Hi P-hackers. So, I've tried intermittent fasting in various forms 16/8 with 3 meals and 20/4 with 2 meals, and I simply cannot do for any longer than 10 days consecutively. I am used to eating literally within an hour after rising, and then having smaller meals every 3 hours after that. I have gone through probably a total of 10 bouts like this, where I IF for 10 days, and then start just getting anxious all the time, feel like I'm starving (even if I'm eating the same amount of calories as before), and I start spending my time thinking about when I can finally eat again. so I eventually resort go back to my regular eating intervals.
Does this mean my brain is somehow messed up? People say not to try IF-ing until you're healthy or something like that. I am otherwise very healthy- validated by (conventional) doctors, as well as how I feel and perform (both physically and academically). Why can't I intermittent fast for very long? AM I doing something wrong? Is my brain chemistry abnormal?
Thanks for your responses.
I have this same problem as well. Honestly, just like most carb re-feed, I think that our bodies do need time to not do the IF because it can put your body in high stress. Personally, I have been straying away from IF and eating when I am hungry-- my body is now acclimated to fasting so tells me correctly when I am hungry-- if I don't feel like eating for 20 hours then so be it! Try doing this-- it is mentally and physically satisfying!
I don't know about you but I never really bought into the 16/8 idea. My guidelines for IF'ing are thus:
I started out IF'ing on an MTTF schedule instead of MWF, but that only lasted about four weeks. I'm considering dropping it to MF-only or making Wednesday optional, but only once everything is really under control.
I had tried doing this previously before paleo, low carb but with lots of nut consumption and artificial sweeteners and some grains like on fried chicken fingers, and failed at it. The IF'ing helped my paleo transition in part because I was able to see how different foods affected my body's ability to run on its own supplies. Splenda sweetened tea killed it; now I mostly drink black coffee instead. Dairy elimination (after gluten grain elimination) is resulting in weight loss and greatly reduced hunger, i.e. I'm eating less for my average meal after a fast that I was eating before ever starting IF.
As far as I am concerned, I'm fulfilling the requirements to get benefits from fasting: going 18-60 hours without eating, and doing it on a regular basis. I get the added benefit that I can work three days without a lunch break and leave earlier, while still being able to enjoy a couple lunches a week out with my work friends. So my advice is, in the end, do something that works for your body and your schedule. If 16/8 and 20/4 on a daily basis don't work, don't do those things.
I feel the same way; I tried IF, and exactly the same symptoms happened.
I was Paleo already for two years, so I was pretty fat adapted, and had no weight to lose, besides maybe those last 2-3 vanity pounds that hide my lower abs. Yet, iso-calorically, I still felt starved sometimes, felt really cold, thought about food too much, and my bowel movements were just crazy (sorry TMI).
I eventually stopped it, and just started eating three meals again. (I was doing 16/8 LG).
I haven't found a solution to it yet; chalked it up to n=1, but am actually slightly worried about why I couldn't do it...
We are all "pseudo" hunter-gatherers aren't we?
I guess my answer would be everyone's different, but I can't pinpoint why IF works for some and not others.
Your first priority should be eating a reasonable overall amount of healthy food. As long as you're doing that, your meal frequency shouldn't have much of an impact. Do what feels natural, listen to your body.
How long have you been eating Paleo? If you're still coming off a high-carb diet, IF could be really hard as you adapt to not getting that energy spike every couple of hours.
Other than that, your body might just not be built for it. Some people's aren't. Is there a particular reason why you want to IF, or is it just something you think you ought to do?
For many people, skipping a meal seems impossible. On low-carb paleo it's hard not to. That said, I still don't go much for routine. And it can still be a bit bumpy entering a fast. What I last ate, when I ate it relative to activity and relative to bedtime, what activity I've been doing, what I'm doing at the moment - all these factors affect how me and my stomach feel about not getting food. And the more it complains, the more I know I screwed up somehow and that I should ignore it to avoid doing something stupid. But sometimes I'm intending to fast and I'm not really feeling it. It's not ravenous hunger, and a miscue from an overproduction of acid eating away at my stomach lining, it's more a sense that it's been too long since I feasted. I'm happy to break a fast, and trust that things will work out for the best when I decide later if I'm still hungry or actually now well fed.
I usually get in a 36-hour fast (2 nights and a day) every week. Whether a skip breakfast or not I have a big lunch and then feel full all night isn't really a big deal. I can't imagine I'd balance my needs just right though if I tried 10+ days of a fixed eating window. I can't even fix my sleep times that consistently at the moment.
For health benefits, beyond simply making sure you don't eat too much, a one-off full day fast even once a month is likely to get you most of the way there. 16/8 daily windows make sense to me only because I don't like to eat unnecessarily before bed or when I wake up. But I don't count it as a fast.
Is it possible that to you are keeping yourself a little leaner than your body's natural state and one of the tricks you've developed to help you deal with this is to eat small meals frequently? Perhaps that's making it harder for you to sustain just 2 meals a day (for example)?
I'm not advocating many small meals or claiming that it's more "paleo." I don't think it is and it doesn't work well for me because it triggers mindless snacking/binging, but if you are trying to push your body beyond where it really wants to be, than straight "paleo" strategies might not be enough for you long-term.
I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing to push your body beyond it's natural body fat %. I know many of us on here seem to have that same goal (though maybe not yet the same level of success at it).
Anyway, if you're happy and everything is working for you, then maybe you don't need IF anyway. I agree with what's said above about IF is supposed to be intermittent anyway, but to me 16/8 with 2 meals a day is intermittent, and I feel I could sustain it indefinitely if my schedule allows.
I find it much easier to skip meals when VLC, most likely because my blood sugar is steady. If the last meal you had was carby, you will have rebound hypoglycemia, which gives you a strong urge to eat.
Intermittent fasting tips? 2 Answers