The Joy of Fasting

Seriously? JOY? Doesn’t fasting involve hunger, ergo suffering? Nope. It doesn’t. Or at least, it doesn’t have to – if you do it right. If you are tempted to joke that the only joy in that is the moment you break your fast, go ahead, have your fun. I’ll join you in just a minute. Rest assured, I am far from subjecting myself to any kind of suffering. I am a strong believer in a motto “No pain? Good!”

So, how can fasting be enjoyable? In quite a few ways.

  1. The kind of fasting we are talking about is INTERMITTENT fasting. It means there are no extended periods without food. Not even two days in a row, let alone weeks or months. It’s just one day, twice a week. And the very next day you are back to the normal way of eating, so that joyful moment when you break your fast is very near. There, I joined you as promised.
  2. It’s not even full fast. You can have 500/600 (women/men) calories a day, mostly protein and leafy greens. It’s not that little actually. Here is roughly 350 calories:

   

  1. Your sense of taste is amplified. Everything tastes better, and even routine dishes become a gourmet food.
  2. That hunger that you used to fear and tried to prevent at all costs turns out to be a bully that retreats when you ignore it. It doesn’t build up – it disappears if you take a drink instead of food. We get a lot of water from our food, so make sure to drink enough to replace the deficit. Hot drinks help quell hunger especially well.
  3. When you realize that you are no longer a slave of a constant need to have food within easy reach, it’s incredibly liberating. This is exactly what happens when hunger takes its claws off of you. You cut the leash; you now decide when you eat and how much. Longish trip with nothing but airport food around; unforeseen change in work schedule; hike turned out to be longer than planned – none of that taxes you too much anymore, as you simply use it as an opportunity to introduce a fasting time in your day.
  4. Clarity of thoughts and increased working capability. When fasting becomes a routine, you will find that your brain works better and you can get done more on fast days.
  5. Better physical shape and feel. Feeling energetic and enjoying physical activity is normal for fast days.
  6. Last but not the least: that moment when you see the bathroom scale indication in the morning!

Believe it or not, but after achieving my ideal weight, I still do at least one fasting day a week – not out of necessity but simply because I enjoy it. Bonus good news: It means that this lifestyle, and the weight loss that comes with it, is sustainable. It’s easy to keep the enjoyable way of life. Major difference from the restrictive diets that make you miserable, isn’t it? And the next morning, after marveling at your lower weight and thinner waist, you celebrate it with this:

Morning Cup of coffee

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6 thoughts on “The Joy of Fasting

  1. I enjoyed your article on the Joy of Fasting. I recently began fasting 4 months ago. My blood work is normal but I am obese and I have struggled with my weight for a long time (so it is just a matter of time for me). I discovered Dr. Jung’s website and everything made sense. I have lost 32 lbs with no effort at all, just by fasting. I am sure I could increase this if I focused on a low carb diet.

    What I wanted to tell you is how your post on the Joy of Fasting, expressed how I feel, which I haven’t been able to put into words. Fasting has given control back to my life. I now feel that I can do anything.

    With increased confidence (and having more energy), I have been able to create new opportunities, and to be proactive and organized with handling day to day problems before they spiral out of control.

    And since I am in graduate school, it has given me focus. By practicing intermittent fasting, I am able to excel on exams instead of dealing with foggy brain problems.

  2. Sounds fantastic. Isn’t that feeling of control amazing? 🙂
    It’s remarkable how easy intermittent fasting turns out to be when people give it a chance. Someone needs to come up with a different name for it, this one scares off many who would benefit from it greatly. Saw this reaction countless time… “Fasting? Mmmmhhh… sounds extreme… don’t think I could do it.”

    Can’t blame them though, took me a while too at first to dive into it. The thought “with all my excessive weight and progressing diabetes, what do I have to lose?” sealed it though – and then it turned out so natural and easy, I couldn’t believe it.

  3. I do agree with you– I hear it all of the time, “I can’t do that.” And I will admit, I had never gone a long time without eating either unless I was sick. I was brainwashed by society that you have to eat often and you have to get X amount of nutrients a day from certain food groups… etc.

    Fasting was the first diet (or way…not really a diet?) which resonated with me, especially the more I learned about it. I never did yo-yo dieting. I watched my mother do it (and friends) to no avail, and I would read about the diets which never made sense to me. I guess the reason I thought fasting would be easy for me is because I have always skipped meals … so it made more sense to extend the fast for longer.

    I will admit, on the first day I made the decision I would do this–my body rebelled. I woke up hungry (which never happens and clearly a psychological thing). I jumped into 24 hr intermittent fasting which I have now read it is easier to start slower… start by 8 hrs and then 16 hrs etc. So, the first two weeks I thought I couldn’t do it and I thought about giving up because the hunger pains were intense and I would get headaches. However, after putting in the time, I was reluctant to give up because I finally felt like I was doing something healthy. It has been 4 months and now I can do 48 hr fasts without even getting hungry. The body adapts.

    What really inspired me was the immediate loss in inches. I lost 2 inches around my waist in my first 2 weeks and another 2 inches two weeks later. Funny thing is the scale weight didn’t budge until the second month. Either way, I was happy to lose the inches… my clothes were getting loose. This was amazing to me when I have struggled with weight problems for two decades!

    I will also comment that although my blood work was normal, I was borderline high on blood pressure and cholesterol. My blood pressure immediately dropped to normal levels, in the first week. I recently had more blood work done and my cholesterol levels have dropped 35 points to normal range! I have read, you can eat healthy and exercise but still have cholesterol problems because the liver makes cholesterol (even if you don’t eat foods high in cholesterol). The only real way to lower cholesterol is via fasting… it forces the liver to basically ‘clean things out.’

    And the other amazing thing was after I began fasting, my simple carb and sugar cravings disappeared. I used to eat pasta all of the time… now I don’t even desire it. Matter of fact, desserts taste too sweet.

    • My preferred variation of fasting is even easier than the one you describe – 5:2, where you can still have 500/600 calories a day. I haven’t done full 24 hours fast until 5-6 months into it. Interestingly though, the weight and waist circumference started going down immediately for both, me and my wife.

  4. How I discovered fasting was through Krista Varady’s Every Other Day Diet. She also talks about eating 500 calories on fasting day. I did try this but I experienced severe brain fog and irritability. I actually found it easier to go without eating. I felt more even keeled. I think everyone is different so it is best to find what works best for each individual. The nice thing is fasting is flexible. That is great the 5:2 diet works for you. My friend also does the 5:2 diet. 🙂

  5. Oh, “every other day,” a.k.a. “alternate day fasting” I couldn’t do either. Too much, too frequently, would make me miserable. I am totally against being miserable 🙂 5:2 is so much easier. These things work differently for different people – as soon as you find what works best for you, it’s a smooth sailing from that moment on!

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