I love fasting. It feels great to be able to just ignore eating for a morning, or even a whole day, and get busy with everything else you need to to.
It wasn’t always like this though. I remember a time when I firmly believed breakfast was “the most important meal of the day” and I’d feel cranky, lethargic and weak if I went more than a couple hours without eating. Skipping breakfast was out of the question. If I was travelling, or on the road for work, I’d feel justified in eating whatever junk was available because “something is better than nothing, right?”
Even when I was eating what most people would see as “healthy”, I would be having a meal, albeit a small one, every 3hrs. That’s 5-6 meals in a day. Thats a lot of work, and a lot of planning to try to stick to. I was eating low fat, wholegrain “healthy” stuff, and losing weight, but I always felt lethargic and sleepy mid afternoon and just not “right”. Why was that?
I was on the insulin roller coaster still! I was absolutely dependant on carbohydrate (which may as well be read as “sugar”) for my energy. I would eat some, burn it off, get hungry, feel crap, need to eat more again. If you have great willpower and like feeling like a spartan, ignoring any hunger you feel, then you will lose weight this way. Most of us, however, can’t do that more than a few days in a row. Eventually we cave, and either are caught with no prepped food handy and “something is better than nothing” rationalisation happens, or we simply fold it all in and attack some doughnuts.
Once you are able to ween your metabolism off the massive sugar dependancy, things become a lot simpler. Even the most ripped of us have 5-10kgs of stored energy sitting in our bodies….The thing is, it’ isn’t sugar, it’s Fat.
Now for the science bit:
-Consider that fat gives off 9calories per gram of weight. That means even a skinny, 50kg woman at 10% body fat, has 45000calories of fuel just waiting to be used! FORTY FIVE THOUSAND CALORIES! That’s technically more than 3 weeks' energy needs.
-Most of us can only store about 2000cal of “sugar” as Glycogen in our liver and muscles...That's about 1 day's worth. Evolution has adapted us to be able to go long periods without food and live off our stored energy source, FAT!!
Eat plants and animals and avoid poisonous things. Eat fish, fowl, meat, eggs, colourful veggies and high fat dairy. Cut out refined grains, and even whole-grains for a while. This will be lower carbohydrate than you're used to, but not extreme.
Eat a lot to begin with and don’t starve yourself. You’ll go through a transition period of feeling a bit weird while your body remembers how to run on fat rather than exclusively sugar.
If you try to fast without going through this transition period, your body literally sees it as a mortal danger and can emit “fight or flight” hormones. This is why you feel terrible if you don’t eat when you are carbohydrate dependant! Your body thinks “Oh gosh! we are running out of food! We need food to live! Better freak out!!!”
Once you’ve adapted away from this, skipping meals is effortless. Eating becomes less urgent and food becomes a more important event, not just fuel. I like to enjoy my food and the event of eating with friends or family, not just inhale something for sustenance when I’m desperate.
Now I find great joy in preparing tasty satiating, whole food meals that I will enjoy, instead of relying on low fat, tasteless, boring “fuel” that will leave me wanting more in a few hours.
How is your relationship with food? How do you experience hunger? Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? Was it successful?