Intermittent Fasting – the 30-day Challenge (part 2)
As some of you may remember, last month I wrote about Intermittent Fasting. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you start there and then come to this one. In the end, I accepted a 30-day challenge of Intermittent Fasting and recently I completed it. In this short piece of wording, I would like to share my thoughts, results, changes, and my honest opinion.
Intermittent Fasting has numerous variations with each having their own smaller variations. 20 hours of fasting, 4 hours of eating (20/4), 18 hours of fasting and 6 of eating and the most common one – 16/8. I chose to try the last one. Then, I made sure my fasting and eating hours to fit my schedule. At first, I was breaking my fast (started eating) at 12pm and kept going until 8pm. However, it actually fit me better to eat from 11 to 7, so I made this change. This was because of my own schedule so it’s important to modify the eating hours.
I usually go to bed around 12am. That’s why I was worried that having my last meal of the day 5 hours before going to sleep might not be enough. I thought I would be craving food but that was almost never the case. I was waking up approximately around 8 which gave me 3 more hours of empty stomach before breaking the fast.
Before I started I thought mornings would be the worst as there had been so many hours of no food. Again – that was almost never the case (key word almost).
The Mistakes and Challenges within the Big Challenge
Before Intermittent Fasting came into my life (or at least, before I started doing it), I used to start eating as soon as I’d wake up. Usually, I kept going almost until I fell asleep, too. A firm believer of 5-6 meals per day with 2-3 hours between them. That was the food philosophy that kept me going for years. So it was natural for me to assume that I would struggle a lot with this new food approach in my life. And the first few days definitely proved my concerns to be right. The very first day was fine actually, probably because of all the mental hype that I had created for myself. But then came the second day – the hype was lower, the food cravings were more severe and they got worse by day 3 and day 4.
Day 4 was almost my breaking point but I had read about it in other peoples’ articles and blogs so I was sort of expecting it. I am proud to say that I didn’t give in to the tiny voice in my head, telling me to open that fridge and go nasty on it. I continued and it definitely got easier. Our bodies are so capable to adapt that we can cope with huge challenges. In fact, fasting for 16 hours is nothing to what our ancestors had to endure.
Later on, I found another thing that was challenging – what to eat. Most people advise on starting light (even a salad, for breakfast…). Others say to go all out on the first meal at it should give you the energy that your body needs. However, it made more sense to me to start light as our stomachs shrink after 16 hours of not eating. I usually started the day with a green smoothie and a bigger meal 30-60 minutes later, depending on how hungry I was.
Food planning became an important part of my eating hours. A mistake I was making at the beginning showed me the way later on. I was eating my meal that was highest in protein at lunch (usually around 2:30-3) and I had mostly carbs for my last meal of the day. It soon showed that my mornings were a struggle because we absorb carbs faster, they give you a rush in the energy levels but after a few hours – you are back to being hungry. We digest protein more slowly and that leaves us full for a longer period of time. That’s why I made the adjustment after a few days. I provided my body with the energy boost at lunch and then protein for dinner. Problem solved.