Should We All Engage In Intermittent Fasting?

Empty Plate

No. We should NOT all engage in intermittent fasting.

Just like with everything else in life, we must experiment to find out if it’s best for us. It’s hard for me to believe that I started off this post with the following statement:

Yes. I whole heartedly believe intermittent fasting is necessary for everyone, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

I’ve come a long ways. My nutrition philosophy is constantly evolving for the better. Nothing is for everyone. Intermittent fasting may be beneficial for you. It may not. I’m sorry if you want a straight up answer but, well, I am giving you the most honest answer.

My approach to intermittent fasting

I eat when I’m hungry. I stop eating when I’m satisfied. When I am not hungry  I do not eat a small meal if food has been prepared for me. Sometimes if I’m really busy I may go up to 8 hours or more without food. However, if I am really hungry then I’ll find something to eat. The more hungry I am, the less the quality of the food matters for me. In the end, the calorie is the most important nutrient. Even if Oreo cookies are the only source of calories around I’ll eat them if I’m crazy hungry.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    It’s funny this post came today. The more I read about and research intermittent fasting (IF), the more I’m convinced it’s just more of the common sense factor and more of conventional wisdom’s brainwashing of “how to eat.” As primal humans, we often had no food at all for most of the day and then had to go find it or catch it, eat as much as our hunger dictated (because we never knew when the next source of food was coming). Rinse, repeat.

    With IF, you get the cellular regeneration (lower incidence of disease, stronger immune response) aspect as well as getting the benefits from calorie restriction (CR) without actually restricting calories.

    My husband and I have recently started Fast-5 where you only eat within a five-hour window each day. I break the fast around 2 pm with something small and easy, an apple, some nuts. Then slowly at a bit more food until our Primal Dinner.

    Then around 7 pm, I stop eating. My husband has chosen a later 5-hour window because he likes his late night snack (usually a baked apple) so his window is from 4-9.

    I thought I’d be weak and hungry. I’m not. I drink a ton of water to combat dehydration (as contrary to popular belief, we DO get most of our water content from the food we eat) and I even did a pretty intense workout yesterday (CrossFit) at 9 am and was fine till 2 pm.

    I realize I have more of my time and mind free if I’m not constantly worrying about the next meal and instead focus on the one large one each day and listen to my body. Even on the days I won’t be doing the 5-hour window, I plan to listen to my body and eat when I’m truly, honest-to-God hungry, not when I’m “supposed” to.

    Great post! Thanks for shedding light on this. I’m not ready to talk about it on my blog yet because I’m not willing to fight the good fight of fending off CWers, so I’m so sorry I totally hijacked your comments section. Ha!

    • says

      Hey! Thanks a lot for the comment. It’s great to see someone really engage in fasting and think about how we evolved for tens of thousands of years. I have never heard of fast-5 but it seems interesting.

      Keep in mind though that we would possibly often gather lots of veggies and fruits often, especially during the summer months. We would often go days without food but we would also find a location that was abundant in veggies and fruits and then hunt down a big kill. It just was truly very very random. We may have had a few weeks with too much food but then the next week hardly any.

      And, I am not at all sure about this but it seems as if more people die today from too much food as opposed to too little food. It is at least getting close. Does anyone know the statistics here?

      • sonya says

        Just found your blog. Very interesting, lots to think about. My little primal one (he’s 7) has been leading us down the low-starch path, so I’m looking into it now. (He won’t eat potatoes, corn, rice, whole grains, dairy etc. A good meal for him is salad and a hamburger patty or piece of salmon). I try to avoid processed foods (they make me feel like crap), and try to buy local seasonal foods. I think this is the thing most primal folks had in common: they ate what was available to them. And yes, there were periods of time when not much was available at all! I’m so glad you said that. This wasn’t just hunter-gatherer either. Foods stored up by agrarians ran out by the end of winter too. Think “Lent”.

