From an early age, the notion of skipping a meal only crossed my mind. It was only on my plate when I was too sick to consume anything solid. The routine of having breakfast, lunch break and ending the day with a home-cooked dinner was etched in my chromosomes. Adding (a) snack(s) to the 24-hour feeding rounds and my daily caloric gaps were packed up for the day.
The word “intermittent” and “fasting” did not frequently flow out of my mouth at that time.
It felt I had to as well.
I had catch up on my caloric intake because of my growth spurts, my weekend, and my part-time summer jobs. My weekends were filled with working in the open air, 10 hours a day to finance my Saturday drinking evenings. In addition, my driver’s license, my education, and my pocket money when another drinking evening presented itself did not pay for itself. The energy I expelled needed to be replenished constantly.
As life steadily progressed, so did my mid-section. Unfazed by its expansion drift, I was keener to lead by example in a more corporate tenure. Taking on some additional tasks to get back on a health trac did not exist. But before I realized it, buying new clothes that fitted me and replacing underwear with stretched-out elastics became a regular task without me realizing it.
The growth had to stop one day. My condition was so bad that even scuba diving kept me down only for 35 minutes. Sharing air with my instructor was needed just to max out our underwater time. When reading My Journey, I am going more in-depth about it and how I feel like I am 30 years old again.
The strategy of using Intermittent Fasting (IF) was introduced first by my coaches. As sceptical as I sometimes can be, I decided to go for this by consciously creating caloric gaps. Casting aside all my beliefs and adhering to my engrained breakfast, lunch, and dinner times from when I was just a little rascal, I took this leap of faith in 2018. And to date, I never looked back on doing anything else.
In short, IF revolves around strategically skipping meals to allow your body to use its stored fat reserves as energy. When we eat, insulin is released from the pancreas, telling our body to collect the glucose from our bloodstream. This hormone is needed to transport glucose into our cells to be turned into energy. Our body prefers glucose as a source to keep our internal steam engines topped up, thus leaving all our stored fat untouched. When insulin levels drop, around 6-8 hours after nourishment, the body can tap into its fat cells to convert this into energy.
While we do not keep glucose stored for long. Our bodily barns are loaded with ample battery power to keep us going for days. Increased insulin release equals not going for our fat reserve. And excess glucose will be turned into fat and snuggled somewhere where it will protrude. In addition, energy sources from nutrients can only be transferred into another form.
Sorry to tell you, those calories you just consumed do not magically disappear. And turning excess energy into fat is the most common means to hoard it back with the other fat cells.
IF is all about using your stored fat cells as energy to control those energy sources you have packed, stored when winter is coming (ahem), and ready to be shipped out. This can be done by keeping your eating window as close as possible during the day (controlling insulin levels). It is by touching these reservers that Intermittent Fasting can work in your (weight loss) advance.
When I started IF, I embraced it in a slow, incremental, yet sustainable path. I went on a non-eating journey for 12 hours first, followed by 16, and now going sometimes for 24 hours. The feeling of not eating and still having energy is a trial-and-error process balance before getting into the flow. I failed here and there (all part of the process, nothing to be ashamed about), but the results, combined with movement, sleep, and stress control at a later stage, were phenomenal.
IF is all about controlling your physical hunger cues, recognize them, and make mindful decisions on the when, why and how to control them. Eating is a must. We regularly need to fuel our bodies, but we carry a lot of body gasoline with us that last us for an extended amount of time. Add some quality food, some exercise to the IF stockpile, some quality slumber, and you may be in for success.
It may not be for everyone – I have to add to the above. Those with eating disorders, during pregnancy or certain illnesses, may not benefit from it.
IF is not hard, and there are some fabulous techniques and guidance from a coach that can get you in the IF rhythm and close that caloric gap of nutrient intake. Also, be patient with the process as weight loss through Intermittent Fasting may differ from person to person.
As long as you do it sustainably, hold yourself accountable for the practices and habitual changes, and be confident that you can reach out to someone guiding you on this path, IF can work very well for your weight loss journey.
Fasting is the first principle of medicine; fast and see the strength of the spirit reveal itself. | Rumi