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In the last decade, I’ve tried so many different diets that I couldn’t keep up with one.
Intermittent fasting was one of them, and it wasn’t appealing to me at all.
You have to fast for 16h and can only eat in an 8-hour window.
It didn’t make sense because breakfast was “the” most important meal for me.
My curiosity pushed me to do more research and finally give it a chance.
Since then, I have never looked back. I was experiencing too many benefits.
It was hard initially, but I had prior experience with fasting because of Ramadan.
Keep in mind that I wasn’t a freelancer or content creator at that time (8 years ago). All of the benefits I was experiencing were about my physical performance and sleep quality.
But now, it picked my curiosity because of Ramadan. I wanted to know if fasting affects positively or negatively our creativity and productivity. I gathered some interesting findings with actual data from a general vote on Twitter and from research on the Internet.
Also, I made some interesting observations that I will share and deconstruct in-depth during this intersect. You will learn about fasting’s effects on creativity and productivity and why some people experience it negatively while others experience it positively.
I was fasting as a kid but never asked deep questions. I got older and needed answers to my questions, so I wondered why God asked Muslims to fast for a whole month.
My findings blew me away.
Fasting acts in three different areas.
Before diving deep into creativity and productivity, I want to give you context by explaining every area individually.
I’m gonna share with you my personal experience because I’ve done some crazy things while fasting, my friends and my parents were convinced I was cheating, but I wasn’t.
I could play basketball for 3-4 hours without drinking a single drop of water. Inside with A/C or outside at 40 degrees, it didn’t matter to me.
It was all about mindset. It was four years ago, my stamina could use some work now, and I’m recovering from an ACL injury, so basketball has to wait, unfortunately.
Also, I became used to fasting because I do intermittent fasting regularly.
During the month of Ramadan, the body purifies itself through four stages.
Those are always the hardest. You feel terrible, and you want to quit already.
Symptoms of this initial cleanse include:
The shift in metabolism starts to happen, and I begin to feel like my body becomes a fat-burning machine like he’s working for me, I feel sluggish and tired, but I feel blessed as well because I know something great is going to happen. Our body starts to break down fat for energy, leading to the release of glycerol that converts into glucose.
Yeah, I know, it sounds too complicated. Just understand that your body is doing something crazy for you, and you must let it do it.
Our lungs and other cleansing organs will also begin a process of healing while our immune system becomes more active than usual. Moreover, burning fat for energy can aid in weight loss and lead to lower cholesterol levels in the long run. Weight loss may also positively affect diabetes and blood pressure, promoting better control of both conditions.
Are you reading any downsides? Yeah, none. That’s what I’m talking about!
This is the stage where everyone is like, “Oh, already?”
As I’m writing this, this is exactly what I have told myself.
I noticed a slight itching in my knee (I had ACL surgery), but that is due to the release of lymphocytes, which dissolve damaged cells in affected tissue. In summary, it means that my knee is healing faster.
The body continues to repair itself. Fascinating.
I gargle water and salt daily to prevent mouth ulcers.
In stage 4, my workouts become effortless, and I feel stronger. I generally get it done 1 hour before the time of eating.
We reach our peak, and we start to feel the benefits.
There are a lot of mental health benefits as well. We explore them in the next section.
You can read the scientific explanation of each stage here.
I’m 100% confident that I’m not alone. It happened to me several times when I ate or drank while fasting. Your mind is disconnected from reality, your body moves, and you return to yourself.
Well, that always happened in the first two weeks. As of now, it’s rare because I’m vigilant.
Fasting is also believed to have several benefits for the mind, such as promoting mental clarity and reducing stress. When we fast, we are required to focus on our spiritual practice, which can help us develop mental discipline and focus. Fasting is also believed to reduce stress by promoting the production of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers.
Nonetheless, I observed an amelioration of my cognitive abilities because of fasting for several reasons I will explain later.
“Ow, how so?”
“Ow, I feel more anxious.”
“Ow, I feel this, I feel that.”
My parents always told me that we’re fasting to feel what poor people are feeling daily. So, I believed it all my life (which is a true statement), but that’s not only about that.
In Islam, fasting is a form of worship and a way to purify the soul. We are reminded of our dependence on God and our need for spiritual sustenance by abstaining from food and drinks.
Fasting is also believed to promote self-discipline and self-control, which are essential virtues in Islam. Finally, fasting promotes spiritual growth by helping us develop a stronger connection with God and a greater appreciation for the blessings in our lives.
Everyone can gather together. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, white or black.
I’m convinced that intermittent fasting helps my creativity. It has sharpened my focus as well, which translates to productivity.
