I started Intermittent Fasting on December 1st 2016. Within hours I was ‘starving’ and glad when the clock rolled around to half past twelve; my sixteen hours were up and I could crack on with stuffing my face. I persevered though, and within a few days it was easy to get through the minimum sixteen hours that I set myself.
What I did find out very quickly though was that I really had thought I could just motor on every day with the fasting, but life just got in the way. At work especially the prescriptive lunch times mean that I typically have to have finished eating my evening meal / drinking alcohol between 8:30 – 9 pm to stand any chance of breaking my fast at lunch time. I could take my own lunch and push my fasting/eating back later, but that would cost more money than a free meal provided by my employers. This situation is particularly prevalent on a Tuesday – Wednesday as I have often not eaten until rather late thanks to being at the running track.
I even found myself fasting on Christmas Day, achieving almost 18 hours I think before digging into a massive pile of turkey and the trimmings. I could see the numbers working too as the scales showed a decline in overall KG measurements as well as the fat %. The one thing that seems to consistently hover around 62% is my water level. Supposedly this is meant to drop based on some idea that the body stores water when you begin fasting but it will then drop it again once it realises the body is in homeostasis (or some such gobble-de-gook). However, I think because I have never managed to truly commit, I have not seen this subsequent drop.
Very Occasional Fasting
And here lies the problem.
Particularly over the summer I just struggled to commit – more time on my hands seems to always mean less ability to focus on what I want to achieve; fasting just went out of the window. I know it is called Intermittent Fasting, but I was less frequent than that!
I continued to fast on and off, and tracked my weight (some weeks more religiously than others.) Going past 73.5kg again was the recent spark to get back on the wagon, and within two weeks of fasting 3 days a week I was back below 72. It clearly works, I just need to FOCUS!
How fasting works for me
I feel like I have come across a routine that really works for me now, and it goes like this:
Monday : Fast. I don’t have to finish eating ’til 9:30 on Sunday night as I go for an easy run at lunchtime on Monday (the fasting helps to ensure that this is genuinely at an easy pace) and then I eat sandwiches at 1:30-2pm.
Tuesday : Fast. I am at the track in the evening, but not eating until lunchtime actually seems to help a bit with not feeling too sick.
Wednesday : Fill my boots. Because I know I can’t really hold off lunch until almost 3pm I just say “what the hell” and stuff my face with breakfast, mid-morning snacks, roast lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner. Nothing holds me back; maybe this is why I am not achieving my ideal racing weight?!?
Thursday : Should be Fasting – but because in an ideal world I am trying to fit in a slightly harder run at lunch time this isn’t practical.
Friday : Fasting. Unless I can’t be bothered. Hmm. I really am not showing the right level of commitment to this am I?!?!
Saturday and Sunday : Goodness only knows. If I am running then fasting is not likely to happen, but if not then I would hope I would give up eating. However, it just ain’t always that easy.
So, has fasting worked?
Yes. I should preface that with the fact that physically my weight has not changed by any significant amount so it could be argued that the answer is in fact No, fasting has not worked. That would be doing the whole thing a total disservice though; if only I had focused a bit better or tried a bit harder then I am fully confident that I would be tucked back below 70 kg and far happier with my body composition than I currently am. Arguably, I’d be racing better too!!
For this reason, I shall continue Intermittent Fasting for another year but I hope that this time I’ll stick to it a little more thoroughly.
Have you tried fasting? Do you fancy trying it?
If you want to know more, BBC Horizon “Eat, Fast and Live Longer” by Michael Mosley is available here; it’s a good place to start.