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. 🙂

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!


The Intermittent Fasting Journey – Take Two

Way back in September 2010 I wrote a blog post about entering the world of Intermittent Fasting. I shared about the Fast 5 e-book and the Fast 5 Yahoo group. I knew I was called to fasting but always struggled with it. I did okay with the intermittent fasting until the holidays and then it all when out the window.

Over 2011 I still felt the call. I lurked on the Yahoo group, read and re-read the e-book but for various reasons I didn’t make the jump or I would start it and give up after a few days. A lot of it was due to my schedule and stress I was under, along with a couple of out-of-state moves. A lot of it was physical issues I was dealing with at the time.  A lot of it was mental.

Toward the end of 2011, I knew I needed to buckle down and answer the Lord’s call. I was eating way too much junk food and sugar. I am a sugar addict and I knew I had to do this. Not necessarily to lose weight (although I needed to) but to eat better and get a grip on my eating habits.

So, as January 1 came around, one of my goals was to break my sugar addiction once and for all. I was preparing for a rough week. I prayed about it and prayed for the strength. Well, a couple of days before I was to start I got my “monthly” and got sick at the same time. I wound up spending most of the week in bed and didn’t want to eat anything hardly at all. By the time I came out the other end, I had lost 7 pounds and (surprise, surprise!) I had NO CRAVINGS for sugar at all!

The weight loss and lack of cravings gave me to incentive to keep going. Since January, I’ve had mostly weight loss with a few weeks of gaining a few pounds. I usually lose only 2 pounds a week but once in a while I’ll have a boost and lose 5-7. Since Easter I’ve hit a bit of a plateau but over all, I’m 30 pounds less than I was in January!

I do have sugar occasionally in the form of ice cream or other snack. The difference is that I have a lot less than I used to have and I usually follow up with a little protein a little while after. I find the protein helps me keep the cravings down and I’m not so hungry during the day.

This time has definitely been easier in many ways; however, to keep this post at a reasonable length, next week I’ll talk about the practical things I have done that has helped me along my journey. In the meantime, if you have any questions about fasting or the Fast-5 Intermittent Fasting, don’t hesitate to ask. You can either leave a comment below or email me privately. (carol [at] simplecatholicliving [dot] com)