Intermittent Fasting for the Rest of Us
I put this picture up on Social Media In September of 2019. Since then I’ve been doing lots of explaining.
I’ve decided to put my thoughts into a blog post for those of you who are trying to figure this whole thing out.
First things first, go on Amazon right now and order Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens. Do it now… I’ll wait. It is absolutely the greatest Intermittent Fasting resource ever written and has inspired people from all over the world to start this lifestyle and change their lives for the better.
Have you ordered the book? You might as well not read anymore of this blog post if you refuse to pay less than $10 for an ebook that will absolutely change your life.
Do it, order the book.
Ok, now that you have ordered the book we can get on with my experience with Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent Fasting found me
On Saturday April 13th, 2019 I was getting ready to head to Calgary for a weekend of work and presentations. Usually before a trip to Calgary I check through my podcasts and audiobooks to see what I’ll be listening to on my way.
As it turns out, over the last few months I had completely finished all the downloaded audio books and I had listened to every podcast I had in the cue. With nothing to listen to I began looking for podcasts on intermittent fasting.
I came across one called Intermittent Fasting Stories by a lady named Gin Stephens. There weren’t that many episodes available but I downloaded a few of the most recent ones. I also downloaded some other podcasts that weekend but that doesn’t matter because all I listened to, whenever I was in the car, was this. I went through every episode they had and I was absolutely blown away by what I was learning.
On Sunday April 14th I bought a simple ebook from Amazon called Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens and read it in about 2 hours. On Monday April 15th I finished my first 16 hour fast and took my before pictures. I weighed in at 251.4 pounds and was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was time to take my life back.
You’ve been lied to.
Every Calories In, and Calories out method works as they’re supposed to UNTIL they don’t anymore. All of us have been there. We find some new diet or exercise plan which promises to finally make us trim and skinny. Yet, 3 weeks in, or 3 months in you are banging your head against the proverbial fat loss wall. You’ve hit a plateau and nothing will budge… Then… the weight starts to pack on again and you start looking for the next solution. It’s an endless cycle and you’ve been told it will get even worse because now you are getting older and you are supposed to pack on weight like a mule…
STOP RIGHT THERE. BREATHE.
There is a solution.
First of all, everything you’ve been told about weight loss is either wrong or misguided. You are not overweight because you eat too much and exercise too little.
Let that sink in.
You are overweight because you have too much insulin coursing through your body at any given time. When insulin is circulating through your body you store fat extremely well and you completely suck at burning fat.
That’s what insulin does.
So… how do we stop circulating insulin and burn fat?
Insulin and the Fat Pantry.
I think the best way it was described on one of Gin Stephen’s podcasts is that we all have a fat pantry but it’s locked and we can’t get in there because of our circulating insulin.
I am a visual person so when I heard that it made so much sense. I visualized this massive solid metal door full of gears and locks and an enormous timer. All of us have this fat pantry, which is absolutely full to the brim of beautiful efficient fuel for our bodies but we can’t access it. If we could access it then our bodies would burn our fat for fuel and we would begin getting smaller.
BUT THAT DOOR IS LOCKED!!!!
Somehow fat can get into the pantry but not out. How do we get that fat pantry door open?
Gin Stephens has read all the research and too many books on this subject. I would ask you to refer to Delay, Don’t Deny for a much more thorough explanation of fasting but… here are my thoughts.
Let’s imagine that the door on that Fat Pantry, the fat Vault, has a 12 hour timer on it. Every 12 hours it releases the locks and allows your body to consume the fat within the vault.
The problem is… as soon as you consume anything, the body releases insulin, those locks slam shut and that timer starts again.
Most of us eat every 2 to 3 hours, unless we are sleeping, so that Fat Pantry never, ever opens.
Fasting, simply put, is the process of not eating food for a specific length of time.
Intermittent Fasting is not eating food for a specific length of time on a regular basis.
CLEAN Fasting: Pay Attention this is worth the price of Admission!
What Gin Stephens discovered and has outlined beautifully in Delay, Don’t Deny is something that she calls Clean Fasting. Clean Fasting is limiting your consumption during your fasting time to black coffee, sparkling water, plain old water or unsweetened tea. She discovered in her research that these 4 items are essential for the fast because they do not cause a release of insulin.
If no insulin is released then the timer on the Fat Pantry doesn’t have to restart.
If you clean Fast for at least 12 hours your Fat Pantry theoretically opens. That’s the goal.
(Don’t get hung up on the 12 hour thing… That’s just a number, our vault timer is different for all of us. You may need longer than 12 hours, especially at the beginning to start to burn fat. I personally found that I was most comfortable with an 18 to 20 hour fast because it showed the most progress FOR ME!)
