Recently, I made the decision to stop being an outright slave to my body and start prioritizing focused and productive time. The ugly and disgusting truth was that I was indulging in food as if I was a pig, and this was really affecting how much time I had on my hands.
For just over a month now, I have been fasting from between 8–9 pm to 11 am the next day. That's roughly a 15-hour gap. Before this, I would shamefully indulge in late-night snacks at 1 am, believing that satisfying my hunger would help me sleep.
As I started to experiment with my diet I realized that when I ate mattered more than what I ate. And as I managed when I ate, all the junk that I usually consumed miraculously started to wiggle its way out of my diet.
When I would eat after forcing myself to go without food for an extended period of time, I realized that these irrational food cravings slowly start to disappear.
I’m not sure why this happened to me, I’m not a scientist, But I know I shed a crap ton of fat in the last month from not having the desire to indulge in all the junk. I credit this to the fasting I have been doing daily.
My first month of intermittent fasting has made my life more streamlined and efficient. I no longer waste time choosing what snacks to eat/make. I’ve had an enormous amount of cognitive benefits, primarily the robot-like focus. And lastly, I’ve shed a lot of fat, retained muscle, and lost the tendency to overeat
Unlock New Levels of Concentration
Whenever I wake up in a fasted state, I itch to get to work. I know right, it sounds seriously odd. But this is because I know that in the mornings up until 11 am (my first meal), I have this streamlined and laser-like focus.
Doing work on an empty stomach feels like all my cognitive functions have been sharpened.
In Ancient Greece, the famous Greek thinkers and philosophers also picked up on this connection between focus and hunger.
These great thinkers often fasted to increase their mental agility. Even back then, more than two thousand years ago, Greeks thought fasting had a proven ability to sharpens one mind and increase cognitive ability respectively.
The work I do from around 8 am — 11 am is done to a higher caliber than at any other point in the day. If I could, I would never eat just so I could experience this focus. However, this isn’t possible.
I seem to have to solemnly remind myself this when I feel like carrying on my fast after 11 am…
Professor Mark Mattson, Professor of Neuroscience at the John Hopkins University carried out studies that showed how fasting caused positive neurochemical changes to occur in the brain — which led to a major improvement in cognitive function and levels of concentration.
Fasting can be considered exercise for the brain, just like strenuous physical activity is exercise to the body.
It’s essentially a workout for the brain. When in a fasted state, Professor Mattson reported how this is seen as a challenging scenario for the brain. The brain reacts to the challenge by adapting response pathways to cope with the added stress that a fasted state provides.
In other words, you are toughening up your brain, similar to muscular hypertrophy, where resistance training builds more robust and thick muscle fibers after tearing them apart.
The beauty of this is that you don't even have to restrict your caloric intake. All that is required to feel these increased levels of focus and memory retention is to incorporate extended periods of intentional fasting.
Stop eating 3–4 hours before you sleep and you too can experience a morning full of productivity and focus.
Effects on the Body: Fat Loss and General Health
One of the things that initially attracted me to intermittent fasting was how I realized that not only could I have better focus, but I could also change the way I look — further working towards building an aesthetic physique.
Losing fat was probably the most notable effect, even after just one month.
During the first week or two, I was getting bad stomach cramps because my body wasn't used to this new eating schedule. Although this quickly passed.
Intermittent fasting in a nutshell forces your body to use the resources it consumes more effectively. This means that your body uses your fat as fuel when you are in a fasted state. In turn, you can build muscle and shed fat at the same time. This is something that bodybuilders deem as ‘impossible’ as they dirty bulk themselves to a body fat percentage over 35%…
However, intermittent fasting is far from a quick weight loss hack. It is a way to live a healthy lifestyle.
It’s a healthy lifestyle backed by human evolution that encourages the body to become more efficient and self-protective than modern times has made it be.
In prehistoric caveman times, we survived and thrived for long periods without eating. We had to use a lot of our energy simply looking for food to eat, and we were great at it.
The problem with modern society is how easy attaining food and eating has become.
People are spending more time indoors than they were, say 50 years ago, where we didn't have phones and TV shows ended at 11 pm. Now, we have become accustomed to spending all day in front of our screens and binge eating snacks until the early hours of the morning. It’s the new norm.
We are not made to be like this. We are going against our human nature by being constantly filled with food. It’s important to get in touch with how we are wired to be —which is not obese digital slaves.
Another neat health benefit of fasting is how our body will eat itself inside out. It sounds bad but it’s actually great. This is essentially where we undergo a purification process at a cellular level — also know as ‘autophagy’.
