It's Not Fasting... It's Just Not Eating When You Aren't Hungry
I often get asked how long I fast for, or what fasting plan I follow or if I consider bulletproof coffee breaking a fast.
I feel like I should start a Q & A series in which every answer I give to any question is “ooo sorry I don’t have a definitive answer. It always changes, I just kind of do what I feel like” and that’s because that is my answer to almost every question I get asked.
How often you eat carbs? Ooo sorry I don’t have a definitive answer. It always changes, I just kind of do what I feel like. But on that note... here is my response to this question.
How often do you eat treats? Ooo sorry I don’t have a definitive answer. It always changes, I just kind of do what I feel like.
What’s your exercise routine like? Ooo sorry I don’t have a definitive answer. It always changes, I just kind of do what I feel like.
What fasting time do you follow?
Well… you can probably guess what the answer is here. I’m a fan of fasting (a huge fan) but I’m not a fan of rules. I often here people say “I’m doing 16/8” or “I’m doing 5/2”. And often people are just flabbergasted when after mentioning I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting, I have no answer that puts me in any of these strict fasting window categories.
On a tangent… I think people have this insatiable need to fit in with something, to be a part of a group, to feel like they are part of something bigger. Psychologically speaking it’s a basic human trait, and there is nothing wrong with that. The issue is when people misinterpret why they feel so good about something - it may not actually be that thing - but rather you just like the community and the feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself, something that puts you in a club etc… I see this a lot (in my personal opinion) with things such as particular diets… ketogenic diets, veganism, vegan activism, F45 (not a joke, people actually become obsessed with this) and crossfit. And can even be stretched into looking at religion and cults (woah heavy shit haha).
Anyway, so yes I love fasting although to me it’s not fasting, it’s just not eating when you're not hungry. Simple. Some people do this naturally, some don’t. I only eat two meals a day, two large meals that is, this is just what works for both my body and my mind. So naturally I practice fasting. I’m also not a fan of snacking so this to me is almost another version of fasting. Generally I’ll have my first meal anywhere between 11 and 1 depending on my schedule and hunger levels, then I’ll have dinner anywhere from 5 to 8, again… depending on my schedule and hunger levels.
Why don’t I snack? Look… When I eat… I eat. And when I don’t eat, I don’t! I’m either hungry, in which case a small snack just does nothing for me, like I need a proper plate of food (a #livbowl), OR... I’m not hungry… in which case, I don’t eat! This is basically what fasting means to me.
So that’s the general pattern that works for me. Of course, this may not work for you. And as mentioned, of course I have days when this schedule is thrown off and it’s really not an issue for me. This may be that I head out to breakfast with friends on the weekend, or I’m testing a few recipes for clients which I need to taste that would be outside of my normal eating times. OR sometimes I’m just hungry! The other day I had eggs, avo and greens at 9am in the morning, something I haven’t done in months… but at the time I was hungry and a plate of eggs seemed delicious to me so that’s what I did.
Do I consider bulletproof coffee still fasting? Technically speaking, bulletproof coffee breaks a fast. For me I still drink it in my fasting window (I normally have one at about 8am most days). This is something that doesn’t spike my insulin a huge amount (one of the reasons I’m a fan of fasting in the first place), it keeps me super satisfied and therefore controls my appetite and hunger levels and ALLOWS me to happily go about my day with only two meals, and most important of all, I like the ritual, it tastes good and I enjoy it. In a perfect fasting world, I would just be having black coffee, but for now I’m pretty happy with my routine the way it is. Perhaps in the future it will change.
So when people talk about the issues with fasting (hormonal, eating disorders etc.)... To put it simply, there are no issues with not eating when you're not hungry. There are however issues, both mentally and physically, with starving yourself and trying to fit into an time dependant eating window.
Some precautions... although this kind of eating works for me (to be honest I can’t even see myself going back to not doing it ever) - but it may not work for everyone - for example, if you have a tendency towards binge eating, fasting can most definitely be a trigger for this so be very careful.
In terms of those hourly rules, I also often see people trying to force food down because they want to start their fasting window - for example they want to finish eating by 6 so they start the window earlier than normal. While there’s nothing wrong with an early dinner and if I don’t have dinner plans I often have my evening meal around 5:30-6:30pm and then don’t eat til the next day… what you DON'T want to do is fall into the trap of forcing down food just so you can start your fasting window earlier - because this would be going against exactly what I said in the first place... eating when you're not hungry. I definitely found myself falling into this rabbit hole a little when I started. Now I just wait til I’m hungry, which may be at 5pm, but if I’m not hungry then, I’ll happily just have a cup of tea and wait til 7/7:30 and eat then.
I’m all about that flexibility, tuning into yourself and doing what’s right for you.
For now… that’s all I’ve got. But in the future I do want to discuss fasting in more detail as I am also a fan of longer term fasts, around the mark of 24-48 hours as they’ve been shown to have really good benefits. The longest I’ve ever done is about 22 hours and have only done that about three times in my life but something I’d like to explore more!