Saturday, September 23, 2006

Terminating The Intermittent Fast At Last

The time came for me to put a STOP to my intermittent fast...AT LAST!

It lasted exactly 4 long days, 19 hours, and 15 minutes.

BUT IT FELT LIKE AN ETERNITY! Remember that intermittent fasting (IF) experiment I started this past Sunday night at 6:00pm? You know, the one that respected low-carb author and expert Dr. Mike Eades had suggested at his blog last week? Being the nothing's-too-hard adventurer that I am, I decided to try it. Boy oh boy, what was I getting myself into!

All I have to say about IF in retrospect is UGH, UGH, and UGH!

Perhaps it would be completely unfair of me to not tell you the lessons (yes, there was something good that came out of this experience) I learned about myself in the context of my diet and health.

Here is a recap of a few things I discovered:

1. I noticed I was pretty addicted to caffeine still. That first day of fasting was painful because of the massive headache I had for most of the day. Once I got to Tuesday, though, the headaches had subsided and I changed my diet soft drink choice to Diet Rite since it has both Splenda and ZERO caffeine. This is a change that will remain permanent until I decide the time has come to give up all diet sodas. I'm not there quite yet.

2. I felt what it was like to be truly hungry again. My philosophy has been to NEVER allow myself to get hungry so I don't slip back into those old habits I used to endure, especially during my low-fat diet experience when all I did was have hunger pangs. But listening to my body is something beneficial to me now that I am at the stage where food temptation does not befall me anymore.

3. I realized just how important eating enough food to fuel my daily high-powered cardiovascular workouts really is. While I tried to keep up the same resistance and speed of my elliptical workout on day one when I was fasting, it just didn't happen. While I usually have a 13 resistance at 8.5mph, I had to back off to 7 resistance at 7.0mph to make it through the same amount of time I usually do. Of course, I burned less calories as well. What was worse was even on the days I COULD eat, the very noticeable LACK of energy persisted and did not come back until I ended my IF experiment. I'm still trying to regain my strength and endurance.

4. I found out what being ravenously hungry was again. After my second fasting day on Wednesday, I told my wife Christine that we would be going out to Steak & Ale for their all-you-can-eat Prime Rib special. When we have gone there before, they haven't been as busy as they were this week. So the steaks took longer to come to the table than they usually do. I was so hungry that I ate a whole plate of salad in just minutes, devoured the first prime rib, waited 20 minutes for my second and killed that one, too. Then my server brought me another one about 30 minutes later (after my food had settled a bit in my stomach) and I started to eat it when I got halfway done and...WHOA NELLY, I was full! Not just full, but REALLY REALLY FULL! As in, it hurt so much I had to take some Tum-ta-Tum-Tums and lie down for a bit when we got home. I was quite the ravenous beast!

5. Going without food for 24 hours for me is not realistic. My head was hurting so much on the first day from the caffeine withdrawals that I barely noticed how hungry and light-headed I felt. But by my second fasting day on Wednesday with the headaches gone, I felt like I was floating around my office ready to tip over at any moment. My body was lethargic and walking around was so surreal as if I wasn't in the living world. As hungry as I was, my co-workers kept asking me if I was okay because I wasn't my normal chipper self. And it's true. All I wanted to do was have some food and it would even be low-carb at that. But it was not permitted on my fasting days.

Call me a wimp for not making it through even one whole week on this intermittent fast experiment, but it was just not for me. Like Dr. Mike, I think the biggest lesson I will take from this experience is that I don't necessarily have to eat when I'm "scheduled" to. Our bodies are quite complex mechanisms and know when to give us the signal for providing nourishment. The fact is that our stomach can remain quite satisfied even when everyone else around us is chowing down on food because it's "time to eat." Check out this follow-up post about the intermittent fasting versus Protein Power that Dr. Mike addressed at his blog a few days ago for some additional thoughts about this.

Will I do an intermittent fast again? If you ask me right now, then the answer is a resounding NO! But perhaps I'll rework it some in the future and maybe move it from 6:00pm to 12:00pm which may work better for my life. I'm always open to trying something a little different like this in the context of livin' la vida low-carb to see if it makes a difference. And that's the final lesson I think we can all benefit from. Never get so comfortable in what you are doing that you lull yourself into a false sense of security about your weight. We are all susceptible to putting on some weight when we least expect it even when we have been doing our low-carb diet perfectly. Believe me, it happens, so be ready for it!

So, THANK YOU Dr. Eades for reminding me that livin' la vida low-carb is an ever-evolving concept that should be continually worked on to help lose and maintain weight while always striving to improve our health. For now, I will be returning to my omega-based diet plan again exclusively for seven days a week and NO MORE FASTING! Hee hee!

Another day of this would have had me screaming from the top of my lungs, "CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!" Or even worse, "TO THE FUNNY FARM, THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HA HA, THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HO HO, HEE HEE, HA HA..." Yikeseroo!

9-23-06 UPDATE: It seems I'm not the only one who didn't think too much of the IF diet--read another person's take on it at detoxify this!

