Intermittent Fasting: Fad or Lasting?
Fasting has been an essential part of my personal health journey since I was in my teen years, both juice fasts and water fasts. I first heard about Intermittent Fasting (IF) in 2012. I remember laughing to myself at the idea of someone “fasting” for only a few hours in the mornings - it seemed like a stretch to call this a fast. I didn’t give the concept much thought for the next 5 years, until late 2017 when I read an article about how IF was becoming popular amongst celebrities in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I was particularly intrigued by co-founder of Evernote Phil Libin’s story of losing 85 lbs, reversing a pre-diabetes diagnosis, and claiming to feel 25 years younger.
I’m usually skeptical about celebrity trends, but decided to do a little more online research and found both positive and negative views on the health benefits of IF. So I decided to reach out to my friend, nutritionist Jennifer Van Horn. Anticipating her to tell me that it was just a fad, I was surprised when she said, “I’ve been Intermittent Fasting for years - at least five days a week! It is so good for your body to rest from eating through the night and morning, and it helps with metabolism and inflammation.” She strongly recommended that I try it, so coming into the New Year, I embarked on a six week long IF journey.
A few google searches led me to understand that my original perception about IF being a laughing matter was just plain wrong. Studies have shown that 12 hours of fasting is optimal for our bodies to properly allow the digestion process to take place. I considered different methods and chose the 16/8 method, restricting my eating to an 8 hour period, then fasting for the 16 hours in between.
A typical fasting day for me looks something like this:
6:30 AM: Begin drinking water.
11:30 AM: First plant-based meal of the day
3:00 PM: Light snack
6:00 PM: Exercise (usually running or yoga)
7:00 PM: Dinner (last meal of the day)
My mornings consisted of drinking 48 oz of water before my first meal. I found that after the first few days, I didn’t miss my morning breakfast routine as much as I had anticipated. At lunchtime I begin by eating a plant-based meal. A couple of my favorite meals are the Iron Berry Liquid Meal and the Early Riser Breakfast wrap at Fruitive. The Iron Berry contains cashew milk, kale, spinach, dates, avocado, vanilla extract, pitaya, blueberry, and strawberries. It is packed with protein and iron, and keeps me feeling full, even hours after. The Early Riser Breakfast Wrap is loaded with spinach, quinoa, corn and black bean salsa, caramelized onions, mushrooms, red peppers, tomatoes, Braggs seasoning, cayenne, just mayo, and cashew cheese. Typically, I was always able to finish an entire Early Riser wrap plus a snack for lunch, but after starting IF I was having a hard time finishing the single wrap and even had leftovers.
During the start of the cleanse, I thought “Oh my goodness, I am going to be so hungry by lunch that I’m going to end up eating twice as much as I normally do; thus, defeating the purpose of the fast.” However, I was surprised to find myself eating smaller portions than I normally would during my eight hour span of eating. I looked up “shrinking stomach” thinking this was the cause of my smaller-portioned meals, but found that a hormone called “leptin” was likely responsible. Leptin is produced and stored by fat cells and signals the brain that it’s time to eat. When you have more fat, you have more leptin. By allowing the body to properly digest over the fasting period, we allow the breaking down of fat cells, which also reduces the amount of leptin being released.
I would have to say that the only negative aspect of the fast was having to change the time of my workout routine, since I typically workout in the mornings. I didn’t want to exercise early when I couldn’t refuel with food afterwards. Although this was a slight disadvantage, establishing a rhythm to my eating and feeling more balance in my life outweighed the change to my morning exercise routine. I was not necessarily looking to lose weight during this fast. Instead, I was looking to regulate my diet and eating habits to create a more healthy digestive process. In turn, I was happy when my family noticed that I gained a little bit of extra muscle in my abs.
This fast proved to be a challenge at first, since I enjoyed my morning breakfast/workout routine; but, it was much easier to establish ongoing dietary discipline than any other fasts that I’ve done in the past. In fact, I will be recommending IF to first-time fasters from now on. Overall, my diet and exercise time has become more of a deliberate effort and I feel like my life is more orderly with this fasting schedule. What started as a six week IF challenge has turned into a lifestyle, and I plan to continue IF long term.
- Gregg Rozeboom, Fruitive's Founder