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5 tips for Intermittent Fasting while using CGM

Science-backed tips & personal anecdotes for intermittent fasting from a medical professional on the Veri team.

This post is authored by a member of our team whose eating habits center on intermittent fasting. Since adding Veri to his everyday routine, he’s been able to learn more about how his body processes food, why intermittent fasting works for him, and how to feel his best. Below, he shares what he’s learned through this experience + the additional insights continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) has provided him.

I come from a family of people with diabetes. I had a BMI 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 eventually landed on 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. (Note: Here’s more about how intermittent fasting works + some of its benefits.) 

I'd like to share 5 tips that I've learned over my intermittent fasting period (with help from the insights I’ve learned from Veri).

1. Water is your best friend

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. Your mileage may vary, but even if you don't drink as much water as I do, I recommend having it at the ready.

Veri note: Some hydration options that won’t break your fast include: water, lemon water, unsweetened flavored seltzer water, and unsweetened tea

2. Your productivity hours may change

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.

I have been a morning person all my life and usually wake up around 5 a.m. to try and get things done. However, since starting intermittent fasting, 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 8 a.m. 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.

3. It’s okay not to fast “perfectly”

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

One day, I was following my diet as per usual and finished my "dinner" at 3:00 p.m.. However, it was a busy day with meetings lined up for 6 hours straight. By the time it was time to go to bed at 9:00 p.m, I felt 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 mold my diet around the day.

4. Adjust your diet as needed

Intermittent fasting is not a long-term, one-stop solution. Our body is a marvelous 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 mold my diet accordingly.

5. Listen to your body

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 (8 a.m. 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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