Stepping Into the Ring With Mike Tyson

Read time: 90 seconds

Those who practice intermittent fasting knows that it’s easy to just stop eating during a predetermined fasting period.

But it’s a different story during the feeding period. The act of eating can be a locomotive that won’t stop. Halfway through you consult with your stomach to see if hunger is still there; often you are aware that hunger is completely diminished, but you keep eating.

Sometimes stopping the act of eating is like stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson.

I have been IF’ng for over a year and I still struggle to stop myself from eating. Often I can cold-cock the beast and end the fight, but other times he pummels me silly. Relentless eating wins the fight.

But you know what, I’m OK with that. Because I know that, even if I don’t stop eating during a (shorter) feed window, I will still most likely eat fewer calories at the end of the day, or at the end of the week. It’s generally the nature of an intermittent fasting lifestyle. And eating fewer calories is the key to losing fat and keeping it off.

But I can tell you this: the more you recognize that you’re up against the beast and do your best to throw some punches, the easier you’ll get at landing a good punch and end the fight. In other words, keep fighting the good fight: you have to keep consulting with your stomach to see if hunger is still there, and try your best to just stop eating. With some effort, you’ll often be able to take out the beast sooner. You’ll be able to walk away from a meal when you’re full. 

But I’ll tell you now: I still struggle with stopping the act of eating. For many people like myself, self-control is a myth, and will power is often limited. But, with intermittent fasting, gorging at a meal often still nets you fewer calories than if you had eaten 3 square meals and 2 or 3 snacks in between. And, with motivation, time, and effort, you’ll get better at stopping the act of eating the moment you’re full.

Even Mike Tyson has a glass jaw.

What has been your experience with eating after a short fasting period? 

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14 Responses to Stepping Into the Ring With Mike Tyson

  1. Hi Johnny,

    Just wanted to drop you a note that I came across your blog a week or so ago, read all your articles but took awhile longer before I could mentally commit to intermittent fasting (though all your reasoning made a very strong case for it).

    Well, I finally started IF today… Had nothing to eat since last night’s last meal, and will be break fast soon in less than half an hour. 16 hours, to begin with, then to adjust accordingly depending on how my body reacts to it.

    But you are right. Other than a mild feeling of hunger pangs (and very little at that), I feel perfectly fine. 🙂

    Will report back on my eating experience, post-fast. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mark says:

    Hey Johnny,
    I hear you here, that’s why I started counting calories while IF’ing. I don’t work out a lot (not more than 1 or 2 days a week) as I’d rather relax with my wife at night. I can usually lift some on the weekend when I have more time. As I’m trying to lean down to where you are, I’m currently at about 18% I’d guess, I figured I might as well be more prudent and keep track. I don’t plan on keeping this up forever, just until I lean out to where I am happy. I’m trying real hard to keep it simple by avoiding the common methods: macro-nutrient ratios, minimum protein amounts, high vs. low GI carbs, etc. I just try to avoid excess sugars and refined veggie oils. I don’t eat much wheat but I won’t turn down a burrito wrap at Chipotle (better than their chips in my mind). To make things a little more sociable, I’m eating lower calories during the week (about 2,000 at 210 lbs) and then on the weekends I up it a little to between 2,500 and 2,750. Overall I’m hoping that I can have success like you by just controlling how much I eat without a lot of exercise (I love exercise but I just don’t want to sacrifice family time to fit it in). I did a lot of lifting through high school and college (it wasn’t too long ago, I’m 26 y.o.) so I have enough muscle and strength, now I just need to make it visible. Please let me know if you see any holes in my approach. Thanks for your blog, your story really gives me confidence that I can do this while working over 70 hours a week and not working out much, while eating some fun stuff but not too much of it.


  3. Darin W says:

    Hi Johnny,

    First thing, I love your blog. It’s right up there for me with Mark’s Daily Apple and PaNu. Thanks for posting.

    Eating after a fast is a great topic. I have a different take though. Like you, I have short feeding windows, usually between 12 and 6 each day, with one 24 hour fast each week. I workout right before eating lunch. I eat a modified paleo diet – I include cream, butter, and cheese – although I’ve reduced my cheese intake substantially over the past couple of weeks. I almost always have an ounce or two of dark chocolate (I get the Pound Plus from Trader Joe’s) each day, and don’t eat much fruit unless it’s berries. In other words, I eat mostly meat and veggies, and complement my meals with those other things.

    Because I’m eating such quality food, I don’t really worry about “stopping the locomotive”. Since I’ve been IFing for more than a year now, as long as I’m eating quality food I don’t really worry about overeating. Sometimes I have a large lunch, and I won’t each much dinner, or I’ll have a large dinner and I’ll have a lighter lunch the next day or skip all together. It could just be my metabolism, but if I have a particularly large meal, I don’t feel the need to eat for a long period after, sometimes up to 24 hours.

    I’ve been following my diet more strictly for the past month, and I’ve lost an inch and a half around my waist, and I think I’ll be able to lose another 1.5 inches.

    But I eat with joy because I know it’s quality food, and I can’t possibly get fat eating this way combined with IFing. I used to eat 3 to 5 meals a day, now I eat two or sometimes one a day.

