Intermittent fasting

If a one-day water fast feels too frightening, beyond reach, that’s totally okay.  Today in the modern world many people feel the same.  Rather than pushing yourself into something you’re not ready for, intermittent fasting is a less extreme, more easily achievable goal – and it still offers significant health benefits over the long term.

Intermittent fasting consists of simply extending the natural fast you undertake each and every day: the one between dinner and break-fast.  By lengthening the time without food from around 12 hours each night to 16 hours, you allow your entire digestive system to rest more fully.  This is time during which it can regenerate, time in which your whole body can begin to heal – especially given that you’ll be asleep and in ‘healing mode’ anyway during much of this time.

Intermittent fasting is something which works best when done everyday: something which is built into your daily schedule.  In order to reach a daily fast of 16 hours (that is, restricting your eating within an eight-hour timeframe), most people find that the easiest solution is to skip breakfast.  As much as the food industry has relentlessly hammered home the message that breakfast is ‘the most important meal of the day’, this is entirely untrue.  The morning hours are a period of natural detox; by eating, you disrupt this process, bringing it to a premature end.  Historically, only modern society has emphasised breakfast.  The Romans, for instance, never ate before the afternoon.

At first, though, leaving out breakfast will probably leave you hungry, perhaps even low on energy.  Consequently, you may soon find a certain resistance building up inside you against intermittent fasting.  This is all to be expected until you break out of your old biorhythm of more frequent eating.  But it’s just a matter of time.  A few days.  In the worst case, a week or two.

I always hear the excuse: “I can’t skip breakfast.  I work.  How am I going to survive until lunch.”  Don’t worry, if the Romans were able to conquer most of Europe on an empty morning stomach, so can you!  It’s just a question of allowing your biorhythm to adapt.  In the meantime, one solution to quell your suffering 😉 is to drink a low-calorie morning coffee (eg. with low-fat milk or soya milk).  The caffeine will provide energy while naturally suppressing your appetite, and an intake of less than 100 calories will impact only minimally on morning detox.  This isn’t the best solution for the long term, but it won’t hurt while you adjust.

On a totally non-scientific basis, I feel in my own body the benefits of daily intermittent fasting to be approximately equal to that of ‘regular’ eating plus a weekly 24-hour fast.  Interestingly, if you add up over the course of a week the extra four hours of fasting incurred through daily intermittent fasting (7 x 4hrs = 28hrs), you end up with a duration similar to a one-day fast.  Perhaps this is one reason why, after you’ve grown comfortable with the routine of intermittent fasting, it will be much easier to contemplate moving on to trying a 24- or 36-hour water fast – which itself can provide a springboard to longer, more healing fasts in the longer term.

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7 responses to “Intermittent fasting”

  1. Hi nice readding your post

    1. Tallis Barker, D.Phil. Avatar
      Tallis Barker, D.Phil.

      Thanks Derek 🙂

  2. Hi Tallis

    Quoting this sentence:
    “The morning hours are a period of natural detox; by eating, you disrupt this process, bringing it to a premature end.”

    I think I’ve read or heard about this before somewhere, but can’t recall where.

    When does “morning hours” stop? How does season and timezone come into play?
    Does the detox do it’s normal thing even when sleeping in and getting up quite late?
    Also, how much does having some lemon or vinegar in the early-morning water affect the natural detox? Is it helpful or best just let be?

    Especially, living in a place that has very early sun in the summer, we’re wondering how best to navigate this, thanks!

    Armando & T

    1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
      Tallis Shivantar

      Hi Armando and T,

      Good question(s)!

      By morning hours, what we’re talking about here is the period following sleep (regardless of season and time zone). Simply, while you’re asleep you cleanse more strongly, and by not eating when you wake up, you enable the momentum of this nightly cleanse to continue. It’s one of the main advantages of intermittent fasting!

      Here’s even better news: by sleeping in and getting up late, you’re enabling the strongest possible detox, because by resting the body on the outside, it continues its work on the inside with the maximum possible energy. So don’t feel guilty about lying in :-).

      About lemon: citrus is great for detoxing the liver. The best way to drink lemon water (or even eat an orange where citrus is concerned more generally) is on an empty stomach about an hour or so before your first meal of the day.

      All the best,

  3. Tallis hi it’s been a while im still doing OMAD one meal a day 24-1 i do this daily , but im planning my first seven day water fast the BEGINNING of the new year 2019 what tips can you share ? Thank you.

    1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
      Tallis Shivantar

      Glad the OMAD is working out for you! In terms of tips for a 7-day fast, there are a million different things you can do. The most important thing to consider is that 7 days is a LONG time psychologically compared to your shorter fasts. It’s good to prepare for this!
      If you need help with coaching or anything, then just let me know.

      1. Ok thank you Sir.

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