It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before making a drastic lifestyle change, especially if you have a chronic health condition.
Uncovering the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) was like discovering I had a superpower that nobody bothered to mention—and it has undoubtedly changed the way I live my life. I know that's a pretty bold statement, but in this instance I feel it's warranted.
Daily intermittent fasting is a style of eating in which you either skip a meal (usually breakfast) or you condense your meals and snacks into a specific eating window (between 8 and 12 hours). This simple change in my eating pattern has freed me from my total reliance on food for energy. The theory behind IF is that our bodies have the natural ability to easily fast for 16 hours or more, without experiencing hunger, food cravings, or lulls in mental or physical energy.
Intermittent fasting boosted my energy levels.
In my personal experience, once my body got used to this new eating pattern I would say it actually gave me more mental clarity and physical energy. There is a common misconception that daily intermittent fasting involves skipping a meal and, hence, cutting calories and missing out on an entire meal of vital nutrients. But this isn't necessarily true. How much people eat while they practice intermittent fasting is based more on feeling than anything else. For example, I still typically eat three meals a day with snacks. The only difference is that I don't start eating until the afternoon and I'll usually stop at 8 p.m.
Some days I prefer to eat only two meals, but it all depends on how I feel and how hungry I am. This may be hard for some people to believe but despite my restricted eating pattern, my energy levels and hunger remain remarkably stable throughout the day. There is research that points to intermittent fasting's ability to improve your ability to burn body fat for energy, which might explain this phenomenon. When your body is efficient at accessing body fat and burning it for energy, you give yourself a secondary fuel source aside from food and glucose; this process is what keeps your energy levels high and your hunger in check while you're fasting.
Fasting (ironically) freed me from hunger.
For most of my life, I've been completely dependent on food to keep me feeling well-balanced throughout the day. I needed it to keep my energy levels stable, to keep my hunger in check, and to prevent me from getting easily irritated. So how exactly did daily intermittent fasting free me from food? Back in the day, our hunter-gatherer ancestors were in a constant state of famine and feast. Since we never knew what our next meal was going to be or where it came from, we had to become very efficient at storing and burning body fat for energy in case there was no food to be found. This key adaptation of being able to switch between burning sugar, fat, and body fat for fuel is what is known as metabolic flexibility.
Our bodies can power themselves through multiple avenues.
Most people are unaware of this but it's something that is important to understand. Our bodies can run off of different fuel sources. One is glucose, which we get from sugar and carbohydrates, and another is fat and body fat. Our bodies work perfectly well on both fuel sources; however, in today's society, we typically eat too many refined carbohydrates and sugars, very few healthy fats, and we never go prolonged periods of time without eating. This lifestyle has caused us to lose our ability to effectively alternate between burning sugar, fat, and body fat for energy. We have become metabolically inflexible.
Fasting allowed me to be more metabolically flexible.
Before I started practicing daily intermittent fasting, I could have never imagined being able to skip a meal without experiencing major hunger swings and dips in energy. My body was too reliant on sugar and was too inefficient at burning body fat. I had become metabolically inflexible. This is what kept me completely dependent on food for stability. However, since I began daily intermittent fasting, I have fully regained my metabolic flexibility. My hunger never gets out of control no matter how long I go without food, my physical and especially mental energy have increased, and I no longer have to be constantly eating to feel normal. It has been a truly liberating experience.
If you would like to experiment with daily intermittent fasting, do your research! I created a beginner's guide to fasting, full of information I've learned through my experience with it. There are a few different styles to choose from and depending on your current level of health, I would recommend trying different types of fasting until you find out what works best for you and your current lifestyle.