        But I have to say, I don’t think this was random. Not even for Paleo folks. People were very aware of their natural environment, when certain plants would be good for harvesting, and so on. They planned their year accordingly. I’ve picked up some books about how our local hunter-gatherers used to live, what local foods they used to eat, and so on, because I find it really fascinating. And they definitely knew when and where to hunt and harvest. And they would store foods, smoke meat and fish and so on. And they knew they would go hungry at certain times of the year. And there were many, many taboos surrounding food, especially animal foods. Very ritualistic, to ensure a continuous supply from one year to the next. They would not over harvest. They would only fish when the salmon were running. They NEVER hunted in the spring when deer were having there babies. The hunt (among California Indians, anyway, from what I’ve read), was highly ritualistic. Only men hunted. They made their own bow and arrows from certain woods (Wouldn’t let women touch them), abstained from eating any meat and generally fasted (except acorn gruel) for several days, abstained from sex, went to the sweat lodge, said prayers, etc before hunting. NOT too”random”, huh? They also gave meat prime importance, because it involved taking a life and consuming something of the animals spirit. They never ate bear meat, because bears ate humans. Anyway, it’s really interesting how people wove their lives into their environments. They also adapted. But life, fasting, eating and harvesting (they stored and harvested acorns for the entire year, and that was their staple food), and it was not random. They knew when they would be hungry (usually early spring – couldn’t hunt, couldn’t fish, acorn supplies running low, not much growing yet…) and they planned accordingly.

        I think the notion of a pre-industrial diet is interesting. I also think their is a lot to learn about how hunter-gatherers really lived. It was much more complex then “random” fasting, or random anything. None of us would be here if that were the case! It also means a much more wholisitc stewardship and relationship with out environment. I started harvesting seaweed this year. You need to follow the moon, the tides, the seasons, etc. It’s complex. It’s not just going to the store.

        As far as statistics, I don’t have any but I doubt it it is not at all close. People are still starving to death around the world. What we have, we take from someone else. We waste an appalling amount of food while people go hungry. Obesity in the west is epidemic, but it causes long term, chronic ailments that end up killing people, so it’s hard to label. But still, it’s recent. Millions of people have died of hunger throughout history, and many still today. We are very lucky we can niggle so much about food philosophies, when others can’t even eat.

        • says

          Wow! Long comment! I read every word too :)

          I like the way you think. And I enjoyed reading what you learned about the life of a hunter-gatherer.

          What books have you read? I am very curious to learn more!

    • says

      The Fast-5 regimen sounds really interesting! For most of my life I never ate breakfast, simply because I am not hungry in the morning, and never have been.

      Unfortunately, for most of my life, I have also been a social eater, so when people want to go to lunch, I go to lunch. If my friends or family wanted to eat dinner, I would eat dinner, even if I wasn’t hungry. That has only changed in the last few months, and I’m actually starting to feel hunger sometimes now, and I actually enjoy being hungry.

      I just curious, will Fast-5 be a lifelong way of life, or do you anticipate doing it for some pre-defined period of time? Or is it just day by day and you’ll keep doing it as long as you feel good?

      thanks,

      -tk

  2. says

    Ive always skipped breakfast, which ended up being pretty much a 14 fast every day. I would eat around 9/10pm at night and then start eating again the following day around 12noon. However, ive recently, after reading a lot of different site but Sisson MDA a good deal in particular, started varying the eating windows more. Some day i keep that 14hr fast and then other ill push it to maybe 17hours, other days shorten it up, etc. The idea, like you posted, is that without refrigerators and groceries we wouldnt have such regular access to food.

    • says

      It is funny how so many people skipped breakfast yet that was said to be the most important meal of the day. What a bunch of baloney. We evolved without eating as soon as we awoke for tens of thousands of years. The most healthy way to eat is to simply eat when you are hungry! It really just makes sense to me. If one knows he or she will be hungry a few hours later but won’t have access to food then eating breakfast would be a good idea. This is the advantage of how we live today.

      But, the typical person is overweight because he or she eats so much food and not the right food… well, at least a lot of us are trying to “change the world” the correct way.

  3. says

    I do not do any scheduled fasts, but I do skip meals and eat lightly on a regular basis. Sometimes I wake up and am not overly hungry so I skip breakfast. Sometimes I eat breakfast but am not hungry again until dinner. Usually several days a week I will eat only about 200 calories until dinner time. Its not always a true ‘fast’ because I may munch on something once or twice, but its pretty lean.

    I am working on being more aware of these less hungry times and am trying to eat nothing to benefit from a true ‘fast’. Your body spends a lot of energy just digesting food. Letting it worry about something else by keeping your stomach truly empty is a great way to heal injuries, get over a sickness, improve mental focus, and help the body regenerate.

