Health & Nutrition

30 Days of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular health trends over the past few years. Both scientific research and anecdotal evidence suggests that fasting has major benefits for the body and mind. 

I’ve been curious about intermittent fasting for a while, and after reading several articles and watching a plethora of videos about its benefits, I wanted to put it to the test to see if it could work for me.

Before my experiment, I decided to interview a medical doctor and fasting expert named Dr. Jason Fung, to learn more about the science and research on intermittent fasting.

Dr. Fung is the medical director of The Fasting Method, and uses fasting and intermittent fasting protocols to help his patients reverse Type 2 Diabetes, lose weight, and overcome other health issues. 

First, Dr. Fung cleared up some of the misconceptions about fasting.

“When you’re fasting, you are not actually shutting down your body,” he clarified. “Your body is actually pumping you full of energy.”

Dr. Fung explained that intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. Intermittent fasting does not restrict the types of foods you can eat or the amount of calories you can consume, it simply restricts the times of day that you eat.

Generally, an intermittent fasting period is anywhere from 12-16 hours, but can also be practiced for longer periods of time. Fasts that are 24 hours or more have also been shown to have massive benefits, because of a process called autophagy, where old damaged cells die and new, healthier cells reform. 

Dr. Fung explained that when we fast, our insulin levels decrease and we get a surge of counter-regulatory hormones including growth hormone.

“Everyone thinks that if you fast you are going to lose muscle,” he said. “That’s actually not true because growth hormone increases during fasting. When you start to eat again, your body will start to build proteins at a higher and more efficient rate.”

My 30-day experiment

I had already tried intermittent fasting for one week previously with my friend Eduardo for another video, so this time I wanted to try intermittent fasting for a longer period of time to really measure how it would affect my mind and my body. 

I want to make it clear that intermittent fasting is not about starving yourself. It’s a scientifically proven method that has helped many people with various health issues. Although intermittent fasting can definitely help with weight loss, it has also been shown to have several other benefits, including more cognitive clarity and focus. For me, I wasn’t necessarily looking to lose weight, but I was curious to see if intermittent fasting could help me increase productivity and overall energy. 

Week 1 

Going into this experiment, I was definitely a little nervous about how my body would react. I tend to get really hungry, especially on days when I workout, so I had to gear myself up mentally to take on this challenge.

I decided to stick to a 14-hour fasting period, which means I would have a 10-hour window where I could eat during the day. It’s very common for people to skip breakfast when they intermittent fast, but that doesn’t always work for me. Sometimes, I don’t feel hungry for breakfast, but since I like to workout in the morning, I needed to make sure I was eating afterwards to replenish and refuel.

I decided the best strategy for me would be to stop eating earlier in the evening around 5 or 6 pm, so I could hit an early workout and then eat breakfast afterwards around 8 am. Although it was a little tough not eating at night, I felt like this really improved my sleep and I woke up feeling way more refreshed and energized.

Week 2

One challenge with intermittent fasting is the additional time and effort it takes to schedule meals around the fasting period. My day-to-day schedule is never the same, so I had to be extra deliberate about when I was eating and what kind of food I was consuming to make sure I was satiated enough.

Although I was starting to get used to my new eating schedule after the first two weeks, the thought of keeping it up for another two weeks was a bit daunting. 

Week 3

During this week I definitely ran into some challenges. One day I went to hot yoga in the morning but had to wait another two hours afterwards to eat and found myself feeling really hungry and depleted. 

Socially, I also found this challenge a bit difficult,  because if I wanted to go out to eat with friends in the evening, I would have to wait even longer to eat the next day.

Week 4

By the end of this challenge, I was definitely getting the hang of this. Once I had my schedule down, intermittent fasting became way easier. 

What was the most surprising to me is how much this challenge actually helped me find more freedom with food. I found that I had increased energy and mental capacity because my body and mind were not as focused on eating and digesting food.

This challenge also made me super grateful to have access to good quality food! I am very lucky and realize that a large percentage of the population has to be concerned about  where their next meal is coming from. This experience definitely made me think more about the magnitude of what others might go through in regards to food scarcity. It felt a bit silly for me to complain about my hunger, when so many people around the world are dealing with actual hunger every single day.

My results after 30 days

At the end of my 30 day experiment, I did notice a change in my body. I felt great, and also saw physical changes as well from my before and after pictures.

Intermittent fasting pleasantly surprised me. It allowed me to appreciate food even more than I already did, and develop a healthier relationship with food. This is definitely something that I plan to continue and implement in my life regularly. 

All of our bodies are completely different, and are going to react differently to different things. If you want to try intermittent fasting, I encourage you to do so, but make sure you go into it with clear intentions, and be open-minded to what you might learn through the process! 


