Stories of Men

Have you tried fasting? This is how it changed my body

Have you tried fasting? This is how it changed my body

Fasting seems to be mentioned everywhere these days. Podcasts, books, YouTube videos, you name it.

I’ve heard it described as a miracle tool for weight loss, a fantastic way to improve your fitness and focus, there are even claims that it could reduce the likelihood of getting serious diseases such as diabetes and cancer, among many others.

But is it all just a fad like so many other “miracle diets” that have come before?

I mean, who could forget the national obsession that happened with the Atkins diet? People left and right were preaching about the benefits of eating a high-fat diet and were avoiding fruit like the plague just because it contained a little sugar.

Of course, it turned out that having high-levels of cholesterol on a daily basis actually wasn’t all that good for your health.

Then there was the Special K diet. Ridiculous. Literally a diet where you were supposed to eat Special K for two out of every three meals. Hardly a sophisticated eating plan and, surprise, surprise, not a particularly nutritious one either. It turns out that the stunning women used to advertise it to us didn’t eat it at all. Like all these sports people who promote sugary drinks.

Nevertheless, as someone who loves to find out about new things, as you can see in this article I wrote, I decided to give fasting a try for myself in 2017. Let me fill you in on how it went.

I started with enthusiasm. I set myself the target of stopping eating at 8pm each night before taking a 16-hour break from food that would take me until noon the next day.

I woke up in the morning at about 7.30am, and, initially, I felt fine. But as the morning progressed the hunger pangs began to appear.

When it got past 10am, I started to obsess over the timing of my next meal. I had it all prepared in my head: protein-rich falafel balls, wholewheat pitta bread served with a fresh salad including onions, red peppers and crisp lettuce. I was visually salivating at the prospect.

When it got to 11.15am, I started actually preparing the meal. I chopped up the salad and heated up the oven. I had all the food set out on a plate in front of me by 11.45am. I stared at it greedily in between taking constant glances at the clock.

11.46, 11.47, 11.48… each minute that ticked by felt as if it would last for an eternity.

When 12pm finally came, I joyfully wolfed down my food.

The food tasted so good that I was tempted to make myself another serving, but I didn’t want to undo all the work that I’d just put in!

Part of my joy also came from the fact that I’d stuck to my target.

I’d completed my first 16-hour fast and now I knew that fasting was something that I was capable of. I actually had some self discipline with food – who’d have thunk it.. Fasting is something that I’ve found myself doing regularly since.

For another fascinating story about the benefits of going to extreme lengths to complete your goals, listen to this story from Mark.

But back to fasting. Apart from giving me a sense of achievement, fasting has also genuinely benefited my lifestyle. It’s allowed me to sleep better at night and it’s helped me think more clearly during the day.

As with anything, the more often you do it, the more easily it becomes a part of your routine and, after a while, it just becomes strange not to do it. We’ve all heard this before and it’s so true: “Motivation gets you started and habit keeps you going”.

If you find it difficult, this is where a mate can keep you accountable. I was doing it with a mate when I first got started and we would send each other a message once we’d finished at 12pm.

But what are the benefits to fasting beyond the obvious weight loss? Well, I generally find that when I eat first thing in the morning, I often feel sluggish. Does this happen for you too? But now having a regular “eating window”, where I only eat between 10:30/10:45am-8pm, keeps me incredibly focused and energised.

As someone who owns his own business, I don’t have the luxury of a boss telling me what to do and when, so it’s really important for me to be self-motivated. Fasting has helped me to sustain that.

Add that to the other reported benefits, such as improved digestive function, the increased ability of cells to repair themselves, improved heart health and so on, and there are good reasons for me to continue fasting.

⚠️ So should you fast too? Well, I think that depends on your personal circumstances and goals.

If you have an eating disorder, it wouldn’t normally be recommended. So take what I say with a pinch of salt because I’m no qualified nutritionist! ⚠️ I’m just providing my own experience.

But if you are interested in giving it a try but you also find the whole idea of not eating for extended periods a little daunting, well don’t feel that you have to jump in at the deep-end the way that I did.

It’s worth saying that I’ve never been particularly known for my restraint and moderation, this applies to both fasting and to Lindt Lindor chocolate and Kettle crisps, the salt and vinegar flavour 🙂 (we all have our vices…)

Maybe start reducing your eating window slowly. You already have your 8-hour fast while you’re asleep. Why not set the goal to not eat anything at all for 2 hours before you go to bed? There, straightaway, you’ve got yourself to a 10-hour fast.

Then reduce the eating window to 3 hours before bed, then 4. You see where this is going?

Before you know it, you may just find that you’ve gained some control over your eating habits that you never realised you could possess.

For a powerful story on how important it is to have a healthy relationship with food give this episode a listen.

As for me, I’ll certainly be starting my next fast soon. My next goal is to reduce my body fat to 12%. Stay posted to hear the results 😉

By the way, you’ll have to trust me on the results. There’ll be no shirtless photos. No chance.

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

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