After gaining a little weight over the past year, I recently decided to give this intermittent fasting thing a go. It seems to boil down to “skipping breakfast”, and when stated like that, it doesn’t sound too terrible and impossible. Well, it involves a little more than that: not eating or snacking late at night. That could be a problem as late at night when I’m tired and ready for bed is the time I am most susceptible to the temptations of chocolate, potato chips, dried mango, chocolate protein shakes, toast with heaps of butter and either Vegemite, honey, strawberry jam, peanut butter, kimchi – yes, kimchi, or cheese.
One variation – and there are a few others – is to limit to an 8-hour (or shorter) window the food you consume in a day. The rest of the day is committed to not eating. I’ll be taking a flexible approach to this,;by that I mean my eating window will vary day to day depending on my schedule, commitments, and just simply how I feel. A stricter approach is to not eat between the hours of day 12 pm and 8 pm, for example, but I hate the idea of following a rigid schedule, and I want to limit the impact on my social life. The flexible approach also offers opportunities to experiment and find time frames I’m comfortable with.
Of course, I can have late night snacks if I then continue my fast for 16 hours. That sounds harder though. I’d prefer to start the fast at least a few hours before bed so that the waking hunger hours are reduced.
Tuesday, June 19: I started the evening of June 19. I started my stopwatch as I swallowed the last of the day’s food and kept it running until I next ate. The eventual fasting target is 16 hours (or more) , but I am gradually going to approach that over the coming days/weeks depending on how everything goes.
Wednesday/Thursday (June 20 & 21): I set a new world record:
Thursday/Friday (June 21 & 22): My plans were interrupted by a performance by my new band which necessitated some late night beers and a little late night/early morning snacking. Such is the crazy life of a rock star. The good news is this isn’t something I need to do everyday. I’m going to aim for 5 days a week. Therefore, this failure isn’t a failure at all; rather, it’s necessary a step on the way to success. Congratulations!
Friday/Saturday (June 22 & 23): My last calories Friday evening were contained in a black tea latte which was consumed by 7 pm. I then spent a lazy evening watching a ton of informative videos on the subject. It’s now Saturday morning 8:30 am, so I’m at the 13.5 hour mark. I just consumed black coffee, I’m watching more videos, and I’m feeling good. Going another few hours without eating isn’t an intimidating and scary prospect at all. At least I’m pretty sure I can set a new world record. I made it past the 16-hour mark. I’m feeling good, and I don’t actually feel particularly hungry. Great success!
Saturday/Sunday (June 23 & 24): It’s 11:30 pm and I’m almost at the 5-hour mark. Normally, I would eat something around now as I’m feeling quite peckish. Luckily, I’m feeling tired, so sleep isn’t far off. I’m actually looking forward to the morning and the continuation of this fast. I am enjoying watching my stopwatch tick over. Earlier in the evening, I watched Eat, Fast, and Live Longer, a really interesting BBC documentary about the science behind fasting and consuming less calories and the ensuing health benefits. That served to keep me on track as I not eat before bed, breaking the habit of a lifetime.
I also watched this long interview with Dr. Jason Fung late at night and fell asleep during it. I saw enough to warm to the guy and to seek out his book The Complete Guide to Fasting.
I woke up Sunday morning feeling a little thirsty but not hungry at all. I’m now at the 13:50 mark, and it’s time for my morning black coffee. I passed the 17-hour mark with ease and broke my fast at around 11:50 am with a smaller-than-normal protein shake.
Sunday/Monday (June 24 & 25): I started the fasting clock earlier today at 5:20. If I can not eat until 11 am, I’ll break another world record, and that doesn’t sound difficult at all. It really just boils down to not snacking after dinner and delaying breakfast a little. Going to bed hungry tonight will be tough though. Meanwhile, I continue to watch videos on the subject, and the next book I read will be Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Complete Guide to Fasting (2016). It’s 11:15 pm, and I’m approaching 6 hours. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel in the morning as Dr. Fung said in one of the videos I watched today that hunger levels are at their lowest around 7 and 8 am. This morning at that time – before I watched that video – I was surprised to notice I wasn’t hungry. Just past midnight, I’m ready for bed, and I don’t feel particularly hungry.
I’m having my morning black coffee at the 15-hour mark at 8:20 am. I feel fine. Probably could do without the coffee, but old habits die hard. 2:24 pm and my fast is continuing. Currently at the 21:05 mark, and I’m feeling pretty good. Hungry, but good, and the urge to eat something isn’t that powerful. I might keep this up a little longer. I think it helped that I had a lot of errands to run and work to do. Not eating saved me some time and enabled me to get everything done. Well, I made it past the 24-hour mark, and I felt OK. I went to the gym afterwards. Having said that, that first bite of food was quite pleasurable.
