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Our experiences with intermittent fasting

Fasting is probably a word that you have heard more and more in and around the wellness scene recently as it is a method of eating that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. However many have differing opinions about the potential benefits as well as the restrictions that some feel it puts on people undertaking IF.

Lifebox was designed to bring you an ever evolving selection of healthy food, supplements, drinks, recipe ideas and information to enable you to find new products you like to enhance your healthy lifestyle. In a nutshell….”here’s a load of delicious healthy goodies, see what you like and what works for YOU”! To make sure our boxes are always innovative and bringing you the hottest and most exciting new products, our fabulous box curation guru Alicia is constantly on the prowl for the latest health and wellness products. We also like to provide you with a hub of information and evidence where possible so you can be informed regarding the products we include and be able to make the choices that are right for you.

The Fasting + that we have included in our October boxes has really caused a stir in the LB office and we thought as part of our informative blog series we would put together a little collection from the LB crew about our own experiences and opinions on fasting alongside an informative piece from the founder of the brand FASTING+ for you to read and hopefully be enable to form your own opinions!

Jen (director + founder)

In a nutshell IF basically means, not eating at strategic times. I began using IF when I was on a career break from the police and travelling the world in 2013. I had been guided towards it by a colleague who was incredibly dedicated to his physical fitness and used IF on a daily basis. As a keen cyclist and gym goer at that point, after some dubious discussion and some experimentation, I found it to be a useful tool when busy at work and found that if I trained “fasted” that I actually felt stronger and more energised than when I had eaten some pre training “fuel”. I also saw benefits in relation to fat loss. I would usually follow a 16:8 regime where I perhaps finished eating by the latest 9pm and then ate again within an 8 hour window 1pm-9pm the following day; whether this be 2 large meals or a few more smaller meals. I felt I was eating the same amount of calories however it fitted well with my life and I could see “gains” during and following exercise. (despite breakfast being my favourite meal of the day – I tended to just still eat a breakfast style meal as my first meal in the afternoon!) I then found IF incredibly beneficial whilst travelling as I tended to save money not eating at 3 or more times during the day and found it fitted into to a “travellers lifestyle”. I would only drink water and black coffee during fasted hours. I had not read any research at this point bar a few articles on fitness websites and I literally just found that it worked for me specifically.

Since returning from travelling I have tended to stick to IF but for only 2-3 days per week depending on my schedule. Obviously since starting Lifebox and gaining more experience and knowledge in the area through personal reading and research I can understand fully why some nutritionists are a little sceptical of any type of IF as it might be seen as a “restriction” and therefore it is a DIET (that dreaded word!). I however find that it suits my body as well as my brain, but that does not mean that would be the same for everyone as each person is different.

The way you feel whilst fasting also depends heavily on your general wellbeing – how much sleep have you had? what are your stress levels like? How active are you? As with everything my personal opinion would be:

  • Do your own research
  • Try it for yourself and see if it suits YOU
  • If it doesn’t suit you and you don’t get on with it….don’t carry on doing it just because you feel pressure from yourself, others etc. You do you!

Monique (logistics & customer service)

Our physical and mental health are daily news and I think that it must be worth considering not just what we eat, but how, when and why we eat and how this could influence our overall wellbeing.

I am new to intermittent fasting and over the last couple of months, I have been experimenting with the 16:8 approach – fasting from 8.30 pm to 12.30 pm. As a keen long distance runner, I have learned that when I eat can be as important as what I eat in terms of performance, but I am even more fascinated by the effect that our diets and exercise have on the brain. I know that running helps to keep my mental health in check, which got me curious about any potential health benefits on the brain mood from intermittent fasting.

Although it is still unclear if intermittent fasting can prevent cognitive decline or dementia, some research suggests that it may improve concentration, focus and mood and potentially even aid in neurogenesis (the growth and development of neurons).

Here is my verdict:

I thought that I would struggle through a morning without any food, that I would find it difficult to concentrate – however I have not found this at all. I undoubtedly drink more water, which is a good thing and it has made me realise that at times I definitely mistake thirst for hunger. I am a firm believer that because we are all different we need to discover what suits us best depending on our day / lifestyle / beliefs, in the same way that we dress each day depending on our mood, weather, etc. Personally, if I am set to run 26 miles, I wouldn’t skip breakfast – but I know that some people would. I guess the same rules apply to intermittent fasting; it won’t be for everyone and many studies are inconclusive, but it’s a very interesting subject indeed!

Alicia (box curation and in-house nutritionist)

My experience of intermittent fasting has been a very positive one. After travelling around the Philippines whilst taking antibiotics, my body was very much in need of a reset. I started reading up about intermittent fasting when my tutor at CNM recommended it, saying it lifted his pervasive brain fog and that he did it every day.

I initially tried 5:2 but struggled – as a very active person, I found myself unable to fall asleep or I would wake up in the night hungry. So I moved to the 16:8 fast instead and have never looked back. I have a black coffee first thing in the morning then eat a late lunch and early dinner. Despite cutting out breakfast, my cravings have definitely decreased and often by the time lunchtime rolls around I’m still not that hungry. I make sure to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure that I’m not lacking in any nutrient.

It’s a great option for people that are busy and who don’t want to have what they eat dictated by a diet. It is a lifestyle choice that has so many benefits it’s unbelievable, giving your body the time it needs to reset itself.