Autophagy, The Henchmen of Healing
In 2016 the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his research related to a process called “Autophagy.” Autophagy as Gin explains in Delay, Don’t Deny, “is the body’s own recycling system. It’s how your cells take out the garbage.” (Delay, Don’t Deny, chapter 5)
When the garbage starts piling up the body uses this Autophagy to clean out the waste. It appears as though Autophagy increases or is made more effective through the process of Fasting. In my mind, it looks like this.
When we hit that magical moment in our fast when the Fat Pantry door is unlocked the Henchmen arrive. (I should be clear, once again, that the WHEN for everyone is different, for some people it might be less than 12 hours or longer than 12 hours. That’s why Gin suggests people fast for at least 16 hours a day to get the most benefit from the increased Autophagy.)
Back to the Henchmen, what I see in my head is this band of Spartan Warriors going through the body, identifying broken, dead or diseased cells and killing them. That’s kind of graphic but that’s what I imagine when my stomach growls or I get the hunger pangs. I just think to myself, “That’s the battle cry of the henchmen searching for something to kill.”
I want to give them as much time to do their job as I can. So I fast as long as I can on a given day. (usually between 18 – 20 hours)
Part of the problem with our habits of continually eating is that the Henchmen never have the time to seek and destroy fat because we are always interrupting their job by spraying insulin all over the place.
Open and Closed Windows
My Intermittent Fasting is really broken into two elements. An Eating Window and a Fasting window. You decide for yourself when the eating window is open and when it is closed. When the eating window is open you slide that window open and food is made and eaten and life is good. Gin Stephens is very clear in Delay, Don’t Deny that you can eat whatever you want during your fasting window.
Whatever you want….
There is a caveat though… as you get more fasting hours under your belt you get more used to listening to your body. Over time you will find that your tastes and your cravings for certain foods will change. Or… you will find that some foods, are no longer “Worth Your Window”, because they make you either feel sick, more hungry or not satisfied. It’s a real tragedy if you are disappointed in something you’ve eaten when you only have a few hours in a day to consume food.
When the eating window is closed life is even better. Time for that pantry door to swing open and for the henchmen to run rampant killing off diseased cells and recycling old broken down cells. You will find, after a few weeks, that the energy from the fat cells in that fat pantry is way better than the energy you get from regular food. Less crashing, less slumps. Trust me, you will begin to look forward to closing your eating window even more than opening it.
There is something beautiful and satisfying about declaring your eating window closed.
OMAD – Surviving and thriving on One Meal A Day.
One Meal A Day is an amazing concept that Gin discovered while reading between the lines in other dieting and fasting books. She learned that some people who had found success in the weight loss world were often eating during a shortened time of the day and specifically only eating one meal a day.
This doesn’t mean that you sit down for 10 minutes, eat a plate of food and close your window. It’s much more involved than that but it gives you permission and incredible freedom to choose what goes in your mouth.
Most of the time OMAD (One Meal a Day) looks more like a progressive supper or a pub crawl. Many people open their eating window with some kind of snack while preparing their main course. They eat and enjoy their meal they have prepared and then usually close their window with something satisfying. Often living an OMAD lifestyle means your eating window is 6 hours or less.
I personally found that if my eating window is too long then I simply eat and eat and eat and feel wretched during my fast. You will find your sweet spot and change your window accordingly.
The struggle with Intermittent Fasting is that every body needs a different amount of fasting time to really optimize the healing. No one can tell you how much you should be fasting but most people start with a 16 hour fast and an 8 hour window. As they get comfortable they begin to decrease the eating window and increase the period of fasting until they find something that works for them.
I usually fast for 18 to 20 hours a day and my eating window varies from 2 to 4 hours depending on when I feel full or satisfied.
I started Intermittent Fasting on April 14th at a whopping 251.4 lbs and a 48 inch waist
6 months later I am 221.2 lbs and have a 37.75 inch waist (I have lost 30 lbs and 10 inches in 6 months)
How do I get started?
1. First things first, buy Gin Stephen’s book Delay, Don’t Deny and read it. That’s the first thing.
If you have read it and still want some baby steps to get started I would tell you this.
2. Take your before pictures NOW! I know you don’t want to and I know you think you should wait until you see if it’s going to work first but trust me, it will work…
Take the pictures.
Take a Selfie
Autophagy does wonders on your face, even in the first few weeks. Even when your scale is telling you nothing is changing and even if you gain weight. Your face tells a different story.
This is 15 days difference but you can already see the energy in the eyes and the inflammation is starting to go down.
The problem with the first few weeks is you may not see any weight loss. You might even gain weight but the pictures won’t lie.
