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Intermittent Fasting: Sixteen Hours It Is!

Click here, here, here, and here to get caught up on my new Intermittent Fasting journey.

It’s been an interesting three weeks and a bit to say the least, experimenting with the fasting-feasting window. In the beginning, I really, really, really wanted to be able to fast for at least eighteen hours.

Because I really, really, really wanted to believe the health benefit claims around this eating lifestyle. And I thought that the longer I could fast, the sooner I’d experience those benefits, and/or the more acutely I’d experience them.

Also, I heard an “expert” say that eighteen hours was the minimum to shoot for if you really wanted all those great anti-aging benefits.

I’m slowly backing away with a placating smile…

I know that three weeks isn’t long enough to tell if a certain change is going to make my hair stop thinning, or stop graying. It’s not long enough to know that it’s reversing, or at least preventing progress of, osteoarthritis.

However, it is long enough to tell whether it’s having any effect on my estrogen and progesterone levels, which is the reason I decided to try it in the first place.

My conclusion? I.F. isn’t doing a blasted thing to my hormones, one way or the other. I’m having about the same number of hot flashes per day, and the other symptoms of hormonal imbalance haven’t decreased.

Then again, I didn’t do the eighteen hour fasting for very long. I couldn’t.

First of all, I’m underweight. For that reason, around the fifteen hour fasting mark, my body really starts begging me for food. Yes, even after three weeks, when my body should have, by all other accounts, adapted to the schedule.

Second of all, and one of the reasons for me being underweight, I’m sensitive to a lot of foods. Because of that, for decades I’ve been spreading out my eating – instinctively  rather than knowing about the sensitivities – throughout the day. Therefore, my stomach isn’t used to taking in the huge quantities of food at a time required when I only have six or fewer hours to fill it.

My initial plan was to force it to get used to being stuffed. But, you know what? At fifty-one years of age, I’m done being uncomfortable for the sake of someone else’s principles.

So I didn’t stick with the eighteen-hour fasting window for more than a week. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t “worked” for me, as far as hormone balance.

On the other hand, I’ve since read things that made me wonder if this “expert” knows all he thinks he does. In another post, I’ll be talking about the misgivings I’ve developed about I.F…and why I’m sticking with it, anyway. Suffice to say, I’ve become more or less convinced that an eighteen-hour-plus fasting window simply is unhealthy for my body.

I almost gave up.

Only a few days ago from when I’m writing these words, I came this close to deciding not to do I.F. any longer. I was tired of stuffing myself, tired of feeling bloated half the time, and starving the other half.

In short, I couldn’t figure out how to do I.F. and not feel miserable. At the time, not even with a 16:8 schedule.

And then, I did some math.

I sat down and figured out that somehow, I’d miscalculated the calories I was eating. Turns out, the reason I’d been feeling so stuffed, even with a sixteen- or seventeen-hour fasting window, was that I’d been eating more calories than I needed.

Oh.

Duh.

I’ve also discovered that cucumbers (which I grow every summer and eat only if they come out of my garden) with the peel on, even blended in smoothies, even when they’re young and not bitter, double my bloating (at least, that’s how it feels). So now, though it means losing most of the nutrition in the watery, crispy fruits, I’ve begun peeling my cukes before eating them.

Where I’ve landed with my Intermittent Fasting schedule.

I’m sticking with the most popular fasting-to-feasting ratio, 16:8. I begin eating at 6:45 in the morning. I eat a little over half of it over the course of thirty minutes, take a half hour break, then finish my breakfast.

And my tummy is very happy, and I have more energy after eating than when I was trying to stuff myself by eating an entire meal all at once.

At 1:15, I begin my second meal, following the same procedure as in the morning. Giving my stomach thirty minutes in between each “course” has made the eating window much more pleasant.

I’m finished by around 2:45 in the afternoon. Understand that, for reasons I’m not going to divulge here (long story), we go to bed at 8:30 at night. So I’m not walking around feeling hungry for as long as you think.

I do start thinking about food around 6:30 or 7, but I can make it to bedtime.

Why do I do this to myself? Why not start eating a little later so I can finish eating later in the afternoon?

I discovered early on that when my entire upper digestive tract is empty (i.e., I finish eating five hours or more before going to bed), I sleep like a log.

Something I haven’t done much of since I got pregnant over fifteen years ago.

Get it? Good.

There you have it. Up next: is Intermittent Fasting all it’s cracked up to be?

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