Why I started Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting

These days I have water for breakfast. Sometimes I’ll get a little fancy and boil the water. I won’t eat a bite of food until 1pm and will stop at 8pm. This leaves a 17 hour window of fasting. Which isn’t so bad considering I stop eating in the evening and the majority of fasting hours are spent sleeping.

I wouldn’t be sharing my experiences if I didn’t think you could benefit from it. It’s something more people are gravitating towards because it’s improving all aspects of health.

Today I will share:

  • Why I started intermittent fasting
  • Problems I encountered with intermittent fasting
  • Benefits I’ve gained from intermittent fasting
  • How to start + sources

Before I begin to share my experiences, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting can come off as rather extreme, but I assure you, it’s safe.

Intermittent fasting ( also referred to as “IF” ) is where you cycle between periods of fasting and eating.

I’d strongly encourage consulting a physician before trying it – even more so if you’re addicted to caffeine, have health problems, not eating a healthy diet already and/or taking medication.

I’m an advocate of fasting because it has given me great benefits but do understand our minds and bodies work differently.

Please proceed with caution.

Now that I’ve protected myself against any legal issues (I think), let me entertain you briefly with my past relationship with food.

Buckle up!

Back in the day

I’m not geometric by nature and don’t believe many of us are. Let me explain. Nature brings us peace while the concrete jungles of skyscrapers, mini-malls and paved roads brings us chaos. Just my opinion. I rebel against social norms and repudiate against the conformity that comes with our generalized society. Eating 3 meals a day is one of these generalizations I wanted to challenge. My intent was to see what I could learn about my mind and body if food were just a mechanism to sustain energy (imagine that) and not a psychological dysmorphic act of never-ending gluttony.

Whether it was the buttery aroma of a warm and crispy croissant or a rich and fatty cut of prime rib and everything in between, it’s safe to say that I “fucking” loved food!

I’ll go as far as saying it was an illness of the best kind!

I dined at the trendiest, expensive and most popular restaurants. Money was never an object when it came to eating out. I insisted on meeting chefs after a nice meal.

I was a full blown foodie, a student of french gastronomy and a pleasure seeker guided by the tongue. I’d read yelp reviews like I was studying for the MCAT’s.

Not only did I indulge at restaurants….oh no my friends..my passion stretched into my kitchen. I would by premium ingredients, cooked up a storm daily and exclusively watched food shows. Anthony Bourdain was a personal favorite! I also thought that vegans were the Hezbollah of the food industry.

I’d purchase the best smoked salmon money could buy. I had a relationship with my butcher. Not sexual relations mind you, I just bought my meat there (lol). I even had olive oils from specific vineyards.

I understood the complexities and subtle art behind wine. For example, how you’re suppose to let a glass of wine breathe so it can settle and deepen it’s flavor and open up different aromas, or how swirling the wine gives it legs around the mid rim of the glass showing us its age, clarity and body or better yet when tasting it and being able to pick out the tannins which gives wine its bitterness and complexity. Yes, I loved food and it loved me more.

My love for food was like one of those beautiful lifetime partnerships – like Dinero and Scorsese – but to my surprise it ended, and rather abruptly might I add.

Paradigm Shift

About 5 years ago a radical transformation occurred. I was introduced to the world of spirituality and mindfulness. Through a series of events – some as sad as torrential rainfall and some as blissful as an infants gaze, I changed.

I changed my diet to one without meat and started to contemplate my existence on this giant rock that’s spinning at 1000mph in the cosmos.

I retreated from the outward world for answers and came inwards. I became a voracious reader in the subjects of philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, science and spirituality.

I started to re-introduce the eastern wisdom that I negated and fought against as a child. The Bhagavad Gita became a father figure, Thoreau and J. Krishnamurti – my companions and the Greek Stoics became my mistresses.

I learned the art of meditation, experimented with drugs that society shunned (psychedelics) and used all my savings to become a student of life again.

However, I’m eternally grateful for my gluttonous past because it served as a barometer to compare my new found indifference for food.

For me, intermittent fasting was not just a change in eating behavior but more so an undying desire to understand what this world is, why we’re here and where we’ll go after we die (if anywhere).

