Staying Hungry

by Frost on February 21, 2011

I haven’t eaten in twenty two hours.

At some point, hunger transcends physical discomfort. It stops feeling like what we usually think of as hunger – i.e, low blood sugar – and becomes something else.

After two skipped meals, your body stops feeling sorry for itself and enters a state of hyper-awareness. You feel light and focused. Adderall plus ambition. If you have a project you want to get done, do it while you’re hungry. An Ev Psych just-so story would go something like, your body interprets the skipped meals as a crisis, one that may require the sum total of your concentration to overcome. It reacts by shedding the laziness and risk aversion that would normally keep us holed up in a cave (a sensible decision, when food was abundant) and forces us out into the world.

Fast for a day each week, and you’ll learn to appreciate your hunger. Meditate on that hunger, capture the feeling, and channel it into your life. And when you do eat, savour that meal as one of the best you’ve ever tasted. Nom nom nom.

In addition to my hippie rants about psychological hunger and meditation, fasting is actually a healthy practice for most. The touted life extension may be crap, but in every article I’ve read on the subject (even those that trashed it) the comments were full of IF practitioners with good things to say.

Most importantly for me though (as with all things pertaining to my health) I trust my body more than a bunch’a fancy book-learnin’. And as of tonight – twenty two and a half hours into a fast – I feel fucking awesome. And now I’m going to go eat a package of bacon and a 6-egg omelette. GRRRRR

So try it out. If it works for you, it works for you. Any personal experiences and/or useful links related to IF? Comments are open.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

dakotafleming January 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I have an eating window of ten a.m. til noon daily.

muciusscaevola July 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

i can go both ways. somehow eat a lot, like the six egg omlette and pound of bacon you’re talking about and then eat hardly anything the next day. i dont know how i got to this point, but it works for me. its easier than feeling like shit from not eating regularly. i don’t know how one transcends this to make fasting work for you, but i’ve seen it in action so ur on to something

Audacious Epigone February 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I eat a pretty paleo diet (virtually nothing wheat based, anything with added sugar, or fructose) yet still struggle to go more than four or five hours without eating something unless I’m asleep. That may be more a thing of habit than ‘necessity’ (in the convenient sense of the word), and I’m probably an outlier, as I’m also on a 5000 calorie a day diet. I wonder if you’ve done it beginning in the morning and then tried a strenuous workout later in the day. I’m not sure what my results would be, but I don’t think they’d be optimal.

Nandalal Rasiah February 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Before the paleo craze, I remember reading Frank Zane talking about his post anabolic steroids/pro BB lifestyle diet–not really fasting but waiting much longer than 4-6 hours between meals and really ‘feeling’ the hunger before eating (my days start early and end late, so this works out.) I don’t get the ADHD symptoms while waiting for the hunger to manifest and keeping the meals small during the day seems to help. Waking up absolutely ravenous is a sign, at least to me, that i’ve eaten the right amount the previous night and at the right time. Tonight’s 10 ounces of king mackerel and cup of cooked spinach will mean waking up tomorrow ready for dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

NomadicNeill February 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

The downside with eating paleo / caveman style is not being hungry all the time.

Sometimes I get caught up with work and it’s 3PM and I haven’t eaten more than some fruit and nuts. Then I have to cook some huge pork-chop based meal.

Not good when I’m trying to GAIN weight.

Frost February 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Dave, that’s definitely true. IF on a carb-based diet won’t work. I recently went on a weekend trip with four non-paleo-eating friends and was amazed at how they HAD to eat every few hours. So there’s another benefit of the VLC lifestyle: if work/life circumstances dictate that you can’t eat for XX hours, you’ll get by.

Raliv, interesting that you went ADHD on IF. One theory of ADHD is that’s it’s a “disease” that makes men want to HUNT. IF makes me want to write, but writing feels like hunting to me. Reading something dull, I’d probably have the same reaction.

raliv February 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Today I tried IF. I haven’t eaten all day and I went to the gym and lifted weights followed by a short run.

How did I feel? Hungry most of the day but right now it had kind of subsided into a dull hunger. Nothing unbearable.

I did definitely feel more productive and I got a lot of things done. I agree that my body is kind of in crisis mode and I am fighting to stay alive. However, I tried reading a book and writing a report over it and found it very difficult to stay focused. My mind was all over the place and multi-tasking because easier. It was just difficult to keep my attention in one place for a long time. It might have just been the boring book though.

I am going to start IF one day a week to cleanse my body out. I don’t feel bad at all.

Thanks for the idea, Frost.

Atticus February 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Mark Just posted another article today related to this very topic.

Keoni Galt February 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

The one thing about IF, is that people who are on the carb-driven, bloodsugar-insulin rollercoaster will simply be unable to get beyond the shaky, sick feeling after not eating for a few hours.

You have to get into a more ketogenic mode before you can IF for an extended period of time.

I do short IF’s all the time, but only try extended ones when I’m in an environment in which the food is crap…like an airplane trip

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