Intermittent Fasting: Is it Healthy?

Missed the other posts in this series? Here’s part one, part two and part three.

Before starting intermittent fasting (IF) I did a lot of research. One of the things I wanted to know was if intermittent fasting is healthy. I found a lot of resources supporting the health benefits but not much of anything saying it was unhealthy. There have been a lot of studies lately exploring intermittent fasting, almost all good. The thing is, like I said last week, if someone digs deep enough, he or she can always find support for positive or negative. I encourage you to do your own research and see if intermittent fasting is for you or not.

As for the information I did find, a lot of it was technical and detailed, especially in regard to the insulin resistance. In short, though, intermittent fasting has been known to increase life span and fight the effects of aging, fight cancer, “increase neuronal plasticity and promote neurogenesis” (a.k.a. good for brain health) and has positive effects on your lipid profile (cholesterol).

Personal experience

I have to confess, I don’t have any personal “documented proof” that intermittent fasting is healthy. For a LONG time I wasn’t able to go to a doctor because we didn’t have health insurance; so I don’t have a starting baseline as to where I was “level wise” before intermittent fasting and now. (We finally have insurance so I’ll be going soon, so I will use that as a comparison in the future.

Having said that, I have lost 30 pounds and losing weight is known to have positive results on a person’s health. I have so much more energy than before and I just feel better all around. That may not be scientific, but I’m happy with my results with IF so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

Resources

Here are a few websites that talk about the health benefits of intermittent fasting. They all talk about 24 hour fasts and the “Eat, Stop, Eat” methods of fasting but I also recommend you getting the free Fast-5 e-book. The e-book goes into detail about the benefits of fasting, particularly the Fast-5 method (the plan I follow).

Mark’s Daily Apple (FYI: Mark also follows a “primal” diet that I don’t know much about, but it is mentioned in this post quite a bit.)

The Healthy Teacher

All About Fasting

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Scientific study)

I hope this little series has helped you get a grasp of the basic concepts and benefits of IF. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me privately (carol @ simplecatholicliving dot com).

Intermittent Fasting: Pros and Cons

After talking about my intermittent fasting journey and the intermittent plan, today I want to talk about the pros and cons of intermittent fasting. There are a lot of misconceptions about intermittent fasting, as there are with many diets. You hear conflicting things, and there are always “studies” people can quote to support their point. I’m no exception, I suppose. I have been doing intermittent fasting since January and love it. It’s the first plan I’ve found that I feel like I can do permanently, and make it a lifestyle. Having said that, I’ll give you what I believe to be the pros and cons of intermittent fasting.

Pros

1. Save time. With less food and meals to cook and eat, I have gained at least a half hour or more time into my day. Yes, I do have to feed my son, but now that he’s getting older he’s slowly preparing his own easy breakfasts and lunches. While Andrew is eating I use that time to read to him, clean up the kitchen or do other quick tasks.

2. Save money. Since I’m only cooking one big meal a day, I have saved about $30-$50 a week in groceries. I do keep breakfast and lunch foods handy, but not nearly as much as before.

3. Less waste. Less food means less waste from packaging, etc. That should make all the “green” people happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

4. More energy. Since starting intermittent fasting, I’ve gained more energy than I’ve had in a long time. I’ve read that some people complain that they don’t have energy if they don’t eat, but that’s not really true. When fasting, you get your energy from your FAT, allowing you to have plenty of energy.

5. Your organs get a break. During the fasting period, you have your digestive system, pancreas and other organs a break, allowing them to work at optimal level when you do eat.

6. No food restrictions. When you follow other diets and food plans, you are often restricted in what you can eat. You have a list of foods you can and can’t eat. When a person is restricted, especially from foods they love, they often binge and over-consume.ย  Now, it’s true many people who follow intermittent fasting often restrict their intake of carbs or other foods, it’s their choice. In reality, you can eat anything you want within your five-hour window.

7. Less food obsession. Some food plans require you to count points or calories or want you to keep a food diary of everything you eat. I’ve been there, done that and it doesn’t work for me. I spent way too many hours stressing over what to make for each meal, how much I can have, writing it all down. With IF, I think about dinner and usually a snack and that’s it. Now, I can go most of the day without thinking about food at all. That’s liberating to me!

