Intermittent fasting (also said IF by the busy people) is gaining more and more traction as an approach to eating and dieting. You can clearly see this on YouTube, where doctors, practitioners, trainers, body builders and people trying to have a healthy lifestyle document and discuss its benefits. The principle of intermittent fasting is simple: you reduce the time window in which you allow yourself to eat. The most common approach is to eat for 8 hours and then fast for 16 hours. This basically means that you either skip breakfast (and your morning snack eventually) or that you skip dinner (and your afternoon snack).
Intermittent fasting, as many doctors argue, is opposed to calories restriction. According to the IF-aficionados, calories restriction is not a successful long-term strategy for weight loss. This is because eating not so much at every meal keeps us hungry, which slows down our metabolism so that we ultimately need less calories to function. By only restricting the eating time window and not calories, intermittent fasting promises not to slow down the metabolism. On the contrary, it makes us lose fat during the fasting time, for no insulin spikes will occur. Of course, for every single peer-reviewed paper supporting intermittent fasting, there is another one that argues the opposite: weight loss happens because, by restricting your eating time, you’ll accidentally restrict your calories intake too.
Yep, nutrition researchers break the laws of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle and, despite that, their findings are called Nutrition Science. I know, I know, that puzzled me too. This is frustrating not just for the people who want to lose weight, but also for the people who instead must follow those laws in order to have a PhD in their field. However, as the title says, this blog post is about the benefits of intermittent fasting besides weight loss. Because of course I tried intermittent fasting and gained considerable insight about it! You’ll know by now that I’m the perfect target for this type of YouTube videos and content as I’m always searching for new ways to improve/transform my life (aka, make it more difficult). So please enjoy the four (secondary) benefits of intermittent fasting, especially those entailed by the arrangement where you skip dinner.
It advances society. Apparently, cooking and fire mastery had an important role in making us evolve from chimps to humans. Cooking food enabled us to eat enough calories in a shorter period of time. All of a sudden, not having to chew every awaken hour allowed us to engage in other activities, which lead to the society we live in today. And I know, I know that what we have built is a deep flawed society. A patriarchal one, with steep hierarchies created by a bunch of sexist white males, who then put themselves at the top of them. An evil society based on the exploitation of Mother Nature through technology to create goods to sell. But that’s why intermittent fasting is important. Not having to plan for what to eat, go grocery shopping, rush home and then cook dinner will finally free up time and energy to engage in more meaningful activities that will really make society better. Imagine how we could advance society if we used our brain, instead, to find solutions to today’s most pernicious problems. Poverty, diseases, the right not to be offended and poor taste in clothing would disappear in matter of months. For instance, if enough people did intermittent fasting, we might find out what was that triggering factor that caused the society we live in, reverse-engineer it and eventually go back to being chimps on trees and instantly solve climate change!
It deepens your friendships. Friends are treasures and the time we spend with them is always too little. Intermittent fasting can help you find more time to spend with them. Depending on the situation, spending time with a friend often means to schedule a call with her after work. Ah no wait, she won’t have time because she’ll be busy dealing with dinner! No problem, schedule the call for AFTER dinner. Meanwhile, apply your nail polish and let it dry (10 min), while you’re having a facial mask on (20 min), while you’re having a hair mask on (45 min), while listening to some cool podcasts (80 min), while your friend is dealing with dinner (120+ min). You’ll still have time to take a long reinvigorating shower, moisture your skin and THEN, pampered and relaxed, call your friend. She will miss your call, then text you that she needs 10 more minutes to finish scrubbing the pan. You show compassion by responding back that that’s no problem and that she should take her time. Finally you call and update each other on the latest news, meaning that your friend complains for how tired she is. And because you’re friends, you help her by dispensing some great advice about productivity (“less is more”). You also sneak into the conversation some cutting-edge thoughts about life that you borrowed from the podcast you just listened to and get thanked by her for the shift in perspective you provided. You’ll also get a boost in serotonin when at the end of the call she’ll ask you: “How can you always be on top of things and do it all?”. You go to bed, knowing that, meanwhile, your friend won’t be able to sleep and wonder all night what the heck she did wrong in her life. Ah, friendship!
It makes your days last shorter. Picture this: you’re either depressed or burnt out. You wake up in the morning tired and hoping it was evening already. You drag yourself to work. You put a lot of effort in what you have to do but somehow you don’t manage to accomplish nothing at the end of the day. Like it was at the end of the previous day and the day before that too. Then you go to the gym… and then it’s over! No need to go grocery shopping, no need to cook, no need to wash pans, pots and dishes, no need to digest. You can directly go to bed and fall asleep. Trust me, there are are lot of YouTube videos out there saying that intermittent fasting will help you fight depression. So expect to be back to normal soon!
It reduces the housework gender gap. I have read many articles that discussed how women are still doing most of the house chores, no matter who earns more in the household. If, on top of that, you’re also a highly functional and hyper organised woman that thinks that bread&cheese is not a proper dinner, then intermittent fasting can definitely help you reduce (at least) food-related chores and your overall frustration. This is what I did last year when my ex-boyfriend and I were considering to end our long-distance relationship and move in together. And this is honestly the real reason why I started doing intermittent fasting: not to crumble under the (self-imposed) expectation of having to think and plan for a proper dinner for two people almost every night. Instead, thanks to intermittent fasting, he would eat his regular bread&cheese every.single.night and I would passively-aggressively stare at him feeling proud that his life didn’t upgrade at all because of me. That was the plan. Instead, we broke up and now I’m back to planning for dinner, going grocery shopping, rushing home, cooking, washing the dishes… but at least nobody else benefits from it!
There you have them: four reasons to embark on intermittent fasting that are so great it is worth doing it even if it would made you gain weight. If you know about other pros, please leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Breaking Thirty Newsletter for more tips about how to survive life.