Earlier in the week, I posted a brief introduction to intermittent fasting and why, I, as someone who has dealt with an eating disorder, started intermittent fasting. If you want to read more about it, check it out here. But now I want to share with you 7 lessons I learned from 2 years of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting has many health benefits, but what it’s most known for is the fact that it can help you become strong and fit without having to completely change your diet. Let’s face it, nobody likes restricting diets or constantly feeling hungry all the time. Intermittent fasting helps to prevent that.
Anyhow, I have been intermittent fasting for about two years now. I am not the most strict person out there when it comes to intermittent fasting, but I do try to stick to it as much as I possibly can.
As somebody who has been practicing intermittent fasting now for quite some time, here’s what I have learned throughout the years.
7 Lessons Learned from 2 Years of Intermittent Fasting
1. It’s all in your mind.
At first, intermittent fasting is incredibly difficult. For the first few weeks, I remember constantly feeling hungry in the morning. What I didn’t realize is that it wasn’t my body that was hungry, it was actually my mind.
I’m just about 27 years old now so let’s say I started intermittent fasting around my 25th birthday. Think about it, that’s 25 years of eating breakfast before 10 a.m. While my body learned to adapt rather quickly, my mind was so accustomed to eating before 10 a.m. that it was constantly reminding me of food as though I had forgotten to eat.
Once you get over the first few weeks of hunger strikes in the morning, intermittent fasting becomes pretty easy. If there is one hack I could share with you to get you through the hunger strikes, it would be to consume coffee and a lot of bubbly water. The carbonation helps leave you feeling full.
2. You don’t need breakfast.
There is this misconception that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that it leaves you feeling energized. And to some extent, this may be true. But you don’t need to eat breakfast early in the day, and you definitely shouldn’t be eating pancakes, donuts, or the sugar-filled cereal that many consume on a daily basis.
First and foremost, these foods are going to be quickly digested by your body and will leave you feeling hungry again only a short time later. Aside from that, there is a substantial amount of bad calories in these foods that one consumes early on in the day. A diet like this will only lead to poorer food decisions as the day continues.
Again, for the first two weeks, I felt as though I needed breakfast and didn’t feel energized unless I had it. But that was my mind talking. After the first few weeks, I started feeling more energized than I ever had before, and to be completely honest, some of my best and strongest workouts come when I am still fasting. That’s because blood has an easier time flowing and my body saved energy from not having to digest anything prior.
3. Fasting allows you to enjoy more of your favorite foods.
To be completely honest, this is probably the reason why I started intermittent fasting in the first place. I haven’t always had the best relationship with food, and I wanted to be able to go out with family and friends and eat for pleasure instead of always restricting myself to the smallest or healthiest item on the menu.
Intermittent fasting has helped with that as I find that I am less hungry, and therefore, I have a tendency to snack less. If I don’t eat breakfast until 11 a.m., I tend not to eat a big lunch until 2 p.m., and then dinner at 7 p.m. By the time 7 p.m. rolls around, I have usually done a pretty good job of eating healthy throughout the day, so I feel less “guilty” if I have a lot of food for dinner.
P.S. NEVER allow yourself to get guilty from eating food. It is the worst habit that I have developed and the hardest to overcome.
4. Getting lean is easy.
This one is more-so just for my peace of mind, but it’s something that I still struggle with. I always have had this fear that if I eat just one donut or one piece of fried food that I would immediately pack on the pounds again. And while I still do try to stay away from those foods, there are times (despite how rare) that I will enjoy them.
I think for me, intermittent fasting has helped change my mindset in the sense that I have lost weight before and I know that if I needed to, I could do it again. I have managed to stay lean as a result of intermittent fasting without necessarily having to devote my life to a diet plan, so I now have that peace of mind knowing that I could do it again.
This is more just to help cope with my fear of indulging in too much food and gaining a lot of weight, but it’s something that I think can benefit others who have a mindset like me.
5. You can still build muscle while intermittent fasting.
It’s not about eating more or less. It’s about when you eat and what you eat.
For all of the fitness fanatics out there, you know that the best time to get a good amount of protein in your body is 30 minutes to an hour after your workout. The sad thing is that many stick to protein shakes to get a measly 20 grams of protein in. Imagine if you ate your first meal right after working out. You would be able to get far more protein into your body to rebuild your muscles while feeling incredibly satisfied from having a full meal. Not only that, but the carbohydrates would also help to restore your glycogen levels.
Okay, sorry for getting in-depth about nutrients, but science has continued to prove time and time again that you don’t need to eat before a workout and that intermittent fasting doesn’t cause muscle loss. You are still consuming the same amount of calories, but your body will become a fat-burning machine during the first part of the day when you intermittent fast.
6. Intermittent fasting helps me concentrate.
Seriously, I am at my sharpest when I am fasting. My mind has an easier time concentrating, and overall, I just feel more productive while I am fasting.
This is primarily due to the fact that when there isn’t any food in my system, my body isn’t having to exert energy to break anything down. Ponder it for a moment, how much energy does your body use in trying to break down processed sugars or carbohydrates? Probably a lot.
All of the energy that our bodies use from breaking down foods has to come from somewhere. But when we hold off on eating until our bodies are actually hungry, we are able to use the energy that we have from a good night’s sleep to concentrate on actually doing something productive and meaningful with it.
7. Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone.
Lastly, I have learned that intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. Everybody is different and everybody’s bodies react in a different way.
For me, I enjoy intermittent fasting. It’s helped me to be more productive while being able to enjoy larger meals later on in the day. For others, this might not be the case. Maybe you are somebody who needs to eat or get going. If so, do you. You know your body better than anyone. I would just strongly encourage you to try and shake things up and give it a valid effort. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but at least you will know with 100 percent certainty.
Before You Go
Intermittent fasting isn’t some diet regimen that is going to require you to restrict the amount of food you eat. It’s actually the exact opposite. It allows you to eat the same amount of food throughout the day (maybe more), while leaving you feeling satisfied after eating.
As someone who has dealt with food issues in the past, I will say that intermittent fasting has helped to bring the joy back to eating, and that’s why I continue to practice it. Again, it’s not for everyone, but give it a try. You have nothing to lose.