Two common concerns about intermittent fasting (IF) are the hunger factor and starvation.
“I can’t go for more than four hours without eating. I get too hungry!” said one acquaintance of mine, when hearing of IF. Unfortunately, this means that this person is addicted to sugar. For the first month of IF, hunger pangs and cravings haunted me, on my fasting days, like the ghost of Christmas Feasts Past. My tormenting appetite nearly drove me to break my fast on several occasions, that first month. Solace came only with the viewing of pictures of alluring food and the reading of delicious recipes on the Internet. HOWEVER, after one month of IF, the distress and feelings of hunger hounded me no more. Since that first month, I have not experienced hunger at all. As I mentioned in another post, “I feel empty” not hungry while fasting. Since I have kicked the sugar habit, hunger is but a memory to me. I do not crave any special foods, anymore. The liberation from hunger and cravings seems too good to be true, but I have read more than several testimonies about these very same phenomena with IF.
Another friend made the comment in the title of this post. Now, for sure, over the last eight months, the fat has melted off my body so quickly that my skin did not have time to firm up in certain spots (I will discuss this in another post), but I have not starved in any measure of the word.
As I made my Mediterranean Greek omelet, yesterday, I started to think about how much food I had consumed in the previous eight hours. When I got a chance, I wrote down all the ingredients in all the things I had eaten: the list just kept going and going. (See list below.) One will notice that the list lacks processed sugars and processed man-made foods. As I mentioned in another post, my wife and I want “nutritionally dense food to fuel our bodies.” Unfortunately for most Americans, Hot Pockets are not nutritionally dense. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is not nutritionally dense (not even with hotdogs). Sorry, Americans!
Two Ways I Evaluate Nutritionally Dense Food
The first…if I can do a Google search for “the health benefits of (insert food here)” and it comes up with many pages of articles about the health benefits of that particular food, and I read that it is packed with minerals, vitamins, and fiber, etc., I accept it as nutritionally dense food, and I try to include it in my diet.
Have you ever been laughed at by Google? Just try Googling “the health benefits of Hot Pockets.” Be sure you have your volume turned up. After Google’s obvious amusement, a list of articles describing the scary ingredients of this pseudo food will appear. However, “the health benefits of pineapple” garners 1.7 million hits, all about the wonderful health benefits of this delightful fruit. See the difference?
The second way to evaluate nutritionally dense food…I ask myself, “Is it a superfood?” Here is a list of 66 Super Foods to Help You Live a Longer & Healthier Life. In case you don’t want to click and read, the list includes avocados, bananas, and cantaloupe, to name a few. Other superfoods include raw cacao (chocolate!), flaxseed, chia seeds, spirulina, and many more. If it is a superfood, I know that it is nutritionally dense, and I try to eat as much of it as possible or as much as is recommended.
With that said, here is the list of foods of which I partook, in an eight hour window, on my eating day:
0.33 liter of ultra-healthy mineral water
One French press carafe of coffee
One French press carafe of Chinese green tea
Walnuts and almonds (several handfuls of each)
Dried cranberries (3 handfuls)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (I ground the whole organic flaxseed myself)
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 raw carrot crudités
5 eggs (1 hard boiled and 4 in an omelet)
Spinach (enough to choke a horse)
10 Kalamata olives
One red hot chili pepper (not the musical group)
One small eggplant
One small onion
Two handfuls of rotini pasta (I know, whole wheat pasta would have been better)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt
A smidge of other spices: black pepper, oregano, and red pepper
Cabernet Sauvignon, vintage: 2014, (more than I’d like to mention)
Is it too much? Studies actually show that, on IF, one can maintain the calories consumed on a normal everyday eating diet, and still benefit from this regimen. So, not only would this list of ingredients not be considered starvation, it would be considered enough nutrition to get me through a day of fasting (it could probably get me through several days with no food). Almost every ingredient on this list is nutritionally dense. As natural and organic as one can get, I say. Notice no potato chips, no bacon, no sausage, no artificial sweeteners, no candy, no etc. Just say no to junky processed man-made foodstuffs.
So my dear friends and acquaintances, the threat of hunger and the risk of starvation are only excuses to maintain an unhealthy diet and, unfortunately, bad health. If it were true that you are what you eat, would you rather be a pineapple or a Hot Pocket? Your choice. My advice: pillage your pantry of all processed foods and throw them away.
The Standard American Diet, SAD Indeed
Anyone on a Standard American Diet (SAD) will probably already be deficient in some area of nutrition (not to mention all of the diseases and conditions it engenders). IF would help someone, who consumes only the SAD, to lose weight, but only nutritionally dense food would help with the deficiencies. I would not recommend taking up IF while maintaining a SAD. My wife and I do not participate in this lifestyle to lose weight. The pursuit of superb health drives us in this adventure. Studies have shown that calorie restriction, of which IF is a form, provides many health benefits such as longevity, improved cognitive functioning, reduced disease, reduced inflammation, improved mood, anti-aging, and a bevy of other benefits which I will continue to discuss in this blog.
Feel free to follow my blog. As I explain the process and the benefits of IF and fitness from an experiential point of view, we will explore this life-enhancing lifestyle together. And tell me what you think in the comments below. Please tell me if you read my post because of the daily prompt. Until next time, stay fast and fit.