There is a lot of controversy around the term fasting. What does it mean, what are the benefits, why do people do it, who should do it and when should you do it? I first stumbled upon an article about intermittent fastening about a year ago but it didn’t mean the same to me then that it does now. At that time I was eating every 3-4 hours to ensure I wasn’t shaky, light headed or irritable. Fasting then was more like a challenge, and how long could I go without food? I was never good with the concept of fasting and every time I thought I would try it I would go so long and then just cave and way over eat. There is no benefit to that type of exercise.
Now that I’m listening to podcasts and entering in the Paleo community I’m hearing more and more about intermittent fasting and what is actually means. Intermittent fastening is a pattern of alternating between eating and not eating. The time frame varies and the who and why vary as well. Men tend to see high levels of energy and some muscle mass gain while that may not be so true for women. The length of time for fasting can vary as well but optimal fasting is about 16 hours. Some say that they can go 24 hours but they have other aspects that they are keyed into such as sleep as to be good and every day eating has to be good, exercise and rest have to be balanced and then perhaps the body is ready for fasting.
I have periods of intermittent fasting that I wasn’t even aware of. When we sleep for 8 hours that is a fast. Also, many times I stop eating by 7pm on Friday night and by the time I’m home from my workout and Bikram on Saturday it is noon and I haven’t eaten anything so that is a 16 hour fast and once a week. I haven’t seen any ill effects from that length of fasting and since I don’t really think about it as fasting my mind doesn’t think that it needs food.
The idea that I might be fasting makes my mind think about food all the time. That is stressful and honestly fasting can be stressful on the body as well. There is some good that comes from it depending on who you are and what your goals are but for me I’m not planning an official fast anytime soon but I’ll stick with my unofficial fasts and not think about them as fasts. Due to the way I’m eating now my body is not ready for food every few hours so I’m getting in the same amount of calories and actually some days even more calories than before but I don’t have to eat on a routine, instead I eat when I need to eat. I’m wary to say I eat when I’m hungry and what is hunger can be a whole blog by itself. The science behind hunger is very interesting to me.