One of intermittent fasting’s greatest virtues is its simplicity. There are a lot of different diets floating around: Keto, Carnivore, Vegan, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, Atkins, Paleo. It is extremely confusing sorting through all of the MD’s in each camp with each citing their own studies while making diametrically opposed claims.
I trend Keto with some healthy cheating from keto, but that will be all up to you as to which one you choose, but here’s even the bigger problem.
They are way too complicated! What can you eat? How much? How much deviation is permitted? Not only is it hard to choose which one, but is even harder to stick with it after you start.
Fasting, of course, has its complexities, but at its core, it’s very simple.
Here’s when you eat. Here’s when you don’t. That’s the basic foundation. The basic vanilla 12 hour fast is pretty much what everyone did in the 70s, even your grandparents could do it. (To be a true “intermittent faster,” I think you need to be 16, but 12 is a start!).
The complexity of these diets reminds me of remote controls prior to Apple. They looked like this:
Intermittent fasting is simple and elegant like this:
All of these choices remind me of Malcolm Gladwell’s early video on spaghetti sauce. When we too many types of spaghetti to choose from, sometimes we just don’t choose any and default to our earlier position. Your prefrontal cortex does not like complexity. Making you choose from too many new choices takes energy because it makes us think, something we humans don’t like to do. If things get too complex, we revert back to our initial position. With diets, this is doubly likely if we are tired, stressed, or hungry.
Behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman would call this a system 2 decision, the slow, energy intensive and methodical part of our decision making. (Great book by the way Thinking Fast and Slow.). Fasting is system 1, our automatic intuitive decision making systems that occurs with routine habits. Once it becomes routine, it becomes automatic. You’ll do it without even thinking. This works quite nicely because it takes no will power to let automatic decision making govern the timing of when we eat. You just have to remember one simple fact. Are you in eating window? If yes, you can eat. If not, you cannot. According to at one commentator, 98% of our decisions are system 1 and not system 2. That makes fasting so much easier to start and sustain.
Only in the last month that have I even started to think about what types of food that I am eating. This occurred after the 16:8 schedule had become ingrained. Food choices and quantity became issues after the habit had already been consolidated.
As for which camp I am in, I am just a faster sitting on the sidelines. I trend Keto, but am keeping an open mind to the other camps.
Tomorrow, I am going to write about my favorite philosopher, the great Nassim Taleb, one of the greatest thinkers of this generation or perhaps, I should call him the un-philosopher. More on that tomorrow…