    Its actually a great feeling to be REALLY hungry before eating. You enjoy your meal all the more. Many people think of that ravenous hunger associated with carb consumption. That hunger I DO NOT enjoy. I would have an upset stomach, headache, sometimes the shakes, and be quite grumpy. When I am low carb, that super hunger after fasting is just a deep growl in my stomach and a strong mental need to prepare food…but nothing more. This might sound cliche, but it feels more primal. The carb induced hunger feels more like a sickness or an addiction.

    Have you ever had a really physically strenuous day? Like maybe you went on an extreme hike climbing a mountain, or you spent 12 hours digging and lifting in your yard in the hot sun? That meal after that ‘workout’ is always one of the best. I compare fasting to that…….without necessarily having to go up a mountain every time :)

    • says

      Wow! That is about as primal as you can get… very random fasting sessions. And eating when you are hungry – listening to your body. By far the best way to eat. And, you are definitely correct by saying the meal you consume is incredibly more satisfying when you are consuming it on an empty stomach. I am more willing to prepare a nice meal when I am very hungry since it will allow me to enjoy it much more.

      I have always eaten a lot of food. But, back in the day it would be tons of carbs. When we had pasta for Dinner I stuffed myself silly. I finally started not feeling well late last year into this year which allowed me to go primal. Also, in the past when I am hungry I would get headaches often and would feel very shaky. I can frequently remember me being shaky. I have never had this feeling since going primal. And, I have fasted a lot more recently while I never did before going primal.

      I have not had that kind of physically strenuous day yet but I hope to soon! I want to go hiking so bad… Grr I must do it soon.

  4. Dan says

    I usually hate eating breakfast but I force myself to because its the only time that I know I will always eat healthy.

    • says

      A perfect reason to eat when you are not necessarily hungry, but have an empty enough stomach to consume a solid breakfast. Back in the day we did not have to go to work so this is where enjoying the modern conveniences such as having food available often in the fridge, etc. is great.

  5. says

    This article came at a good time for me. I’m really working on only eating when I’m hungry….this is surprisingly not all that often.

    • says

      I think millions of people need to step back and really listen to there bodies more. Before one sits down to eat, they need to feel themselves out…

      If it is incredibly convenient for one to eat 3 meals at certain times during the day then that is fine. Our world is very different then what it was tens of thousands of years ago. We all are pretty busy. Too busy, but still busy. So, that person needs to just eat less at that time if he or she is not too hungry when it is time to eat. If that person is not very hungry when they sit down and eat then they should consider rearranging there schedule and maybe eat 2 bigger meals each day and maybe a small snack.

  6. says

    I IF every single day. I usually do Fast-5, with a window from 2 to 7pm, with one meal and one snack in there. I have done one-meal-a-day a lot, though, and I really like it. My longest fast was about ~27 hours.
    It’s completely natural, thanks to ketosis (because I do less than 30 grams carbs). I have less hunger and cravings, and if I try to eat outside my normal window, I get very nauseous. Unless it’s early-morning bacon. MMMMM.
    IF has saved me in situations where unhealthy food is available. When NO food is available. Etc. I’ve gotten to the point where I would rather fast than eat carbage. My blood sugar is stable enough now that if I have to push a meal off a few hours until I can get to something healthy I’m ok doing so.
    When my daughter went Primal, her eating habits changed naturally. Several days a week she will go into early afternoon before foraging for food. Before Primal, she’d practically RUN to the fridge 1st thing and be hungry 10 times a day. My son, the one I love to call my Atkins baby (I’m going to have to change that to Primal baby or baby Grok or something), has never been a breakfast eater.
    It has been wonderful to see the grip food had on my family lessen since going Primal. And they have all lost weight, too.

    • says

      Haha… I love the… “unless it’s early-morning bacon.”

      This is where fasting really has its place… when healthy food is not available. Instead of eating a lot, just eat less if its decent or do not eat at all.

      I love to hear that your family is all going primal and getting great results. This is what it is all about. Changing your lifestyle for the better so you can live a happier and healthier life which rubs off on other people. I am sensing a large snowball in the making…

    • says

      True if your fasting for a while. Anyone should be able to skip a meal no problem. If they are eating primal that is. If one is going to not eat much fat and protein then they may have a tough time. For intermittent fasting I am talking about just randomly skipping a meal. Or simply eating when you are truly hungry.

  7. says

    IF has changed how I eat.
    I was always the girl who HAD to eat every 2 hours or my blood sugar might drop. I blamed so much on hyperglycemia but in truth it was the nasty carbs causing my issues.

