How I Got Started with Intermittent Fasting Not Knowing About it

Photo of Dumitru Brinzan Let’s start with a small introduction: I’m a 32 years old self-employed web developer, a husband and a father. I am 1.71m tall (5.6 feet) and for the past ~10 years my weight has always varied between 70 and 74 kilograms (155 to 163 pounds). So I’ve never been fat, but my belly would show up in photos.

My schedule is probably similar to many web developers and dads in their thirties: I wake up at around 06:15 and go to bed at around 23:30, which means that I’m awake for 16-17 hours a day.

My usual work day would look like this:

I used to drink my first cup of coffee at ~08:30, usually a small snack would go along with it, like a couple of cookies or a croissant, nothing fancy.

I would do some work for an hour and then get a sudden hunger spike, so my main breakfast would be at 9-10.

Two or three hours later I would get hungry again, and no matter what I would eat at lunch, I would usually have a dip of energy levels, get a little bit sleepy and tired. I would fix this problem by procrastinating on Youtube or Netflix for about an hour and then try to resume my work.

Then at around 15:00 I would get another funny feeling in my stomach, which means I need my second coffee, which of course takes some time to prepare and drink.

On my good days I would be able to squeeze another 1,5 – 2 hours of efficiency during ~14:00 – 18:00.

Some days I would get a big hunger spike on my way back home, at around 18:30. Probably once a week I would even get dizzy from hunger.

Then the evening would be spent at home with the family, dinner being an important part of our day, one of the few opportunities to catch up with everybody. The day would be closed with a cup of tea at ~22:30, with or without some cookies.

I hated how inefficient I was during the day

I knew very well that my time is not spent efficiently during the day, so I started looking for ways to optimize my time.

At first I thought it was the coffee, so I got rid of it.

I’ve started drinking coffee less than two years ago, so I thought it’s messing me up. So I got rid of coffee for a week, replacing it with tea. The same time went into making and drinking tea, but there was no change to my energy levels, hunger spikes, etc.

And then it happened: I skipped breakfast

One morning I drove directly to the office without stopping by the bakery to get my daily dose of croissants or fruit. I also ran out of cookies, so I was reluctant to drink a black coffee without having anything sweet afterwards. So I skipped the coffee too.

I was afraid to think what my stomach would say, how angry it would be, but I had work to do.

And then… nothing happened. All was good. To my incredible surprise, I didn’t get my usual hunger spike, even though my stomach was supposed to be empty. I wasn’t even thinking about food, I was doing my usual routine of answering emails, coding, etc.

I had my lunch at around 13:00, then my day went better than before. I did not procrastinate as much. I felt alert. My mind was not foggy.

In hindsight this should have been the revelation, but I didn’t get the picture yet.

A generally accepted example of a healthy breakfast.
A generally accepted example of a healthy breakfast. All my life I thought that this is the best way to start the day.

The next day I had my usual breakfast and the day went as all of them before. Food cravings, hunger spikes, energy dips, etc.

Enter: Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Episode #1098 with guest Eddie Bravo

I knew about Joe Rogan’s podcast for a few months, but I was mostly interested in episodes with people like Tom Segura (the water champ), Jordan B Peterson, etc.

I listened to this episode with Eddie Bravo (an American Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, stand up comedian and musician) by accident.

Intermittent fasting came up during the episode, here’s the excerpt:

And suddenly I became aware of the concept of intermittent fasting, some also call it “time-restricted eating“.

For the next couple of days I read here and there about fasting, what it is, what it does, what the benefits are, etc.

So what is Intermittent Fasting (IF) / Time-Restricted Eating

The short version is this: out of 24 hours in a day, you have to go at least 16 hours without consuming anything except water. No food, no snacks, no coffee. If you ingest anything at all except water then you break your fasting period and the counter restarts from zero.

You can eat whatever you eat during the remaining segment of 8 hours (or less). You can keep eating what you usually eat, just do it during this period of time.

The first thing that I loved about it: it is not a diet. It doesn’t tell you what to eat and when to it, it only establishes some guidelines, but it is up to you to fit them into your daily routine.

Healthy eating recommendations still apply: junk food is never welcome, no matter how you look at it. This is not a problem in my family, as we generally eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, no fast food except the occasional pizza, etc. Sure, we like our deserts and ice cream, but the bulk of our diet is normal.

My Opportunity to Try Out Intermittent Fasting

Shortly after discovering this concept, my wife and son had to fly to our home country for two weeks (in May of 2018), so I would remain home alone. With my birthday just around the corner (July), I decided that this is the perfect opportunity to experiment with fasting and see what my body and mind can handle.

In my next post I will describe how my first two weeks of intermittent fasting went and the things that I learned about myself.

Stay tuned!

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