*I’m not a doctor. Nothing I mention here is medical advice.*
Have you ever calculated how much time you spend on food each week? I have. On a regular day, I spend about 20 minutes on breakfast, 40 minutes on lunch, and 60 minutes on dinner. That includes preparation, eating, and cleaning. That’s two hours every single day. Monday through Sunday. For all of my existence.
That is, all of my existence up till last week. Because last week I started a new goal. One that has saved me a considerable amount of time. Fasting. More specifically, complete at least three 24 hour fasts each week. And I know I mentioned this at the top of the article, but I’ll reiterate it once more, I’m not a doctor and nothing here should be construed as medical advice.
That said, I recently started this goal to counter the effects of a different goal. To keep it brief, I set a health-related goal for myself last year. And though I had good intentions and the goal itself was well-researched, it didn’t garner the results I was hoping for. In fact, I ended up gaining 20 lbs with it overall. You can read about that experience here if interested.
The source material for fasting
Frustrated by my lack of results, I did more research. I came across some different books that seemed equally, if not more promising. Their recommendation? Fasting. Specifically, 24 and 36-hour fasts. I can’t speak to the medical reasons for why this is, so if you’d like, you can check out the books here:
The remainder of this article isn’t going to talk about the benefits of fasting or cover too much of my experience so far. Instead, it’s going to cover my favorite subject – time. Time and how to get more of it. Because the biggest surprise with my fasting adventure at the moment is the amount of time I’ve gained.
Over the course of a week, I save five hours by fasting. That’s five hours that I can use however I wish. It’s like someone handing you $50 and saying, “Do whatever you want with it. It’s yours.” Challenge accepted! In order to show my work, here’s how I arrived at that five-hour number…
How I arrived at five hours
First, I bypass breakfast each day, regardless of fasting or non-fasting. That saves me 20 minutes daily of cooking, cleaning, etc. Second, every other day, I do a fast of 24 hours. Meaning that on Monday I eat dinner then I don’t eat again until dinner on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I’ll eat normally (having just lunch and dinner). Then on Thursday, I won’t eat again until dinner that night.
So on non-fasting days, I save 20 minutes by skipping breakfast. On fasting days, I save an hour by skipping breakfast (20 minutes) and lunch (40 minutes). If I fast on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, that’s a total savings of four hours. On Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, I save 20 minutes by skipping breakfast, totaling an hour for the week.
Combined, that’s five total hours of gained time. If I only fast for three days instead of four, it comes out to roughly four and a half hours of newfound time. To keep it simple though, let’s just go with five hours throughout the rest of the article.
The concept of fasting has been around for centuries and this idea of intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular in recent history. So the likelihood of this being your first time hearing of someone doing what I’m doing is close to 0%. However, though fasting has been talked about a great deal, the time saved is something that deserves an article all its own. This article.
Not eating = not doing
You’ve probably come across productivity hacks before. Maybe you’ve even read the hacks article that I wrote myself. Everyone is looking for the next big thing. The next way to get more done, be more efficient, get through things faster. What I enjoy about fasting though is that there’s nothing to do. In fact, doing is the exact opposite of fasting.
Not doing, as in, not eating, is all you have to do. And in doing so, you save time each and every day. While I wish I could claim that insight as uniquely mine, I actually paraphrased it from the books I mentioned above. Books that deserve all the credit for my fasting experiment.
On top of the time-save that fasting allows, it also is a useful tool for fulfillment-building. How is not eating creating more fulfillment in your life? Good question. I mentioned that I set a goal previously that, though well-intentioned, resulted in my gaining 20 lbs. Well, this goal is a response to that one. If it goes well, I will lose weight while gaining time. If it doesn’t, at the very least I’ll have gotten back some hours in my day-to-day.
The time I save with fasting
Fasting is a new goal for me. Is it going well so far? Sure. But all goals go well in the beginning. Talk to me in three, four, five months and let’s see how I’m doing then. It’s possible that I won’t even be doing it any longer. Or conversely, I may be loving it and doing even longer-duration fasts. It’s too early to tell.
That said, one thing that can be considered a win today is the time I’ve gained. It’s too soon to be celebrating any weight changes. However, I can celebrate the minutes and, honestly, the money saved by not having to deal with food. Five hours may not seem like a lot, but day after day, it adds up.
And that’s time that I can spend doing things that I love. Enhancing the fulfillment in my life, experiencing new things, talking to new people. The things that get me excited and energized. Is fasting for everyone? I have no idea. Again, I’m not a doctor. You’ll have to do your own research and make your own decision.
Besides the health benefits that one could hope to gain, my aim was to bring to your attention time. Time that you spend shopping, cooking, cleaning, eating, planning. All in the name of food. But do you really need to spend that time? It turns out, I don’t. And, if you’re looking to gain more time in your life, it’s possible that you might not either.