    Enter Paleo style living about 6 months ago. My coaches mentioned IF and I was TERRIFIED. What? Go hours without food, are you nuts? I’ll die! Well…I tried it and guess what? It wasn’t so tough. In fact my stomach has shrunk and I no long CAN eat as much. My desire for 5 meals a day is gone and sometimes I get less than 3.

    I listen to my hunger now and know when it’s real. It’s been rather eye opening.

    Great post!
    B

    • says

      Thanks for your story! I am sure you have inspired at least a few others to give IF a shot. Or at least listen to there bodies more often. We are now dieing from too much food… how about that!

  8. says

    Im not sure about intermittent fasting. I know some people swear by it and fat be it for me to judge them. But I find for myself that it can really screw with my head mentally if I go for too long without food. It stirs up all that binge behaviour and also makes me start obsessing about where is that next meal coming from. Thats exactly what I want to avoid!! I think its ok to skip a meal if you just don’t mean to or your just busy (I just did that today) but I don’t think it should be planned. Well thats for me.

    Also research showed that, despite the common misconception, hunter gatherers always had an abundance of food and were never short. In some cases food would be wasted or left to rot. Im not sure that hunter gatherers would have gone for long spells without food.

    • says

      Thanks for your comments Dan. I may not have been clear enough but I am suggesting more that we listen to our bodies more often. Only eat when we are hungry or when it is absolutely convenient. I have not yet planned a long fast. Will I? Maybe, maybe not. I am not really sure.

      I think one just needs to liste to his or her body more and do what they feel best. As I listen to my body more I am realizing I need less food then I originally thought. I can be fine eating more smaller meals or eating one large meal too.

      Sure, hunters and gatherers may have had an abundance of food most of the time. But, there would be those days where grok could not find any food. Today we truly have food whenever we want. This is a great advancement. But, it has led us to become obese and eat too much of the wrong food.

  9. says

    I fast every day as I always workout in a fasted state. I have breakfast and then a snack if Im peckish. I then eat a massive lunch at about midday and then nothing until about 7pm. I find I am stronger and more focused when I workout fasted. Every now and then I chuck in a 24 hour fast if I have had a heavy food weekend or am feeling sluggish, it picks me right back up again.

    • says

      I enjoy a massive midday lunch as well most of the time. This would be a big ass salad with greens, veggies, fruit, meat, fat (avocado, olive oil) and maybe some nuts or other toppings.

  10. says

    I have not tried IF yet. I have read a lot about it but I am worried that it could trigger binge or other abnormal eating behaviors in me.

    But what I am doing like you suggested, is to try to eat only when I am hungry. Like you said, I am truly hungry less than I would have thought! Or I may not be hungry at the “normal” time, like say for lunch, so I will eat later or skip it altogether and just wait for dinner.

    • says

      Thats kind of what intermittent fasting is… at least how I am currently treating it. I am not afraid to eat lunch at 3 and then not eat for the rest of the day or simply eat a small snack at night if I am slightly hungry. Or eat a late breakfast around 10 and then eat dinner at 6. Simply eat when hungry… so simple!

      • says

        Carla, I was worried about binge eating at first as well and I did a couple of times, especially after 24 hour fasts, I realised I had to take it slow and only do what is comfortable for you.

  11. says

    I do agree with what you mentioned. We don’t need as much food as we are led to believe. Our bodies can function sometimes better without. It takes energy to digest especially meat. At times it can be invigorating. We have done all kinds of fasting in our house for different reasons, spiritual as well as cleansing, full fast, no food or water, water fasts (my husband has done at least 14 days), daniel fasts, juice fasts, and just plain skipping meals. I feel much better when i eat less, or when i have small meals throughout the day.I tend to have much more energy. thank you for sharing!

    • says

      I have never done a 24 hour fast but I plan to do so this month. I am not sure when…

      I may also incorporate an animal less day. I love animals and know they are incredible healthy but I also know that man did not eat them on a daily basis. Well, I don’t know for sure but it makes sense to me. I am not sure when I will start this, but it may be soon.

      Thanks for commenting! Nice blog by the way!

  12. says

    That is great that you are going to try to fast for one day. And maybe later you can add more time. Many people fast on different levels for cleansing due to illness. Did you know that animals when ill will not eat? It gives the body a chance to rid itself of impurities.

    Remember the scripture “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13. When fasting its a good time to lean on Him, instead of food, even if its intermittent fasting.

