I For Intermittent Fasting

Our (human) evolution, not a (diet) revolution

I started intermittent fasting about 8 months ago. Since then my health graph has been on an upward trend. Never felt better and younger in body and mind. I’d prescribe it to anyone above 35 years, and likely to enter that demographic zone where the body starts to slow down as age seems to catch up. The initial few days will likely be a struggle, especially if you have never tried fasting before. But if you can keep to it, you’ll probably start to realize that mind over body sets in by around day 6 or 7. 

The benefits of fasting have probably been emphasized in all major cultures of the world. Scientists claim that the practice of fasting is in tune with how we, the humans, lived and evolved many millennia ago as hunter gatherers, before the formation of agrarian settlements. If you lived in those pre historic times, you only ate on days when you got food. You almost certainly never ate after sunset since venturing out in the dark is a life risk. You certainly did not have coffee time snacks in between meals. Those practices have definitely influenced how our body adapts to food and starvation to this day. The body is an amazing machine that can conduct and repair itself during starvation. And the mind is key to rediscover a habit, a way of life, we lost many millennia ago.

Now back to the mechanics of how IF can work for you. To be fair, I’ve been on 36 hour fasts (water only) many years before I started on IF. That used to be every fortnight on the 11th day of the lunar phase –i.e. Ekadasi.

So getting started on IF was relatively easier for me. Having said that, here are a few practices that help the process to settle in quickly for you:

  • Get into the zone.
  • Keep the cravings away
  • Not a diet plan
  • Find your support system

Get into the zone

When you are in the eating zone, make sure you enjoy all the foods that you would normally love. Only that it has to be in addition to a lot of fibre in the form of fruits, and at least 2 serving cups of protein (usually one of the many choices of pulses, since I am a vegetarian). My eating time in the day usually starts between 7 and 8 am. It ends at 2:30pm. I start with a heavy breakfast of fruits, protein shake, pulses and some tiffin and coffee. I close with a heavy lunch and some protein for satiety. Peanut butter works as a great post meal source of protein for me. For some, it can be cheese or other such sources. Close to 2:30 pm, I again splurge on sweets, namkeen and such, with a cup of tea. Even ice cream. No restrictions at all.

Once you are in the no food zone (in my case between 2:30pm to 8am the next day), it helps to avoid cravings by getting a few things right. 

  1. A mild to moderate cardio workout is a wonderful, albeit counter intuitive way to beat the hunger pangs. In my case I go for a walk/ run in the evening. Runner’s high trumps hunger pangs because your body gets used to it after 4-5 days, and stops expecting food. It starts generating its own source of blood glucose from glycogen and fat reserves. 
  2. A higher purpose (in my case, Ekadasi fasting is always linked to spiritual advancement, as a loftier goal than just health improvement) that gives your mind the support it needs to tide over the bodily demands for food
  3. Thoughts about the instant benefit you get the next day morning with a recharged digestive system and the ability to splurge on all your favorite foods, all over again

Keep the cravings away

Not a diet plan

Don’t think of this as a diet plan with cheat days. It is, as I said before, a way of life that we have lost long ago. So it is here to stay. If you think you are punishing your body for the sake of health benefit, most likely you will break the IF schedule even before you start on it.

Work with your family and your social circles to help them understand that this is for your good health. In Indian culture especially, rejection of food is seen as giving up on life, being indifferent to hospitality etc., but your true well-wishers will ultimately come around to support your journey to a healthier version of you, which is what IF is all about

Find your support system

Intermittent Fasting can be done at various intensities.
You can slowly ease in starting with 12 hr fasts






There have been some amazing benefits I have seen for myself through this practice. Here are a few:

  1. Weight loss and waistline shrinkage. Yes, unlike other diet or exercise plans, IF when combined with moderate cardio can accelerate your waistline shrinkage first, because your body is set up to eat up glycogen reserves near the liver area first!
  2. I really enjoy and savour my food more than ever before. Because I look forward to it
  3. My health parameters – sugar levels, blood pressure are all normal. My immunity levels have gone up. I have started splurging on citrus fruits and ice cream regularly now. These foods used to be taboo for me only 8 months ago, for the fear of catching a sore throat or cold. I walk in the rain, and come back home without even a sneeze
  4. My mood is more in my control. Loss of visceral fat after age 38 is also linked to better hormonal control, and in my case I feel it in my head because I feel more confident and happy in general about life. This is a great boost to mental health
  5. It is a great topic of discussion in social settings, and it feels satisfying if you inspire someone else to follow this and have them reap the benefit for themselves

Lastly, do not fear IF, if you are prone to acidity. Acidity does not stem from fasting, but it stems from what you eat before fasting. Consult a doctor or dietician if you suffer from chronic acidity, or diabetes and other such illnesses before starting on the journey

Good luck and if you find it working for you, make sure you inspire someone else to follow!