8. Full Feeling. With IF, when I eat, I feel like I’ve actually had some food. Sounds crazy, I know. With other plans, especially ones that require you to eat 6 small meals a day or menus where you eat 1/2 cup of oatmeal and a piece of fruit for breakfast, 5 almonds for a snack, etc., Iย  was eating frequently but I never felt satisfied. With Intermittent Fasting, after eating a large meal I feel satisfied and full.

Cons

I tried and tried to think of a lot of cons to balance the pros, but in all honesty, I could only think of three:

9. Get Hungry. With intermittent fasting, you aren’t eating for 19 hours. This includes sleeping time, but still, you are going for a long period of not eating. The first week I did IF I was sick so I kind of had it easy because by the time I was better, I was already getting used to the fasting schedule. But there are times I feel hungry, especially if I didn’t eat enough protein the night before. I am trying to make a point of drinking lots of water and herbal teas which helps. And truth be told, being hungry won’t kill ya. ๐Ÿ™‚

10. Temporary weight gain. If you do IF, I recommend weighing yourself in the morning. When you eat a large meal, a person can easily gain a pound or two until the food starts to be digested. It’s a false weight gain for sure, but a weight gain nevertheless.

11. No food crutch. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know for myself, I would often eat for other reasons besides hunger. I’d eat when I was bored or stressed or happy or sad or just to do “something.” When you are fasting you aren’t eating. I have to find other ways to prevent or stave off those triggers that used to get me eating. Praying and trusting the Lord is essential (for me).

Related links

Here are some links about Intermittent Fasting you may find useful.

Running on Empty

Diabetic experiment

Pros and Cons

If you do intermittent fasting, I’d love your input. What are your pros and cons for following intermittent fasting? Next week I’ll answer an important question about intermittent fasting: “Is Intermittent Fasting healthy?”

Intermittent Fasting: The Plan (A.K.A. How it works)

Last week I shared a little about my journey with Intermittent Fasting. One of the questions I get most when I talk about intermittent fasting is “How does it work?” I’m no expert by any means, but hopefully sharing my experience in this post will give you an idea of what’s involved.

Actually, it’s not much. There are different forms of intermittent fasting, but they all have the same idea. You fast from food for an extended period and then you eat within a certain period and you fast again. That’s it. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you look around the ‘net, you will find different versions of the above. One of the popular plans is to eat within a 24 hour period, and then fast for a 24 hour period. Another popular way of fasting is the plan I follow, The Fast-5, which was formulated by Dr. Herring.

Basically, all you fast for 19 hours (including your sleeping hours) and eat within a 5 hour period. What you eat within that five hour window is up to you. There are no restrictions. However, many followers of the Fast-5 also eat a Paleo or other low-carb diet.

Is it hard? In truth, fasting for 19 hours can be a challenge. For me, some days are harder than others, but it more of a “mental thing” rather than a “hunger thing”.

When you read Dr. Herring’s book, he encourages his readers to gradually work up to 19 hours by gradually increasing your fasting time over a week or two. For me, it was easier just to go cold turkey, like I mentioned in last week’s post.

What works for me

For many people who follow the Fast-5, their eating window is usually 5pm-10pm. However, do what works for you. For me, my best eating window is 4pm-9pm.

When I started in January, I would break my fasting with a snack at 4pm, usually cheese, a handful of nuts, fruit or whatever. Then I would eat a nice-sized dinner around 5:30-6pm. Finally around 7:30 or 8pm I would finish off an apple with some cheese or sliced ham. I also gave myself “permission” to take Sundays off. If I wanted to have breakfast or lunch or whatever, it was okay.

After a while, I realized that I wasn’t really all that hungry when my window opened. I was just eating because I “could”. I dropped the snack, and so now I open my window with a hearty dinner (most of the time having seconds) around 5:30-6pm. Then around 7:30 I have my evening snack. It is almost always an apple with cheese. Sometimes I add a treat, like a piece of chocolate (M&Ms!) or small ice cream or something. Also, after a few weeks, I didn’t feel the need to cheat on Sundays – although I do give myself more of a leeway in what I eat during my window.

As of now, my eating window has naturally shrunk to three hours. Not on purpose. And it may change in the future but it’s what works for me for now. And what works for me may not work for you.

If your are curious or interested in Fast-5 or intermittent fasting, I encourage you to do your own research. Sign up for the Fast-5 Yahoo group. Pray about it. Ask questions. Feel free to email me privately (carol @ simplecatholicliving dot com) or leave your questions in the comments.

Next week I’ll share what I believe are the pros and cons on Intermittent Fasting.

