In my previous post I told you about the way I eat now. I didn’t write a detailed post about what is intermittent fasting, because I’ve written about it before. Still, I received a lot of questions from some of you. That’s why in this post I will explain you in short what is fasting and then I will tell you about the mistakes I made about two years ago when was my first try with fasting. I will share with you what I intend on changing this time.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is also called “cyclic feeding” and it comes from the idea that eating happens in particular cycles. There are different protocols. In every protocol there is a defined fasting window and a defined eating window. For example, I follow the 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating window. This means that for 16 hours I abstain from food and then I have 8 hours, when I can eat.
In my next posts I will write about fasting for women and fasting for men, is there a difference between genders and what is it.
For now, I will tell you that the most common recommendations are 14 hours fasting with 10 hours feeding window for women and 16 hours fasting with 8 hours feeding window for men.
There are different types of fasting (I will dedicate a whole post for the pros and cons of each of them):
24 hour fast (the popular book “Eat Stop Eat”, by Brad Pilon) – for example you fast for 24 straight hours every week.
20 hours fasting (The Warrior Diet на Ori Hofmekler)– here you have a 20 hour fast and 4 hours feeding window.
16 hours fasting with 8 hours feeding window – the most popular advocate is Martin Berkhan from LeanGains
There are other protocols but these are among the most popular and the once that work the best.
In order to understand it, I will give you an example. If you have dinner at 8 p.m. and this is your last meal for the day, this means that for the next 16 hours you won’t eat – i.e. you don’t eat from 8 p.m. in the evening until 12 p.m. in the afternoon on the following day. Your first meal will be at 12 p.m. in the afternoon. You will then have 8 hours feeding window, i.e. you can eat until 8 p.m. in the evening.
At first sight it might seem as a lot of time, but if you give it a thought, during half of the time you will be asleep. So it Is not a big deal. In one of my next posts I will share with you the difficulties during the fasting window and how you can cope with them.
What are the mistakes I made during my first trial with fasting and what am I gonna change this time?
The good thing about doing something for a second time is that now, besides the knowledge you have from what you’ve read, you have the knowledge of your experience. And that is what matters the most. When you have experience with something, you can break it through your own point of view and adapt it so it can work particularly for you.
1.I won’t overdo it with food
This is the first mistake I did in the beginning. When you are used to having breakfast and you skip breakfast, initially you feel as if you haven’t eaten for eternity. Lunch time is coming and it is time for your first meal. You are hungry and you are eager to eat something delicious. Besides that you read how important it is to stay away from limiting your calorie intake too much, so you can endure 16 hours fasting. In such moment, you can overdo it with the concept of eating ENOUGH food.
That’s what happened with me. I started fasting and even though everybody was sharing their success stories, I… gained weight. Still, I am not the kind of person who rushes to quit on something if it doesn’t work at the beginning. I am always aware that it is not the nutrition plan that doesn’t work, but the way I follow it. I was determined to give it a chance, so I analyzed my actions and I found out my mistakes.
That’s why this time, I know that there is a thin line between eating enough and eating more than enough.
2.The food I eat, while I am standing, still counts.
I usually work out in the morning. The first time I tried fasting, I was in the gym right before my fasting window was over. The workout was done and I was already feeling hunger. At the beginning I couldn’t wait to get back home and eat (not that I was starving. It was more like a caprice of my mind. You know how when you decide to do something, it should always happen immediately). Usually I had nuts in my car and on the way home, I grabbed a handful of them (and I have big hands and a handful of nuts is a HANDFUL of nuts 😉 ). It might not sound like a lot, but when you eat 60-80 grams of raw nuts, before your meal, this is being reflected on your weight. And you know my opinion about raw nuts (read it HERE).
Now I know that it is better to prepare my food in advance. Thus, I always have good, nutritious food with me and if I am really starving after 16 hours fasting, I can always take it out and eat it without fooling myself with excess calories.
3.It is important how you distribute your food intake throughout the day
Back in the days I did not pay attention to this. Tell you the truth I ate the least at night. Now I understand that this was a huge mistake. When you know that you are not gonna eat for the next 16 hours, it is a great idea to eat enough, so your body can feel great.
That’s why this time I distribute my food as follows – my first and my last meals are the largest and if I need a meal in between, it is a smaller one.
4.Not drinking enough water
Water is really important. After all we are more than 80% water. When you don’t eat, it is important to get hydrated. If you follow Dr. Jack Kruse, you probably know how important water is and what information it carries for our body. I notice that the more I drink water, the better I feel during the fasting window.
You might add some lemon in your water or prepare tea (without sugar, honey or sweeteners), leave it in the fridge and then have homemade cold tea.
5.Overdoing it with stimulants
When you fast, 1-2 cups of coffee, have a good effect and help against hunger. Still, we often go to extremes. It gets easier to overdo the coffee. That’s why, this time I won’t make this mistake.
6.Getting obsessed over the clock
As it is said, rules are so they can be broken. What matters is to follow the protocol most of the time or at least keep up with some main principles, but the world won’t end if we eat 1-2 hours earlier or if we prolong the feeding window.
I am still a fan of adjusting mu nutrition according to my daily schedule, and not my schedule up to my nutrition. So if I am starving, but I’ve done just 13 hours fast … I am gonna eat. I’d rather eat and have energy for everything else I do, than just stare at the clock, praying that the time goes faster.
If somebody invites me for dinner at 8 p.m., and according to the protocol I should eat my last meal before 8 p.m., I will make an exception and I will prolong my feeding window.
From my experience so far, I’ve noticed that the biggest benefits comes from skipping breakfast (as paradoxical as it may sound, keeping in mind that we are used to believing breakfast is the most important meal of the day.)