Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Why I am Trying Intermittent Fasting
I'm not a big fan of fad diets. I resisted Atkins, South Beach, Grapefruits, Grazing, and pretty much every other diet craze.
My plan has always been "burn more than you consume". I have counted calories whenever my weight needed addressing, mostly with success.
The only problem is that restricting calories sucks. For one, you feel hungry a lot, especially in the evenings. And you need to count everything, which can get tedious. Sometimes you just want to throw back a beer and not think about adding it to the running total!
The concept is fairly simple: Don't eat. Drink water, tea, maybe coffee, but don't consume anything with calories. This is done over some period of time, in most cases it's 20-24 hours, followed by a resumption of normal eating. This site pretty much outlines most of what you need to know.
That sounds a lot like starving yourself, doesn't it? Well yes, it does. That's basically what it is, really - no calories in, calories still go out, lose weight.
Why is this good for you?
In studies like this one, they have actually noticed a bunch of positive effects. In humans, insulin sensitivity is increased (a good thing). I had some signs of insulin insensitivy a few years ago before losing weight - not a good thing! Also, despite what you hear repeatedly, your body doesn't just slow down and use less calories - average heart rate was maintained throughout the fasting/non-fasting periods. Studies in rats showed the fasting rats actually lived longer!
Why? The theory goes that ancient man didn't get 3 square meals a day plus all the snacks he wanted. There were periods of scarcity and binging, and our bodies at the time evolved to deal with it. Now we have those same bodies but live in the age where the slightest hint of hunger can instantly be solved by a trip to the cupboard.
I had my appendix out, it had burst, and following this I couldn't eat for a few days. And I didn't feel hungry! You kind of get used to it after a little while. It's almost like the acceptance that there is no food coming signals your body to chill out and stop telling you how hungry it is.
I'm hoping that same thing happens as I try this intermittent fast. We will see.
What About Workouts
Exercise appeared to be fine during fasts, although they did note resistence training was comprimised. I will organize these during rest days or when I have easier workouts planned.
2 hours in, 22 to go.
Update: 2 Hours to Go
I thought it would be harder than this! I guess I'm just used to being hungry, as my body really sucks at sending the right signals... but last night after when dinner would have been, I wasn't any hungrier than I usually am. I drank tea, decaf coffee, and water with some lemon in it - all calorie free. It's probably toughest right now, after missing breakfast and anxiously awaiting lunch... can't wait to eat. I love food. Mmm, food.