This year I decided to try out a new habit – intermittent fasting. I’ve been doing this for almost 2 months now, and in this article I reflect on what I’ve learned so far. This is an experiment I’m doing to lower my blood sugar and get into a healthier lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a physician or a doctor, so I’m not giving you any advice on how you should do. I’m just a normal person sharing my journey with you. So if you want to try out intermittent fasting, I would recommend that your consult your doctor before you do it.
What is intermittent fasting?
The idea with intermittent fasting is that you don’t eat for a period of time every day. You are naturally fasting every day during your sleeping hours, but the idea with intermittent fasting is that you prolong that fasting period and you eat during certain “eating windows”.
How long do you have to go without food every day? It depends on you and what kind of results you want to get. A popular method is 16:8, i.e. 16 hours of fasting
The benefits of intermittent fasting
Studies show that intermittent fasting can help your blood sugar to drop significantly and therefore help you to prevent suffering from type 2 diabetes. Since your body doesn’t have to produce so much insulin, your blood sugar can stay on a constant level and doesn’t spike or go too low. This means that you don’t experience low blood sugar.
Insulin resistance drops
When you eat your body produces insulin to help take care of the sugar. Well, if you eat too much sugar the body needs to produce more insulin. This leads to your body becoming insulin resistant over time, and you have to consume more sugar in order to get what you need.
Liver damage repair
When I researched the benefits of intermittent fasting before I started, I found quite a lot of studies that showed the connection between sugar intake and fatty liver. Many of us suffer from fatty liver without even knowing it, and according to the studies I found you can help your liver to heal with intermittent fasting.
When you combine it with skipping alcohol (or moderate intake) it will help your liver as well.
Since the insulin levels in your body drops significantly during your fasting periods, that means that you don’t spike insulin as you would normally do if you’re diet consists of sugar. From 16+ hours of fasting your body gets into autophagy mode, which means that it starts to “eat” its own fat reserves. So if your goal is to lose weight, this method can be something for you.
As for myself, I’ve fluctuated up and down from day to day but overall I’ve lost 5 kg (about 11 lbs) during the month of January.
Since you eat less meals every day, you can easily get high quality ingredients for the meals that you do eat and still save money. This is one of the best benefits in my opinion. Organic food can be pretty expensive, but with this fasting method, you can easily go to the grocery store and bulk on only organic food and still save money.
Since I’ve also skipped a lot of food that I used to buy (yoghurt, pasta, sugary foods, bread, alcoholic beverages etc) I don’t have to worry about spending money on those items anymore. Less, but better! (More on that down below.)
Don’t you get hungry?
Actually, no. At first you can feel a bit of a withdrawal symptom, but if you hang in there for two or three days you purge the sugar cravings out of your system and your’e good to go.
Before I started with intermittent fasting I held a strong belief that I would be hungry all the time if I would only eat once a day. But it’s only during the time that your insulin drops that you can have cravings (usually about 2-4 hours after your meal) and those periods quickly goes away.
TIP: If you consume lots of sugar, you might want to give yourself a transition period of 3 or so days to help purge the sugar cravings before you begin your intermittent fasting habit.
What can you consume during the fasting period?
Everything that doesn’t spike insulin is ok, i.e. moderate intake of coffee, tea (especially green tea) and water as much as you want. Some experts even argue that you can have lemon water (squeeze half a lemon into a glass of water), and water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar is also ok.
Less but better
If you follow my blog you know that I’m into minimalism and “less but better”. Well, with intermittent fasting I’m putting my money where my mouth is (literally!) and have only one large meal per day and a complementary snack consisting of a fruit or some nuts during my 4 hour eating window.
I found out that since I’m only having one large meal a day, why not turn it into a wellbeing feast every day? Meal time (around 2-3 PM) is when I indulge on fresh fruit, nuts, veggies in every imaginable color. I make an effort
Energy levels & insulin spikes
I’ve found that I have much more mental clarity, and I can focus much better when I don’t have to worry about food all the time. I’ve also noticed that my blood sugar doesn’t drop as it used to when I more regularly consumed sugar.
I haven’t experienced any drawbacks with exercising and fasting. On the other hand I eat a little more on the days when I exercise.
What I eat during a day:
My typical daily meal consists of:
- Omelette with turmeric & parsley
- Some chickpeas, beans or sprouts
- lots of fresh raw vegetables
- dessert: fresh & dried fruit & nuts
- cold brewed tea
- a ginger/ lemon shot
- Some juice
What I say NO to or consume moderately:
- Refined sugar
- Candy, cookies etc.
- Pasta, rice, potatoes & bread (i.e. carbs)
- Gluten (i.e. bread)
Start intermittent fasting in 5 easy steps:
- Track your current eating habit. If you want, you can do a transition period with a sugar detox to help you get into the fasting habit more easily and not having to experience withdrawal symptoms, cravings etc when you get started with the intermittent fasting.
- Skip breakfast. The first step once you start your fasting journey is to get used to skipping breakfast. The first few days, you might get hungry right when you wake up. Try to wait for an hour or two before you have brekfast. Then try to wait for a longer period of time every day, until you have your first meal at 12. If you eat your last meal at 8PM and your first meal at 12 the day after, you have now accomplished the 16:8 fasting schedule.
- Skip evening snack. This can be a hard thing to do at first, especially if the rest of the family stbut get used to loving green or roobios tea. Have a cup of tea in the evening to soothe your stomach. My experience was that I got used to not having any snacks at
- Shorten the eating window. Start with a 16:8 fast and stick with it for a while. For example you can eat your first meal at noon, a snack at 4 PM and your last meal at 8 PM.
If you want to shorten the eating window, experiment with it until you find what works for you.
- Skip carbs, sugar, gluten alcohol etc (if you want). If you don’t want to skip entirely, consider a more moderate intake.