94% of the people have responded “yes” or “I believe it does.”
I had to highlight the importance of the different “stages.” Some people assume that they will feel the benefits of fasting from the very first week if not DAYS. The quick-fix mentality, I guess.
But that’s not how it works.
You can’t expect to jump higher with one workout.
You can’t expect to have abs with one workout, either.
So, why would you expect intermittent fasting to benefit you from the first day.
Some people will hate me for this, but that’s what I’m all about. You might know some people you “can’t talk" to before they drink their coffee.
They’re easily triggered and can lose patience very quickly. Why?
Why fasting has the opposite effect on some people?
It turned out that some are creative in the morning, and others are at night.
And crucial missing point, some won’t share it on social media, but they’re addicted to many things;
Being irritated is pretty standard if you’re missing your usual stimulant.
Before blaming fasting, you should blame your lifestyle.
Your body perceives fasting as a threat to your “pleasures.”
Let me tell you, you’re missing a lot of benefits.
And you’re about to read about them.
To start off, here are the potential benefits of intermittent fasting based on scientific studies:
Autophagy is the body's natural process of cleaning out damaged cells and regenerating new ones.
Fasting has been shown to enhance creativity by increasing the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is involved in reward-motivated behaviour and the generation of new ideas. Fasting has also been shown to increase activity in the brain's default mode network, which is associated with creative thinking. (Source: Chakravarty S et al., "Intermittent fasting increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis," Brain Research, 2018)
Fasting has been shown to improve mood by increasing the production of endorphins, neurotransmitters that help reduce pain and promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Fasting has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. (Source: Baharudin A et al., "Intermittent fasting and its impact on mood and emotional states," Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2019)
Creativity is about connecting dots. You can’t do it efficiently if you feel at 20, 50, or 60%. You must find a way to be at 100% for a designated time frame until you reach 80%. Then, recharge.
But you might not know if you have ever been at 100% of your creative potential. Some have unlocked it because of fasting, and others have noticed how going to the gym right before their deep work session has increased their creativity and productivity, they constantly have new ideas.
Well, I’m your living example. I tried all possible variations. Gym in the morning while fasting or not.
Gym in the evening fasting or not. Work after the gym or before the gym fasting or not.
I mean, I did try it all. And my best usual combo is waking up, going to the gym, and deep work session. It becomes a routine, but if you don’t follow it, your day gets thrown away.
So, I experimented with a hybrid approach. I would do it on purpose, wake up, work immediately, finish everything I must do, and then hit the gym. It’s also an interesting approach because I get to visualize everything I have accomplished and think about new ideas.
So, I combine both now. The idea is to challenge your body and mind.
I have a problem: "resting,” my brain is always in go-mode. I can only enter a different flow state by playing basketball or boxing on a punching bag. My brain gets busy with something else, and that’s the only way I’m willing to “rest” my brain.
It’s super nuanced when it comes to productivity.
It’s not about how many hours you’re able to work. But how much work can you get done in the least amount of time.
To achieve that, you have to master your energy, focus, and time management.
Guess what fasting does?
When you start to experience the benefits from fasting, increased energy would be the first one because your metabolism has shifted and is now using your fat storage as energy, you aren’t dependent on carbs (what you usually eat for energy)
Intermittent fasting increases the production of a protein in the brain called a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates the production of new neurons in the brain.
Fasting may increase mental clarity and focus, which could help with productivity. I can focus for four hours without thinking about what to eat later.
It’s a mental declutter.
The easy answer is you don’t have to worry about what to eat when you wake up. You only need to worry about what you are going to work on. You get to finish what you start and eat after you devour everything.
I tend to eat the same lunch every day; 2x chicken tortilla with avocado and cheese and a protein shake if I work out. I’m in budget-friendly lazy protein recipes. Although, I still enjoy cooking for long hours during my off days.
Overall, I haven’t experienced anything negative with intermittent fasting.
If you take your content creation game seriously, you have nothing to lose if you try it for a month.
- Are you losing time thinking about what you need to cook?
- Are you losing time cooking in the middle of the day?
- Do you have to eat before working?
- Do you need coffee to work?
Intermittent fasting can be your solution, and you can still drink coffee. But at least you don’t have to worry about what to eat at noon.
I tried eating to experiment with how I would feel, which was horrible. I felt exhausted and mentally drained—intermittent fasting for the win.
I’d love to ask in the future “elite” content creators if fasting is a “necessity” for them.
In the meantime, let me know if you plan on trying it.
Let’s become elite.
I explore the intersection of passions and business.
I am a minimalist, and multi-passionate currently obsessed with the creator economy, branding & web design.
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