(2/2) How to get the most out of intermittent fasting? This worked wonders for me!

After debunking a common myth about intermittent fasting it really started working for me. Many sources (link) often suggest that it does not matter when we consume our meals. You can eat at night! sounds great right? My experienced jiu jitsu friends only confirmed, so I didn’t feel the need to verify this in any way. I didn’t stop to think that they themselves were not practicing intermittent fasting. After all, this is piece of news everybody wants to hear. But after fasting intermittently for a year and consuming most of my meals in the afternoon and evening I was increasingly feeling worse. The magic wasn’t working and eventually I gave it up. (see previous post) It was only a few months after I quit, that I started to research the topic again. I missed the structure provided by intermittent fasting. Having a clear start and cut off point for fuelling was very helpful, even though there were other things that didn’t work during my first attempt.

Eventually, I came across a Harvard article (link) on the update on intermittent fasting. It suggested that moving your feeding window to morning hours had dramatically lowered blood pressure and insulin levels of the study participants when compared with the ones who ate their last meal in the evening.

After I dug a little more, it turned out that there is hardly any scientific evidence suggesting that we can eat anytime and lots of evidence saying that timing is key. This was more than enough to convince me to give it another shot. intermittent_fasting_bjjlove The New Structure

In the study, participants ate their first meal at 7 am and the successful group finished fuelling at 3 pm. Knowing that I wake up at 8 am every day and go to sleep at midnight, there was no way I could copy this routine.

Instead I started eating at 8 am and finishing between 4-6 pm depending on training schedule. It wasn’t as big a change as the one presented in the study, but I usually can’t stop snacking until 10 pm, so it seemed like a revolution to me.

Breakfast at 8 was followed by a snack at noon. The first bigger meal would be lunch at 3pm and finally at 5-6 pm I would have an even bigger dinner. If I was hungry between meals I ate fruit, but mostly fasted after the last meal.

The first few days were difficult. Surprisingly though, not as bad as one could expect. It took some time for my body to get through the last meal, so I wouldn’t start feeling hungry until late in the evening. Bedtime was more difficult, but this time I adjusted to this after a few days. There are days when I need a small snack in the evening, an apple or an egg, but most days the fasting is perfectly bearable. The only exception is the time before my period. Typically, these are the 2-4 days a week before it starts when I could eat a kebab, followed by a pizza, a tub of ice cream and large cheesy fries and still crave a snack. (And the cry and laugh at the same time for absolutely no reason). A little self-control is recommended, but recognising these states of crazy hormonal activity will prevent you from feeling guilty about not being able to keep up with your pre-planned meal schedule. Does this eating pattern make any difference?

This approach has made me a little leaner, but more importantly I feel much better. Even though falling asleep hungry is difficult at the beginning, it provides better quality of sleep in the long run. Training after the last meal actually makes this eating pattern easier to sustain.

Fasting in the evening improves functioning of the digestive system resulting in feeling of lightness and less bloating. Water retention in the body seems to be minimised too. All these changes lead to a feeling of general well-being, which in turn makes you more energetic.

Practicing intermittent fasting this way has finally provided me with all the promised benefits and I would recommend this to anyone. I continue to sticking to it most days of the week.

The described experiences are my personal observations and everybody should do what is best for them and what suits their medical or dietary requirements, but if you are able to, I would encourage anyone to try it.

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