Life in the Fast Lane: My Brief Attempt at Intermittent Fasting

close up of guage on empty fuel tank

Running on Empty

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the saying goes. After a year or so of trying various diets without any success, and excited about the many benefits of intermittent fasting, I decided to give it a try.

The idea of being able to lose weight, improve my health and increase my longevity through fasting seemed too good not to pursue. Other people do it all the time, why not me?

I began the day with a brisk three mile walk.  I’d read recently that exercise first thing in the morning before breakfast is the best way to burn fat.

Breakfast on the 5:2 Diet

For breakfast I had Patrick Holford’s Get Up and Go! Low GL Breakfast Shake mixed with soya milk and fresh strawberries followed by a cup of green tea.  The 5:2 Diet (5 days feeding: 2 days fasting per week) allows women 500 calories on a fasting day, men 600. The breakfast shake was about 300 calories. Apart from feeling a bit bloated after my liquid breakfast, I felt fine and energised. So far, so good.

Hunger Pangs

Hunger kicked in after three hours. My partner phoned and commented on how tired I was sounding. My normal eating routine consists of eating regularly every three to four hours to keep my blood sugar levels up, so I guess my body knew it was snack time.

From then on I started to feel worse by the hour. My typing got more and more inaccurate.  A friend phoned and I found it a real effort to string sentences together at times – my energy levels were really low and sinking fast.

Drinking hot tea helped relived the hunger pangs a bit and I was drinking loads of water too, but the hunger relief was short-lived.

Brain Fog

Around 2.30pm – six hours after breakfast – I realised that I had wasted the past three hours.  I couldn’t think straight and was finding it impossible to concentrate.  I’d been staring at the computer screen, unable to take in any of the information I was reading.  It felt like my brain had shut down.

The thought of another six hours in this state was just too much for me at this stage.  Also, it was turning into a wasted day as I was being completely unproductive.  There was no way I could adopt intermittent fasting as a lifestyle if I lost two days a week, unable to string a coherent thought together.

Giving Up

And so I gave up.  I decided intermittent fasting was not for me and I went and had a lunch of sardines on Ryvita with slices of tomato.  Afterwards I was still hungry!

So, did I give up too soon?  Should I have stuck it out until dinner time?  Would it have been easier next time?  It’s hard to say but probably not. All the other times I’ve had to fast, like before surgery, I’ve felt just as tired and desperate.

I’ve concluded that my body is not suited to fasting. It may be because I take medication, it may be because I have low blood sugar and probably shouldn’t have attempted fasting in the first place.

But it was still an interesting experiment.  It works for some people but not for others. And I’ll just have to find some other way to be healthy, slim and live forever that doesn’t involve hunger!

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2 Responses to Life in the Fast Lane: My Brief Attempt at Intermittent Fasting

  1. Jane August 15, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Hi Angie. What a lovely honest piece. I’m so sorry your fasting experience was so painful. And I apologise for being brusque with my comment about not being serious, I now retract that as I can see you were.
    I think there’s a lot of truth in the snacking (or eating small but often) being a factor in the difficulty you had. I too eat that way and feel uncomfortably bloated after proper meals. It makes the fast much more difficult to get going. I also think it’s best if you could attempt it within the context of something like a retreat or just a few days away from work, something that’s going to make life easier, expecting your bod to function normally was probably expecting too much…and at our age!!
    I hope you don’t feel put off forever because the benefits are huge.
    I think a fast walk around Dulwich Park will serve you well before breakfast on a regular basis, I try as I’m so close to Brockwell, I notice the difference immediately, but getting up early to do it is the killer for me.
    Good luck with it Angie xx

    • Angie Macdonald August 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      Thanks so much for your supportive comment, Jane. And the wonderful advice. Yes, I think expecting my body to carry on normally was expecting too much and I should have planned to take it easy. I’m still interested in the idea of it, but it may be that a low calorie, high nutrition content diet is the way to go. Lots of possibilities and still need to do research.

      I went for another ‘fat burning’ walk this morning and felt great! Easy to do in the Summer – what will happen in the Winter?

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