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5 tips for Intermittent Fasting while using CGM

A new member of our team got his first taste of the Veri Stable experience. A medical intern by profession, he spends juggling work at the hospital,  running his own company and teaching, all while trying to be healthy. In this post, we hand the reins to him to share his experience as a newly minted member of the Veri family.

I come from a family of diabetics. I had a BMI (link) of 35 when I was 18 and led an unhealthy lifestyle in general. However, once I entered medical school, I changed my habits, began working out and ate healthy. I have tried low carb diet, carb cycling, ketogenic diet etc and had been doing intermittent fasting for about four months when I read about Veri. The 14-day Metabolic Health Program gave me a lot of insights about my own body, food habits and most importantly, with regard to intermittent fasting. I'd like to share 5 tips that I've learned over my intermittent fasting period.

What is intermittent fasting

In layman’s terms, intermittent fasting is simply a pattern of eating. It’s not a diet plan, it’s just a conscious decision to skip meals, like breakfast, on purpose. You would “intermittently” eat during a short time window of the day and “fast” for the rest of the day. For example, I typically skip breakfast and eat my first meal around 8 am and freely eat till 4 pm that evening. After 4 pm, I purposely don’t eat till 8 am the next day. This type of intermittent fasting is called the ‘16/8’ fasting because you don’t eat for 16 hours of the day and only eat during a specific 8-hour window.

Water is your best friend

The initial days of intermittent fasting will be tough. You'll be hungry all the time, probably cranky and forever hungry. Don't worry, that's normal. Once the body adjusts to the new routine (3-5 days), you'll be able to "unlock" a new level of performance within yourself.However, prolonged periods of fasting can be taxing if not done right. I am someone who drinks a lot of water in general, but ever since I began intermittent fasting, I drink an incredible amount. I'm usually over 8 glasses for the day by the time I get done with lunch. The water tricks your brain into feeling sated and more importantly, keeps you hydrated. You mileage may vary, but even if you don't drink as much water as I do, I recommend having it at the ready.

Fasting= Yoda Mode Activated

I'm most productive during the first 3 hours of my morning, which is about 12 to 15 hours into my daily fast. This is the exact opposite of what I expected when I started out. I assumed that if I didn't eat for hours, then I wouldn't have any energy to think. The reality is just the opposite.  -James Clear

I have been a morning person all my life and usually wake up around 5am to try and get things done. However, the past few weeks, I have noticed an increase in my focus and less mental fog in general.  I can't say for certain if this is due to the fasting or the fact that my blood sugar levels are very stable all night, but one thing is clear: fasting is not hindering my ability to get things done in the morning.

In fact, I think I'm more efficient in the morning when I'm fasted than in the afternoon when I'm fed. During my fasting window, up till 8am on most days, I get a lot more work done than before. Once I break my fast with the first meal, the influx of calories somehow causes me to lose focus and feel lethargic. Therefore, I eat a relatively balanced and light breakfast and use Veri to keep my blood sugar levels in check.

It's okay to not be perfect

During the first two weeks of my fast I was rigid on when to eat and would try to mould my day around my diet. Thankfully, upon being advice by a mentor I realized that I should to stop worrying about being perfect and enjoy life, regardless of progress towards my weight and fitness goals. Veri helped me further tune this to finally understand that the whole idea of this fast is to cultivate discipline, listen to your own body.

Being a doctor I still don't have a very good understanding of my body. On a mid-june wednesday afternoon I was following my diet as per usual and finished my "dinner" at 15:00. However, it was a busy day with meetings lined up for 6 hours straight. By the time it was time to go to bed (21:00), I felt myself extremely irritable and tired. I checked my blood sugar levels using Veri and saw that it was dropping fast.

Though it meant breaking my fast, I grabbed a snack and my blood sugar climbed up within range. This was a wake-up call and thanks to this insight, I now mould my diet around the day.

Expect it to slow down

Intermittent Fasting, just like any other diet is not a long term, one-stop solution. I have observed muscle growth during the months of intermittent fasting and have been lately using the same diet to cut down on my body fat percentage.

Our body is a marvellous machine and years of evolution have poised us to adapt very quickly. Therefore repetitive dietary habits are bound to plateau your progress. Switching between meals with different carbohydrate density and glycemic index is advisable in order to ensure steady and continuous progress.

I personally switch between high and low carb days depending on my exercise regime and having a bird's eye view on my blood glucose levels help me be conscious of the needs of my body and mould my diet accordingly.

Listen to your body

In most ways, your body is the same as everyone else’s. But in some very important ways, it’s also different than everyone else’s. To find the diet that works best for you, you need to experiment and see what your body responds to. This is why I enjoy intermittent fasting. You can play with your eating schedule very easily. Choose one that fits your lifestyle and that your body responds to. Once you figure out when you should be eating, then you can move on to the harder part: what you should be eating.As always, your mileage will vary, but the most important thing is that you're covering ground and moving forward.

This is why it’s so important to listen to your body, instead of sticking to a fixed regimen. I’ve noticed that there’s a sweet spot every day—a time period to stop your fasting window (8am for me). If you break your fast too early, you’ll miss out the energy that could’ve been used to get more work done. If you break your fast too late, you’ll start to get agitated and lose focus during the day.

Every day is different, so make sure to experiment and find what works for you.

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