Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


Intermittent Fasting

Not too long ago, I was struggling to get back down to my ideal weight. You've probably been there: not starving yourself, but still working out, and can't seem to lose any more fat. And much like we talked about recently, I was already doing portion control to keep my calories within reason.

I wasn't too sure about it at first. I was already eating pretty healthily, and I felt like if I cut back my calories more, I wouldn't be getting enough nutrition. I wasn't working out as much as I'd have liked, but I couldn't change that, either... so I was looking for something, some way to change my diet to lose weight and stay healthy.Then I stumbled across a phenomenon called Intermittent Fasting. I first heard about it from Danger and Play, but something about it intrigued me. What if you could lose weight just by something simple... by just by changing when you eat??

What is intermittent fasting?

Basically, it's changing your eating schedule to optimize how your body burns food. This is not a diet, in that it's not changing what you eat, or how much. (I'm assuming you're already eating fairly healthy food.) But most people never take into account that our bodies were designed to process food in different ways, based on what our needs are.

The simplest form of intermittent fasting is the "short fast." This is what I tried. You eat a normal day's set of meals, maybe have dinner around 5 or 6 PM. Then you don't eat anything with calories until at least 12-14 hours later. What this does is force your body to switch to "fat-burning" mode, without having to kill yourself. You get up the next day, go to work/school/space, and hold off eating breakfast until a good 12-14 have passed from your last meal. And after all, "breakfast" comes from breakfast. As in, you haven't eaten in a while.

There are more extreme versions, but the key is they're all short-term. As in, it's only a 24 or 48-hour cycle. We're not advocating you starve yourself for days. That's not good for you.

Does it work?

Well, I tried it for a month, just to see what would happen. I didn't change my diet: I would just ride to work and bring my breakfast with me. I ate dinner at 5:30 PM the night before, and I didn't get to work until 6:00 AM. Even when I didn't get to ride my bike, I would hold off eating breakfast as long as I could. I didn't starve myself. I made sure not to eat any late after-dinner snacks. I drank lots of water (which you should be doing anyway).

After a month, I was astonished! I had lost 10 pounds without changing a single thing I ate in my normal routine. I went from 175 to 165, just like that, by only changing when I ate. Yes, it did work for me. The trend was obvious as I weighed myself every day on a digital scale. (A Wii Fit balance board. It counts, it's digital!)

Simply by eating breakfast after I rode to work, instead of before, I lost weight.

Why does it work?

Simply put, your body is very efficient, and it was designed to take advantage of energy when the food supply is low. In the ancient hunter/gatherer days, it wasn't uncommon for a family to go for long periods without substantial food. The human body knows this, and when calories come in, they are either immediately used, or converted and stored as fat for future use.

When your blood stream isn't saturated with glycogen, your body has to get energy from somewhere. Weight lifters have known this for years: lifting on an empty stomach forces your body to burn more fat. For the rest of us, any kind of moderate exercise after 12-14 hours of fasting will cause you to lose weight.

When you eat right before exercise (within an hour or two) your body just burns off some of that food immediately, especially the sugars. If you exercise too hard while fasting, your body can't release fat fast enough, and you start to burn muscle as energy.

The trick is to do moderate exercise at the end of a short fast. Keep your food intake healthy, stretch out the time between your dinner and breakfast meals, and try to get some exercise before you eat.

As always, this might work better for some people than others, but a 14-hour fast isn't going to kill you unless you're severely diabetic or something.

Be willing to think out of the box, and use your body's internal programming to your benefit! Why fight your metabolism, when you can make it work for you?

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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