We have all skipped meals or gotten off of our eating schedule, but for the most part, food is readily available and we eat whenever we choose. In fact, we are encouraged to eat by advertising, well wishing parents and spouses, and by our own daily routine. Consequently, not eating can be quite a challenge.
When I first started experimenting with fasting, I drank fruit and vegetable juice or warm broth. Because these add calories during the day, this was a way to ease into fasting.
Another way to ease into fasting is to start by removing one meal, then as you are comfortable with skipping this meal, you can remove another meal. For example, one Sunday, you could skip breakfast. Then, after you are routinely skipping breakfast, you could skip breakfast and lunch.
Now, my fast starts Saturday night. After finishing the Saturday evening meal, I don’t eat again until Sunday evening. During the day on Sunday, I drink tea and water.
Of course, as with all things, exercising good judgment is key. If I am fatigued, not feeling well, or just don’t seem to be in the mood to handle a full day of fasting, then I eat. But, skipping a fast day is pretty rare for me. One unanticipated result is that I actually look forward to fasting.
I have the impression that fasting, gives the body a chance to get caught up. Having work come in everyday, means that some projects go unfinished for long periods of time and others don’t get our full attention. Those days when no new work comes in are blessings that allow us to clean up our desks and sort through our in boxes. Fasting for me is like giving my digestive system a break and my body the chance to get caught up on unfinished work while purging the clutter.
On the cultural side of things, every major religion has fasting as part of its practice. This seems to indicate that fasting is part of the human experience.
Which can’t be much of a surprise. Our ancient ancestors must have encountered a few bad days of hunting or gathering. Ready access to a full complement of calories without the occasional missed meal due to unfriendly weather conditions, losing out to rivals for the same food source, or just a wrong turn into inhospitable terrain would seem unlikely.
Fasting does not interfere with my exercise routine, but it does have some noticeable effects. For strength exercises, after a few rounds, I can feel my strength dropping sooner than on other days. Definitely not a good day for a maximum lift. But, with calisthenics, like burpees, I feel light on my feet and look forward to the next round.
I notice better mood elevation after working out on these days. Also during a fast, my level of patience is increased. Little frustrating things do not bother me as much. These are great days for tackling detailed projects, like assembling my bike.
This may be due to the bodies shift from glucose as an energy source to a ketone based system. When glucose becomes rare, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies make their way to your brain and replace glucose as an energy source.
I thought this was pretty cool when I first read about it. Having a backup system for generating energy, wow, what a great idea. Seems like not engaging this system, would be a bad thing, as the body becomes over reliant on the glucose based system. So, I think of fasting as a way to fire up the spare generator and keep it well lubricated.
Ending a fast can be tricky. As I get closer to the end of the day, I can feel the rising anticipation of an upcoming meal. When I do eat, I try to go slow and not gorge myself. I like to have a piece of fruit and then some cashews. At dinner, I will eat more than during a normal meal, which presents a great opportunity to put healthy food in front of me and watch it disappear. Also, after a fast, the food tastes better.
If you search the web, you will find lots of information on intermittent fasting and its healthful benefits including weight loss, increased metabolic efficiency, decreased production of free radicals, better sleep, help with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and increased life span. You can make up your own mind about these claims, studies, and promises by authors. My one day a week fast does not match the IF protocols. But, for me, it is a good way to hit the reset button when starting another week.
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