Linked to We are That Family because fasting works for me!

 

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (April 22, 2012)

Hereโ€™s this weekโ€™s contributions to RAnnโ€™s weekly Sunday Snippet meme (As always, come check out other Sunday Snippet posts, or join in with your own):

Weekly Goals

10 Words to Describe God

E-book Review and Giveaway for “That Works for Me!

The Intermittent Journey, Take Two

Top 7 Writing Resources for Bloggers

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (October 3)

Another week, another Sunday Snippet! Here’ are my contributions for this week:

On Monday, I walked in my living room and saw my son like this.

On Tuesday, I shared my ten favorite things about Autumn. (Come tell me what you love about Autumn!)

On Wednesday, we celebrated one of my favorite feast days: the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

On Thursday, I shared a bit about my journey into intermittent fasting.

On Fearless Friday, through the intercession of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, we prayed for those serving in the missions.

Have you linked up yours yet at RAnn’s blog?

Entering the World of Intermittent Fasting

I’ve been hearing the call from the Lord to fast for several months now. I’ve been ignoring it. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ It’s not that I don’t want to obey God’s call or anything. It’s just that, well, the idea of fasting is scary. I’ve never been good at fasting. Trying to get through Ash Wednesday and Good Friday was hard enough!

You see, food is my addiction of choice. Some people drink, smoke or gamble to deal with life’s stresses. I eat. I eat when I’m happy, when I’m sad, frustrated or bored. Like a lot of other families, holidays and feast days are celebrated with food. Which means, of course, that I do have a good deal of weight to lose.

But, this particular call to fasting that I have right now isn’t about weight loss. It’s about trust. It’s about trusting in HIM. It’s about giving up control. It’s about putting my life in God’s hands – FOR GOOD. We’ve been working on trust, the Lord and I. It all started when Michael lost his job last year; and didn’t get a new one for a year and three months later. Passed some tests, failed others; but, I’ve been plugging along. Until the fasting issue came up again.ย  {sigh}

So, anyway, last week when I was checking out the Fearless Fridays on Angela’s blog, I saw Angela’s Youtube channel in the sidebar. Andrew was in bed and I had some time, so I thought I’d check out a couple of her videos. I watched them ALL. It was as if the sky’s opened and the Lord said: “This is the fasting I want from you. Sacrifice two meals a day for ME and you will reap a bountiful feast in heaven!”

I discovered the term “weight release”. A term I never heard before. A term that resonated deeply within me. Watching those videos gave me a strong sense of longing and expectation. A longing to be released from everything and anything that kept me from belonging completely and totally to my Father in heaven through His eternal Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I went from Angela’s Youtube channel to her Sacrificial Diet website and read through every post. Then I did several searches on intermittent fasting. I downloaded the free Fast-5 e-book and read it all in one sitting. I joined the Fast-5 yahoo group.

Then I made a decision. I said yes. I followed the Lord into the world of intermittent fasting. I’m still scared. But I’m also excited. I know it will be like a roller-coaster ride. But, I’m on the road and I guess I’ll see where it leads. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know there will be a lot of prayer, a lot of calling out to the Lord, and a lot of great adventures!

As I write this, it is 9:36pm on Wednesday (the evening before posting this), September 29, 2010. The feast of the Archangels. I’m 3 days in. had a two day “break-in” and today was my first full day. I wasn’t planning to start this past Monday. I wanted to wait until October 1st to officially begin. God had other plans. Guess what, though? I made it through – so far!

You may be wondering why I am sharing all this. I am too. I admire people, like Angela, who openly share their weight struggles with the world. I may have a “bubbly” personality, but I am extremely private in many ways. I’m not in habit of sharing the “inner me” and to me there’s something intensely vulnerable, raw and exposing about sharing one’s weight struggles and issues. Maybe that’s why I felt so compelled to write this – to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

I don’t know if my weight release journey will be a regular “feature” here at Simple Catholic Living. Maybe I’ll start a weight-loss blog (seriously doubt it), or journal about it privately or write the occasional update here. I’m not sure. I don’t know if anyone would care. I wouldn’t want to bore my readers with my emotional weight release journey! But, if my story and struggles can helpful to one person it might be worth blogging about.

What do you think? Would you appreciate reading about my weight release journey or would you rather I not blog about it?

In the meantime, we’ll see. It’s all in God’s hands. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Please pray for me. And know, dear readers, that each one of you are in my prayers daily. God bless you.