    To me the value of Paleo or Primal or PaNu is eating to stuffed-ness (at least for me) without worrying about overeating. I let the hormonal triggers do the hard work of will power and discipline for me.

  4. Jordan says:

    As someone who’s eating a low-cal diet in order to lose weight, if I depended on a feeling of satiety to tell me when to stop eating, I’d be in trouble. I still get full during and after dinner, but not all of the time. And during the day, when I have a small meal or snack, I’ll have a small amount of food and then stop, period, regardless of whether I’m full or not. I still go in the kitchen and eat a little bit more after dinner, but it’s usually just a couple of ounces of juice, a couple of bites of something, etc. So satiety isn’t really a strategy for me right now. I’m not seeking it, or trying to avoid it. I just eat the amount of food I think I should, regardless.

    Of course, Johnny, you’re already lean and maintaining your weight, whereas I still have another 50-60 pounds to lose! So I have to be much more strict. People have to adjust their diet to fit their goals. I suspect that IF will be awesome for weight maintenance. Eat moderately, don’t eat, eat moderately, don’t eat, eat too much, don’t eat, etc. It looks like a good balance. I can’t wait to get to maintenance so I can try it! But until then, I want aggressive calorie reduction almost every day. And I want to lose the weight as quickly as possible. I’m just not patient enough to put up with a lot of binges right now! 🙂

  5. Jake Stabbs says:

    Glad to know that someone as “together” as you still struggle with eating. I went from over 15% body fat to under 10% and maintained this condition for over 3 years, and I STILL struggle with knowing when to stop eating.

    I think the commercial food industry will always work against us, which is why it will be a permanent battle for us to keep control of our eating — even if in degrees. You’re right though, Johnny, it does get easier, but you can never let your guard down.

    This is one of the top blogs I visit. You keep it simple. Thanks!


  6. Chris says:

    Johnny, I can’t tell you how timely this post is and how much I appreciate it. I’ve recently started reading about and practicing eating on only three meals a day (big reduction for me) and enjoying spending a few hours at a time in the post-absorptive state. It’s given me a new sense of freedom. Today, I’ve waited till 3pm to have lunch/dinner and unfortunately the food train kept going – I think I’m over about 500 kcal over. As I started beating up on myself I came across your latest post. Thank you very much for sharing your experience here.

    Keep up the great work.

  7. This post begs the question about what exactly you are breaking the fast with. A common mistake, for those struggling with hunger issues, is not including enough veggies and protein.

    Another common mistake is including certain foods that seems to stimulate hunger in some individuals; refined grains is an obvious culprit, but also dairy products to some extent. These needs to be balanced with ample bulk foods for proper satiety.

    • Johnny says:

      Agreed, Martin.

      In previous posts I’ve recommended eating mostly whole, fibrous-based food over refined and sugary foods, and (as you alluded to) there’s no other time this balance is more important than in the meal that breaks the fast, or throughout the entire feed window for many.

      Cravings and satiety are complex processes based on psychology, habits, and hormones, but I believe the most immediate control we have over them is through our selection of food quality. The manipulation of hormones and the sheer bulk of whole foods help in the avoidance of extra caloric intake, even in an IF lifestyle.

      But in the end, eating less of foods that appear to stimulate appetite and more of those that enhance satiety is a practice in psychology for many, myself included. I believe the key is being responsible for a dietary balance that favors appetite control and lower caloric intake (if fat loss is the goal), while still enjoying life.


  8. Jordan says:

    After feeling like the paragon of discipline for the first 3+ weeks of my diet, I’ve been a little more out of control for the last 4-5 days. Nobody’s perfect. We all have to make adjustments. But I’m not depressed. I feel really good about making a fresh start today. Press the reset button.

    • Johnny says:

      Excellent, Jordan. I’ve always regarded the Reset Button a dieter’s best friend.

      Just don’t rely on it too often.


  9. Jordan says:

    Absolutely. As of today, I’m exactly one month into the strict phase of my diet. (I lost several pounds from November to mid-February, but it was very slow.) That’s a decent period of time before a reset, especially given that this is the first time I’ve dieted strictly in a very long time. Now it’s time to do even better this month, and the next! 🙂

  10. Marc says:

    Hi Johnny,
    Thanks for all your great posts.

    Gave you a shout out today on my blog.
    Did you sign up at Diane H. new site?

    Enjoy the Sunday.

  11. Johnny says:

    Marc, thanks for the link love, my friend! I’ve visited your blog before and have found a lot of inspiration for great meals!

    And I absolutely love the name of the blog.

    I will sign up at Modern Paleo — it looks interesting. Thanks for the heads up.


  12. Louis says:

    This blog update is totally inspirational and motivational to work hard at maintaining relative good health. The hard work of eating well, doing quality exercises, and have plenty of rest for good health to me is the most valuable hard work ever…and admittingly, the work becomes less hard and even becomes more enjoyable over time, actually. Now it’s [IF’ing, new food, exercise, etc] not like stepping in the ring to fight anymore, it’s more like stepping into sandbox or a playground to have a new fun.

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