Today I tested out the fast portion of what I have decided (preliminarily) to be my Lenten practice. I am extending my intermittent fasting (IF) period until after 4:00pm for a total of 18 hours fasted and a 6 hour feeding period. For the past month, I have been practicing a 14/10 IF schedule (14 hour fast period, 10 hour feeding window). Put simply, until last month I always ate breakfast, then I started only eating lunch and dinner. Starting today I only ate dinner.
As for how I felt skipping lunch, I would have to say that the overall feeling as far more positive than I thought. I took a walk in lieu of a meal in the bright sun and got in some much-needed walking and thinking time. It was pretty wonderful. I felt incredibly clear-minded and event though I felt some hunger pangs here and there, I was not tempted to break the fast because of what the month of fasting has taught me: eating before your feeding period makes you more hungry; you don’t want to eat anything unless you’re planning on eating the rest of the day or have access to good food.
If I can keep this up, which I plan on doing, this schedule is perfect. With a really hearty meal tonight I met all of my nutritional requirements without surpassing my caloric daily needs. This is a very stress-free, low-impact way of eating. For some time I have wanted to find my ideal balance of calories that gives me what I need but at the same time lessens my impact on the world. By reducing my dependency on figuring out what to eat for lunch, I can focus more of my food dollars on groceries that I have more food-sovereign-fueling control over: I buy my groceries when I have access to a farmers market, whereas to have a lunch of that caliber I have to pack or not have at all.
I am finding more and more that, being a person with a relatively natural muscular build, I get very, very hungry when I have eaten recently. I tried upping my protein in my diet; that helped a little. I tried downing my carbs; that was okay. Intermittent fasting, though, has brought the best results. After reading scientific literature on the subject, it seems that this may be due to the fact that when I keep my insulin levels down, my hunger is at bay. I found that after my first few days of IF my morning hunger disappeared completely, and I suspect the same may come to pass later this week with the extended regimen.
It would definitely have been too much to do this longer fasting regimen outright. Skipping breakfast and sticking to that for a month was a good transition. Now I feel as if I am ready to go to the next level. I am interested to see what this does for me spiritually, as today was one of the clearest I have had for some time. I have a feeling, too, that my six pack may come up for air after several years–without losing muscle mass (thanks Martin Berkhan and Mark Sisson, for giving me faith in this).