Experiments in Intermittent Fasting

Once again, I’ve been thinking about food and my relationship with it. I’ve tried the Paleo thing, liked it for a while, but definitely gave it up. Currently, I eat everything I want, but always include at least one Paleo dinner in the week. I don’t think of it as Paleo, I just think of it as a regular dinner. Cutting out gluten for at least one meal feels good, it feels really good, without all the frustration of being Paleo all the time. I love pasta, I love bread, and I enjoy eating rice. But lessons learned from Paleo is a whole other post. Today is about intermittent fasting.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a very consistent pattern in my eating habits: unless I consciously choose to have breakfast, I don’t eat until noon. I’m up around 6-6:30 every day, but don’t actually consume anything beside coffee and water till midday. Then my next meal is usually dinner around 7:30-8. 

At first, I started to think, man my eating habits are totally out of whack, something must be done. Then a few days ago, as I was pondering the situation, I recalled reading a cool article about intermittent fasting. I’ve encountered intermittent fasting many times online on fitness and health blogs.

Since I’m Muslim, fasting is already a part of my life. Many Muslims fast (in this case the fast means completely abstaining from all foods and liquids and even medicine) from dawn to sunset during the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan (falls at the end of June this year and goes into August)

What is Intermittent Fasting and Who Does It?

Intermittent fasting refers to eating your regular amount of food within a shorter period of time, putting your body in fasting mode for the rest of the time. In this case, fasting is referring to abstaining just from solid foods and junk food/drinks; water is allowed and people often also drink coffee (without milk and usually very little sugar).

The logic and research behind this schedule of eating is this: when you are digesting food, you are not burning calories, except the ones required to process your food. So if your body is busy most of the time digesting and absorbing food, it doesn’t take advantage of your fat stores. When your body is in fasting mode that’s when it takes advantage of your stored energy (fat).

Usually, you’ll see intermittent fasting being used by people trying to lose weight or as a way to keep bad weight off and good weight on (ie keep fat off and not lose muscle).

In my personal opinion, most people fall into one of those two categories. A lot of us are trying to lose weight and a lot of us are trying to make sure we don’t gain (bad) weight.

If you want to get a more in depth overview of Intermittent Fasting, James Clear has a fantastic beginner’s guide on his blog.

experimentsIF_coffeeWhy I’m Trying Intermittent Fasting (IF)

The problem I’ve found with much of the information online about IF is, it’s mostly written by men about their own experiences. I have found some but not many articles written about it from women’s perspectives, notably this one and this one. The first one talks about the dark side, this is what many men refer to when talking about the effect on women: hormonal problems and menstrual cycle disruptions. The second one is from the perspective of a woman trying to lose weight and she seems to have found it helped her a lot.

I already have a diet pattern similar to IF. The only difference is, I won’t be snacking anymore. This is probably a good thing, because it’s my snacking and junk food that cause problems. I have a busy life, sitting down for 3 big meals is a hassle, especially when I have to cook them myself.

So really, it’s just a fancy word for a more refined version of an eating schedule I naturally follow when I don’t have someone else cooking my meals and I’m not required to sit down for a meal (with family or at a multiple day event)

I’d like to add more women to the conversation about IF, starting with myself. I’ll report back in a month and see where I’m at and the effects of conscious IF on my life and health.

 Credits: Photography and editing by Aurooba Ahmed