The list of benefits you can achieve from Intermittent Fasting is seemingly endless with hardly any or at least very few negatives.
As far as I am concerned (and I’m not the only one!) it is the perfect way to live your life when it comes to your healthy eating habits and consistently running your body and mind at close to peak performance. And if done right IF should have little to no negative effect on your existing home, family, work and social life.
There are plenty of great books out there and a constantly updated supply of amazing YouTube videos that delve into the science of Intermittent Fasting but as a father, husband, multiple dog owner and entrepreneur I thought I’d list out some of the best day-to-day benefits of doing regular 16-24hr fasts.
Free Up Time
The less decisions we have to make on a daily basis the more brain energy we have for our work and relationships. And also the more brain energy we have for making those really important decisions throughout the day. By skipping breakfast each morning you are also freeing up time and therefore less likely to start the day in a manic rush to get out the door or get the kids ready for school. Not being stressed and rushed in the mornings is the first and biggest step to having a good day (well the second after a good nights sleep – see #8). That first hour can literally make or break your day. So free up some time and free up some brain power!
Whether eating at home, on the road or stopping at your favourite café on the way to work. Those skipped breakfasts do add up to a considerable saving week after week, month after month and year after year. I’m lucky as I mostly work from home but even when I’m on the road or working from an airport or coffee shop not having to spend anything on what’s usually going to be a below par breakfast is always a welcome bonus.
Love Your Lunch
When lunchtime does come around (I usually eat at about 2pm most days) you are ready for it! Not only is your body primed to get the most out of every nutrient you put into it but whatever you eat is going to taste that much better. You will actually be hungry rather than just eating our of habit or because of some mental trigger (I’ve been doing this for years but the smell of grilling bacon still does something deep and primal to my brain!)
Pro-tip: break your fast with a Coconut Protein+ Shake half an hour before you eat your first proper meal. This is a great way to get the maximum benefit from the shake and from your meal without shocking your system and leaving you feeling sluggish and lethargic. Love your lunch.
Energy in Bundles
For me, one of the best advantages of Intermittent Fasting is the steady stream of energy throughout the day, from the moment I wake up – usually at about 6.30am – to when I go to bed – usually about 11.30pm – I have constant energy, no post-lunch dips or lulls in output or performance. No late afternoon hunting out the sugar bars or fizzy drinks. This one benefit is why I’m convinced that this is the way most of us are meant to operate. Cycles of fasting and feasting seems to create a very even daily energy supply for brain and body.
Whether it’s a trans-continental flight or just going on a two or three hour drive to see friends or family for the weekend. Not needing to think about whether you eat before you go or get something on the road or in the airport or the absolute worst option…on the plane! Gives you a great sense of freedom and again gets rid of these unnecessary choices that tax brain energy as well as saving yourself from another crappy, below par meal – at best – and downright, unhealthy, energy draining and headache inducing meal at worst! Just eat something good when you get to where you’re going and travel easier.
Making Eating Great Again
Much like points 3 & 5, when you have the power to say no to sub-average fast food, sandwiches in plastic containers with peel-off lids, doughy pizza slices or deep fried caged chicken what you are really saying is no to crappy, unhealthy food and no to convenience. Grabbing something because it’s easy and contains calories should not be classed as eating. Eating should be something that you enjoy, that makes you feel good not only during but afterwards as well. Whether that’s cooking for friends or family or having them cook for you. Whether that’s eating out at your favourite restaurant or sitting down for dinner with your significant other. Whether that’s picnic-ing or BBQ-ing outdoors or feeding your one year old child some home prepared goodness. These are the things that make us human. These are the things that connect us all. Put down the Subway sandwich…and make eating great again!
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
This one is well overlooked. If you’re hungry during your fasting window…eat! If you wake up to someone in the house cooking bacon on a Saturday morning and it’s too hard to resist…eat! If your young daughter is not eating her healthy breakfast and needs a little encouragement…eat! It’s no biggie. Don’t sweat it and don’t use one slip-up as an excuse to knock the whole thing on the head. Just enjoy it, get on with your day and fast the following day. It’s all good. Two or three 16hr fasts per week is better than none. So just get back on the horse and don’t beat yourself up about it.
Sleep Well, Be Happy
When you are actively working out in the evening when you should stop eating so you can eat at a ‘normal’ time the next afternoon you are far more likely to not have that 10pm bowl of cereal or hit the fruit and cheese while watching your favourite show. Stopping eating at least 3hrs before you go to bed results in a better nights sleep. A better nights sleep results in a better day the next day. A better day the next day results in you being happy and you being happy results in those around you being happy. It’s like ripples in a pond. Sleep Well, Be Happy.
Once you start only eating when you’re actually hungry you will in most cases just eat less automatically. Ask yourself “am I hungry?” – I think you’ll be surprised the amount of times the answer comes back as “hmm, no, I’m not really”. Our brains have been hijacked to respond to triggers and cues to make us think we’re hungry when a lot of the time we’re not – the smell of cooking is a prime example. If it’s something nice it can literally make you salivate. This is not being hungry. Habit is another huge one. If every time you go to the cinema you ‘have to’ get a huge bucket of popcorn or a sketchy looking hotdog the chances are this is not because you’re hungry. Try and break these habits and ignore these triggers and only actually eat when your body is asking to be fed. Forget about diets. They mostly have huge failure rates with the vast majority of people putting the weight back on after a certain amount of time. Just eating when you’re physically hungry is all most people need to do. Listen to your body and the chances are you will just eat less.
You can read, watch and talk about all the benefits of Intermittent Fasting, like Autophagy/Cellular Repair, Human Growth Hormone increase, Insulin Sensitivity, Fat Burning, Weight Loss, Reduction of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation, Cancer and Alzheimer’s Prevention, Mitochondria Health, Brain and Heart Health and Increased Lifespan and Longevity. Plus all the points I’ve listed above – Freeing Up Time, Saving Money, Enjoying Every Meal, Increasing Energy, Making Travel Easier, Sleeping Better and Eating Less but the real reason I do it…is that Intermittent Fasting just makes you FEEL GREAT everyday. It’s really as simple as that so now you have no excuse not to give it a try.
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