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Blogger TESS said...

Just goes to show Jimmy, that not every one is alike! I am in day 10 of IF and have had no headaches, of course I didn't give up caffine either. I may give up food, and if I am blessed may someday get rid of the cigs but my coffee will forever be at my fingertips I have not had any problem keeping up with my work outs and tho I want to eat I haven't yet had my tummy actually telling me I better fill it. I may keep it up forever. My grocery bill has dropped, I have 20 min longer to sleep in the morning(don't have to fix a lunch) and fewer dishes to wash. Really gotta love it!

9/23/2006 2:16 PM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

Once I got to Tuesday, though, the headaches had subsided and I changed my diet soft drink choice to Diet Rite since it has both Splenda and ZERO caffeine. This is a change that will remain permanent until I decide the time has come to give up all diet sodas. I'm not there quite yet.

Try Perrier. I find it satisfies the fizz cravings.

9/23/2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Bowulf said...

I can't say I am amazed by this admission. A constant daily fasting is not normal eating by Western standards. We can handle changes to the diet, but changes to eating times are ripe with bodily time clock annoyances. It was always a better plan in my eyes to eat the same way each and every day, but if it helped you learn something new about yourself and your relationship with food, it was certainly not for naught. I was willing to put up with Induction flu for a lifelong eating pattern, but for a one week experiment you lasted longer than I would have.

9/23/2006 5:09 PM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

I only lasted about half a day, which makes me an uber-wimp when it comes to fasting.

Somewhere around early afternoon I ended up with light-headedness, headache (unrelated to caffeine, because I don't use caffeine anyway), and just not feeling like I was able to function properly - and there I was contemplating getting behind the wheel of the car to go to the gym! I managed to have enough "common sense" to realize this was no condition to be in when driving, so I broke down and ate.

And ate some more.

And continued to eat!

...Until I was so full that I felt like whatever advantage I might have gained from putting myself through a "fast" was completely wasted, because I'd packed away so much food. At least it was all low carb, because the old high carb stuff just doesn't appeal to me any more.

I also had a bit of a belly ache from all that I'd eaten, but luckily not to the point where I needed some Tums. Most likely, that's only because I didn't go an entire 24 hours without eating, because I feel certain I would have been even more ravenous.

While it's obvious that IF simply isn't for me considering how my metabolism reacts when I go so long without eating, I am definitely trying to listen to my body's signals that I really am hungry, instead of just eating because it's "time" to eat. The thing that makes that difficult is that sometimes the feeling that I'd better find some sustenance (lightheadedness, primarily) comes on rather quickly, sometimes even before I "feel" hungry.

If I had a job where I wasn't allowed to eat on the job, and was unable to take breaks at my own conveniece to eat, I don't think I'd even be able to get away with just listening to my body's hunger signals. I'd need to eat when I had the chance, whether I was hungry right then or not.

9/23/2006 6:56 PM  
Blogger Wanda said...

My first thought when I read it on Jimmy’s site was(sorry Jimmy!) JUST WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING!!!!!!
If I did that I could see myself setting myself up for failure. As it is now., I HAVE to eat at good intervals or my head starts pounding and that is before the shakes and stomach cramps start. Even when you read Dr Atkins, he tell you to eat a few times a day, that is the way I have to go.
How do you exercise at a good pace when you are starving yourself? I was waiting for that answer b/cI knew it for myself. I know that if I wait too long after work to go to the gym (before supper) my workout is sluggish and doesn’t feel right. Glad to see Jimmy verified what I figured in the first place.
I am siding with Dave on this one, I won’t even give it a try.
Just my 2 cents……….

9/23/2006 9:10 PM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Jimmy I am glad you have ended this IF thing. It's such a silly fad at the moment.

Can I ask - what did you expect??

I mean, starving is starving. Been there and done that with Weight Watchers.

I would reckon you are like me and Jimmy and have serious blood sugar issues.

Keep following Dr. Atkins advice, the man knew what he was talking about!


9/24/2006 2:03 AM  
Blogger detox said...

Thanks for mentioning my post. I am glad to see I am not the only one giving in, makes me feel less like a wimp, really ;)

I have been asked why I tried this in the first place. Well, I am a curious girl and I want to know such things for myself, and in particular after following the hype about IF on some boards I feel it is a good thing that people do speak up who are not so enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Ditto to most of what you said, Jimmy - a great post (as always).

9/24/2006 7:07 AM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

Jimmy, why did you skip the coffee during your fast? Of course you had headaches... duh!!!
but Dr. E. says you could cure the lightheadedness with a little sodium and potassium.
I myself tried skipping lunch one day, I found it wasnt that hard. But I only did it one day... I may try a warrior style diet (one meal a day, in the evening) this week...
BUT, no matter what, I will have my coffee in the morning!

9/24/2006 9:11 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey IB,

I'm not a coffee drinker. Never have been. The grounds taste nasty to me and all the cream and sugar in the world can't cover the taste.

