As of today, I have been practicing 16+ hours of fasting per day for a solid week. Did God lead me to Intermittent Fasting, or is it just another return to my obsession with health? The question has floated through my head every once in a while, vague and featherlight as a small puff of mist. When it has, it’s never brought a check into my spirit, an internal red flag telling me that I shouldn’t be doing I.F., that I’m off track.
Between that, and the fact that I think I’ve figured out how to fast for eighteen hours without getting hypoglycemic, I aim to keep going.
In the last post, I mentioned that I’d discovered a couple of different strategies to keep my blood sugar level up in the morning. The first was by accident. On Day 5, I did my interval training at around eight o’clock. After, I realized that I didn’t feel as hungry as I did before I exercised.
I know – counterintuitive, right? So I searched, “does exercise put you in ketosis.” Short answer: yes. At least, if you do it when you haven’t eaten for a while. Because when you’ve been fasting, your body doesn’t have easily available glucose to burn. So it turns to body fat, instead. And when it begins to burn body fat – the state of ketosis – it’s happy, and so it stops sending you the signals that it wants you to eat.
But that doesn’t last long, at least not for the short amount of time (ten minutes) that I do the interval exercising. So I discovered a second weapon: lemon water.
I break my fast around ten, so between 8:30 and 9:00, when I’m really starting to feel hungry (NOTE: hunger pangs do NOT equal hypoglycemia, not by a long shot), I squeeze half a lemon into a bowl, add a cup of water to it, and slowly drink it, making it last as close to smoothie-making time as possible.
Half a lemon has only 3.2 grams of carbohydrates, so when you mix it in water and consume it slowly, you’re not breaking the fast. Today, I’ll receive the barley grass juice powder I ordered last week. Once I’ve finished the lemons, I’ll go to the juice powder, which has less than one gram of carbs per serving.
And, I know from past experience, helps keep my blood sugar levels steady.
My next biggest dilemma
After hypoglycemia prevention, my next biggest challenge with I.F. has been getting all the calories I need in six hours without feeling horribly stuffed. People can talk about calorie restriction and how healthy it is and how your body adapts to it all they want, but I know my body. It would be dangerous for me to cut back to 1200 calories a day on a permanent basis. At least, for the moment it would. I’m getting between 1500 and 1600 now, and that’s cutting it close as far as maintaining my weight.
Thinking it should be easy to consume 1600 calories or more in a six-hour period? That’s because you don’t have my super-sensitive digestive system. I can only eat so much at once, and then can’t eat again for at least two hours – three if the last meal consisted of more than three or four hundred calories – without giving myself a major stomachache.
The dilemma likely wouldn’t exist if I could be happy with a sixteen-hour fasting period, allowing me eight hours to eat. But I know that the closer you get to eighteen hours of fasting, the more benefits.
So here’s what I’m trying now: instead of trying to eat a huge smoothie inside an hour and a half (which is uncomfortable) in the morning, then having a large salad with beans, starch, and all that for my dinner, I’m making two smaller smoothies and eating one from ten to eleven, and the second from three to four. Or so.
In between, around two o’clock, or whenever I feel like eating after the morning smoothie, I eat a piece of fruit followed by homegrown veggies with avocado and sprouted mung beans. The greens and carrots I would have eaten in a salad go in the smoothie.
In the ideal world, an I.F.er doesn’t sit down and eat more than twice. But the world is not ideal. Especially not my body.
I’m not giving up salads forever. I know some days, my body is going to want just a large lettuce salad with chickpeas for dinner, instead of a smoothie. And once my body gets adapted to this new way of eating and I can sail through mornings regardless of how much I ate – or, more to the point, didn’t eat – the night before, I’m going to plan to, once a week, have only one meal a day, that meal being a large, elaborate salad. I’ve only just begun this new menu schedule, so I’m not sure if it will work to keep me on track with an 18:6 I.F. schedule. If it doesn’t, I may have to live with fasting for fewer hours.
Yesterday, I tried that new schedule, but it was thrown off by a trip to the clinic (DS has been suffering from oral thrush), so I didn’t get to eat my vegetable “snack.” Also, I didn’t finish eating until almost five, instead of four. This morning, while my blood sugar more or less behaved itself, I did get hungrier sooner than I have been the past couple of mornings. Because I didn’t get in all the fiber and calories, or because I ate bananas last thing, remains to be seen.
I’ll let you know what happens over the next couple of days.
Go back and tell the me from 2020 that in June of 2021, I’ll be lamenting that I can’t fast for eighteen hours a day. Isn’t it strange, how a nudge from God and just a little new information can so dramatically change your way of thinking?