My Intermittent Fasting Experiment


Screen-Shot-2012-06-08-at-12.22.48-AM-263x300.pngThat pic is of me, just in case you don’t know what I look like…

Anyway, Max Shippee’s guest posts on intermittent fasting part 1, part 2, and part 3 really got me thinking about experimenting with intermittent fasting. Yeah, I’d played around with eating windows before, like when I was slightly anorexic and not eating anything past 6pm every day, which left me struggling to make it up a flight of stairs with my extremely decreased caloric intake. But I wasn’t as healthy as I am now when I was doing that.

By healthy, I mean that I can go for many hours these days without eating if I have to, whereas before I would wake up in a hypoglycemic state of alarm and keep bags of food in my pockets and purse at all times, lest I go into some sort of angry, dizzied coma. Paleo has worked wonders for my old hypoglycemia. Thank you, Paleo.

So I decided I’d give intermittent fasting another shot with my newfound glycemic stability, and see what good could come of it, or not. My eating window for the last month-ish has been 10am to 8pm. In IF terms, that’s 14/10. That is, 14 hours of fasting and 10 hours of eating, and that’s what Max said many women do well with. In my opinion, that’s not that strict. It just rules out my late night coconut milk ice cream eating and makes me wait a little while to eat breakfast in the morning. Before, I never would have been able to wait that long for breakfast without some serious consequences. After 3+ years on Paleo, I can.

Here are the hefty benefits I’ve reaped from this situation.

1. I have less of an option to think about food after 8pm, which is relieving. However, if I need to eat after 8pm, I do. Like last night I was very hungry at 10pm and couldn’t sleep (not normal), so I had a little bit of a buffalo brat. Even if I needed to eat some ice cream, I would. I don’t want this to feel restrictive. I just haven’t been hungry for it for some reason.

In fact, I’m almost never hungry for food after 8pm. Very strange. Sometimes when I’m in a sugary mood, I’ll get really excited during the day about making myself something sweet at night, but then night time comes around and I just don’t want it. Has hell frozen over?

2. I don’t feel like I have to carefully divvy up my allotted calorie allowance between breakfast & lunch and then between lunch & dinner. Let me explain. When you eat breakfast at 7am, you often get hungry between 9am and 11am. If you eat when you’re hungry, then you’ve already had two breakfasts by the time lunch comes around. Then you have lunch at like 12 or 1pm and then a snack between lunch and dinner. Then dinner. Then dessert? By the time the day is over, you’ve eaten 5 or 6 meals and possibly too many calories.

When I eat my breakfast at 10am or later and it’s a big breakfast, I don’t get hungry until like 2pm or 3pm – sometimes later. By that time, I have lunch or maybe even just a snack, or recently I’ve actually been forgetting about lunch some days (VERY unlike me). Then I’m not hungry until 6pm or 7pm and then I don’t think about food again until the next morning. Some days I’m hungrier than others, but this is really how it’s been going for the last few weeks or so.

3. Through all of this, my energy is really stable. Yeah, I get hungry, but I don’t really care like I used to. I get hungry and I get through it and then I eat. My blood sugar can handle it. I have aspired to be an efficient user of glucose for many years, and (for now, at least) I’ve finally triumphed!

4. I’ve lost a little weight. Don’t get me wrong: I said in a recent post that my body image is way healthier now than it ever has been in my life, and I didn’t necessarily need to lose weight. I didn’t do this to lose weight. However, it is climbing season again and lower weight for me usually means more success, so I’ll take it. I dropped 3 pounds in the last couple of weeks. That’s approximately one trip to the bathroom for a lot of people, but as a petite person it’s like 3% of my bodyweight and noticeable. And it’s still going down.

5. I’m eating what I usually eat. I know that when some people intermittently fast, they eat crap food and pretty much binge during their eating windows. I’m not doing that, and I don’t feel deprived. If you’re interested, here’s what I ate today.

10am – 2 eggs, 1/4 lb ground pork, 2 sticks celery (all sautéed together) and 1 or 2 cups of watermelon

2pm – 1/3 of a buffalo bratwurst (just buffalo and spices) and 1 giant tapioca crepe (about 1/3 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 2 eggs), which probably had about 30 or 40g of carbs in it.

6:30pm – 1 and 1/3 buffalo bratwurst, 1/4 avocado, 1 cup peaches

This is a really low veggie day for me for some reason, but it is what it is. Anyway, I’m eating fewer calories – that is for sure.

Potential Confounding Factors

But maybe I’m not as hungry and eating fewer calories because it’s summertime and it’s hot so my appetite is lower? I don’t think I’ve experienced that before, though. I’ve always been a girl who could eat, regardless of the season.

Or maybe it’s because I’m stressed about the wedding and just don’t think about food as much? That could be, but I tend to only forget about food during deep depressions, and I’m definitely not in one of those right now.

Proper Sleep Schedule
One of the main issues I see with other people following this schedule is not having my sleep schedule. I go to sleep at around 12 or 1 usually, and wake up at around 8am or 9am. Yes, I know: how slovenly! But my work schedule (or lack thereof) accommodates that, so don’t judge me! If I had to get up at 6am or something, I don’t know what I would do to stave off the hunger. Probably lots of water, some glutamine, and a few lines of cocaine. Just kidding. This is where we get into caffeine land, which I wrote a post about here. If you get up at 6am, maybe you could eat at 7am until 5pm and stop then. Especially if you go to bed early. But if you’re going to bed late and getting up early, in which case you have other problems you need to work on, then this schedule would be difficult to keep.

If I were to be working out in the morning, I would not do this. Even with my heartier blood sugar control now, I wouldn’t be able to do much physical exercise on an empty stomach after 14 hours of not eating, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. So, either change your workout schedule or change your eating schedule to accommodate your workouts. I just went to a CrossFit gym where the owner told me he had negative thoughts about Paleo. He said people come to his gym in the morning on an empty stomach because they’re doing intermittent fasting and their performance and energy suck. Fuel your workouts, unless you know that you actually do well working out on an empty stomach (and there are plenty of people who do).

So that’s my story. I’m psyched on this eating schedule, and I’ll keep doing it. By the way, as an update, I just went and had a snack at 11pm because I was legitimately hungry. My final caveat is this: if you’re hypoglycemic, I’d try to ease into this. Get your blood sugar back on track by eating Paleo regularly for a while before you do intermittent fasting.

I’d love to hear your experiences with this!