Monday/Tuesday (June 25 & 26): I restarted the fasting clock soon after 7 pm which means I only had a 90-minute eating window during which I exercised. I’m flying home Tuesday afternoon, so it’ll be harder to stick to a similar eating and fasting schedule. I’m welcoming that as I don’t want to become too rigid about all this. Eat less, eat less often, and fast when possible. I had my morning black coffee just after the 12-hour mark. Again not feeling particularly hungry, and my last meal last night wasn’t very big – just a post-workout protein shake and a handful of nuts and sultanas. Off to the gym for some cardio now. Afterwards, I broke my 14:06:15 fast.
Tuesday, June 26: My plan now is to not eat until my meal is served on my flight to Kuala Lumpur, and then not eat at all on the flight from there to Sydney. I next ate 9 hours and twenty minutes later, and that was more challenging than yesterday’s 24-hour fast. The reason being I was bored at Incheon Airport for about four hours. That helped me to realize that boredom and habit significantly dictate my eating habits. Practicing guitar for about 20 minutes helped me to take my mind off the nearby cafes with their sandwiches and cakes. I also drank quite a lot of water. I continued reading The Complete Guide to Fasting (2016) by Dr. Joseph Fung and finished it later in the evening up in the sky. As predicted by the book, my feelings of hunger did indeed dissipate. When I did eat, the budget airline meal (chicken lasagna) was pretty good and fortunately not too big.
Over the coming months, I hope to complete fasts longer than 24 hours: Thirty-six and 42 to begin with and then perhaps double and multi-day fasts.
There was no time to be tempted by lattes at Kuala Lumpur airport as the delayed departure of my flight from Seoul at up a lot of the 100-minute layover. Hence, it was straight from plane to plane, and I was one of the last to board. I had intended to go the flight without eating, but at 3 am Sydney time – 7 hours after my last meal – I caved and ordered a chicken rice and hot chocolate. I felt full afterwards and regretted it somewhat.
Tuesday/Wednesday (June 26 & 27): Having eaten that, my revised plan for Wednesday is to have just two meals – lunch with family, a small dinner before my bus to Canberra, and then a 16+ hour overnight fast. Mission accomplished! My first 2018 on Australian soil was consumed almost ten hours after in-flight meal. Again, the meal was not too large, and it consequently left me satisfied without feeling too full nor bloated. Pumpkin soup and toasted sandwiches cut into squares thanks to my big sister.
Three and half hours later at Central Station, I consumed a cold sausage roll, an apricot yogurt bar, and an iced chocolate. I finished that just after 5 pm; I then reset the fasting clock hoping for a 16+ hour fast.
Wednesday/Thursday (June 27 & 28): Home in Canberra, I quite easily resisted the temptation to make myself a hot Milo and some Vegemite toast, and I made it to bed without snacking. Not eating first thing in the morning won’t be a problem, so I have another successful fast under my belt. It’s now 10:30 am, and the fasting clock is still ticking over and just a few minutes short of the 17.5 hour mark. I broke my fast after 18 hour and 15 minutes, and that wasn’t too difficult at all.
Then, four hours and five minutes later at 4:20 pm, I had a Greek style yogurt drink thing that had a hint of real coconut, and that was pretty delicious. It was also my first non-meal consumption of calories since I think I started this adventure. That’s one benefit that’s already apparent: I have eliminated snacking from my diet. I am also drinking a lot more water. Water has basically become my go-to snack drink.
Thursday/Friday (June 28 & 29): A naughty icecream after dinner while watching Ocean’s 8 with Mum at around 6:45 pm. That was the last food consumed for the day. Friday began with a black coffee and then a 55-minute weights session. A lemongrass tea followed that. I bought a strawberry coconut protein snack at the gym which consists of three bite size balls of high protein, low carbs, and low sugar goodness. I help off consuming them though, uncharacteristically saving them for later. I broke my fast with one of those balls and some smashed avocado on toast 16 hours and 51 minutes after that delicious and terrible icecream.
Friday/Saturday (June 29 & 30): Dinner was history by around 7 pm. I didn’t have my iPhone on me, so I didn’t start the fasting clock. It’s now just after 9 am, so I’m at about the 14 hour mark. Just a black coffee so far, and more importantly, I exercised on my empty stomach. I’m not sure I can go another two hours, but I’ll try by keeping busy and setting shorter term goals. I can at least make it to 9:30, and then we’ll see what happens. I broke my fast at 10:21 am, and that’s OK as today is going to be a memorable and busy one, and I was happy that I exercised on an empty stomach and then didn’t eat until over two hours after exercising.
Saturday/Sunday (June 30 & July 1): Dinner will probably be something huge, but it’s a special occasion, so that’s absolutely fine. Yes, it was a pretty big meal. All done by 9:10 pm.
Fasts in Order of Length: