Monday, 19 March 2012

Fasting and a Green day...

Ah, I miss Green Day.

*Sigh* teenage angst. Man I haven't listened to them in a while. Now I'll probably end up in a green day coma for the next few hours. Anyway back on topic, it seems most people have caught the St Patricks day green fever. Some choose to wear green whereas others seem to have decided to make everything they ate on the day green... I didn't count myself to be in either group however dinner did end up greener than previously planned. I had a big cooked breakfast in the am and had a bit of a thing for snacking on grapes for the rest of the day so when it came to dinner I wanted something quick and light...

and yes, apparently fairly green...

Pesto has to be one of my favourite condiments. Soooo goooood :)

Mixed into my caulimash with a sprinkle of cheese. Great light meal.

Is it wierd that my whole meal was half a head of cauliflower with a generous dollop of my pesto?

Some would say that this doesn't qualify for a meal but I would ask; why on earth not?

We've become so used to the idea that we must have meals at certain times of the day and these meals must consist of meat, veg and a generous helping of some starchy form. Yeah some of these meals are great (nix the overly large starchy part) however, if you want something light then why not just have part of that?
Advantages are that;

a) it's cheaper; if you're not hungry then eating a heavy meal for the sake of it is pointless and burns holes in your pockets for no good reason.

b) It's such a time saver; It took me about, what, 10 minutes to steam the cauli and blend with my pesto. And hey pesto (haha... sorry, I apologise, I'll try not to do that again!)

c) Excess fat accumulation avoided; if you don't feel hungry and you have a few pounds you'd like to see the back end of then this tactic surely won't go amiss?

This brings me onto a topic which is a real bugbear of mine. Those of you who may be familiar with ways of eating which I follow closely, such as Paleolithic, Primal, Caveman diet etc may be aware that there is some discussion centered around Fasting, most commonly; Intermittent Fasting (IF). To quote dear old Wiki, (when you type in intermittent fasting);

"Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting (usually meaning consumption of water only) and non-fasting."

People get rather flustered when you mention fasting, shrinking away from the conversation, as if it were a taboo word, imagining people starving themselves, an anorexic mindset driving the refusal of any kind of calorie. But this isn't the type of fasting I mean. Intermittent fasting is, as suggested above, going without food for a certain period of time. There are conflicting ideas for how long this should be, ranging from a lower 14 hours overnight (eg from something like 6pm to 8am) to a longer, more substantial 24 hour/ whole day fast.
The idea is that fasting gives our bodies a break from constantly digesting the food we ingest and instead to focus on other priorities in the body such as repair and maintenance. Periods of IF have been suggested to put the body into fat burning mode, so as there is no food coming in, the body must use it's own resources, breaking down the fat stores to gain the energy needed by the body.

Health benefits have also been touted such as;
Increased insulin sensitivity
Reduces rick of diabetes
Slows aging effects
to name a few...

Personally, when it comes to fasting, I like to approach it from a very subjective point of view. I have a fairly clear rule. If i'm hungry I eat. If i'm not hungry I don't eat. This may sound like the most ridiculously simple thing you've heard in a while but think about your eating plans honestly. Have you ever not realised you're hungry until you realised that it was "dinner time" and so you ate something just because that is the time you are supposed to eat at?
The 3 meal rule has become such a standard that we forget to check whether we're actually hungry or not. Skipping a meal or delaying it does not mean neccessairily that you're starving youself. More often than not your body has enough sustenance required. Why put in more than you need?

I use IF fairly subconciously. I find I'm very much a breakfast person. I like having breakfast, find I work better if I have a meal in the morning and it's a part of my waking up routine that I like and helps start my day off on a good note.
The rest of the day is variable. Lunch is my least favorite meal. In all honesty, I'm not a massive fan, although it does depend on my level of activity. Again, going back to my rule, if i'm hungry and have been rushing aroubnd all day then I'll usually have something. Alternatively I will have a small snack or just miss it out.
If I had a proper meal for lunch then I will often have a fairly small, light dinner. However if I had a snack I will have a proper meal.

I find the timings of my meals fairly important, usually eating breakfast very soon after waking and then dinner around 6ish. I like to snack and tend to find I have days where i pick at small meals throghout the day. Again, if i do this I won't then have big meals as this is just too much unessary food. My body likes it better when I don't snack frequently. And most low level activity days end up being breakfast and dinner. This means I usually don't end up eating between breakfast and dinner (about 8-10 hours) and then from dinner to breakfast the next day (about 14-16 hours). I find this has worked best for me. Somedays I'll have larger meals than others, sometimes smaller. The longest fast I've ever trialed was 22 hours long. I had a pretty big breakfast in the morning, skipped lunch and wasn't hungry when it came round to dinner. It was comfortable, I wasn't aching for any food particularly. When I woke up for breakfast the next day I was pretty up for eating and a full english ensued. I noticed that day I ate a fair bit more than I would in a normal day. However, I've only tried IF for a length of time such as this once. I think I'll have to experiment a bit more with it. I felt great after the 22 hours and food afterwards tasted amazing - whole renewed appreciation for it :)
I think incorporating this in once a week or so might be an idea but I'm pretty happy with my brekkie/ early dinner combo. Tends to work well for me. And I think I'd attempt the longer fast on a low activity day.

Anyway, those are a few short thoughts on IF.

Anybody out there tried fasting or IF? If so, how did it make you feel? Is it something you do regularly or something you would never consider?

To note again that I'm not a physician or nutritionist or the like and so what I write represents only the findings of my own reading and knowledge on the subject. I do not advocate or advise that any individual conforms to any type of activty/ diet which would adversely interefere with their lives if under specific circumstance eg those with eating disorders and the like. I only wish to share my own experiences in this area and encourage thinking outside the conventional box. Thank you.

Read more on IF...

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