My Experience Fasting During Busy Times at Work
Fasting During Move-In
Recently, I continued my on-going self experiment with fasting by trying some multi-day and intermittent fasting during my busiest time at work, Move-In! Move-In for Residential Life at a College or University means long hours, and often times physical work, and time on your feet. It is a very rewarding experience when executed correctly, since a great experience is delivered to students and families as they move-in to their home away from home for the year. Most likely, your job or occupation has a season similar to move-in.
The main reason I decided to give longer fasting a try during move-in was convenience, and energy management. Longer hours during move-in can create many challenges, one of them being less time for basic necessities such as meal planning and prep. One meal a day (or longer) fasts eliminate the need for prepping and packing meals for your extended work deal.
Preparing for the Fast
The busiest time of move-in was between a Wednesday and Sunday, so the fasting was lined up within this date range. I made sure that I had plenty of wholesome food options for dinner at home, that required little prep time to create a meal. Other preparation steps I took were related to hydration. I made sure that I had packets of an electrolyte drink for work, which contains some stevia but no sugar. The electrolyte drinks were to help me stay hydrated and assure proper sodium intake, given I would not be eating during the day. *If you are striving for a water only fast, you’d need to hold the stevia.
Drink Options During Fast
Beverages I allowed myself during fasting windows included:
- Green Tea
- Electrolyte Drinks
- Black Coffee
Food Options During Eating Windows
My meals during times I was eating for move-in mostly consisted of the following groups:
- Fruit (Avocado mostly)
I did my best to significantly limit any grains or processed foods during the eating time frames.
Fasting and Eating Windows
Here is the day by day breakdown of fasting vs eating, Wednesday-Sunday during move in. The work day range in this time frame was 11-13 hours.
Wednesday: 22 hour fast, meal around 6 pm
Thursday: No meals, 24 hour fast, continued in to Friday
Friday: Meal around 7:30 pm, around 48 hours total fast
Saturday: 22 hour fast, meal around 6 pm
Sunday: 22 hour fast, meal around 6 pm
I found that the days I had one meal per day, I had a very easy time managing my energy even with long hours at work. Since I was constantly busy, I did not experience any hunger at work, and did my best to stay hydrated. Additionally, I did not experience any feelings of hunger going to bed with no meal on Thursday. It was a particularly long, hot work day with physical work, and I was more focused on hydration and my work than feeling I needed a meal.
I did break my 48 hour fast on Friday, after another long, hot day of working outside. At that time, my body was telling me it was time for a meal. I think the combination of energy expenditure, potential for stress at work, and less sleep made continuing the fast beyond 48 hours less sustainable at that time. However, I was very impressed that I was able to maintain my energy levels with a multi-day fast, despite all the factors mentioned above.
Top Fasting Tips
Please note, what I have been doing is not a zero to hero guide to fasting. I have been doing my own experiments with intermittent fasting for over a year at this point, and I would not have been successful if I started by doing a multi-day fast during move in. If you want to start at the beginning, do some research on fasting protocols, and maybe try this:
- Stop eating at 6 pm, have only water after 6 pm.
- Do not eat a meal until 6 am the next morning, have only water or black coffee if you are up early.
- You have just fasted 12 hours!
This may seem basic, but late night snacks, and caloric beverages at night will break your intermittent fasting. What has worked for me is to try the approach above, and continue to push out the time of day to eat my first meal, while staying hydrated. Hydration (with water), and sometimes supplementing salt can be very important to success in this area. For more information about fasting, google search Dr. Jason Fung.
Be mindful of your overall stress load during times you are fasting. Fasting by nature is a hermetic stressor, and combining fasting with other stressors (work stress, lack of sleep, physical work/exercise, emotional stress) may diminish the potential benefits of your fast.
Assuring hydration and proper sodium intake has also been very helpful for me on my fasting journey. If you are fasting, you need to find ways to get sodium into liquids, such as what I did with the electrolyte drinks this week. Lack of proper hydration and sodium intake can actually create hunger signals within your body, which can make fasting a real drag.
When you are fasting, make sure you are eating wholesome, nutrient dense food during windows of time when you eat. Just by the nature of eating less often, you will be consuming less food when you are intermittent fasting. When you do consume food and break your fast, you want to avoid foods containing:
- Refined Sugar
- Refined/Processed Grain
- Processed Seed Oils (vegetable oil etc.)
Eliminating foods with the above ingredients will leave you with nutrient dense options such as meats, vegetables, fruit, dairy, whole grains. Breaking your fast with chips, pizza, and beer is very likely to diminish any potential benefits, and leave you feeling even worse. Foods with ingredients above in addition to being less nutrient dense, tend to be less satiating (satiety is the feeling of being full).
Based on my experience, I plan to use fasting as a tool during busy times more often. I am very interested in a longer multi-day fast, but probably would not do so during my busiest time of the year based on the stress factor mentioned above. I hope this helps, happy fasting everyone!