“Hunger is not something you can perform from the outside, health is something you have to do from within” — Sadhguru
Autophagy has quite a scary nickname: ‘self-devouring’. Autophagy is the body's way of cleaning out damaged cells to regenerate newer and healthier cells.
“It is recycling and cleaning at the same time, just like hitting a reset button to your body. Plus, it promotes survival and adaptation as a response to various stressors and toxins accumulated in our cells,” — Priya Khorana, PhD, in nutrition education from Columbia University.
This evolutionary self-preservation mechanism keeps the body young through its production of younger cells and protects us from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
I also started to notice in last month I have been drinking significantly more water. This is because it satisfies my hunger cravings. I've easily tripled my water consumption when I fast and boy does it make me feel healthy. I mean, who doesn't feel good after staying precariously hydrated?.
Most importantly, I learned to distinguish between true hunger and deceptive hunger.
Deceptive hunger is when the feelings of hunger come from a habitual routine.
In other words, your eating schedule has stayed the same for so long, that any out of the ordinary shift in eating resorts to the feeling of ‘hunger’.
My body was telling me to eat out of years of habit. But as soon as I slammed down a cup of water when I was “hungry” I felt refreshed and satisfied. The hunger disappeared.
We could all do with drinking more water. It’s just one of those things that we know is good for us, and the more the better. It makes us healthier in terms of clearer skin, cognitive function, organ function, and much more.
Why Food Mismanagement Wastes Your Life
Let’s do some simple maths to help you come to terms with something. Typically, doctors recommend optimum sleeping time to be between 7–8 hours. So 1/3 of your life you sleep, right?
Now, add another 3–4 hours of going to the toilet, grooming, showering, and additional maintenance things we have to do every day. That's 10 hours total on the conservative side, daily.
So it’s fair to say that close to, if not 50% of your life is simply spent maintaining your physical health.
How absurd is that? You are only living half a life.
If you had a car, and you went to get it serviced once a month, that's not too bad and I presume most of us would keep it. Now imagine you had a car that had to be serviced 15 days out of a month. That’s a waste of time!
This is what you are doing when you eat more than you need to and spend too much time being preoccupied with eating.
Don’t get me wrong, I seriously value nutrition. I lift weights five times a week. My body would be a wreck if I didn't hit a sufficient level of protein intake or calories. Nutrition is the most important thing in my life.
However, along with this came the bad side. The majority of my day was spent being focused on what I had to cook. My body was preventing me from doing what I wanted to do: live my life. And I know you can relate.
“Most people have made their systems into a nuisance because their own body is a big impediment to their life” — Sadhguru
For this reason alone, I think cutting out a huge portion of your time where you don't eat is very important.
“My body was preventing me from doing what I wanted to do: live my life.”
Having my evenings and most of my mornings free from the burden of food, I’ve had a lot of free time open up. I never realized how much time I wasted loitering in the kitchen trying to find something to eat.
I'm currently increasing my fasted window. I plan to eventually consume all my calories in an 8-hour window. I feel like this will have me running at my most efficient self.
Fasting has become a way for me to eliminate a fastidious relationship with food.
Your consumption of food is probably a massive hindrance to your time management without you knowing it.
Food is glorious and food is beautiful. But learning how to manage it effectively in your day to benefit you is a whole different thing. I function better in all aspects when I am intermittent fasting.
- My focus is more precise. When I have an empty stomach I can work undisturbed for hours without needing a break. Fasting toughens up the brain. It’s like a workout for your mind, neurologically and mentally.
- Fasting has promoted fat loss, kept me drinking a lot of water, and has been purifying on a cellular level. I learned to distinguish hunger from an empty stomach. They are two very different things. The latter works wonders for the body.
- I freed up a lot of unnecessary time that was previously spent snacking and focusing on what I was going to eat next. I had more time on my hands and better focus. It’s the perfect recipe for doing some meaningful work!
I am loving my journey thus far into the world of fasting. I truly believe as humans that we function better eating in a short window of time, rather than constantly snacking and feeling lethargic. Learning to harness the power of an empty stomach is essential.
For this reason, I will be working towards fasting more intensely. I like the way my body feels on it. I plan to start incorporating 2 days a week of OMAD ( One Meal A Day) to see how I feel. Also, I am going to try a 24 hour fast sometime this month. I’ll let you all know how these dietary experiments go!
Remember, life is about trying new stuff. Switch up your diet and see what works for you!