My wake-up juice has ALWAYS been soda, so diet sodas with caffeine in them are what I have been using. But when I switched to Diet Rite, that meant no more caffeine.

It probably wasn't smart to get off caffeine the same week I started IF, eh? :-O

9/24/2006 12:07 PM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

It probably wasn't smart to get off caffeine the same week I started IF, eh?

Perhaps that multiplied your problems... and perhaps not. Consider my problems after only about half a day, and I don't use caffeine, period!

9/24/2006 1:08 PM  
Blogger Gaelen said...

Jimmy, IF isn't appropriate for everyone. I've had to fast (for medical reasons) many times in the last 30 months. They weren't a scheduled regimen like Mike Eades described, but were true "intermittent" fasting periods that included both waking and sleeping hours and varied in length from one to 10 days. I was fasting due to chemo, regular tests that required fasting and surgery/post-surgical recovery (the 10-day periods)--so that meant that for about third of them, I was on a complete NPO even from liquids.

Hunger didn't go away for me, even when I was on sustained fasts. I didn't have headaches, but I also didn't have much in the way of energy. There are times when I feel I've completely lost my handle on my appetite, which had been firmly established by following Protein Power for the two years prior to my medically enforced periods of IF.

Skipping meals, and recognizing that if you get in your protein requirements you CAN survive skipping a meal now and then are one thing. But IF is not something I'll ever choose to do...the medical application has already wreaked havoc with the gains in appetite control and metabolic control I'd made in my first two years of low carbing. Others' mileage may vary; mine's been unfortunately consistent where IF is concerned. And you have to do for your body what works for you.

9/24/2006 4:46 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I'm so glad to hear that you stopped the IF experiment. My religion requires a once a month fast of two meals (usually breakfast and lunch) for those who are physically able. Because of my fasting experiences, I had real reservations about IF.

When we fast (I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed, "Mormons.") we donate the money we would have spent on the food for those to meals to the poor, through "Fast Offerings." (Most people donate a lot more than 2 meals worth of money, but that's a typical minimum.)

We also focus our energy on prayer for someone in need. The fast allows us to feel what those who go hungry feel, and allows us to conquer our bodies. When I feel hungry during fast Sunday (usually the first Sunday of the month) I think about the person or blessing that I am fasting for.

All that being said, fasting is not easy. It is often accompanied with headaches and discomfort. I must also admit, that I make up for it cholerically (and some) when the fast is over.

I simply can't imagine fasting every other day like that. Brutal. Jimmy, I'm glad, you're done! I was very concerned about ya!

9/24/2006 10:19 PM  
Blogger Hellistile said...

I started about the same time, stuck to it and feel great and am continuing. I'm 56 years old, need to lose another 80 pounds, work 9 to 11 hours per day lately and have all the energy in the world since starting IF. What keeps me motivated is the ability to eat every day. I don't concentrate on the 24 hours of fasting but concentrate instead on being able to eat every day. I do, however, drink 2 coffees with cream during my fasting time and tea the rest of the time.

All I can say is ya'll are a bunch of Jamtarts!

9/25/2006 8:47 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I'm not sure what a JamTart is hellistile, but I'll wear that title with great pride! :D

Sure beats being a high-carb, sugary PopTart! HA!

9/25/2006 9:26 AM  
Blogger Viking Dan said...

FWIW, I've been on a Warrior Diet style LC program (one meal/day.) It sucked at first. But after about a week, eating once a day is no big deal. I found after adapting my focus was very good all day, whereas even with an LC breakfast I found my thinking was foggy.

Jimmy, since you recall what your first time on induction was like, I'm kind of surprised you gave up this early on IF. The WD style may be a gentler way to ease into it. Eat all your calories for the day in a 4 hour window. If possible, workout an hour prior to eating.

Good luck with the 30 in 30, Jimmy.

9/25/2006 9:45 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS, Viking Dan! Since conventional low-carb is working just fine for me, I think I'll be sticking to it for the long-term. I WILL hit my goal of 199 before the end of my "30-In-30" challenge.

9/25/2006 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was doing my second day of fasting today and I couldn't make it through the pounding headache and dizziness, so I caved. I am glad I did it though because it did make me more aware of true hunger. No more IF for me. Call me a wus, I don't care.

9/25/2006 12:42 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I pretty much could see this coming after all the excitement that was generated by the Eades post.

The problem with IF on a standard low-carb diet is that your all eating too many carbs, even at 20-30g. Eating even that many carbs will spur cravings that you otherwise wouldn't have, say if you're on a zero carb/all meat diet like mine.

No carbs=no glucose (the real "rat poison")=no hunger. Sometimes all meat is a literally have to remember to eat.

9/25/2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Viking Dan said...

Hm. Seems like I'm within two lbs. of your weight, Jimmy...

Race you there! ;)

9/25/2006 1:10 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

You're on, Viking Dan! I'm on my way to 199! :D

9/25/2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I guess I'm the only one who didn't do this.

9/25/2006 8:01 PM  

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