wen! That’s a good point too, I think lots of people don’t realise that fasting and starvation are two very different things

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Emma March 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

I haven’t tried it yet but it’s next on my list of things to do. I don’t think I’ve completely made the transition from sugar-burner to fat-burner yet, so I’m expecting it to be a bit difficult but I know it’ll be a good experience and from what I’ve read every time you try you get a bit better at it.

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Suz March 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Good luck Emma – will be interested to hear how you get on!

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Rowena March 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Mm, I’m glad no-one told me about IF – it would definitely put me off. Prior to paleo (just a few weeks ago,) I would be a shaking, headachy, irritable mess if I went for more than a couple of hours without food. I thought I had some sort of disability. (sigh).
I’m now on the second week of a leptin reset, and last Friday I just could not bear the thought of having lunch. So I didn’t! And I made it comfortably to dinner, no problems at all.
The experience for me is of total liberation – no need to fuss about paleo snacks if you don’t need to eat them! And wow, can I get a lot done when I’m not constantly obsessing over when and where my next meal will come from.

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Suz March 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm

What an difference Rowena, it’s incredible the difference it makes! It’s so nice not to have that horrible carb hunger anymore.

I’ve been reading a lot about Jack Kruse’s leptin reset, will be interested to hear how you get on. Do you find it hard to get enough protein into breakfast each morning?

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Rowena March 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Hi again,
At first it was really, really, really (you get it!) tough. And I have always loved a big breakfast! Luckily I cook for four and now just cook a big variety of stuff – bacon, eggs, sausages, rissoles, chops, chicken breasts, leftovers… at least 4 or 5 of these – we all pick what we want for brekky, and leftovers get taken to lunch.
Also, in the beginning I just had to have some carbs to help – fried zuchinni, mushrooms, asparagus, that sort of thing – breaks it up beautifully!
It’s gotten a lot easier, now, I just heap it on my plate and eat!
Cheers! R.

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Suz March 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Good to hear Rowena!

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Bill Allars March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

Suz,

Well done, this is a great introduction to intermittent fasting. If people are interested in some tips to get started with intermittent fasting the link below will take you to an article I had published on Elitefts.com.

http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/training-articles/fast-tips-for-intermittent-fasting/

Regards

Bill

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Suz March 20, 2012 at 11:19 am

Thanks Bill!

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Nichole March 28, 2012 at 12:17 am

I wholeheartedly agree with you about the fasting. I feel this has led to my success in weight loss while following a Paleo lifestyle – I have lost almost 20 pounds in 4 months through healthy eating and exercise. Fasting allows your body to understand true hunger. After fasting, you are better able to recognize if you are hungry or if you just want to eat. My trainer says, “If you feel hungry, think about eating grilled chicken and broccoil – will that satisfy your hunger? If not, then you aren’t really hungry!” This helps to avoid snacking – even with paleo foods. I find that I just don’t eat as much but since I am eating better foods, I am not hungry.

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Suz March 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

20 pounds is fantastic Nichole! I love the tip about thinking of eating grilled chicken and broccoil – that would definitely distinguish between real hunger and other reasons for eating!

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Angela July 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

I started doing this whenever I felt like I was eating entirely too much. I feel great! I pretty much drink water and coffee all day. Then a decent sized meal at night. I’m glad to hear that other people do it too :).

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Cait February 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Hi! So I understand how IF works while you’re doing it, but what about when you stop doing it and go back to a “normal” eating schedule? Won’t your metabolism be all messed up and therefore most likely just gain a lot of weight? Or is this something that you will be doing really long term/your whole life? Has there been studies done that show the effects on metabolism post IF? Sorry for all the questions, it’s just the one thing holding me back from doing it and I haven’t found the answers yet! Thanks Suz :)

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jo April 8, 2013 at 1:22 am

Hi cait, I just wanted to share my experience. I started the 5:2 fast, 2 non consecutive fast days a week based on the fastdiet book. The author generally recommends fasting 1 day a week to maintain your goal weight after you reach it. Also, the idea is that your appetite will be generally decreased after IF. I have found this to be true of myself, and I crave healthier foods in general- this from a cookie a day get frazzled when I’m hungry kind of girl. The book details his research and theories on IF and its broader health effects, which I thought was really interesting. I’ve only been doing it for a few weeks so can’t say what long term results will be, but I’m just glad to have a give-take relationship w my hunger now!

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