The post I wrote on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss back in March of 2011 is the post that drives the most amount of traffic from search engines to this site everyday. Given it’s been more than 4 years since that post was originally published (I’ve updated and edited it for clarity a number of times over the years) a recent email from a reader with some questions inspired me to write an update and answer some of the questions about IF that I’m frequently asked.
I do still practice IF, but I don’t really think about it anymore. Now it’s just the normal thing I do.
Most days I don’t eat anything after dinner. Sometimes I eat dinner between 6 – 7, other days it’s after 8 – like on the nights I teach yoga or have an evening meeting.
Most mornings I get up in the 6 o’clock hour and don’t eat breakfast until 10 or 11. Some days I don’t eat anything until noon. And there are days when I’m ready for breakfast at 9. I do always drink a cup or two of coffee with half and half (no sugar) first thing in the morning.
So that means, “most days”, my fast ranges between 14 – 18 hours. The one thing I do differently now is that I don’t try to extend my fast beyond what I’m physically comfortable with, and that is something I did do in the beginning when I first began to incorporate IF into my life and experimenting with this idea. Today, whenever I feel true physical hunger, I eat!
The other thing I do differently now than I did back then is that I only eat fruit for breakfast. Not fruit with something – like yogurt, oatmeal, nuts, etc. Just fresh fruit. And I usually stick with one kind of fruit per mini-meal, instead of mixing things. So I might eat a banana at 10 or 11, and then when I feel hungry again (like, an hour later) I’ll eat some melon or mango or berries or grapes or whatever happens to be in season and abundant in the produce aisle. This has been one of the best things I figured out for myself in recent years – because it completely frees me of sugar and carb cravings – no exaggeration. I can tell the days when I haven’t had enough fruit in the mornings because by dinner time I’m craving something covered in dark chocolate or have a hankering for ice cream. (This topic actually deserves it’s very own post.) This also gives me tons of energy throughout the day. (I really need to write a separate post about this!)
I get some form exercise in just about every day, nearly always in the morning, and always in fasted state (with the exception of the cream in my coffee!)
Lately I’ve really been enjoying riding my bike in the mornings through these summer months. This past winter I was playing around with resistance training with free weights at home, but that’s taken a back seat with the summer weather and wanting to be outside. I haven’t gone for a run since the early spring, and I’m liking not running right now. I do still do an occasional sprint work out, basically, running at maximum effort long enough to get breathing really hard until I can’t take it anymore (30 – 45 seconds?) and then slowing to walk until I recover, and then repeat, 6 – 8 times. The thing I love about this type of work out is that I’m usually done in 15 minutes, so this is a great bit of activity to do when I’m short on time. I believe sprints and/or high intensity workouts are important part of a fitness regime. I try to remember to do a HIIT workout once every 10 days or so. And there’s lots of just plain old walking too.
I also practice yoga nearly everyday. I get to a 75 minute class at the studio 1 – 2x a week, other days I practice at home. Some days my home practice means a couple of forward leaning folds in my kitchen or a downward dog or two at the playground. Other days it’s a short, intuition-based practice in my living room. And some days it’s just the few poses I do while I’m preparing my classes for teaching.
I’m currently pretty comfortable with my weight, although I wouldn’t mind losing another 5 lbs or so… but this is life. In general, I think I can say I feel good in my skin. (At 36 though, I can definitely say that this getting older thing ain’t for sissies!)
Some days I’m hungrier than others, other days less hungry – and I try to honor that. I don’t actively try to restrict calories because it always backfires. I just try to stick to eating whole foods most of the time and moving my body in ways I enjoy. I don’t limit carbs but I do try to keep grains to a minimum. There is Ezekiel bread in my fridge and if I want a sub from Wegmans, I am totally enjoying that awesome roll! I rarely buy crackers, I don’t buy cereal or pasta (well, there is the occasional box of Mac and Cheese for the kids) but I do sometimes buy tortilla chips (or those Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato chips?? The BEST!) I do drink a glass (or two) of red wine a couple nights a week. I also try to keep refined sugar to a minimum but do sometimes enjoy dark chocolate (and dark chocolate covered pretzels!) or some ice cream once in a while.
To sum it up, I’d say that Intermittent Fasting is one piece of the puzzle to my personal journey toward maintaining a healthy, happy weight and lifestyle and leaves me feeling sane when it comes to food. But it truly is a part of the whole. It goes along with making smart food choices, getting a hold of any issues with emotional eating, mindless eating (both things I’ve struggled with and worked through in the past) and staying active – I’ve been on this “healthy living” journey for more than 10 years and have learned so much and have tried a lot of things over the years! IF is one of those things that has “stuck” and is still a part of what I do today that is working well for me.
I guess that’s it. Got specific questions? Hit me up in the comments and I’ll answer as best I can. The comments on the original IF post are filled with Q&A’s too that you might find helpful as well.