Living a nomadic lifestyle can really mess with your gut and digestion. Frequent travel, new environments, water quality all play major factors – but the biggest is probably change in diet.
Probiotics and exercise help, of course, but a few months ago, I began intermittent fasting to help my body deal with the changes. (Oh and also to counter all the deep dish pizza I was eating in Chicago ha!)
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is exactly what it says on the box – fasting for a period of 12-16 hours daily, or a few days a week. Water and no-calorie beverages are allowed, so black coffee and green tea are a-ok!
You could say the world’s “oldest new diet” is really trending right now. There’s a lot of buzz around it, with more and more research coming to light about its positive effects on weight loss, life longevity and – gut health! Yeah!
There are several methods, either restricting your calorie intake or not eating at all for a set period of time. I prefer the latter. This effectively means cutting meals to one or two per day (depending on how many hours you go for).
It’s not for everyone and you shouldn’t force yourself to do it. If it makes you miserable – stop. I do it for 3-4 days each week and am finding the benefits kinda sneak up on you.
The science behind intermittent fasting
So here’s the thing. Our bodies are designed to go for long periods without eating.
Intermittent Fasting resets your gut and digestive tracts, supercharging your body’s ability to repair itself.
IF releases Motilin and Ghrelin both of which regulate the digestive tract. It also activates an anti-inflammatory response in your gut – protecting that precious gut microbiome.
Other studies come from far and wide, with research backing up all sorts of benefits IF has on the body including increased metabolism, improved cardiovascular health, and the obvious one – weight loss. Some research even suggests that IF can increase a person’s lifespan by up to 30%.
Think of it this way – any energy you would normally use on digesting food is now working on fixing other ailments in your body.
Work your way up
Start with fasting for 12 hours, then slowly up the hours, in 20-minute increments. There are no deadlines, take your time.
It’s normal to experience feelings of hanger (hungry anger), nausea and lack of energy. This is your body getting used to the change of not eating every few hours.
Are you really hungry or just thirsty? Most of the time – you’ll just be thirsty. It’s really important to keep your water intake up – if not increase it. Your body is in detox mode so needs more H2O to flush those toxins out.
Your hunger will decrease
No, seriously. intermittent fasting adjusts your hunger levels, meaning you end up feeling less hungry throughout the day, eat less and feel fuller with less food.
I was a big snacker, loved me a Tim Tam here or a Twinkie there. But since committing to IF, I no longer feel the urge to grab something in between meals. I also don’t take it too far and when I genuinely feel like I need some food for energy (rather than the taste), I’ll opt for some almonds, a bit of cheese or a piece of dark choccy (nothing less than 85%).
Your productivity will increase
IF isn’t just for weight loss, it has also been proven to boost productivity. In a fastened state, intermittent fasting increases focus, energy and the motivation to get shit done.
Again, the research backs it up. IF is a cognitive enhancer, improving memory and learning abilities.
There’s nothing better than hitting the laptop in the AM with a strong (black) coffee and a killer playlist. it’s really when I get my best work done. And you can forget about the after lunch lull cos, there was no lunch meaning your blood sugar levels haven’t spiked so aren’t dropping like flies.
Many Fortune 500 CEOs swear by it which means I’m basically Warren Buffet.
Keeping Busy is the trick!
I’ll admit IF isn’t always a walk in the park. The scent of a burger, sight of a doughnut or the thought of a delicious pizza can be hard to resist, heck a wheat cracker can have you wavering but this is where your willpower would normally go into overdrive.
But here’s a little loophole – our willpower decreases with each decision we make – what to wear, what to have for breakfast, which email to respond to first, what kind of mid-morning healthy(ish) snack to have, what to have for lunch. With IF, you’ve just eliminated three decisions and it’s only lunchtime! Willpower levels remain high!
The trick is also to keep busy. Dive into a work project, clean out your wardrobe, your inbox or your garage and forget about the fact that you’re fasting. If you’re just starting out – fast on weekends so it doesn’t affect your mood at work. Nobody should have to deal with Hangry Hannah, ya know what I mean?
What about exercise?
On the days I’m fasting, I don’t do any high-intensity cardio. Yoga, a bit strength training or light cardio. High-intensity cardio will just burn you out and you’ll end up crashing mid-day. I like to start my day with this yoga routine, or at the very least – an inversion or two.
Don’t skip on the nutrients
This is one of the most important rules of IF. Eating less usually means less nutrient absorption. Offset this by getting your dose of multivitamins or supplements. I prefer WelleCo’s Super Elixir. I take this alkalising powder in the morning and know I’m not only balancing my pH levels but also helping my body better absorb nutrients from the food that I eat.
How to deal?
Once your body adjusts (and it will adjust) you learn how to deal with the discomfort of hunger. It becomes more like a fleeting sensation that passes, and you no longer succumb to it by grabbing a snack.
Mindfulness plays a big role. Meditation can help you disassociating from the feeling of hunger, by employing mindfulness techniques. Observe the hunger, then move on. Eventually, it will get easier to move on from, just as a thought in your meditation practice. Mindfulness teaches you to treat all sensations, urges and feelings as one in the same. All Impermanent. Start the day off with this morning routine and you won’t even realise that you’re fasting!
Have you tried intermittent fasting? I’d love to hear about your experience.