"Start slow and start small. Stick to it and stay consistent." That's the motto with which I live these days.
I say indefinitely because the reasons for doing intermittent fasting go far beyond weight loss as "fasting" might suggest. The main purpose of intermittent fasting is to keep insulin levels in the blood at baseline for a long time every day. This helps with weight loss but has many benefits as well.
I've done intermittent fasting for last two months, starting on 2nd Nov, 2020, but I'm not interested in doing intermittent fasting if it sacrifices my long-term health for short-term improvements. And for that reason, I've kept a close eye on how I feel, how my body is responding, and whether my overall health is improving or declining.
The biggest benefit of intermittent fasting is simplicity.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, President Obama described an interesting strategy he uses to make his life simpler. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
What President Obama is referring to is a concept called “decision fatigue” and it can drastically impact your ability to make decisions throughout the day. I will explained the science of decision fatigue soon.
For the President, simplifying his clothing choices is a way to make life simpler and improve his decision making abilities. For me, intermittent fasting provides the same benefit. Eliminating breakfast and lunch, and not thinking about food until 5pm each day has allowed me to reduce the number of decisions I make in the morning and noon, thus reducing decision fatigue and increasing the willpower I have for the rest of the day. That means I have more energy to put toward doing work that is important to me.
One of the best ways to find happiness and success in life is to strip away the unnecessary things and focus only on what is needed.
With intermittent fasting, I have been able to increase strength, reduce body fat, and maintain good health while spending less time eating each day. If you can get the same results by making life simpler and only eating twice per day, why would you make life more complex by eating three, four, or five times per day?
I have no idea if intermittent fasting will work for you.
I can’t say whether intermittent fasting will work for you. All I know is that, as one piece of my overall strategy, it has worked for me. It works because it fits my lifestyle. It works because it is simple enough for me to not spend much energy thinking about it. And it works because it aligns well with my diet, and my training style, which is mostly heavy weightlifting and other compound movements.
If you're eating poorly or if you're training for a championship or if your job doesn't give you the flexibility to eat your meals in an 4-8 hour window, then intermittent fasting might not be for you. And that's fine. You can experiment with other ways to achieve your goals.
Intermittent fasting releases you from the prison
You will no longer be a slave to an artificial eating schedule imposed upon you by societal construct. The idea that you must eat now because “it’s breakfast time” was never true! We don’t need so many meals per day and the lower we make the number of meals we eat, the more we will actually enjoy those meals and not gain weight. And having a program where we can actually enjoy the meals we eat is the key to not re-gaining our lost weight.
Just one more note. Don’t be a slave to the societal “normal” way of eating but don’t be a slave to intermittent fasting either. There is evidence to show that doing intermittent fasting 5–6 days a week instead of 7 has most of the benefits. It is nothing if not flexible. And if you really overeat one day, then skip both breakfast and lunch the next.
That's it for this blog post and if you feel that you've something to add to this or you have a different perspective then share it and discuss it on r/StoicHuman or go to the Reddit discussion post for this blog post linked down below.
Stay healthy, Stay safe!
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