Why I Started Intermittent Fasting

I wanted to see how the body would react if it was given just enough to function. I wanted to connect with my primal self. For the majority of the animal kingdom -excluding humans and domestic pets, food is survival. Although I’ll never know true starvation, a part of me was beckoning to understand what it means to go without food for long periods of time.

Intermittent fasting was a way for me to connect to our common ancestors.

I’ve also read and saw videos from celebrities, health advocates and YouTubers that had tremendous benefits from fasting. Terry Crews, for example has been doing it for about 5 years and the dude is ripped and aging gracefully. Check out what he said about intermittent fasting on business insider (<~~~link).

The science behind fasting can be comprehensive, but I’ll break it down as if you’re a second grader – not because I think you’re dumb, in fact you’re probably a genius, but I need it broken down in this way – so if it’s too simple for your Newtonian mind, then please have a bit of mercy, “aite” (aka alright)!

Our bodies constantly burn glycogen which is a fancy word for sugar. Everything we eat turns into sugar, and if we have an excess of it, the body stores it as fat. Also, our bodies are in constant survival mode so giving it 3 meals a day + snacks in between, during a 12-16 hour period makes it feel safe and sane.

When you practice intermittent fasting, the body panics because it’s used to getting a constant dose of glycogen, so after initially pleading and begging you to give it food in the form of hunger pains and headaches, it will eventually start eating stored fat. Can you say WEIGHT LOSS! 

In essence, intermittent fasting helps our body become a fat burning machine.

Think about animals in the wild. Their bodies constantly burn fat because they are usually a meal away from starvation. Wild animals live for the day, but we humans don’t have that problem. We have Netflix and eclairs.

After I did a 10 day meditation stint in the woods I felt enormous confidence. Meditating in silence for 15 hours/day will do that to you. Fasting was another way to experience the limitless boundaries of the human potential.

The Problems I encountered with Intermittent Fasting

Fasting wasn’t all raindrops and roses. The Sound of Music would be terrible if Julie Andrews and those kids fasted. They wouldn’t be so happy and I’d probably find the sing along more amusing.

The first week was uncomfortable because I’ve been accustomed to eating three square meals a day. Some problems I encountered:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Hunger pains
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Crankiness
  • Mild headaches

Now you might be thinking, why the hell keep going on and putting myself through this torture. After-all, no one is putting a gun to my head and saying don’t eat. I continued because I’ve found that everything that’s good in life comes with sacrifice.

The problems were short lived. After a week, I started to feel the benefits.

The Benefits I’ve gained from Intermittent Fasting

More energy – This is the single biggest change in my life. I can’t sleep more than 5-6 hours a day. Although, 8 hours is the medical consensus, my eyes open bright and early and I have long and sustained energy throughout the day. I usually have to find ways to tire my brain out so I can get some rest. I’ve brought old math books out in my attempts to learn astrophysics. Wishful thinking perhaps, but I got dreams too! I try to do flips as well, but can’t seem to find my flexibility. I’ll let you know when it turns up.

Food tastes better – I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed food this much. A simple apple tastes like heaven. A boiled potato with a bit of salt is a damn near religious experience.

I don’t need as much food as I thought – I’ve grown up with the idea that you need 3 meals a day to function, but fasting has taught me that eating less and in a time restricted window is actually more. The food that I do eat is better utilized now.

I haven’t gotten sick – This could be purely coincidence, but it’s also common sense. Because I eat less, the body has more energy freed up to repair itself instead of constantly digesting a constant stream of food.

Mental Clarity – I’m retaining more information, feel more creative and am sharper! I’m finding my voice with writing and the words are flowing like crisco.

Stronger – I’m actually increasing the amount of weight I lift. I go to the gym in the mornings and feel energized and stronger. I’m increasing weight on every powerlifting exercise. Stamina has improved as well! A 6 mile run about 3-4 times a week is a breeze.

I get full faster – I feel more than satiated with small amounts of food. Somehow fasting has strengthened the communication that tells the brain when the stomach is full. Also, my stomach has shrunk to its normal size.