    Thank you for visiting our family blog. Our two teens contribute as well. We are on a journey like all of us and are here to encourage and inspire others. Glad you were blessed.

    • says

      Thanks for the encouragement! That is awesome that you have your 2 teens contributing to your blog too. I will read through a few posts soon.

  13. Huon says

    I fast only on water ever week for 36-40 hours, normally finishing eating my meal at 19:00 sunday then breaking the fast at 10:00 tuesday. Every 3 months or change of session I do an extended fast of 7 days on water only. I think that most people are hooked on having to eat just because they are lacking self control giving your body a rest allows for it heal itself. Its also a great way to learn self control and be able to listen to your body. It’s been done by all civilisations down through the ages and it is about strengthening yourself!

    • says

      Thanks for your input and welcome to my blog!

      That’s awesome that you do a scheduled fast like this every week. It certainly allows your digestive system to rest as needed. And you are right that the average person in todays society is hooked on food. Thus our obese country…

  14. Michael says

    Compressed feeding window: 2 bigger meals a day works well for me (btwn 1 and 8 pm)
    although I should really watch the coffee….

    • says

      Haha, how much coffee do you drink a day? I enjoy hot green tea in the winter months :)

      I have been enjoying 2 large meals along with snacks during the day recently. I LOVE it a whole lot more. I will soon do a 24 hour fast as the most I have done is 19 hours.

  15. Audrey says

    This is very interesting to me because I have eaten “primal” my whole life without knowing it. I have never been into eating breakfast and I tend to get hungry at night. The problem I have found though, is that since I am a vegetarian and I do heavy weight lifting 2 times a week, it is hard to get enough protein in 1 meal or one evening (the time when I’m really hungry). I typically will only have coffee in the morning. Then have a protein shake (pure whey protein) at noon, then another at 3pm, and then a large meal at 8pm. So my only food during the day is the pure protein along with a small amount of fruit – I find that this curbs my hunger ( I feel “hunger” in my stomach during the day but do not have an appetite persay). Do you think this can still reap some of the benefits of IF? I am trying to gain muscle as well as lose fat. I started doing this routine because I love to cook and cannot see myself NOT having a large dinner. On the weekends I am flexible – go out to lunch or breakfast and then typically not eat much the rest of the day (since I will usually not be hungry) if I want.

    • says

      So you are a vegetarian but use whey protein? Interesting…

      I think that you can reap the benefits of fasting by just eating less for a meal or time period. You don’t have to starve yourself. Some will just go 16 hours without protein. I’ve done only fruit in the morning or only fat and then I eat 2 larger meals for lunch and dinner.

      Millions think they have to eat 6 meals a day throughout the day which is probably not the best option.

  16. mcdee says

    awesome well iam vegetarian NOT VEGAN meaning i use protein powders drink milk and eat eggs I have decided to skip the breakfast meal a lot and drink a qt of water/cup of coffee instead and bam I feel soooo much better also I have started low carb as a lifestyle not diet/bam again lots of energy weight down from 212 to 139 for 12 yrs.just eating less/ exercising/fasting/cleansing from time to time FASTING SHOULD BE A WAY OF LIFE IT HAS PROVEN IT SELF TO ME 40YRS.OLD 6 CHILDREN GROWN NOW EXCEPT 16YR.OLD HAD THEM YOUNG LOL ANYWAY NO HIGH BP NO DIABETES NO HIGH CHOLOESTEROL NO LIVER KIDNEY OR HEART PROBLEMS ETC…..VERY HEALTHY/FULL OF ENERGY SOOOOOO STOP THE SHENANIGANS ALL THAT EATING IS VERY UNHEALTHY I KNOW BETTER NOW BE BLESSED TTYL

  17. Alex says

    Will using a fasting window, or fasting 24 hours 1-2 days a week help me lose more weight? And if a window is better, how often a week can I do that? Either of these would be easy for me since I don’t like eating a lot of food and don’t get hungry too often, I just can’t tell which would be more effective. I think this is a great idea since i hate trying to follow the 5-6 meals a day plan, it’s just too much and hasn’t helped me or others in my family lose weight. Any answers will be appreciated.

    • says

      It all depends on you. Experiment and start with what you prefer doing. Some people do very well with intermittent fasting while others do horrible with it. Some folks just do better with 3 square meals a day. I don’t recommend anyone eat 5 to 6 times per day.

      Stress is a huge killer which is why it’s helpful to go with your own gut.

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