I Tried Intermittent Fasting and Here's What Happened
There was a point at one time on social media where intermittent fasting (IF) was the craze as it has offered so many health and weight-loss benefits. But the truth is, IF has been around for centuries! To call it a fad is committing a major health faux pas!
Water fasting can be traced as far back into biblical texts and other religious/spiritual practices. It was done in numerous ways and at varying lengths of time, typically from five to forty days. One of the most prevalent accounts in Western Christianity was of the forty-day fast as observed by Christ during His temptation in the desert.
Fasting for spiritual purposes is still widely practiced and has remained an integral part in every religion. All of the major spiritual teachers like Buddha and prophets like Muhammad had all shared a common belief in that fasting offers the physical body a dynamic power of healing. In the health perspective, it is cleansing and offering the body to rest. In its most simple form, fasting means going for a period of time without food.
As I mentioned, there are different methods of fasting. One that I committed to at the start of the week is intermittent fasting. It is a strategy used to reduce caloric intake, lowering body fat mass and improving insulin levels. This type of fasting is grouped into two groups: time-restricted feeding and whole-day fasting.
The time-restricted feeding involves eating only during a certain number of hours every day. This was the practice I adhere to and I will share more in details. The whole-day fasting involves a twenty-four fast followed by a twenty-four non-fasting period.
Fasting gives your body a break from digestion so that it can focus on other things. Digestion takes an incredible amount of energy and it directs the blood flow to the system. With a fast, the flow can now revitalize other areas that need the huge amount of blood like the brain. It makes room to regenerate new and healthy cells affecting longevity and reversing diseases of all kinds. (1) Here is a list of some benefits:
Better blood sugar balance
Lowers sugar and food craving
Boost energy levels
Improved cognitive function
One of the most common goals to fasting is to add flexibility to your metabolism so you can burn more fat. When this happens, you get your body used to switching from burning sugar (the glucose in your body) for fuel to burning fat. This gives your body a surge of energy to get through the day.
My reason for the fast was both for spiritual and health reasons. For the past two years after receiving the flu vaccine from a former employer, my immune was so suppressed that it triggered other health anomalies that I didn’t had before.
Now I’m not saying that the vaccine had a direct influence (although I am led to believe that today’s vaccinations are suspect), but I can’t help but believe that this vaccination is the catalyst to introducing my allergies, chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, loss of smell and asthma.
My fasting began on Monday and I have stuck to the following routine:
Fasting began at 6 PM and lasted until 1 PM the following day
During fasting hours, just water is consumed. I did have my usual 1 cup (8 ounces) black coffee in the morning
After fast, just raw foods like whole food vegetables and fruits are eaten. Absolutely no gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, or soy. My meals consisted of salad bowls for lunch and steamed veggies and legumes for dinner. There were a few dehydrated veggies I ate like lentil beans and snap peas, but I kept these to minimum and added more greens to my salad bowls for calories.
I did eat almost every hour between the hours of 1 and 6 PM but did not overwhelm my digestive tract with anything too heavy
I followed the routine and here are my findings:
My goal here in fasting wasn’t to lose weight or see a huge change in my appearance. However, I have noticed that my gut was less distended and my abdomen got flatter. I should have taken a picture of my scale reading on Monday in comparison to today’s reading because I went from 163 to 153 pounds in a week.
Now for the gross part: since being on the fast mucus has been draining from my sinuses and some of the residual mucus from my chest due to asthma, has been expelling out. I know gross. This is important because for the past two years, I have been struggling with respiratory issues like difficulty breathing especially during sleep. Since I started I have noticed changes that are not majorly significant but I can tell that as long as I stick to a plant-based (no dairy, especially cheese) diet, I will witness bigger changes down the road.
I’ve also noticed that my skin started to breakout at first and then get clearer towards the end of the week. My first thought was that perhaps my body was “purging out” underlying toxins from beneath the dermis. I did not change my skin care routine and adhere to my basic products: Dr. Bronner’s peppermint liquid soap to cleanse and coconut or jojoba oil to moisturize.
As for the skin on my body, it is brighter and appears shiny. I contribute that to the nutrients from the healthy fats I was consuming all week like avocado and olive oil for my homemade salad dressing.
Another physical observation is the immense energy I felt every morning now even before my coffee! When I was growing up, I heard adults claim how “if you are starving yourself, you are going to past out!” I heeded the warnings and always made sure to eat a full breakfast every morning to gain energy. I’ll be honest, I thought being on the fast was going to make me weak but it did the opposite.
This entire week allowed me to accomplish a lot more between my day job and the brand. I was very much surprised as I observed how much stacks of paperwork I was able to review and complete before a deadline. At times, I would find myself forgetting to drink my coffee because my energy streak which is unheard of coming from me! Did the energy last well into the afternoon? You bet!
I’ve battled with brain fog for the past year or so mostly stemming from work stress after being diagnosed with the pre-stages of Hashimoto’s disease. I would forget little details at work and was frustrated making simple mistakes. I also became mentally lazy which resulted in the dreaded procrastination often putting things like projects on hold.
Up until the start of the year, I made a conscious effort to get through the procrastination and set things in motion. But, I still needed to kick the brain fog to curb and since fasting seems like the logical thing to do, I gave it a shot.
The fasting has not only reduced the brain fog, but it has improved my concentration and memory retention levels as well. I was able to recall certain information about a work task with clarity and efficiency. I am not sure if the fasting helped to cure the fogginess as this is my first fast of the year, but it has allowed me to stay focus and less distracted.
Speaking of distractions, I made the conscious effort to “unplug” from social media during the fast choosing to just post here and there. But, this was more of a personal choice. I wanted to start reading more books in place of the online interactions so I renewed my library card and signed out a couple of books to get started :)
During the fast, I have received intense messages via my dreams during sleep time. One of the most pleasant dreams was that of a celebration complete with fireworks and an immense feeling of joy and love.
It was as though I transported to another world like ours, but was a bit different- a lot less stressful and less distracted. But the dreams didn’t stop there! During the fast, I committed to getting a restorative 8-hour sleep with no cell phone interaction of any kind. In fact, I turned it off for every night an hour before bedtime.
During meditation and prayer, I was able to receive messages with so much clarity than before. Most of the messages received were encouragement and loving reminders of support from my beloved spirit gang.
Interested? Here’s the bottomline
If you plan on starting IF, ask yourself what are your goals. If you are looking to have more energy and kick sugar cravings to the curb, consider a more simple method like fasting for 16 hours a few days out of a week. If you are looking for the long term approach to promote longevity, talk with your doctor first about experimenting with a fast.
Do keep in mind that prolonged fasting takes commitment and requires dedication to incorporate into a daily routine. Intermittent fasting is easier and is usually recommended prior to a prolonged fast.
Fasting is great, but keep in mind that the way you break your fast is just as imperative. It can be counterproductive to fast and then immediately binge on unhealthy foods. So when you decide to break your fast, don’t drive to the nearest drive-thur to get your meal on!
Try a delicious light meal of veggies, fiber, and healthy fats or whip up a smoothie bowl made with blueberries, chia seeds, almond milk and oats instead.
The cells in your body and your soul will give you a high five for a job well done!
1. Wired UK. Cure for cancer? How autophagy could lead to a cure for cancer and spell the end for diabetes. 5 Oct 2016.