The truth is I’m a foodie, but I also love weight training and being in shape. I used to think there were two options. I could eat what I wanted and get fat, or follow a restrictive diet to be lean, but never both at the same time. That changed when I tried intermittent fasting.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is the extension of time between feeding periods.
It’s a general term encompassing a range of methods. For instance, it could mean only eating during certain hours every day, or going for days without eating.
Is it a health panacea?
There’s research in animals showing that improves health and increases lifespan. People have extrapolated these findings to humans, making claims of life extension and cancer cure.
However, such claims are premature at best. Actual studies in humans aren’t nearly as promising.
To me, potential health benefits are interesting, but the reason I find intermittent fasting miraculous is purely epicurean: it enables ultimate flexibility of food choice.
My approach to maximize food flexibility every day
I designed my own system with these things in mind:
- I don’t feel like food in the morning but get very hungry at night.
- Eating is a source of joy, so I like to do it daily. That rules out alternate day or multi-day fasts.
- I have a large appetite, so small tastes of good food are just frustrating.
- Being able to eat plenty of chocolate and other high calorie, delicious foods is part of the goal, but not to the detriment of health. That means a base of nutrient-rich food is critical.
Therefore I eat three meals, starting at about midday, with the last at about 7 pm. The first two meals are low in energy, comprising vegetables and protein. These meals save calories for the last meal of the day when I’m most hungry.
The last meal also has protein and vegetables, but always includes some type of high-calorie indulgence.
Breaking up energy intake like this allows huge flexibility of food choice and portion size for the final meal. It’s something I look forward to, and a nice way to cap each day off.
Diet flexibility alone makes the intermittent fasting lifestyle worth it, but I also experience other benefits:
- Decreased hunger. You’d think hunger would increase, but it’s the opposite. This is an incredible advantage for fat loss phases.
- Food preparation. Fewer meals means far less food preparation and more time for other things.
- Mental state. Extending the overnight fast throughout the morning results in a productive mind frame I enjoy. Especially with a cup or two of coffee on top.
Intermittent fasting requires an adaptation period. If you start with a long fast, chances are you’ll feel rough. You can avoid this by gradually extending the fast over days or weeks.
For example, if you’re like me and not hungry in the morning, you could eat an hour later every few days until you find your sweet spot.
One of life’s cheat codes
The suitability of intermittent fasting is context and individual dependent. If you’re trekking through Antarctica or a professional bodybuilder eating 10000 calories per day, it’s not going to work. And some people just don’t like it or find it problematic.
However, I’m someone with an average metabolism, large appetite, and a love of food, which means I get fat easily. So to me intermittent fasting is like unlocking one of life’s cheat codes. If you’re like me, it might be one of the greatest lifestyle choices you make.