I totally dismissed intermittent fasting and now I’m one of 5:2’s biggest proponents. How did that happen?
I’m really lucky to be surrounded by lots of ‘Nutritional Influencers’. I have a great network from both the sports performance and nutritional medicine camps. Add to that all the (good and bad) tit bits I get from Twitter, the research pieces I read, my own studies and my knowledge is growing more and more each day. But I’ll never extoll the virtues of something until I’ve given it a go myself.
When I first heard about intermittent fasting I totally rubbished it. I’d been led to believe (and accepted this, as it was working for me) that keeping my metabolism fired up with sometimes as many as 5 meals a day was essential. For someone that’s grossly insulin resistant I apparently needed to keep fuelling the metabolic fire to keep my body burning up calories. That would probably have been fine if all I ate all day was grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli.
But I was starting to get greedy. My portions were unnecessarily large and I most certainly didn’t need to eat all I was eating. Some days I could hit 4,000 calories – if pork belly was on the dinner menu and I’d eaten a whole tin of tuna in olive oil with an entire avocado at lunch!
5:2 is everywhere right now. Since last year’s Horizon documentary two days of calorie restriction a week has become all the rage. For anyone that’s missed the 5:2 wave it basically involves two, non consecutive days of restricted calorie intake a week – 500 calories for women; 600 for men.
Here’s why I could happily 5:2 the rest of my life:
- My primary reason is this. If going a little bit hungry twice a week means I’m lowering my chances of chronic disease as I get older, a growling stomach is one seriously small price to pay for that
- In line with the above, I think about this all the time. Those last few days of her life were harrowing. Again, if there’s even a small chance of preventing similar grimness, I’m getting right behind that
- Fasting makes me feel virtuous. I’m doing my bit to be less greedy and I’m lowering my carbon footprint in the process
- Fasting makes me grateful. Grateful for the plateful I have access to morning, noon and night. It’s made me scramble two eggs not four at breakfast, it’s made me split that tuna-avocado combo over two lunchtimes, it’s made me realise that going hungry for a little while isn’t going to kill me
- Fasting has made me therefore eat less, not more. I expected a serious binge the morning after my first day of fasting. It didn’t happen – and hasn’t happened since
- Fasting has made me sleep better. On a fasting day, I’ll nearly always manage 7+ hours of unbroken sleep
- It’s tricky to properly measure this as there could be many other factors at play, but I’m convinced fasting has made me stronger. The work out I complete the day following a fast (once I’ve had a proper couple of meals) is usually an awesome one. I feel able to throw the kitchen sink at it. Last week I hit a knew PR for a 3 RM clean – aware this will mean absolutely nothing to someone that doesn’t a) lift weight or b) care about CrossFit! :-)
- Fasting twice week has been a really easy way to cut calories. I’m shaving off between 4,000-6,000 calories a week without the pain associated with say dropping to 1,500 calories a day and having to count and log everything that passes my lips
- Fasting on Mondays is so easy. Weekends are nearly always a time of socialising and in turn eating more than is probably necessary. Plotting the second fasting day of the week on a Thursday makes you enjoy a weekend treat even more
Do you think you could give fasting a go?*
*Intermittent fasting isn’t right for everyone, for example, if you are pregnant. If in doubt, seek the advice of a healthcare professional