Intermittent Fasting, Day 4

On day 4 of your Intermittent Fasting two-week self-study, almost 80% of you will get to that “hunter-killer” mental clarity mode before your first meal.  This mode, enhanced by the catecholamines your brain releases in order to go and hunt for food, is also a great fat-burning mode as well as a great time to work out, if you include exercise into your weekly regimen.

The Brain is still stronger

If you’re in that 80% group, you’ll finally start hearing your hunger and satiety signals better, but the brain will still be stronger in terms of lying.  Now that you’re over the toughest part of beginning IF, your brain will make you come up with excuses as to why it’s OK to cheat today or tomorrow and have food outside of that eating window.

“That wasn’t that tough!” it’ll tell you.  ”Go ahead and have a donut at 9am!”  The problem with a cheat outside your eating window is that your insulin entrainment problem that made you feel like you were hungry at 9am will pop right back into play if you do cheat.  That means you’ll need to start over at Day 1 again.  Not a big deal, but it means the cranky, cloudy-headed, really hungry days will have to be pushed through.

While your brain is still stronger, your body’s signals are fighting harder every day.  You will hear your body better.  Bloating will be a signal of “I ate the wrong food that my body needs right now”.  Hunger signs will be read as “I’m stressed or I’m bored”.  Even junk or comfort food might start looking less appealing because your body’s quiet whisper is starting to be heard.

Exercise and Intermittent Fasting

The Intermittent Fasting protocols are mostly about food timing, not about exercise or specific dieting.  More and more of you by day 4 will start feeling extra energy — energy that comes from catecholamines and energy that comes from your body consuming its own fat.  You’re looking for ways to use that energy beneficially, and exercise is one of those ways you can burn off the energy and also increase the fat burning.

I personally don’t care if you do exercise at all during this 2 week self study, but if you do feel more energetic, I suggest to replace your skipped meals with a light walk.  Add a cup of black coffee which will amp up your body’s ability to nuke some belly fat.  No need to go running or lift weights or hit a treadmill, just walk out that door and walk a block or two or a mile or two.

If you have so much energy that you need to exercise, I suggest learning all of the old high school standards again: push-ups, pull-ups, sprints, even jumping jacks or shuttle runs.  No need to go run a mile when you can get on your hands and knees and see if you can get even half a push-up going.  The body is the best exercise equipment you own, and you don’t need a membership to use it.

Are you really overweight?  Just getting down on your hands and knees and back up again is a work out.  It might be a workout you can’t even do, so try it and set a “starting point” for when you’ll be able to do an actual pushup.  Can’t lift yourself on a chinup bar?  95% of your peers can’t either.  Grab a chair, put yourself on the pullup bar in the top position, and lower yourself down.  Again, you don’t have to be successful, you just need to give yourself a baseline to cherish future success with.

Eating and Intermittent Fasting

Others are starting to consider what they eat now that they can hear their body’s whispers demanding to be healthier.  I won’t tell you to pick fat over carbs or vice versa, but it is very important to get your (animal-source preferred) protein every day.  Carry a can of tuna around.  Chow down on some cottage cheese and berries.  Grab some lunch meat and cheese, roll them up together, and toss them in a lid-covered tub for when you want to nosh.

In truth, there are differences between carbs and fats, but they’re more about what challenges your body has that day.  On days when you really straight your muscles (even vacuuming can do this), you do want more carbs to replenish muscle energy storage (glycogen).  On days when you’re relatively sedentary, you want less carbs and more fat to keep your body in fat-burning mode.  But it isn’t important right now — if you stick to the Intermittent Fasting eating window, you will feel better, you will hear your body louder, and you’ll recondition your brain to not demand food every waking hour.

Alcohol and Intermittent Fasting

The weekend is ahead, and that might mean more alcohol.  Alcohol keeps you out of a fast.  If you go out drinking on Friday or have some wine with a loved one, you’re going to want to count your last sip as the beginning of your next fasted period.  If you stop drinking at midnight and you’re on a 16 hour fasting window, that means no food until 4pm the next day.  Ouch.  But alcohol is the #1 reason people start failing as they head into week 2.  They forget that alcohol has calories, and calories eaten prevents the body from entering fat-burning mode.

I won’t tell you to nix alcohol, just be aware that it means delaying your eating window the next day.  In some people, alcohol dehydrates them a lot and makes them hungry much earlier the next day.  It may not be a hunger signal but a hydration signal.  Try to listen to your body more on a day after drinking, and do your own self-study testing to see what quiets those signals instead of food or snacks.

Sex and Intermittent Fasting

A man’s testosterone peaks in the early morning (between 7am and 10am usually).  Mornings also mean you’ve likely had an 8 hour fasted window already — a great time to burn more energy to increase fat burning.

If you live with your partner, try moving your intimate relations into the morning.  You’re not having breakfast together, right?  Use that 30-60 minutes for something more bonding.

Since IF appears to have a beneficial response in testosterone boosting in men, you may be very surprised to note that morning relations when both partners follow an IF protocol is more enjoyable, longer lasting, and creates a surprising amount of energy later in the day.  Plus, creating a fresh bond before going off to work is amplifying another hormone that may have been quieted as you replaced intimate bonding with food bonding: oxytocin (the “love” or “hug” hormone).  Yes, you can fall in love with food, and it can replace those hormones for other humans.

The Other 20%

If you’re not among the 80% that feel stronger, faster, and more clear-headed by now, you likely won’t get there until day 7.  It sucks.  But it also tells you that your brain has learned how to lie to you worse than the brains of the other 80% trying IF.

You will deprogram your mind’s lies, and you will hear your body’s whispers, you just have more reversible damage than the majority.  IF will be a struggle this first week, but if you keep to your eating window and realize your brain is lying loudly during your fasting window, you’ll get through it.  And everyone who hits that first taste of hunter-killer mode will confirm that it is worth holding out a week to feel.

If you’ve cheated outside your eating window, please consider picking up some Rhodiola Rosea and then return to Intermittent Fasting Day 1 and start over.  It’s worth it.

Continue on to day 5.