I’ve been using intermittent fasting for about 6 months. At first, I used it as a way to continue the weight loss I’d begun with a low carb/high fat diet. But in the last month or so I’ve gotten pretty complacent about it. Partly it’s because I have hit a weight I can definitely live with. It’s not my ideal weight. But I can see my ideal weight just around the corner when I look in the mirror. It’s also because I started a new job that puts me in an office environment where snacking is a little too easy and eating the way I normally do is tougher.
So while I still skip breakfast most days, the rest of my good habits have been slowly eroding away. When our fantastic Director of All Things Content, Bridgette, asked me to make a record of everything I ate in a day I took it as a chance to get back on my fasting wagon with 24 hours of foodless-ness.
Here’s what happened:
Tuesday - 6:37 PM:
The last thing I’m going to eat for a day. The “Melbourne Porterhouse” is 22 oz of protein goodness cooked medium rare and paired with some steamed veggies. (Not pictured, a wedge salad and seared ahi appetizer. I packed all of that away in about 40 minutes and headed home. This would be all the ammo I needed for the coming day (I hoped)
Wednesday - 6:25 AM:
As soon as I wake up two thing happen. 1) I use the bathroom and 2) I weigh myself.
I do this every. single. day. When I am sleeping in my own bed. Why? It’s the least I am going to weigh today and doing it at the same time each day gives me a true measurement of whether I am gaining or losing weight over time. I mostly try not to think about the number. I just log it into my Google Fit app and move on with the day
I’m not hungry when I wake up anymore. That feeling basically went away after a month or so of low carb/high fat eating. And now that I’m used to fasting on a 16:8 schedule, the morning routine is pretty well set. Roll out of bed, drink a giant glass of water and make the best cup of coffee I’ll have today.
Coffee in the morning is an essential for many people whether they have a particular way of eating or not. But for intermittent fasting it is an absolute necessity. I will drink a k-cup if I need to, but since I know what’s happening today I’m not going to skimp. Put the kettle on and lets get a good strong cup of Illy espresso rammed through the AeroPress to get the day started right.
As I’m about to walk out the door for the morning commute I try to grab a vitamin and a probiotic. I remember to do this about half the time. But on days when I’m on a longer fast it seems a bit more important.
Checked in at the office, dropped off my laptop at the desk and head to the break room for my second cup of coffee. The coffee at work isn’t bad at all. And it’s always hot. Which is the main requirement at this point.
Your mileage may vary, but for me coffee is an appetite suppressant and energizer. I know from long experience that I am going to do my best work in the morning so amping up on coffee adds a bit more focus and energy. Later in the day, being over-caffeinated will lead to some jitters and possible irritability.
Bodies are weird machines aren’t they?
Two meetings later I am back for a mid morning cup of coffee. At this point the rest of the office has been drinking at the trough so I am forced to switch to dark roast, which we are learning isn’t such a bad idea.
Normally I’d be getting close to lunch. Thus ending my regular 16 hour fasting period. But since today is a longer fast, I start hitting the water to keep the hunger grumbles to a minimum.
One of the things that will really help you when you have fasts that break you out of your routine is to do them on days when you know you will be busy during your regular meal times. Between the water and a few meetings scheduled between 11:30 and 1:00 I should be able to cruise past lunch without much of a struggle.
This is a good place to mention that you should have a plan for how to deal with lunch invitations around the office. “Hey, we are running our for a sandwich. Want to join us?” can be a hard offer to turn down. So have an excuse handy. “I’m sorry. I have meeting right at noon.” or “I’d love to but I have some errands to run today.”
If you feel comfortable with your office mates and want to share your fasting intentions with them, you should. But be aware that some people will have a strong negative reaction to the idea that you are “starving yourself”. At the end of the day, your health is your business and it is OK to keep it to yourself.
Back for more hydration. I don’t usually track my water intake. If I fill and empty the water bottle twice I call it a good day. On longer fasting days I’ll usually have 4 or 5.
One more time! Water keeps your stomach a little full and works to flush out your system. In this case, it’s helping wash all that coffee out of my system to avoid the afternoon shakiness that often accompanies drinking lots of caffeine in the morning.
On this particular day, my wife came for a visit in the afternoon so I indulged with one more cup of the good stuff at a nearby coffee shop. Normally I could count on this keeping me up late. But the extra water I’ve had today tends to offset that for me.
The workday is over and I’ve taken refuge at a local steakhouse in preparation for my only meal of the day. To celebrate a job well done, I’ve ordered a bourbon on the rocks.
Alcohol definitely has calories. But it is pretty easy to find a keto friendly spirit to wet your whistle. Bourbon, Vodka, and Tequila all have close to zero carbs. If you are not mixing them with soda or other sugary beverage, you should feel free to indulge in an occasional drink after work.
Chasing the drink with what else. More water.
Let’s start with appetizers! Bacon wrapped quail stuffed with cream cheese. Plus some Brussel sprouts. Fat and protein plus some veggie carbs. This definitely took the edge off of a day’s worth of not eating. But something else also happens. My brain gets into a bit of a food frenzy.
The calories are showing up quickly now and I am knocking them down just as quickly. The food frenzy I mentioned? Yeah, I forgot to take the picture of the wedge salad before I started eating it. I have a weakness for a good wedge salad. Everything you want and you have to eat it with a knife. Which makes me feel more like a grown up.
Wednesday 6:37 PM
Exactly 24 hours after I last saw food, my steak arrives with a side of steamed broccoli. The food frenzy has completely taken over and I utterly forgot to get a picture of it.
This is the first 24 hour fast I’ve done in a couple of months. Earlier in the year when I was trying to lose weight I would start a day of fasting with the extra motivation of knowing that I was contributing to achieving my fitness goal.
For me, the biggest difference between those fasts and this one is that today lacked that extra mental boost I got from the notion of losing weight. Fasting for maintenance is effective and very worthwhile, but it takes a slightly different mindset than I’ve had to employ before.
All in all, I think that 2 or 3 fasts like this per month will be part of my regular routine in the future.