I feel lighter and more agile – I’m not over weight, yet I did lose some fat pounds. I’m not scientific or analytical by nature, but I’ll break out the calipers and update this article with some metrics on actual fat % in the future. It feels great to wake up to a trim and fit body.

Bowel movements have improved – I’m not trying to gross you out, but I’ve been told as you get older, a good bowel movement is like falling in love. Mine are quite beautiful. I hope you’re not in the middle of a meal while reading this 🙂

I appreciate eating out – I used to be a food snob. I was an elitist, ego-filled douchebag that didn’t have enough stomachs to fill my precious little pie hole, but that’s changed. Food is sustenance. Quality food that’s nutrient dense trumps everything. The occasional meal with family/friends is amazing because I don’t go out that often, so when anyone cooks for me it’s like the second coming of Christ!

I don’t worry about breakfast – It’s just one less thing to worry about. I’ll only have water until I break my fast. It turns out that even coffee or herbal tea takes away from the true fasting experience because the body uses its digestive enzymes for everything but water. ( See Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Time Restricted Eating video ). I’ll write about caffeine in another article. I’ve pretty much reduced my need for all caffeinated beverages. Last week I had decaf coffee and it gave me wings. That’s a red bull joke.

Tips on How to Start + Sources

Through my research, I’ve been told that my eating window is too small (7 hours), so you might want to increase yours to 8-10 hours.

Start Slow – I break my fast at 1pm and eat until 8pm. When I first started intermittent fasting I did it 3-5 times a week, but now am going strong 7 days a week. If you’re new to fasting I’d recommend trying it a few times a week and easing into it. 

Get it all in – Within that 7 hour time frame I make sure to get as much nutrients as possible within reason. I don’t have one single meal that is balanced, but I consume the needed fats, carbohydrates, and proteins throughout my eating window. Since my diet is almost primarily plants, I have to eat more than the typical omnivore because plants digest quicker than meat.

Foods that I consume regularly include potatoes, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, lentils, beans, rice, and avocados. I use seasonings like cumin, turmeric, salt, coriander powder, and pepper to give flavor to my dishes. With the addition of garlic and onions, any meal can transform into awesome deliciousness. I still enjoy cooking but now cook healthy foods. My blog veganswamy.com has a bunch of recipes with more to come.

Prepare your foods – After you break your fast, you’re going to want to eat anything you can get your hands on. You’ll act like George Forman at McDonalds after a sparring session. Prepare or even cook what you’ll eat the night prior if possible. Pick foods that you can easily carry on the go. Eat plenty of fruits. If you work in an office setting then tupperware will become your new best friend. 

Eat Slow –This is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to people that are starting. You’ll feel ravenous during your eating window, but eat slowly because you have a huge window to get in your calories.

It’s all temporary – You will encounter hunger pains and it will be challenging, but this is a process to improve upon your mental dexterity. Also, those hunger pains are your bodies final cries for help until it has to start eating stored fat. The body is primed for an apocalypse at all times. Don’t worry too much because the benefits start to kick in within 1-2 weeks.

Have fun and don’t stress – Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s just eating less. It doesn’t come with the stresses of changing your entire kitchen wardrobe. Just make sure you add in more healthy stuff and indulge minimally.

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Check out this great video from Dr. Josh Axe. He dives more in detail about the benefits, but in short you can expect the following:

  • Anti-aging
  • Promotes natural human growth hormone ( HGH )
  • Improved Sport Performance
  • Normalizes insulin sensitivity
  • Regulates gherlin levels which is your hunger hormones
  • Detoxification
  • Weight Loss

Check out these quotes from doctors who praise intermittent fasting! It’s the world’s most ancient and natural healing mechanism.

Now that you’ve heard my experiences and are more informed, I hope you give it a try! You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

Other than switching my diet to plant-based one and adopting a daily meditation practice, intermittent fasting has been one of best decisions I’ve made for my health and overall spiritual growth. I can’t see myself eating the way I used to.

I’d love to hear about your experiences and please message me or write a comment with any questions!

If you know anyone that would benefit from this article please share, tweet or forward via e-mail.

Sincerely,

Anand