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Is fasting good for your fiscal health?

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There is no elusive news of the many benefits of intermittent fasting (IF). There are hundreds of books, articles, podcasts, testimonials, and first-person accounts of friends.

What’s more, there are several fasting methods that offer options that work best with different lifestyles.

One option is to choose two days a week on which you only eat dinner.

Another common method is a limited eating period of 12-16 hours or more.

Some people fast for alternate days and others fast for several days.

It probably goes without saying that no fasting or calorie-restricted diets should be undertaken without consulting a medical professional, but we will say so anyway. Consult a medical professional before participating in diet fasting.

Despite all the press and the growing popularity, there are still many more resistances than fans of this way of life.

A survey in February 2020 indicates that only 24% of Americans have attempted intermittent fasting.

If you have not yet been motivated enough to try a diet fast, might the financial benefits of fasting tempt you?

fastened for waist and purse.  fixed composition of watch, dinner plate, silverware, calculator and cash wrapped with measuring tape.

What is all the fuss about?

The supposed physical benefits of diet fasting border on the miraculous, from reducing the risk of chronic diseases to rejuvenating yourself.

According to one well-known scientist and author, who has progressed to eating only one meal a day (!), Fasting is an integral part of a reverse aging strategy.

Not only does it slow down the aging process, it actually reverses.

Although results will differ, among the many other health benefits extracted from numerous sources1,2,3,4 fast:

  • Helps control blood sugar
  • Fight inflammation
  • Improve memory
  • Improve physical performance
  • Help manage weight
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Helps prevent heart disease
  • Can reduce tumor growth

To be missing from this scientifically proven list is the benefit of fasting on your fiscal health.

In fact, it was also not on my radar until I was connected to a limited 8-hour eating window between 12pm and 8pm (a 16-hour daily fast).

Is fasting good for your budget?

As a financial planner, I usually consider the financial impact of almost every decision.

Yet in this case, I was so consumed with how I would survive so many hours without food intake that it did not occur to me.

So it was a pleasant discovery to realize in a few months that my grocery spending had decreased by at least 25%.

Why not 33.33%?

For those who are mathematically inclined, it may be tempting to seek a reduction of 1/3 or 33.33% of your food budget.

And for some fasting lovers out there, that may actually be true. However, I find that I eat a little more during my 2 remaining meals.

On a recent trip through the country, I was able to avoid buying expensive airport food or packing a meal. I simply fasted until my normal eating time in the new time zone.

A 25% spending reduction is still significant for my combined $ 600 / month grocery and restaurant budget.

I’m still considering where to allocate the annual savings of $ 1,800 a year, but for many people that amount can help pay off debt, strengthen a savings goal, or ensure a great vacation.

And it does not even consider the more difficult measurable cost savings due to better health … such as lower out-of-pocket spending on co-payments and co-payments.

The Inflation Factor

Recent, and rather dramatic increases in inflation rate means food will become a bigger budget item for everyone.

The inflation rate from April 2021 to March 2022 was a whopping 8.5%.

As a reference point, inflation has averaged about 2% over the past 15+ years.

As a result, the fasting community will certainly experience an even greater saving in the near future compared to recent years.

Additional solid fun facts

Some fasters believe you can eat anything inside the dining window without consequences due to the otherwise healing benefits of fasting.

I do not quite buy that argument nor do our previously mentioned longevity expert.

Garbage in is still garbage out.

Furthermore, if you only eat twice (or once!) A day, I believe you are actually more mindful of what you consume.

There are fewer opportunities in the day to ingest the recommended amount of essential nutrients.

If improved physical and fiscal health were not enough, there is a significant time saving.

There is one meal less to think about, pre-sell, prepare, eat and tidy up.

Additional benefits include increased awareness and a greater sense of self-control as you include intermittent fasting in your lifestyle.

Useful tips

I tried intermittent fasting and gave it up for a full year after a few weeks before successfully adopting the habit.

There is no argument that it is difficult to break deep-rooted physical and psychological habits of eating 3, and sometimes more, meals a day.

After learning that it takes 2-3 weeks before your body adapts to the new normal routine, I was inspired to try again.

Just knowing that it would get absolutely easier after a few weeks helped me stick to it.

Another helpful tip is that calorie-free fluids are your best friends.

Lots and lots of water, black coffee, black and green tea, herbal tea, etc. will help alleviate those hunger pangs.

It is generally recommended that you withhold milk, sugar or anything else in your drinks during the fasting period.

Yet, like any other long-lasting and beneficial habit, it is perfectly acceptable to alleviate it.

One friend of mine works her way there by closing her fixed window from 11am (8pm to 7am) to the recommended 16 hours (8pm to 12pm or whatever 16-hour window that works for you) increase in 30 minutes increments.

Every day she postpones her ‘breakfast’ (the word now takes on a new meaning) by half an hour.

Final Fast Thoughts

Current research suggests that the longer you extend the fixed window each day, the greater the benefit.

I’m not sure I’ll ever reach the one meal a day goal, and I’m not sure I want to, but I can at least imagine the possibility.

It certainly increases the motivation to consider the stack of benefits … physically, psychologically AND fiscally that would take such a step.

Next: Focus on health and wealth: get younger next year

Article written by Carol Christie, a longtime financial coach and a candidate for CFP® certification. She pursued FIRE before FIRE was an acronym and loves the like-minded souls that make up that community. Carol works with individuals and couples on their path to financial freedom through her hourly coaching business Free to be Finance.

Carol has previously contributed to Women Who Money with this post about building your financial home.

Sources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/intermittent-fasting-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work
  3. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/intermittent-fasting-it-right-for-you
  4. https://gizmodo.com/intermittent-fasting-not-better-than-regular-dieting-y-1848823438

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