How I Hacked My Sleep in 5 Days

Sleep is something that I frequently struggle with. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love sleeping, but so often my sleep feels all over the place.

It’s now clear from a plethora of scientific research that sleep affects everything from our metabolism, to hormone production, our mood, and cognitive functioning. And after learning more about the research on sleep and how important it truly is for pretty much every part of our lives, I decided my sleep really needed an upgrade! 

So I spent one week trying out all sorts of sleep hacks to see if I could take my sleep to the next level.

My Sleep Hacking Experiment

For this experiment, I interviewed Dan Pardi, a sleep researcher at Stanford University, about the science of sleep. Then, I tried various sleep hacks based on Dan’s science-based recommendations. 

“Over 50 percent of Americans are getting unsatisfactory sleep,” he said. “There are a lot of things that are going to influence our sleep. Probably the most important is light.”

Dan explained that light affects our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s natural 24-hour sleep/wake schedule. Depending on the type of light we are exposed to, our circadian rhythm can be thrown off, especially in a world where blue light from technology is so invasive. 

Dan told me that according to research, blue light actually inhibits the production of melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland of the brain that increases at night in order to help us sleep. So when we are on screens at night before bed, we are actually tricking our bodies into thinking it’s daytime, which will prevent melatonin production, disrupt our circadian rhythm, and prevent us from getting good quality sleep.

Hack #1: Controlling Light 

According to Dan, the key to good sleep actually starts in the morning. He recommended I get direct sunlight upon waking up. Because I normally wake up before the sunrise, I purchased a special alarm clock that imitates the sun as it wakes you up. I usually use my phone as an alarm, so having an actual alarm clock allowed me to remove my phone from my room before bed. 

In addition, I turned off technology an hour before bed to minimize the absorption of blue light. Upon Dan’s recommendation, I also wore blue-light blocking glasses throughout the day to mitigate the effects of staring at a screen for so many hours. I have never needed glasses, but I’ve always secretly wanted them because I think they are super cute, so this was a great excuse to wear these adorable glasses from Felix Gray! 

Hack #2: A Nightly Routine with Essential Oils 

Dan stressed the importance of developing a nightly routine to help the mind and body wind down and prepare for sleep.

During my nightly routine, I drank chamomile tea, journaled, read, and used my essential oil diffuser with pure lavender oil for relaxation.

I asked Dan if there was any science to prove the effectiveness of essential oils for sleep, and he explained that there is scientific research to show that smelling an essential oil does in fact affect the part of the brain known as the amygdala, which controls our parasympathetic nervous system, or our rest and relaxation response.

Another thing I love to do before bed is use my crystal face roller. I’ll put it in the freezer so it’s nice and cold and then apply some rosehip oil to roll out all the tension in my face. It feels amazing and is such a great way to wind down before bed.

Hack #3: Meditative Breathwork 

The next sleep hack I tried was breathing exercises before bed. Dan suggested the box breathing method, where you inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold again for four seconds, repeating for about 2-5 minutes. This breathing method worked so well and completely put me out like a light!

Hack #4: Controlling Body Temperature 

The next sleep hack that Dan recommended was controlling my body temperature. He told me to take a warm shower or bath in the evening before bed. He explained that this actually helps lower body temperature after getting out, which is optimal for sleeping. It has also been shown that sleeping in cooler temperatures promotes better quality sleep, so I opened the windows at night to let in the cool air. In the morning, I took a cold shower to wake myself up.

How does alcohol and cannabis affect sleep?

Because so many people use alcohol or cannabis to fall asleep, I was curious to know the effects of these substances on sleep quality.

“Both of those substances are problematic,” Dan said.

He explained that the consumption of alcohol affects the neurotransmission of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain and cannabinoids interfere with the neural repair that happens during sleep as well as mitochondrial function, which is critical for energy. 

Hack #5: Weighted Blanket

The last hack that I tried was not one that Dan recommended to me, but something that I had been wanting to try for a while. Sleeping with a weighted blanket is supposed to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep quality, so I got a COOLMAX weighted blanket from a company called Weighting Comforts, which is designed to keep the body cool and dry throughout the night.

Right off the bat, I noticed that the weight of the blanket made me feel safe and relaxed. I ended up sleeping fantastic with it and woke up feeling so well rested! 

My Results

About halfway through the week, I noticed I was feeling more restful and less tired throughout the day, whereas normally I feel exhausted between 2:30-4:30 in the afternoon. By the end of the week, I was feeling so rejuvenated and was shocked by the results I saw in just five days.

Overall, this was a successful experiment with some pretty great results. I learned so much about sleep and felt my sleep improve in such a short amount of time. 

If you are someone who struggles with sleep, I know how frustrating it can be. I hope that you can try some of these hacks and experiment with what might work for you!