Eating Habits During Quarantine

While we all hunker down during these unusual times and eating out is not an option, we all must adapt to completely eating at home. This has many positive aspects, like eating all fresh foods, trying new recipes and saving money. There is one caveat, however, snacking. Though we may have less activities, we might be eating more. 

I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to work on your eating habits. This is a perfect time to work on self-discipline when controlling eating habits. Though intermittent fasting (IF) is not for everyone due to work schedules, it has worked really well for me and I want to share it. There are so many ways to diet and practice mindful eating habits, and this could be the right one for you. 

Over the last two years I have transitioned to an intermittent eating regimen. Of the many benefits of this regimen, I have found intermittent fasting to be a great way to control hunger cravings, retain more mid-day energy, and eat less overall. This regimen of Intermittent fasting simply put is cutting down your eating time to roughly an 8 hour period.  If you eat dinner at 7 pm, then lunch again the next day around noon, then dinner again around 7pm, you have fasted for roughly 14-16 hours.  

So let’s talk IF and what is actually happening to your body. For a visual reference, look up the YouTube Channel “What I’ve Learned”, they cover the science behind IF. Here is my short review for you.

The two most important words are glucose and glycogen. Glucose is our main source of energy and glycogen is a long chain of stored glucose. Glycogen is stored in the liver and in muscles. When we eat during the day, we use some glucose and, simply, store what we aren’t using. Over night, we begin to burn up remaining  glycogen stores. If you eat right when you get up, you never fully deplete these glycogen stores. On the IF regimen, you will use up all ready glycogen stores in the morning and soon go into ketosis, the process of burning up fat as energy (like the keto diet). Fat stores can be a very good source of energy, however with the typical American (Western) diet of processed foods high in simple carbohydrates, we truly never get to the “fat burning” mode.  By skipping breakfast, you will naturally use up your glycogen and move into ketosis. The Keto diet is trying to do the same thing by only eating fats and proteins (which in turn doesn’t turn on your insulin pump, a whole other discussion.  Insulin if released into your system will turn on the glucose energy system and suppress ketosis).IF gets you to the same point, just in a different fashion. If you skip your early morning meal which often is a simple carb loaded breakfast such as muffin, bagel or cereal,  you will soon move into ketosis. Many people who get to this point daily will lose weight slowly over time. Myself, I may have lost a couple of pounds, however my energy level is better throughout the day and my workouts have been more productive.  

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, hunger. Many people who try IF say they get too hungry and can’t manage the 14-16 hour window without eating.  Our hunger cravings are due mostly to hormones released to control hunger and “fullness” sensations. Every morning around 7-8am, people’s bodies’ on the “western diet,” have been programmed to release a hormone- (ghrelin) that tells you that signals your brain that you are hungry and should eat something. However, the hormone levels (ghrelin) will taper off in 20-30 minutes and the sensation of hunger will go away. This is important to understand that you really aren’t starving, and you won’t pass out due to hunger or low blood sugar. Knowing this, will make it easier to manage IF. It will become easier to learn to control cravings and eat a bit less. 

I get to work every morning around 6 or 7, a bit after I feel hungry, which passes in 15 minutes. I get home around noon or 1, make a healthy lunch, here I just went roughly 15 hours without eating.  I spent a few hours in ketosis, had a great workout and didn’t pass out or “die” due to hunger. Don’t forget, however, you still have to practice mindful eating habits! Please feel free to message me to discuss if this is something that interests you.