Front and Side Views (Clothed)
Take a selfie of your front view and your side view. I know you don’t want to see this but it’s necessary.
Trust me, when I looked in the mirror everyday I didn’t see any weight loss at all. It was only when I compared the before and after pictures that I could see the changes.
TAKE THE BEFORE PICTURES!!!!!!
You cannot see much change in the clothed straight on shots.
Unfortunately, that’s why I also took pictures with my shirt off. Unflattering yes, but, the difference that IF is making inside me is undeniable. I’m fully expecting to have abs in my lifetime. That’s crazy to think about. I will not be uploading those pictures onto the internet anytime soon though.
3. Repeat the pictures on a regular basis.
That sounds like a ton of work… Motivation is not work… When you can see with your own eyeballs the effect you won’t need the scale to tell you anything. I take these pictures once a week if I can find the time.
4. Measure stuff
I measured my waist, that’s all. Just my waist… All I cared about is that I could eventually wear smaller jeans.
I took these pictures on September 7 after not quite 5 months of Intermittent Fasting. I had gone out to buy some goal jeans because I usually only wear size 38/40 jeans. I bought some 38, some size 36 jeans and on a whim bought a pair of size 34 jeans. I figured that I might eventually be able to wear them.
When I got home I tried them all on and found that I could actually zip up all 3 pairs. Blew my mind. I took back the size 38 pair and exchanged them for size 32. It’s crazy to think that I might one day wear size 32 jeans.
Some people will measure more than their waists. Go ahead, it might be nice to know where the henchmen are working on a regular basis.
I was just too lazy to bother.
5. Weigh in
Get a scale… I promise you, the scale will do it’s best to ruin your life. It will lie to you, mock you, make you feel terrible and destroy your entire day but… you have to have at least the first weight.
I’m not sure why but after a while I just began to trust the process and only recorded a weight when it registered lower than before. Sometimes I would wait days or weeks before the number would move but it always did. Always.
My picture has a plateau, I hit a weight plateau after 2 months of losing almost a pound a week. My body stayed for another 3 months and then magically started dropping weight again. I just assumed that the Henchmen had hit a pretty significant roadblock and were banging away at it until something broke.
Fun thing is while I was plateaued my waist continued to get smaller. Which tells me the Henchmen were winning.
Baby steps to begin
Baby Step 1: Just stop snacking late at night (3 days or less)
Close your eating window in the evening. Pick a time, 7pm, 8 pm, 9:30 pm. Just pick a time and stop eating. Practice taking back your life by not eating after you close your window. Do that for a week or 3 days.
THIS IS NOT INTERMITTENT FASTING IT’S SIMPLY A BABY STEP.
Baby Step 2: Skip Breakfast. (3 days or less)
Just so we are clear, Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. That phrase was invented by Kellogg’s to sell more corn flakes at the end of the 1800’s. Look it up. That’s an advertising slogan. It’s not true.
When you close your eating window at night and skip breakfast you will be approaching a 12 to 15 hour fasting period. As you get used to that process begin extending your fast until you get to at least 16 hours of fasting.
Give those henchmen some time to do their jobs.
Baby Step 3: Skip Lunch
16:8 is a great recommended starting point. Some people do that, others push for more of a fast. You figure out what works for you. Remember the magic happens in the fast so give your body as much healing time as you can between eating.
At some point you will find yourself closing your eating window in the evening, skipping breakfast AND skipping lunch. You have now moved in to the ADVANCED FAT BURNING CLASS.
Welcome to Intermittent Fasting
When you are routinely skipping lunch and closing your eating window at a reasonable time on a regular basis you have become an Intermittent Faster. Some people find that they prefer to open their windows earlier in the day and closing their windows in early evening. It all works, as long as you are giving yourself time between eating to get in a solid fast.
Now keep doing it and watch your body heal. Gin says that Intermittent Fasting is the Health plan with a side effect of weight loss. Isn’t that beautiful.
Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens MUST be your first purchase.
BUY it, Read it. Change your life.
Listen to the Intermittent Fasting Stories with Gin Stephens Podcast
You will find that these podcasts will inspire you and inform you on a ton of different ways that people are having success with intermittent fasting. You will discover that some people are seeing huge success with OMAD, 2MAD, ADF, and longer fasting. A new podcast comes out every Thursday and I listen to it regularly.
The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung
This is an incredibly thorough scientific resource that explains why so many of the fad diets, health foods and food guides over the last 30 years have failed to impact the Obesity Epidemic. In fact things are getting worse and worse. It’s a tough book to get through if you are not a fan of science and he saves the solution for the last few chapters so… keep reading.