Sunday, April 8, 2012

Intermittent Fasting-- The Key Is...

You're gonna need a bigger boat...
and I'm gonna need a new pair of shorts...
So, can anybody tell me why "Jaws" is always playing on Easter weekend?

Friday evening into Saturday afternoon was spent doing an intermittent fast, giving me a chance to clean out my system and reduce the allergies that were flaring up. Last year at about this time, my allergies were so bad that I actually got sick. I'm talking sick to the point of not being able to eat or drink... or sleep or breathe... for almost two days. That is not a good way to lose 6 pounds in 38 hours.

Things have been blessedly different this year, not having to digest grains or dairy, giving my body a chance to naturally fight off the abundance of irritants that haven't yet been washed away by any spring snow showers or rain. The fast was a necessity since I had made the choice to cook with ghee for a few meals last week, and felt my sinuses start to swell like snot-filled balloons.

Intermittent Fasting melds perfectly with a Paleo lifestyle. It's pretty safe to assume that cave-boys-and-girls didn't have saber-tooth tiger burgers available on every corner. When there was food, they ate it. And when there wasn't... they had to suck it up and wait for more. Actually, after watching "Planet Earth" and seeing how long it takes many predators to make a decent kill, enough to feed themselves or their offspring or their pack/pride/posse, it makes sense that our ancestors would have had to go through a similar process.

There are a few different ways you can fast, but I prefer to eat a big(ish) early dinner, get as much sleep as I can, and not eat anything until mid afternoon the next day. That usually works out to 16-17 hours, with the time split between sleeping and doing average activities: taking my dogs to the dog park; work; cleaning; reading; laundry; whatever's going to keep me entertained and not bored enough to reach for convenient food. (That's "the key".) When I'm down to the last few hours, I start to cook my "re-entry meal". It's usually something that takes long enough time to make that I can tastes little bits of it as I go, thereby re-introducing food back into my belly without eating so much that I immediately feel stuffed.

I even do short workouts when fasting, paying special attention to staying hydrated. (Coconut water is perfect.) Sometimes, I find I have even more energy when I haven't eaten before kicking my own ass. The moment I start to feel shaky is the moment I know I've gone too far. Truthfully though, I've only felt shaky once, and that was the first time I ever did a fast. Since then, I've learned my limits.

Fasting isn't starvation. Fasting isn't for immediate weight loss. Fasting is to get the body to act naturally and use what it has in it.

And now I know why "Jaws" plays every Easter weekend: it's hard to watch the last hour on The Orca without screeching out 'sweet Jesus!' every few minutes.


  1. Lindsay, fasting, as a mild stressor, can actually cause your body to secrete hormones that will make you stronger and leaner over time. It's fine to exercise while fasted but keep the intensity low. It's also liberating to be free of wondering when how to eat next!

  2. Agreed! When you first mentioned it, I'll be honest: it kinda scared the pants off me. Now, pshaw, not scary at all to go through a majority of a day without eating!