Finance Stoic 21 – Intermittent fasting for physical and financial health

When children stick their hand down a narrow goody jar they can’t get their full fist out and start crying. Drop a few treats and you will get it out! Curb your desire – don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.

Epictetus, Discourses, 3.9.22

Today’s question was how often do I question things others take for granted? 

While I wouldn’t say that I am a contrarian, I do like to question things and truly understand why things are the way they are. Further, I don’t want to understand things superficially, I want to understand things on a deeper level, to the root cause, which is where one might use the Five Whys.

Because of this, I would suggest that I often question things others take for granted, as do most people in the FIRE community.

I can’t save 40% or more of my salary? Why not?

I can’t retire at 45? Why not? That’s actually quite old by FIRE standards!

Where I have historically disagreed with a lot of people is with respect to diet and this has led me to personally try a lot of different things over time, for example:

  1. Raw
  2. Paleo
  3. Vegetarian
  4. Juice cleanses
  5. Intermittent fasting

Family and friends often say what diet are you on now? While one might get tired of hearing that from people, I believe you have to do your own research to understand how your body reacts to things and review the ever changing nutrition science.

Historically, you needed to eat three square meals per day, which evolved to the idea of six smaller meals throughout the day. This one never stuck with me and never felt good, I felt full 100% of the day, which did not seem right.

Currently, I am pursuing intermittent fasting, which according to some scientists has significant health benefits, including life extension. While intermittent fasting would make it appear there is a specific diet, there are actually many different methods of intermittent fasting.

The 16 : 8 method

This is what I do for most days.

You fast for 16 hours, for example: 8:00 in the evening until noon the next day. You then eat during an 8 hour window, from noon to 8:00 in this example.

On the off hours, you are allowed to drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages.

Regardless of the method you choose, whenever you are in your eat window, you would generally want to eat in a healthy way. It does not necessarily benefit you if during your eat window you have two super-sized big mac combos.

Further, many of the followers of intermittent fasting also mix the fasting with a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, high in protein and ultra-low in carbohydrates.

The 5 : 2 diet

For five days of the week you would eat as you normally do [see notes in the 16 – 8 method].

For two days of the week, you would eat approximately 500 calories per day for women and 600 calories per day for men.

Eat : Stop : Eat

The Eat : Stop : Eat diet is quite similar to the 5 : 2 diet, with some slight differences.

In the Eat : Stop : Eat diet, for two days of the week, you don’t eat for 24 hours.

For example, you would eat dinner at 8:00 in the evening on Monday and then you would not eat again until 8:00 in the evening on Tuesday.

For this to work as a weight loss method, you must remember to eat in a healthy manner during the eat windows, as discussed in the 16 : 8 diet.

Alternate day fasting

In alternate day fasting, you would fast every other day and could eat up to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men during your fast days.

The Warrior Diet

For the warrior diet you would fast for the entire day and only eat one large meal in the evening.

This diet was quite popular with General Stanley McChrystal.

Working with my naturopath, I am doing a variant of the diets above.

Specifically, Tuesday to Friday I do the 16 : 8 diet.

Saturday is my cheat day, though I only do an eight hour eat window.

Sundays, I do a 16 : 8 diet and from Sunday evening to Monday evening, I do not eat.

Additionally, I am going to be exploring block fasting for three day increments, starting the first Monday of each month.

Above we discussed that intermittent fasting can have benefits for your health.

In prior posts, we discussed that your physical health can benefit your financial health, so not only will my physical health improve via intermittent fasting, but I may also improve my financial health.

Wait, that’s not it. I have a confession to make. Since grade five, I have been purchasing lunch roughly 99% of the time. Additionally, I often purchase breakfast and dinner.

If we assume that I spend $5 on breakfast, $10 on lunch and $15 on dinner [not a stretch]. Let’s do the math on what my savings on this new diet would be:

  1. No breakfast x 7 days = $35 per week [$140 per month]
  2. No lunch on x 1 day = $10 per week [$40 per month]
  3. 3 day fasting block 1 x per month [$90 per month]

By doing the diet I have outlined above, I will save approximately $270 per month, which is $3,240 per year.

Until next time,

Finance Stoic

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